India’s Urban Youth Favors Economic Freedom

The worldwide survey result (with an urban bias) of the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows some good signs. India tops the list on favorable attitude towards the free market economy. 81% of the Indians surveyed agreed that people are better off in a free market economy. China (79%) came second. The results were largely the same on free trade. India was on top with 96 % supporting free trade. India (53%) came second to China (87%) in satisfaction with the direction in which the country is moving.73% Indians believe that the country’s economic situation is good, whereas it is 88% in China. India (63%) was second to South Korea (80%) in the belief that United States is the leading world power. This is a significant improvement from the position seven years ago.

So, what makes Indian’s more and more Capitalistic?

Ajay Shah has an explanation for this on his blog?

1) All Indians know the failure of socialist policies in India. The GDP growth rate was low when India went through Socialism. It tremendously improved when the country opened up the economy. People were better off when they were removed from bureaucratic shackles. Most people don’t know the GDP statistics, but they instinctively grasp the truth. (In my opinion, the GDP growth rate is not an accurate indicator of the performance of an economy. But, what the statistics say is largely accurate.)

2) A large part of the people surveyed was young Indians. Young people are usually not sympathetic towards the mawkish ideal of Socialism. The CMIE household survey shows that most of the Left supporters are middle-aged Indians. Ajay Shah has another hypothesis: “Maybe it is the experiences of young people which convert some of them from being un-Left when young to being Left supporters in middle age. Maybe political attitudes are not stable through time; maybe the young of today will turn left when they reach their late 30s and early 40s.” However, in my state Kerala, most of the youngsters support the left. I was the odd one out in college. In other parts of India, other than West Bengal, youngsters realize that Communism is a philosophy which keeps the poor in that state forever.

3) “India does not have a welfare state and is unlikely to build one. Voters do not seem to want a large welfare state. The intellectuals are not pushing a welfare state.” It is true that voters of India are not actively supporting a welfare state.

I have yet another explanation drawn from my own experience. Indians have only loosely defined ideas of the concept of the free market and free trade. Most Indians believe that Capitalism is the present economic system, or at best, a system with a higher degree of economic freedom. Few Indians (whether urban youth or not) would support Ayn Rand model Capitalism. I lost count of the number of times I heard influential Indian’s say in the media that growth needs to be “inclusive”, and Capitalism should have a “human face”. It is not difficult to figure out what they are driving at. Maybe the youth finds such statements more appealing than the worn-out bromides of the Left.

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