Gupta writes on something that I have long pondered upon.
"We are aware of the missed opportunities and the economic loss from Nehru's decision to place the State at the 'commanding heights' of the economy. We don't realise how much damage Nehruvian socialism has done to our moral character. Our reforms are rightly shrinking government's role in business, but it will take much longer to rebuild character. Are people honest only because of the fear of punishment ? Without checks would people behave like Duryodhana in the Mahabharata? Modern social scientists assume that people are only motivated by 'self-interest'. But is that true? If a child is in danger, don't we have a natural desire to rush and save it?"
"Institutions have to depend both on the 'good' and 'bad' in human beings. If one is cautious and re-designs government only on selfish motives, you might erode whatever public spirit that exists. But ours was the opposite mistake — we relied on too much public spirit. To restore accountability now you don't need new solutions. Just adopt the accountability systems of high performing governments like Canada and Australia. Even better, follow the recommendations of our own administrative reforms commissions. "
My tentative hypothesis is that humans act on their instincts, self-interest which is just economicspeak for selfishness is one such instinct, altruism is another. Which instinct predominated is decided by social conditioning. I guess, among all animals, human is the most suggestible.
The real problem is in deciding our value system. Should it be independent of empirical observations? If yes then how do we judge one system is better than other ?
As far as I am concerned, value systems can only be reasoned and therefore judged, when it is assumed that our data or observations have some relevance. Which, to me, means that life and evolution has a meaning beyond bio-chemistry.