July 17, 2010
July 13, 2010
(By J. VENKATESAN, The Hindu)
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed as withdrawn a writ petition challenging the validity of Section 2 of the Constitution (42nd Amendment) by virtue of which the word ‘socialist’ was inserted in the Preamble to the Constitution.
The petition, filed by the Good Governance India Foundation, also challenged the validity of Section 29 A (5) of the Representation of the People Act, which was inserted by way of Section 6 of the RP (Amendment) Act, 1989 making it incumbent upon every political party registered in India to pledge allegiance to the socialist ideal, failing which such a party would be rejected from registration.
A three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishan and Swatanter Kumar, after hearing senior counsel Fali Nariman, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam for the Centre and counsel Meenakshi Arora for the Election Commission permitted the petitioner to withdraw the petition saying that the issues raised would be left open and decided as and when the situation arose.
Mr. Nariman submitted that the 42nd Amendment, evolved in the climate of national Emergency, violated the basic structure of the Constitution. Prior to the amendment, the Preamble read as follows “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign democratic republic.” After the amendment, the Preamble read: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.”
Mr. Nariman read out debates in the Constituent Assembly to drive home the point that Dr. Ambedkar had opposed the inclusion of word ‘socialist’ in the Constitution. He said the court should go into the question whether the powers under Article 368 to amend the provisions would include the power to amend even the Preamble. Justice Kapadia, however, told Mr. Nariman that so far no political party had challenged this and every one had subscribed to it. The court would consider it when the Commission faced challenge from any political party.
The NGO, in its petition, contended that the 42nd Amendment altered the Preamble, which was impermissible as it contained the ideals and aspirations or the objects which the Constitution-makers intended to be realised by its enacting provisions. It said that such an insertion was wholly inconsistent with the phrase ‘liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship,’ in the Preamble itself.
The petitioner submitted that the 42nd Amendment attempted to create a particular ideological basis for adherence to the Constitution, which was against the principles of a multi-party democracy and which breached the unity and integrity of the nation. The ingestion of the socialist principle was antithetical to the principle of democracy, which was considered a basic structure of the Constitution.
July 9, 2010
This is a parable that succinctly illustrates why socialism fails. It fails because of one fundamental feature of human nature: people respond to incentives. Actually, the most important lesson one learns from a study of economics is just that – incentives matter. Here’s the story.
An economics professor said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied only a little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied less than what they had. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.
[I am not entirely sure which source to credit for the story. It seems that this could be it but I don't know.]
The idea of sharing stuff equally is not a bad idea, actually, if it is confined to a small closely-knit group of people who all care for each other deeply – as in a family. The usual problems associated with interactions among large anonymous groups of people, problems identified as “prisoner’s dilemma”, or “the tragedy of the commons”, don’t usually arise in such small persistent groups. In any case, free-riders in small groups can be easily identified. Also, most people value the welfare of their own family members more than they value the welfare of strangers. That curbs any impulse to free-ride.
Indians need to understand why socialism fails. That is a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for India to get out of poverty.