He has been a recluse for years now. His antipathy towards Consumerism and Free Markets are well known. But he has a point that all those who swear by “Right of Center” ideals must take notice of. Former general secretary of the BJP, K N Govindacharya in a free wheeling interview to Arun Chaubey of the Zee News spoke on a number of issues but one caught Offstumped’s attention.

When asked the below question

You have spared a lot of time in studying the impact of liberalisation on Indian society. What is your observation?

Govindacharya reiterated his known views against Markets and Consumerism. It was not what he said against Markets and Consumerism that was new and significant but what he said about how these issues ought to be tackled.

I feel that the battle has to be fought on multiple planks. It has to be decentralised, diversified and localised so that localised communities which defy the dominance of the state as well as market and yet are able to lead a prosperous life based on inter-dependence and cultural advancement. Besides, it requires a three-pronged robust effort in the direction of intellectual, constructive and educational activities in a decentralised, localised mode.

Unlike most Left of Center ideologues (some confused to the Right) who see the “State” as the panacea for all ills and the doer of all goods, Mr. Govindacharya is breaking ranks here to advocate greater autonomy to local communities by freeing them from the clutches of centralized bureaucracies and State Control and giving them the choice of charting their economic course.

He goes on to further expand his thinking on the role played by the “State” in response to the next question on whether he would return to active politics.

the state has played the role of obstructor, disruptor and speed governor upon the society

When confronted with the situation in West Bengal  sometimes even well-meaning Right of Center ideologues have tended to side with State in its pursuit of “industrialisation”. Incidents like Nandigram have demonstrated to us the dangers of a “Statist” approach to economic change. Industrialisation cannot and should not be a diktat from Kolkota. It has to be a consensual choice of the local community in Nandigram. The role of the State must be limited to creating the right incentives for local communities like Nandigram to make choices in favor of industry over status quo and in facilitating the process by which local communities court industry or industy courts local communities.

Ultimately the freedom to choose the course each local community must take to realise its economic destiny, must rest with the local community. Such a choice would be consistent with the thinking of many of the founding fathers in the Constituent Assembly as well asGandhi and Golwalkar. Recently we saw echoes of the same thinking in the context of Rural Innovation Networks in Gujarat from Prof Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad.

While we may agree to disagree with Mr. Govindacharya on his views on markets and consumerism we can definitely agree with him on less state intervention and more freedom to local communities.


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