(12-Apr-2011, 12:35 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: I agree with you. Lots of people have a problem with Nehru because of the fact that he was president for a real long time and because of his central-planning focus and protectionism of local industry, but I think those were necessary at that time in India's history.
Nehru was an adherent of Fabian socialism which was very popular in the mid-twentieth century, with the Labour Party of UK being its most prominent proponents.
Quote:Without the Nehru administration's strong support of centralized-planning and protectionism India would have not developed any domestic industry in competition with the West. Arguably the first 2 decades of independent India were sufficient for this type of governance, and the market should have been guardedly opened up right after with proper incentives to specific areas of industry.
I don't think Nehru's purpose in creating a centralized and protectionist system for the Indian economy was to compete with the West. Though India was very close to the Soviet Union (which was the reason why Soviet style 5 year plans were introduced), for the reason that the Soviet Union needed a strong partner in the sub-continent to counter-balance the US's sponsorship of Pakistan, there were always many western companies which were allowed to flourish during Nehru's time. It was Indira with her crazy dictatorial ideas who drove out all so-called "western" firms, but I see this more of a political move on her part to retain and increase her power, than an economic one.
Quote: I would blame the Indira Gandhi's administration for not doing so in a careful and well-regulated manner.
One must take care not to judge historical events such as the ones in the 1970s through current day lenses. It is important to understand that the world was different back then. The Soviet Union during Indira's time appeared to be the leading superpower in the world and their ideology of state-ownership of everything was the equivalent of today's free market ideology. To the Indian political establishment of those days, state-ownership was the equivalent of today's free market liberal drives of the 1990s under Narasimha Rao.
Quote: The Nehru years had created sufficient social and economic capital and infrastructure to begin harnessing the potential for competition by the time Indira Gandhi came to power. Unfortunately, none of the administrations since Nehru have demonstrated his foresight. However, those were very different times, and Nehru was uniquely qualified. I doubt if he could make as significant an impact today.
Actually, for me, on reading about India's history since independence, it becomes amply clear that the time before and after Nehru's reign represented a significant break in Indian politics. The rise of regional and religious chauvinistic politics was pretty much completely after Nehru's time and was a response to Indira's dictatorial policies. So, though one cannot really separate out economics from either social or economic issues, I see Nehru's main contributions as more in the social and political field than in economics.
Nehru was the only atheist Prime Minister of India and he represented a form of secular and inclusive politics which is impossible to find in India today.