Tolerance and Economic Prosperity

When I feel angry about India’s lost opportunities and feel especially despondent about the Indian economy, I sometimes compare India with its neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh, just to get a sense of balance and say to myself “but for the grace of our un-countably many gods, goes India.” India is not ruled by intolerant monotheistic morons (an expression I picked up from the Department of Redundancy Department) — at least not yet.

From Forbes, Paul Johnson writes Want to Prosper? Then Be Tolerant:

In economic activities the greatest of virtues is tolerance. All societies flourish mightily when tolerance is the norm, and our age furnishes many examples of this. China began its astounding commercial and industrial takeoff only when Mao Zedong’s odiously intolerant form of communism was scrapped in favor of what might be called totalitarian laissez-faire.

India is another example. It is the nature of the Hindu religion to be tolerant and, in its own curious way, permissive. Under the socialist regime of Jawaharlal Nehru and his family successors the state was intolerant, restrictive and grotesquely bureaucratic. That has largely changed (though much bureaucracy remains), and the natural tolerance of the Hindu mind-set has replaced quasi-Marxist rigidity.

The emphasis above is mine. I have always marveled at how India’s disasterous economic growth under Nehru’s (who was almost rabidly anti-Hindu) insane socialism is tagged as the Hindu rate of growth when it was anything but Hindu. Back to the Forbes article of June 25th, 2004.

In the last fiscal year India’s GDP grew an estimated 8%, and in the third quarter, 10%. India’s economy for the first time is expanding faster than China’s. For years India was the tortoise, China the hare. The race is on, and my money’s on India, because freedom–of movement, speech, the media–is always an economic asset.

When left to themselves, Indians (like the Chinese) always prosper as a community. Take the case of Uganda’s Indian population, which was expelled by the horrific dictator Idi Amin and received into the tolerant society of Britain. There are now more millionaires in this group than in any other recent immigrant community in Britain. They are a striking example of how far hard work, strong family bonds and a devotion to education can carry a people who have been stripped of all their worldly assets.

Common Denominator

The contrast between China and India–both moving steadily to join the advanced countries of the world–and those countries where Islam is dominant is marked. Whatever its merits may be, Islam is not famed for tolerance. Indeed, of the major world religions it is the least broad-minded and open to argument. With the rise of a new form of fundamentalism in recent decades, its intolerance has been growing–as has the concomitant poverty.

The article is worth a read.



Categories: Development

1 reply

  1. I read the article as you mentioned it was worth a read. As for the Nehru clan, I totally agree with your views. Sometimes I wish we had Sardar Patel as our first PM or even Lal Bahadur Shastri should have lived a bit longer – India would be in different position today.

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