India Prospering

by Don Boudreaux on March 2, 2006

in Trade

Sandip Roy is from India.  He now lives in California.

His commentary this morning on NPR makes me happy.  Global markets are bringing prosperity to more and more Indians.

I can’t tell if Mr. Roy is as pleased as I am.  Like many residents of wealthy market societies, he seems a bit troubled by the fact that globalization is stripping many places — especially poorer places — of some of their exotic allure.  Regardless, though, his observations form a powerful testament to the beneficial consequences of open, global trade.

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{ 12 comments }

David Mathews March 2, 2006 at 11:17 am

India's addiction to Western-style consumerism is similar in many respects to China's 19th century addiction to opium … very profitable & also extraordinarily unhealthy (for both India & the Earth).

Capitalism makes many grandiose promises but it often fails to deliver. Don't you know … there is a reason why Americans are so addicted to alcohol, drugs and medication.

Grzegorz March 2, 2006 at 12:09 pm

"Capitalism makes many grandiose promises but it often fails to deliver."

Capitalism promises nothing; it presents opportunity to those that seize it.

Abhinay March 2, 2006 at 2:40 pm

Addiction to consumerism is worse off than what? Addiction to spirituality? communism?

As an Indian, I'd much rather have a better standard of living than hypocritical whining about materialism and morality.

Indians have suffered enough socialism and over-nationalism. It is high time we got rid of that naivety.

David Mathews, did you mean consumerism is bad in general, or Indian consumerism is bad for the world?

Al March 2, 2006 at 4:03 pm

David Matthews-

Communism produced quite a bit of alchoholism in its day- think VODKA. If you want to creat a shortage of booze and drugs, legalize everything and institute a PRICE CAP.

I need a beer . . .

the Radical March 2, 2006 at 4:08 pm

"…there is a reason why Americans are so addicted to alcohol, drugs and medication."

Yes there is a reason: they freely choose to become addicted.

There is also a reason why Americans are "addicted" to ample food supplies, clean water, low infant mortality, long life expectancies, incredibly high living standardsand cutting edge medicine: capitalism.

Abhinay puts it right: capitalism is by far the greatest thing India has seen in a long time.

David Mathews March 2, 2006 at 11:31 pm

"David Mathews, did you mean consumerism is bad in general, or Indian consumerism is bad for the world?"

I meant that consumerism is bad in general & also that Indian consumerism is bad for the world.

Consumerism isn't merely bad, it is evil. The consumer's only real responsibility is his/her own insatiable appetite, an appetite which is made insatiable by the propaganda and lies of the advertisers.

What the consumer fails to notice is that while accummulating all of these possessions and enjoying the mirage of prosperity, the world itself is crumbling under our feet.

The consumer also fails to notice that a majority of consumer goods function as cheap, transient thrills which become useless clutter and ultimately landfill trash. True happiness is not found in the mirage of prosperity so consumers are forced into the futile treadmill of perpetually buying more things.

Consumerism is an unhealthy habit and evil in many different ways.

Russell Nelson March 3, 2006 at 1:22 am

I've been to India four times since 1999. India is noticably more prosperous. Hooray Indians! Good for you!

Russell Nelson March 3, 2006 at 1:25 am

I meant that david mathews is bad in general & also that an Indian david mathews would be bad for the world.

David Mathews isn't merely bad, he is evil. The David's only real responsibility is his own insatiable appetite, an appetite which is made insatiable by the propaganda and lies of the advertisers.

What David fails to notice is that while accummulating all of these possessions and enjoying the mirage of prosperity, the world itself is crumbling under his feet.

The David also fails to notice that a majority of Davids function as cheap, transient thrills which become useless clutter and ultimately landfill trash. True happiness is not found in the mirage of prosperity so David is forced into the futile treadmill of perpetually buying more things.

David Mathews is an unhealthy habit and evil in many different ways.

WKUeconSTUDENT March 3, 2006 at 1:48 am

I don't understand the argument about them being stripped of thier native culture. You retain culture and still be better off. I don't think dirty water, aids, and stillborn babies is a part of thier culture that needs to be preserved. Perhaps thier culture will evolve as wealth increases but that has to be better than poverty.

the Radical March 3, 2006 at 2:16 am

WKUeconSTUDENT,

But wealth is evil and poverty and disease are good. People who seek to repace poverty, scarcity and misery with prosperity, abundance and good health are evil. Clean water makes the Earth sad and destroys cultures. People who want their children to live past 2 mos. are trapped in a mirage. Medicine is merely a cheap transient thrill that leaves you empty and evil inside.

Gimme a freakin break!

xteve March 3, 2006 at 4:44 am

I've noticed that the same people who complain when American influences are introduced to India become thrilled when an Indian restaurant opens up in their town. Is it so hard for them to believe that foreigners might also enjoy new options in their communities? I think it's selfish that some people want to keep parts of the world preserved as museums for their own enjoyment.

& regarding consumerism being evil, it seems to me the problem is that some people have emptiness in their lives & they try to fill it with cheap crap, & that's sad, but how the heck do you solve that problem by stopping them from buying these things? That assumes the cheap crap is causing the void.

The bottom line is that some people don't care a whit about people or their happiness, but complain & complain about what they "see" when other people try to improve their lot. We're dealing with amazingly shallow people here.

Preston March 5, 2006 at 6:59 pm

David, don't confuse capitalism with consumerism. Capitalism is an economic system based on the freedom to enter into voluntary economic contracts. Consumerism essentially is a desciption of a common economic contract for "conspicious" (there are probably better words) goods that so many people in some societies FREELY CHOOSE to enter into. What we have here is the downside of freedom. People individually and societies culturally may use that freedom to make poor choices. I for one believe that it is NOT the government's business to decide what is a poor choice. As soon as we grant government that power we have made a sacrifice of freedom. Better to let people experience the consequences of bad decisions. "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." The consequences can be very severe and the learning of good judgement may take generations. In the long run we are better off, in the short run there is great pain. Maybe this is societal evolution. In any case I want a government that protects my freedoms not one that claims to protect me by limiting my freedom.

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