MAKE FULL INDIA AN SEZ
BY SAUVIK CHAKRAVERTI
What kind of 'socialism' is it when the government repeatedly attempts to bestow favours on special interests? Indeed, it is not socialism at all, and is best termed 'clientelism', a very corrupt political practice. An idea of the government that upholds the interests of the whole society should lead the nation towards economic policies that benefit each and every Indian, without exception.
So, instead of these special economic zones (SEZs) for political clients, let us vote to declare the entire nation of India an SEZ: the biggest of its kind in the whole world. First, instead of special customs exemptions for SEZ clients, let the customs department be unilaterally abolished: free trade.
Today, Arunachal and Sikkim are tentatively opening trade along their land borders with China. With unilateral free trade, the twin coastlines of India will explode as economic engines. Landlocked cities like Delhi and Bangalore will decline. The entire nation will be a duty-free shopping area. Every shop, even the paan-bidi shop, will be a duty-free shop.
Second, as with SEZs, a 15-year tax holiday should be declared for the whole of India, so that all the people can accumulate capital. The primary task of the government in this huge, capitalistic SEZ called India would be to uphold the law; that is, to go after the crooks, murderers, rapists and other 'outlaws', leaving all 'win-win' traders free, which includes money changers, ganja dealers, bookies, hookers and, most definitely, bar dancers.
This will require a small police force under the civic control of the mayors of each Indian city and town: there will now be thousands of them, competing for citizens. Many 'little leviathans' instead of this one, big, ugly one.
The government should also fund public highways, urban streets and rural roads throughout the entire length and breadth of this huge SEZ as 'public goods': that is, 'collective property' that all the people can freely use.
To fund roads, police and defence for 15 years, the duration of the tax holiday, the government should privatise each and every asset it owns, including the Railways.
We will have liberty, prosperity, civic order, and 'public goods' instead of 'public sector' (another 'special interest') and politics will be compressed to a vanishing point.