Somebody recently told me how could I ever use mint toothpaste?

That reminded me of Nehru’s question – why do we need nineteen brands of toothpaste. Of course I did not bore my friend with another rant against Nehru. But I thought I would burden you guys instead.

Well we need many brands of toothpaste because there are a billion plus people in this country. Some like mint, some like it old plain simple. Some like herbal, some do not. Some need tartar control, some need whitening. Some do not care about what kind of toothpaste – and instead care about best prices at the quantities they seek, and so on. And yes, some just like better packaging etc too.

We are all free and unique individuals, and we must not sacrifice our freedom and individuality so easily. We work hard to earn our money, and we like to spend it the way we see fit. India may have won the battle of choice in toothpastes, but the war still hangs in the balance when it comes to even more important choices – in education, health-care, and so on.

There will always be some who see freedom as messy, wasteful, uncoordinated. They are wrong. Not only is freedom more moral than centralized control, it is inevitably more efficient too. We must learn to ignore those who ignore this lesson of history and economics.

(Cross-posted at http://swaraj.nationalinterest.in/2011/03/20/why-do-we-need-nineteen-brands-of-toothpaste/ )