does it mean that there won't be any gujarati/marwari cartels in the bombay stock exchange? does it mean that a dailt entrepreneur, say, would have as much access to all information as upper caste businessmen? does it mean that people from the lower castes in india would miraculously be able to shrug off the burden of disprivileges that they've long had to contend with and upper caste rivals, in turn, would somehow, more miraculously, kick away their privilege-powered special racing shoes ...and both would compete on equal terms?
would the markets play the fair arbiter and ensure that the laws of 'nature' cease to play a decisive role in the distribution of outcomes? would the inexorable logic of the markets bring in efficiencies that'd guarantee the lower castes improved access to resources? in plain words, would the markets render caste irrelevant? in practical terms, would there be no two-glasses system in the teashops of the free markets?
these questions do not seem to engage those who support free markets (perhaps, they're not the right questions). to be fair, they weren't of great interest to those who supported the socialism project when the country started out, either. i support freedom..because i've seen that the aforementioned project was the smartest ruse ever designed to protect, and promote further, the most protected class of homo sapiens in the world - upper caste hindus. what crumbs were thrown at the lower castes, by way of 'reserved' resources/ jobs/entitlements/whatever...a freer, less state-directed economy would have delivered more. because, whatever the aims of the socialism project, in practice it had protected the business and middle classes of the country from outside competition, while at the same time directing most of the resources of the country towards building a mammoth ..mock-modern economy that had no use for 'pre-modern' lower castes. my view is that if the economy had followed a less 'commanded' and more natural path, meaning less government intervention (or intercession on behalf of the upper castes)...the lower castes would have found a steadier foothold than the one they teeter on now.
as i said, i support freedom..but its proponents make me suspicious. it has a different meaning for the lower castes of the country. but i don't think the free marketers have any time to spare for their concerns. in fact, the 'inefficiencies' engendered by periodic bursts of pandering to so-called identity politics seems to make the need for liberation more pressing for them. why? perhaps the indian state, as originally crafted, has become useless for those who profited the most from it. perhaps, the lower castes too have grasped the concept of rent-seeking and seem to expect that it should work for them too ...isn't that idea preposterous? the question of caste didn't fit in the socialist scheme of things, either. there are, among the intellectual class of india, several liberals who'd explain in a language, uniquely their own, how disastrous the markets have been for chile, mexico, peru, chile..mexico but would never bother to tell you why socialism has been so very disastrous for the lower castes of india. look at this recent article by ramachandra guha - he criticizes those indian intellectuals who oppose markets, almost unthinkingly. he is not an extreme free marketer..he thinks the state can play a useful role in the delivery of public goods like health and education (and these public goods are important for the lower castes). but look closely - he is the only active, maybe popular is the more appropriate word, intellectual i've read until now who mentions the word caste in this ongoing debate. but he doesn't get support from either side. strictly speaking, he isn't a participant in this debate - to be regarded as one, it seems, one needs to unequivocally oppose or support the idea of free markets.
so what does it all mean- this debate? ask sainath or swaminathan iyer..or karat or narayan murthy..or.. whoever. it's their game - of those who had participated in the socialism debate earlier ..and talked around the lower castes.