Filed under: Developing Nations, Free Markets, Freedom, History, India, Socialism, Statism | Tags: India's Untouchables, Market Forces, The Glories of Socialism
Let’s turn to some really good news:
This year marks the 25th anniversary of liberal reforms in India that led to the dismantling of many socialist economic policies and the end of the draconian License Raj. Liberalization has changed life for many in India over the past couple of decades, although much more remains to be done. Just the middle class alone has exploded from 30 million people in 1991 to 300 million in 2014.
So this is a good occasion to tell the story of perhaps the most unexpected beneficiaries of these reforms: the rising Dalit millionaires. In recent years, many thousands of so-called “untouchables,” or Dalits, members of the lowest group in the Indian caste order, have risen out of poverty to become wealthy business owners, some even millionaires.
Westerners are often unable to grasp just what it has meant to be born into a caste of the poorest of the poor without hope of ever moving out of the caste. Caste was determined by birth, and being born an untouchable meant a lifetime of being trapped in low income “dirty” jobs. Marriage could only be within a caste, and there was no hope of advancement for one’s children. Systematic discrimination locked in place for generations.
The opening up of production processes to market forces created new opportunities never before possible. “Starting small and scraping together resources and capital, many of these Dalits now run business empires that actually provide employment to upper caste members.”
There is Thomas Barnabas who was born into a family of bonded laborers, all eight of whom lived in a one-room house. Thomas recalls being thrown out of an upper caste friend’s home as a child after eating and drinking there because he was “untouchable.” They then proceeded to purify and wash the floor where he sat and threw away the dishes from which he ate.
Thomas saw the unmet demand for the processing of industrial waste that was generated by large corporations like Dell, Samsung and Mercedes that had set up manufacturing plants in India after liberalization. He now owns an industrial waste recycling and disposal business that has an annual sales revenue of $2,3 million, and employs 200 people, including many from upper castes.
Do read the whole thing. Shows what can happen with free markets and free people. Not perfect by any means, but improving.
Meanwhile, back in the Americas, thousands turned out, with their pots and pans, crying “We Are Hungry!” in Venezuela and chased President Nicholas Maduro down the street. Only last week some broke into the zoo and killed a starving horse for the meat. Socialism sometimes sounds good, but it is always a lie.
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