New Delhi, India – Renowned Dalit thinker and political commentator Chandra Bhan Prasad has said that the market oriented economic reforms have done far more for the upliftment of Dalits than the reservation system and social reformers. He said, “reservation system can be useful for the upliftment of mere 10 percent of Dalits while the free market as a concept can make the life of 90 percents Dalits better.” “It is the market only which has bridged the gap between Dalits and Non-dalits. The results of this change are manifested not just in changes in per capita income, but in the changed lifestyle, food habits and aspirations of common Dalits” continues Mr. Prasad. He was speaking on the second day of the first Asia Liberty Forum (ALF) organized on 2-3 February 2013 by Asia Centre for Enterprise (ACE) in collaboration with Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Fredrich Naumann Stiftung fur die Freiheit. Around 200 economists, commentators and representatives of civil society organisations from over 2o countries participated in this program.
While putting his views on the topic “Economic Reforms & Caste in India” Mr. Chandra Bhan Prasad said that in the last two decades, access to the market has brought big change to the lifestyles of Dalits at least in metros like Delhi and Mumbai, and it is very difficult to differentiate between Dalit and Non-dalits according to their eating, clothing and work style. He said, “market encourage non-traditional specialisation, innovation, and the use of latest technology to gain maximum profit. The use of fancy machines and latest technologies for example have encouraged even ‘Savarnas’ to be employed as housekeeping staff and security guards which were earlier considered as the work of Dalits alone.
At the opening address of ALF, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) Mr. Baijayant “Jay” Panda said that the phobia of the East India Company is responsible for the opposition of foreign investments and industrialists. Mr. Panda said that this fear needs to be removed as foreign investment and industrialists play a vital role in every country’s economy. Mr Panda argued that the old monopolies had crumbled and competition was encouraging diversificaiton of products and services. He said, 'You no longer have to run after a govt monopolist internet provider; now a dozen internet companies run after you!" Dr. Parth J. Shah of CCS, Tom Palmer from Atlas Foundation, Ajay Shah of NIPFP, Siegfried Herzog from FNF and hundreds of delegates, economists and speakers were present at the Forum over the two days.
The program showcased intellectual entrepreneurs who are battling for freedom and free enterprise all over the world, and presented successful international models of community mobilisation, political participation, and advocacy for reforms. Organisations such as Students for Liberty, Tax Payers Alliance (UK), Central Asia Free Market Institute (Kyrgyzstan), Landesa (India), Sambriddhi Foundation (Nepal) Centre for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka) presented their work and accomplishments and shared learnings from their experiences in working in some of the most difficult environments in the world.
The Forum was a public celebration of liberty in Delhi-NCR, bringing the best liberal minds from Asia and around the world and provided a much needed platform to identify critical issues plaguing Asia, explore strategies to face the challenges ahead, and generate ways to strengthen the liberal movement in this part of the world.
About Centre for Civil Society
Centre for Civil Society (CCS) was founded on India’s golden anniversary, 15 August 1997, by Dr. Parth J Shah. Despite her political independence from an alien state, India still lacked economic freedom. India was throttled by the license-permit-quota raj and ill-informed public policies that curtailed entrepreneurship, restricted opportunities, and stunted economic development. CCS, one of India’s first liberal think-tanks dedicated to advancing social change through public policy, was the outcome of deep belief in the individuality and dignity of all persons, and their right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. We are driven by the dream of a free society, where political, social, and economic freedom reign.