Two major events on Sunday, November 14; one personal and the other national (not counting the great brunch Mana and I hosted with Spanish omelet with ham and bacon and apricot jam from Himachal. That jam can beat the best of them!). Dr Anuradha Mangalpalli, a trustee of CCS from the beginning, got married to Gautam living in the US. Congratulations to the objectivist couple! And the PM inaugurated in AP the ambitious food-for-work program.

Anyone who argues against the new program runs the risk of being considered heartless, at the least. But the fact remains that the same government keeps a large number of the urban poor unemployed or underemployed through the licensing regime for entry-level professions, like street vendors, cycle rickshaw pullers, small shop keepers. Small farmers and farm laborers do not earn much since the market for their products is legally restricted, at times to the district in which they are produced. Tribals and adivasis are declared by our Supreme Court as ‘encroachers’ in their own forests! They are the ones who took care of the forests and kept them alive for us to enjoy, but now the forests are public property, they must be evacuated to protect the forests. What gross injustice! The urban poor, the rural poor and the tribals, all lack basic property rights and economic freedom.

The well-meaning PM would do far more for the people if he first instituted a Livelihood Freedom Test. It’s a simple test for all rules and regulations to check whether they prevent any one from earning an honest living. If they do, rethink, revise, or remove. The LFT won’t demand much resources and would open up areas of livlihood forever. Let the Left be spelled LFT. Drop the ‘e’which stands for ‘errors.

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Parth Shah
Parth Shah

Parth J Shah is founder president of Centre for Civil Society, a think tank that promotes choice and accountability across public and private sectors. He is co-founder and Director of Indian School of Public Policy. Parth’s research and advocacy work focuses on the themes of economic freedom, choice and competition in education, property rights approach to the environment and new public governance. He recently edited Liberalism in India.