Free India was born with a dream. The dream outlined by the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru in the first Independence Day speech: ... wipe every tear from every eye." This dream remains as a dream even today. According to the authors, the India lies betrayed not because of the lack of wealth and resources but because of the wrong or insufficient policies and corrupt governance.
After analysing the socialistic framework of Indian governance from 1947 to 1990, and the current craze for open market economy, the economist authors present an alternate system, which is an amalgam of the two, and a value based democracy. The socialistic policies formulated by the Indian government, according to the authors, was "paternalistic". It did not alleviate poverty, produce quality, and economic growth. Nevertheless, socialism contains the values of equality, “survival of the weakest” which the nation should take note of. The ideal of open market economy, on the other hand, as practiced in India is “Americanisation” of the Indian economy. This would wipe out indigenous industries and monopolise them by the multinational companies. In this system only the fittest can survive, and the fittest are the richest. Moreover, it produces a nation enslaved to consumerism. The authors believe that the trickle down theory is a myth. Their argument is based on the analysis of the social situation of the rich nations. Only where there is an increase in the purchasing power of the masses the trickling down effect can take place.
The alternative system that the authors propose is “happy capitalism.” This means capitalism without inhuman tendencies of putting profit and trade above human dignity and people, without reducing citizens into submissive slaves of hierarchy of the rich and the powerful while maintaining an illusion of democracy. It is socialism without interference in freedom of speech and in every aspect of human endeavour. This should be a way of life for the Indians, the authors propose.
The authors further call for resource mobilisation to bring the urgent and fast qualitative change in the life of the poor of India. They propose an alternative 10th five-year plan.
The book, in an interesting and captivating style, analyses critically the present and past socio-economic situation of India. It has brought the economics of development for those who are not technically qualified to understand the intricacies of working of the economics. The grandiose vision that the authors propose calls for a radical change in value system both among the ruled and the rulers. Though this may be hard task to achieve, the practical guidelines that the authors set forth are something the rulers should take into consideration to wipe the tears from every Indian.