Autumn-Winter 2003
The World Bank Has a Lot to Learn
(But Not from Where They Think) 

By Dana De Zoysa

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It's hard to find anything more visually exotic than a Mumbai streetcorner. Any corner. But seek the Market Economy there? A World Bank & Heritage Foundation Inc. Officially Approved Market Economy? The darling of capitalists and bankers who contemplate the marketplace from their aeries in Manhattan and Zürich? An Officially Approved Market Economy in Mumbai, a city where it's commonplace to see a truck passing with four women standing in the tailgate, about as remote from the World Bank as you can get, their saris fluttering blue/red/gold/green in the exhaust like a rose garden downwind from a coal mine, all of them carrying shovels with which to fill in potholes? An Officially Approved Market Economy (with or without trucks and women with shovels and potholes) that is replicated pretty much all over the world in one form or another, dozens, nay hundreds of market economies, all different and all composed of people and customs that do not appear on the radars of consultants, advisors, financial analysts, politicians, and potentates, despite the fact that such economies are more numerous, more vital, more spirited, and infinitely more interesting than the World Bank Officially Approved Market Economy? A real-econ, in other words.

Yes, in Mumbai. The real-econ market economy is there, and whatís more, on a single street corner. In fact, the one nearest my apartment on Best Marg, just down from the Apollo Bund in the Nariman Point part of the city. No Officially Approved entity is this: itís the Market Economy of the Real World Bank. 

As a sort of visual canapé, there's a stunning twosome of black ladies from Mali in their brilliant canary-and-tangerine tent-shaped boubous each of which must consume three yards of fabric and the attentions of Lord knows how many village dyers macerating and boiling and leaching for days the seeds and roots and wild flowers that go into the brilliant colors garbing these women, their piled-high hair wrapped in crimson and blue turbans--perfect color-counterpoints to their round-tongued Sahel accents like water running over round stones. 

Lesson One to the World Bank: Forget global, look local. 

Or, haggling with a stallholder over the price of an unguent, the two Muslim women of the stern Shi'a sect in cloaky black, only their eyes showing, the garb that gives anti-Muslim feminists fits as they selectively nonrecall that not so long ago most Catholic nuns were dressed this way too (and in the contemplative cloistered orders still are). But then, as though sent before our eyes to contradict the ignorances about Islam that non-Muslims love to nourish, we see the Granny-Goose wear of some Borah Muslims, a sect even more doctrinally conservative than Shi'as, yet the most liberal of all Muslims in letting their women choose what they wear. Their dress is the Asian version of the fussily floral, heavily-embroidered coordinated pastels of the 19th-century outfits encountered today only in Laura Ashley shops or forced on daughters whose parents follow some backwater Utah Christian sect but still shop at places like Wal-Mart, where, taking one look at these girls in their starched white Anabaptist square collars, make you think you have just blundered into a "Little House on the Prairie" set. So whose future is the more horizoned, the Borahs or the girls in a Utah Wal-Mart?

Lessons for the World Bank: (a) The image of Islam as a monocratic culture is a lie concocted by publicists in religion's name, not for the betterment of believers but for sacramental lucre, as clear a promo for fast-faith mass-market consumer theology as you can find; (b) It's hard to fault the dress codes of Islam when the people most likely to do the faulting are mandating similarly strict moral codes of their own back home. When the only difference is the garb, hypocrisy is a transnational coin. 

Next we see men faking neurological disorders for the benefit of the tourist trade, who to a man appear to suffer from what might be called oculus simplissimus touristicosis, "able to see only tourists," the symptoms of which are an unwillingness to solicit from locals but an unerring eye for tourists, the disorder being manifested by piteous mewling and brandishing of a hand that resembles less a withering atrophy than an impression of a barroom raconteur casting the shadow of a quacking duck with his hands. 

Lesson: Potemkin villages for the benefit of visitors are a little more ubiquitous than you think. 

In truth, Mumbai has an every-second-counts dissociative inability to separate the act from the play-act, the fact from the nonfact. There is no marketing term for Colaba's ultimate version of reality TV, but by whatever name, by being years behind the Harvard Business School, is in fact years ahead of it. 

Or observe the stunningly beautiful threesome of black girls in dreadlocks that you'd swear must be just off the plane from Trinidad, still reeking erotically of ganja and the burnt-grease perfume of dreadlock stabilizers. But then in their first three words you realize they are from Liverpool, because they sound like the Beatles back in Mary Quant days when everybody shopped for bell- bottoms in Chelsea. In the Colaba Causeway Market Economy, what is real can be faked false and what is false can be faked real, just ask the wizened gent selling padded bras. 

Lesson: Anderson accounting is not a recent development. 

Then a couple of spraycan-clad viscose Indian teens, their contours soft as an eyebrow, lovely umber-tan skin and full rich noses with the slight outward curve, voices like honey chattering about Indo-Pop movie hits and heartthrob heroes, the twittery gigglishness of which demonstrates that teentalk here, as everywhere, is a lingo of the loins (left out of discourse in the presence of parents) in which the marvelous curlicues of girl gossip convert desire into the miracles of the lipstick tube and the oversize portrait of the filmthrob hero on the bedroom wall. One of the girls wears a tee-shirt with huge lettering across the front: "I'm the girl your mother warned you about." 

Clearly she is far from the section of Mumbai where passersby know her mother. Is this dance around the cosmetics counters really so distant from the half-naked dance around the fire of Surya, the Sun God, Hinduism's seed- capital god, who you can actually feel directly overhead fructifying this era as lovingly he did the Vedic, though those unmoved by matters godly will go no further than conceding it's a bit warmish today? Thus, as was true of those fertility fire dances of old, today, right here on a street corner under the midday Mumbai sun, girls' liptack dreammate lingo, whether Liverpudlian or Mumbaikar, is about boys. 

Lessons: (a) Sex sells; (b) Cutesy sex sells better; (c) Youth markets go for the direct approach. 

Are you beginning to wonder about the tumultuously associative frothiness of all this? The strung-on sentences five times the length of prim declaratives deemed proper by college prep courses and business-writing classes? The associative flights of ideas and images strung together with commas like beads on a necklace that could land me in a real pickle if I went on like this on an elongated couch in the office of some fellow who has a picture of Freud on the wall? 

Lesson: The worst ad hype comes from those who decry it. 

Because this is what it's really like to be on a streetcorner in Mumbai, 10:00 am till 8:00 pm 24/7, and no breaks for lunch. That fellow Freud could have unblinkered himself a good bit over here. For one, he'd have to redefine insanity, because the entire Colaba Causeway is textbook insanity, just take a look. Why settle for schizophrenia in just a few errant personalities, when you can have 360 degrees of them on a Mumbai street corner simply by turning full circle from where you stand? 

Lesson: Reality TV is not new, and in the hands of what Hollywood calls writers, it isnít very well-scripted, either. 

Thus far everything said here has been as insignificant in terms of the real world as a schoolroom window filled with those wild colors and inventive shapes that mark a kindergarten water-color lesson. Let's note something really illustrative, like the banana walla on the corner of the Causeway and Best Marg. (Disclosure: I buy bananas there. Full disclosure: I know him by name.)"Walla" is a jack-of-all-words that usually applies to someone who provides an object or service that otherwise would be of no great importance except that it is considered a minimum daily requirement. Examples: bananas, or endless cups of tea, or the street-stall iddli vendors whose mushy fermented rice-flour pancakes look innocent enough until you reach the chillies in the center and the volcano goes off and you need another street walla to sell you some cooling curd (high-butterfat yogurt). 

Lesson: Real-econ markets develop best by first selling the sizzle, then the steak, then the digestive aids. 

"Of no great importance" because these folk--India's hundreds of millions of walla persons--do not turn up in the sanctum sanctori of the World Bank and its preachy compatriots in their fair-trade temples. It can be legitimately said that we could live without economists (didn't we for thousands of years?) on the grounds that as geniuses of hindsight they rate up there with sports analysts. After all, the banana-walla world has managed to survive without economic analysis long before Ph.D.s came along. 

Lesson: Because the banana-walla world survives without the anointing of the World Bank, and in fact much predates it, streetside GNP is a bigger contributor to social security than the mega-loans World Bank economists crow about. 

You can live without the econocuria at the World Bank, but try living without those wallas. How could you possibly survive in the Colaba district without their myriad unlicensed stalls, without the pushcart vendors pouring chai (sweet milk tea), vending fresh fruits, vegetables, carbohygrease deep-fat- fried nibbles (LDL was around centuries before MacDonalds), current newspapers and magazines pulled off stacks on the ground (you'd be ill-read indeed if you expected the India Postal Service to deliver the current issue of an obviously pilferable-for-resale magazine to your door), and useful mechanical implements like screwdrivers, facial tissues, soaps (one brand, four colors), and--if you're local enough--gossip enough to last through the whole day and a dozen neighbors. The banana-walla on the corner of Best Marg and Colaba Causeway provides us no-cost delimited-product sales-volume research on a flat piece of cardboard trimmed down from a refrigerator delivery. The bananas are uniformly overripe (tastier that way: refrigeration technology suppresses lingual, glottal, and olfactory stimuli; somebody should do an MBA case study on this). Their skins are streaked with browns and blacks, making for an artistic color scheme which, if you squint your eyes just a little, makes you think Abstract Expressionist started here, and is priced cheaper than the taxi fare to a pricey up-Mumbai gallery. 

Lesson: If you're in the market for art, the best art is what you see. 

This walla's section of "his" sidewalk occupies about twenty square feet of space and twenty seconds of eye time. There's a trigger word in that phrase which has enormous implications for one's stately progress along any street--or thought system--in India. That word is "sidewalk." 

Consider the implications inherent in that slender bi-directional piece of concrete Westerners are accustomed to considering "their" (meaning everybody's) right of free passage, a space to be kept clean and unencumbered at all times by duly-appointed and paid civic authorities. The cops might bend the rules for two kids with a lemonade stand on a hot Sunday, but try setting up a permanent banana-walla stall on a piece of cardboard under the shade of a traffic light in Manhattan and see how far you get. Have you any idea of the number of trees that were sacrificed to the file-cabinet chapels of municipal cathedrals to regulate the urban sidewalk? What would result, in the textbook Libertarian manner, if none of those trees were felled, no code published, and instead there existed the perfect free-market theory of every vendor for themselves? MBA types might rush to their spreadsheets over questions like this, but any Bombay walla will tell you in an instant. Very soon there would come into being a natural market mechanism for properly greasing the palm of the proper self-appointed authority--either the local policeman or thug, whoever gets to you first--for looking the other way while you exercise "your" right to "your" twenty square feet in exclusivity, or said policeman/thug (sama-sama but for garb) will sell his right to bust you to the next covetous, wealthier walla who comes along.

Lesson: Where there's freedom there are thugs, but some wear ties. 

The regulated market may be a conceptual foe to, but is in fact an inevitable spawn of, the ideal-case free-market economy. So if an Officially Approved World Bank market economy is impossible in the case of the Colaba Causeway, what happens if you apply the idea of an externally regulated market economy (temporarily overlooking the oxymoron) to the City of Mumbai sidewalk codes? Well, you'd get every street in India, that's what.

Sidewalks in Mumbai, as in most of ex-Brit Asia, are called "five-foot ways," after a British colonial ordinance that allotted a five-foot strip on either side of a thoroughfare for personal passage. Five whole feet? Why, that's an armspan! Enough to accommodate an entire regiment marching abreast with beating drums. Do dream on, code-bearing ideologues, and since you're so naive, make it an economic wet dream and come visit Mumbai. The Brits never gave due thought to the appeal of so much unallocated space to people who owned no space at all. Title to property deeded onto paper is something for birthright aristocrats and the politically connected. The central cause of Asian poverty isn't absence of a work ethic, it's the inability to borrow money for a business license, house, or education because there is no property to put up for collateral. With no title deed you're an encroacher, and please name me the bank that will loan to someone who has nothing to confiscate. That walla has brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, parents, second- and third-cousins running like windrows down both sides of his five-foot property line. Do you foolishly expect him to pay back an impersonal bank, when he is filially obliged to funnel it to family instead? Better to keep it in the family. Not only will you not run afoul of the loan officer, but the taxman neither. Does this in any way quench the entrepreneurial embers? Cast thine eyes about. Com- pared with what the World Bank proffers, the Mumbai self-regulated economy is like a freshman art studentís first effort with cast paper hanging next to a Jackson Pollock.

Lesson: If you think that a vibrant, colorful, profit-making, lifestyle-enhancing goods-and-services economy far more exciting than anything a supermarket ever offered cannot develop out of circumstances as woesome as a merciless sidewalk, spend five minutes on a Colaba streetcorner. 

Which is not to say that such an endeavor has no social safety net. And, like most social safety nets, this one is grounded on taxes. Those earning their living on twenty square feet of a five-foot way have taxes too--corrupt cops, local politicos who mulct off "party donations," and gondas--goons--who act as enforcers for both. It takes a trained eye to spot this system in actual operation. The first thing to look for is silence and a downcast eye as the walla dispenses, rather than takes in, hard cash from his money pouch. 

Lessons: (a) Corruption is not much intimidated by a legal system motivated by payoffs, (not to mention the fact that a civil suit filed in India today will reach a verdict in approximately 350 years); (b) Substitute "lawyer's fees" in other parts of the world for "350 years" and draw your own conclusions. 

One result, unsurprisingly: beggars. Here the World Bank free-market comes into tough sledding. Think not about how the beggars got there, for we know India has had them for millennia and this is not the place for an antireligious screed. Rather, think of their organizational stability today, the implications of why, with millions of beggars in Mumbai, there's no tooth-and-claw competition from newcomers for that lucrative-looking curb-corner or the doorway conveniently near an ATM machine. Why aren't such prime locations mobbed with extended palms? 

Live here long enough and you see the same waif whining, "No money, you give money, milk only, I show you, you come buy, I hungry." She hits me up every week, and by now we're old pals. But why just her and no others? Mumbai certainly lacks not for waifs. Why does this girl in the ragged blue flounce-dress begging for milk always lead her catch of bleeding-heart tourists to the exact same nearby shop to buy the package? (Heat and sanitation being what they are in Asia, most milk is sold in powdered form.) Why, at the major intersections at whose every red light women pounce on you with their babies and entreaties, why are these always the same women (though the practiced eye sees the babies frequently change moms)? Where's the market mechanisms of competitive price adjustment and entrepreneurial elbowing? 

They don't exist. Going freelance as a beggar is suicide by gonda. Ever watch those Discovery Channel shows about Chicago in the 1920s? When pols and cops and thugs were both taking whatever they could and the city was an economic sinkhole? Welcome to Mumbai, with its flappers and Gatsbys of today wearing the costumes of Bollywood bimblets and stock market manipulators. The beggars are organized into mafias, and in fact, structurally they are rather like those in old Chicago. The little girl, when her pearl of great price can finally be sold, will end up in a brothel. But for now she gets a rupee for every hundred she receives in kickbacks from the powdered milk shop and gives it over to her mother who gives it over to the gonda controlling her corner. For which the mother and the little girl enjoy nights of undisturbed sleep on a newspaper shadowed from the street-lamp by the branches of a date palm. 

Look even closer and it is always the same milk box the little girl buys. The milk was emptied of its powder long ago. Today it is filled with the plastic peanuts used to pack crates. No use taking a chance on a box being damaged during this endless round of resales. Lord knows how many substances they went through before arriving at the same heft and feel of powdered milk. 

Lesson: Independent contracting everywhere is more heavily predated upon at the shop-floor level than at the management level. 

There's a mafia-market system going on right in front of my eyes as I write this. I observe it hardly fifty feet from my Best Marg and Colaba Causeway banana-walla spy station. It's run by a taxi driver who hangs out at Stand #4, keeping an eye on his turf, a local brothel named "Comfort Inn." (Lesson: High art in the sleaze world is the single-entendre.) His counterparts, be they pimps or lottery vendors, are all over Mumbai. Ever wonder why you get turned down for a trip to the airport--usually the most lucrative fare in the city because of the high likelihood of a generous tip from foreigners departing India who can easily be wheedled into parting with their soon-to-be-worthless rupees? That's no bonanza to these fellows. A two-hour trip is two hours away from their minuscule but lucrative empire. 

Lessons: (a) Oh into such gilt cages do they themselves fly; (b) If you found it phrased this way in management textbooks our schools would produce much more interesting managers. 

But, alas, we drift from the history and lore of the five-foot walkway. True to the image of iron filings lining themselves up to join the poles of a magnet, the moment the British paved over the mudholes and tree roots and laid the first five-foot walkway out of sawn timbers, sidewalk wallas lined themselves up to stake claim to every unencumbered square foot. The only concession demanded by the rent-paying shops about to be obscured behind the piled-high clutter of unrestrained walladom, and begrudged even then, was that the wallas yield just enough customer access so as to not cut off access to their premises. Hence today's five-foot way is three feet occupied by stall wallas and two for people to pass. Any individual desiring serious progress goes out into the street to fight for right of passage with taxis and bicycles and buses and the fellows pushing petrol-filled barrels and/or fifteen-foot lengths of bamboo on barrows little changed from those carved into Assyrian facades and Theban hieroglyphs. If you think Microsoft versus Oracle is something, go head-to-head for right of way with a barrow pusher and a Mumbai double-decker bus. 

Lesson: The end-consumer is always the first fleeced and last served. 

According to World Bank economists, the fundamental principle of the market economy is that everything has a price and that price fluctuates according to supply and demand. The World Bank has not spent much time checking out the enforcers, hangers-on, and parasites who enforce the unwritten laws of the Colaba Causeway. It is an utterly inverse economy to the one approved by University of Chicago theorists in their cute bow ties and the Heritage Foundation op-ed writers with their poorly concealed brass knuckles. Instead of prices seeking their lowest common denominator based on supply and demand, Mumbai sidewalk wallas set the highest price they think they can get away with. It takes but moments for that price to become known up and down the street. Every other walla promptly raises his prices accordingly, under the real-econ pricing principle, "If So-and-So Can Get That Much, I'll Ask More." (Quintuple that and you have tourist prices.) 

Lessons: (a) It would be awfully nice if globalization advocates would more closely examine the globe they are globalizing; (b) Theyíll get diarrhea and sniffles if they try, so they won't. 

Mumbai is so big, and so great are the infrastructural problems of doing even simple things such as distributing fruit from warehouse to street-hawker stall and corner market, that if you deduct from what you pay for the tangerine backward to the person who grows it, the one who really suffers from the Colaba's real-econ is the farmer out in the country. He must accept a pittance for his labor in comparison with the costs of placing it in your hand. He accepts it because if he doesn't someone else will. 

Lesson: No matter what economy you devise, its most voluble adherents arrange matters so the little guy is always the one who gets screwed. 

Hence our banana-walla is one of hundreds of similar wallas necklacing the entire Colaba Causeway, all but closing off the walkway for the pedestrial progress originally intended. The likelihood that individual wallas will occupy these same pieces of concrete, or that any single walla will likely be seen here five or ten years from now, tells you everything you need to know about custom law rather than writ law assuming the regulatory role in Indian cities. These seemingly simple sidewalk empires of today are creatures of time and chance, peopled by both the corrupt and their pawns who are each caught in nets cast by tradition and proclivity and religion and mayhap and luck, whereupon they cast nets of their own, twenty square feet at a time, across the Mumbai walks, finding themselves soon entangled with corrupt tax collectors and urban administrators, none of whom bother with formalities like pieces of paper or a sense of propriety. Gills gaping for survival, victim to victimizer to victimhood bequeathed as from mother to child and spouse to spouse, each bound to duty and deed which in due passage of generational nostalgia becomes its own history, the sourcebook of a civilization that, call it caste or call it economy, is but a name for what most people would call hell. Here Dante could be, except there's no Purgatory and certainly no Paradise. All because of one enormous shift in the mechanism of profit: You are not what you own, you are who you pay to get it. The end justifies the end, and the means justify the means, and that's about the end of things in the theory department. Termites, too, eat the life out of wood and digest it into dust. 

So what does almost every Mumbaikar do when contemplating his dust of the day gone by? Go to a Bollywood film, of course! Where everything is lovely (thanks to special effects and offshore shooting locations) and the birds sing and the voice-overs perfectly timed. A scent of something, yes, but sigh, there also we cannot escape being ruched into a marketer's idea of our place in the great scheme of things. In any given half-hour the heroine will be embraced four to seven times, carry a water jar on her head two to four times, shyly smolder glances at the hero at least three times, go subserviently down on her knee any number of times, indulge in costumey fairytale dancing while somehow singing in perfect pitch without needing to catch her breath, pout, flutter her eyelashes, and hide behind the nearest available tall, firm, vertical pillar when the hero nears her. He in turn has been made giddy by the magic wand of her symbol-studded flattery. All this is so obvious that to wrest conclusions from it would litter jetsam on the ubiquity trail. 

So instead we must look to reality for our entertainment, on the street corner of Colaba Causeway and Best Marg. There shall we forget the vast stretches of irretrievable theory negated by ordinary streetcorner activity, forget that the original pales before the replica, forget the present and future argument, forget how life reveals meanings and harmonies about which intelligence hasn't a clue, and consider the leaps in mood and style, the breadth and design of five minutes spent navigating the sidewalk sea-change of Colaba and Best Marg, metaphor for the fear of insolvency, fear of the unknown, fear translated into images of monsters in local religious shrines, monsters of the long ago, monsters today. Live the verismo of every twenty square feet as a mini-colonial empire, corrupt cops on the take and sleazos on the make, today's spice trade of banana and plastic cups of sweet tea, soap in four colors, unguents and cremes and perfumes guaranteed to turn any spare hour into new progeny, the broken-eyed kids who advertise their bodies for sale by coming up alongside and holding your wrist, the caste of beggars identified by monkeys or parrots chained to their wrists (and please don't be an oaf and enquire who is chained to whom); the incense wallas who must mark everything up fifty percent just to recover the costs of their free ads wafting everywhichway, only to vanish by the time their frangipani reaches the narcissus and jasmine of the scent-walla ten paces away. 

Lesson: Sell the schleps popcorn before you let them see the movie. 

Forget that the ugly, gutty, petty side of life can never be outsmarted by the false friendship of statistics that honeys the pages of World Bank reports. No, net-cast for the truth instead. Net-cast here on this corner. Where one stray glance picks up the local itinerant knife-grinder, no walkway-bound he, a twentysomething fellow who has rigged his grinding stone between the handlebars of his bicycle to which he has mounted a second sprocket and chain, so that he sharpens by pedaling furiously while leaning the blade onto the stone. The most efficient system imaginable, he even gets his daily exercise. Plus, the sparks fly away from him off the front of the bike so there's no danger of hurting his eyes (protective glasses, they what, lah?) He is the most ambulatory, though probably not the freest, man in the district. You know, you just know, he has to pay off somebody. 

Lesson: The market mechanism encourages as much cynicism as any other system, only it's more sanctimonious about it. 

Pause another glance at a street stall offering tamarind accompanying square white iddlis of rice flour with raisins, slathered with a thick white sauce of coconut mashed in its own milk and mixed with cashew bits. Surely this is what the gods must have eaten before they decided to become humans, a move they probably have regretted ever since. For gods, as everyone knows, are obliged to live twenty-five thousand years in the being-state they elect to become after their twenty-five thousand years as a god. Boy, what a pissy thing to come down from heaven after opting for humanhood only to discover you've opted for a Mumbai street corner. 

Lesson: Affix your name to the least possible commitment. 

So, away from the gods, too, those dream-releases humans wish but cannot be on this Mumbai streetcorner, away to the Hindu sadhu (Godman) herbalist sitting lotus-position in his saffron loincloth like a Buddha without a tree, loops of red holy rudrushka beads hanging loosely around his neck, with a vast array of his medicaments before him. Bits of broken bird wing, chips from a dozen or so tree barks, seeds, powders from brilliant-yellow tamarind to deep red paprika, dried leaves in shallow baskets, hedgehog quills, and several dozen icky-goos in dubious phials. 

Lesson: For all its technological smugness, allopathy is neither the first nor the best in the snake-oil trade. 

At the end of his day he carefully re-lids all the unguent jars, re-baskets the bark and roots and powders, wraps the bird feathers and frog skins in a spindle of cloth, neatly layers his entire pharmacokinetic shopfront into a pillowcase, rises like Gandhi from a fast, deposits a coin and a prayer in the Shiva temple collection box before which he had been sitting, and simply . . . vanishes. Swallowed up, just one more exoticism on a street full of them, two miles long, in a city of them, sixty miles long and forty broad. 

The market research is over. Nothing has changed on the corner of Best Marg and Colaba Causeway. Except everything. Nothing and everything are pretty much the same in India, so cyclical is the idea of history and so cruel the passage of a life which will only redux itself endlessly. A few bananas sold, a few newspapers and popular magazines have disappeared under tea-and-tiffin-time arms into the cafes where, having been read, they will disappear again into the toilet rooms. 

Lesson: Recycling need not be profitable to be economically useful, provided it adopts socially useful forms. 

Fifty years ago and fifty years hence not a jot of this will have changed. The individual bodies will be gone but the activities will remain, carried out then as now, done the same way because in India this is how things are done. The machinations of the World Bank are but a conceit: Because we do it this way everybody should do it this way. Up against Colaba, the WB hasn't a chance. 

Final Lesson: A real market economy has little to do with markets and even less with economics.

(Dana De Zoysa has a passion for developing-country authors. He commutes pretty much everywhere in Asia, but is happiest at his writer's paradise in Mirissa, Sri Lanka. He can be reached at danadezoysa@sbcglobal.net.)