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2. Gurcharan Das: India
Recent news out of India has not been good. The gang rape of a 23-year-old student has illustrated not only the barbarism that is too often inflicted on innocent people, but also the inability of Indian authorities to address the failure of their institutions. And the recent skirmishes on the Pakistani-Indian border are only the most recent reminder of how worryingly fragile the border between two of the world’s nuclear powers is.
Gurcharan Das is an Indian libertarian who understands how important legal and economic cultures are for economic prosperity. In his book India Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong State, Das argues that India’s private sector would be able to grow were public institutions more effective. Das does not mean what many American libertarians think when they hear the phrase “strong state,” something that Das explained in a column for The Times of India:
A ‘strong state’ usually carries a bad odour, conjuring up authoritarian images of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. A ‘liberal, strong state’ is, however, not oppressive. It is efficient, enabling and tough against law-breakers. It punishes the corrupt swiftly. But it also protects liberties and dissent and enjoys legitimacy among the governed. A strong civil society is needed to hold such a state accountable. More than ever, Indians today need to make a liberal case for such a strong state.
Given India's economic potential it would be reassuring to see
the ideas of a self-described
Mises admirer being taken seriously.