Shruti Rajagopalan, Assistant Professor of Economics at State University of New York, Purchase College, joined us for a private IDFC-U roundtable on "Incompatibility of Socialism and the Indian Constitution" on July 31 in Mumbai.
Rajagopalan used the Mises-Hayek critique of socialism – the economic calculation problem – as a lens with which to unpack the the incompatibility of socialism and the founding principles of the Indian constitution. She walked the audience through the history of constitutional amendments to demonstrate how each subsequent amendment violated basic principles of the Indian constitution such as the freedom of speech and the right to private property – thereby undermining democracy and creating a culture of exceptionalism. The first amendment itself, she argued, directly curtailed the right to free speech. The Ninth Schedule in particular, which protected the legislations within it, from judicial review, opened the floodgates to undermine the founding principles.
Rajagopalan sought to dispel two myths. One, that Nehru upheld the Constitution, and that it was Indira Gandhi who undermined it. Second, that socialism and the principles of the Indian Constitution are so interdependent, to be almost synonymous, but that there has been a failure of political will to uphold it.
As a result of these amendments and the legislations that flow from them, Rajagopalan argues that as we move to a capitalist economy, we do not have the institutional framework to support it. Specifically, the erosion of judicial enforcement, property rights and equal rule of law and the move from an equal rules framework to a discretional rules framework is troubling. As a result, she argues, we have no option but to descend into crony capitalism – because we have created a culture of exceptionalism and removed equality before the law.
Rajagopalan's main research interest is in the economic analysis of legal and political institutions. Her articles have been published in journals including International Review of Law and Economics, Constitutional Political Economy, in books, and in newspapers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mint, and Indian Express. She has a Ph.D in Economics from George Mason University and is a Fellow at the Classical Liberal Institute at the NYU School of Law.