26 February 2006

The new developing economy

There's a change in the course of things. India is developing at a rapid pace and it is influencing the entire world. One of the key facets of this new India is that, as a modern developing economy, it has taken a fresh look at commerce. Yes, poverty is still around us and cities are still the drivers of wealth, but the old government promoting a socialistic self-sufficient India is now adopting a more liberal path towards commerce. As a result, capital is now more freely available for business enterprises. And, a spirit of commerce is in the air.

In turn, this is fuelling the urban vision that the liberals have always advocated - as against the socialistic self-sufficient path that India has followed for the last 60 years - building cities and towns and railways… slowly reaching into India's rural heartland. This is the new India, the new developing economy.

Funnily, there's a history to this new ideology as well… or, so I learnt recently.

In August 2001, Sauvik Chakraverti, in an essay titled The Liberal Vision, India from the archives of the Centre for Civil Society, quoted a significant point from a letter dated 1717 from the Directors of the East India Company. Apparently, the East India Company advised their Governor at Fort St. George (which developed to become Madras, now renamed Chennai): “Make your settlement a mart for all nations, that being the way God Almighty of old promised to make Jerusalem great.”

Although I'm not sure where Chakraverti got his information, it is nevertheless quite a revelation. In fact, in the essay, Chakraverti goes on to say, “Because of their belief in the simple logic of commerce, the British pursued urban development that led to the building of many great cities and countless hill-stations.” And, they built roads, railways, satellite towns and basic infrastructure to support the growth of commerce in the urban centres. Perhaps because they believed, or so says Chakraverti in his essay, “With free trade, and aggressive urbanization, India will be a rich country.”

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