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This day, 55 years ago, India achieved political independence from the British state, but she still awaits economic and social independence from the Indian state. But, I am not sure whether we have even genuine political independence.

Many of our laws are of the British time, some even unmodified. The Official Secrets Act keeps citizens away from their democratic government as it kept the subjects beneath their British rulers.

Having passed the 93rd Constitutional Amendment granting a Fundamental Right to Education in the last session, the Parliament will be under increasing pressure in this monsoon session to deliver on the promise—to put money where its mouth has been. Recent demonstrations in Mumbai against the increase in school fees are but a sign of the power of the fundamental-right activists.

After a conference in Bali, Parth J Shah is convinced that economic freedom, not old-fashioned theories of sustainable development, is the key to prosperity and growth.

Liberals of all persuasion should come together under the banner of rule of law and fair, transparent, and accountable governance, says Parth J Shah

Liberalism is distinguished by its focus on the primacy of the individual in all spheres of human life—political, economic, and social. Individual well being is the standard to assess suitability of norms, customs, policies, and institutions. As Adam Smith’s invisible hand or Friedrich Hayek’s spontaneous order theory demonstrates there is no conflict between pursuit of self-interest and social good.

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is again set to tighten the law against insider trading. The law was first passed in 1992 and amended very recently in February 2002. As the amendment is more than ten times longer than the original law, one would have thought that SEBI must have plugged all the loop holes. But one would be wrong; a lot more work is apparently required to banish insider trading from the Indian securities market.

I am writing this column on Dhanteras, the beginning of the five-day festival of Deepavali. (Dhan: wealth and Teras: the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin). It’s the day when Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is worshiped. Dhan is celebrated by purchasing new clothes, utensils, and ornaments, and in villages by decorating cattle, the main form of wealth.

Deepak Suri’s cycle rickshaw got impounded by the police. After years of living off petty thefts, he felt enough was enough. He decided to earn an honest living; he bought a used cycle rickshaw. For 1200 rupees. The police asked for Rs 400 to release it. Distraught, Suri borrowed twenty rupees and bought a bottle of kerosene.

The tenth anniversary of India’s liberalisation program came and went. Mostly unacknowledged and uncelebrated, like that of an unwanted child, a child forced upon by the unpleasant circumstance that one rather not remember. It’s not just unwanted but also illegitimate. The father prime minister has disowned it. Even after ten years of birth, its intellectual, political, as well as bureaucratic parentage is in debate.

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