I make decent shoes based in Delhi. However the quality and price of my leather is best for my customers if I can get it from Raman’s tanneries in Kolkata. I can make my products even more cheaper, competitive and better if I can get them from Rehman’s tanneries in Karachi. However in both cases, Jagguda, my supplier from Delhi would lose his contract.

If I take the latter option of outsourcing from Karachi, many (politicians, leftists and laymen) would consider me unpatriotic. Notwithstanding the fact that I and my customers in Delhi, both suffer. However if I did it from Kolkata, I wouldn’t be upbraided so much. In both cases, Jagguda would lose. The Karachi option would be looked down upon. Does economic nationalism serve us? What is the calculus that we take into account while considering the benefits imposed upon Raman or Jagguda or even me?

If it is wrong to source from Jagguda, then by an extrapolation of the same principle, it is wrong to source from Raman as well. I should be probably helping my fellow Delhiite, Jagguda at all costs. If we are already on the way to internal liberalisation in India, where producers can source their products from a competitive liberalised market within India, why should it be restricted within India only? If job losses are the result, then markets (already all around us) should be freed up by government to let people create wealth. If job losses were the only concern, then the government should stop funding science and technology for apparently they invariably destroy jobs.

But most of us still stick to the vain notion that nationalism will help our people whereas it makes them suffer all the more. Read Deepak lal’s engaging article Bleeding hearts: It is time we pensioned the Soft Left off because they are the enemies of the poor

There is a thin line between placing all men equal on a pedestal and placing your desirable men only on the pedestal. The Left is in a bid to promote equality within a country/state/area only. And equality is an universal concept. It is ironical that the Left frequently indulges in this contradiction.

While people can indulge in personal preferences of love for their country, should these be allowed to take on controls over people, especially economic controls. It is natural that our hearts may bleed more for a crying Indian than a crying Pakistani. But one cannot extrapolate this feeling to a nation and economic consequences. The fallacy of composition, I guess!


Perhaps our love for India actually hurts Indians! Read here why economic integration is counter-intuitive to economic nationalism. And see where it is coming from?

Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Naveen Mandava

Naveen is Co-Founder at XamCheck, an organization that partners with schools, supporting them in processes they follow, with learning materials and processes that are all crafted to work together as an interconnected system to drive learning. He is a Doctoral Fellow from RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, United States of America. He has worked extensively on assessment based decision support for governments, non-profit organizations and schools chains in India and the USA for over 10 years. He has been a Lead Consultant with the World Bank’s Innovations for Poverty Action Consortium, a Policy Analyst with RAND Corporation and a Research Manager at Centre for Civil Society.