Opinion: Ayn Rand A Hit In India

http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/4fc6549fc110c05879000000/india-s-unlikely-romance-with-novelist-ayn-rand

Many leaders and emerging young professionals there are introduced to libertarian themes by the novelist-philosopher and eloquent advocate of the life of reason, good management and personal productivity, Aristotelian democratic constitutionalism and individual rights…Rand advocated voluntary public programs and a legal system focused on rights, funded by voluntary means such as a re-legalized lottery or insurance system.

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Until 2007, Indians conducted more Google searches for the Russian-American novelist than residents of any other country, and in recent years have ceded the top spot only to Americans.

Rand’s rabid anti-statism and promotion of laissez-faire capitalism has long resonated with conservatives in the United States, where former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan numbers among her high-profile devotees.

She is currently championed by the right-wing Tea Party movement, whose members focus on her opposition to state welfare programs, while selectively ignoring her staunch advocacy of abortion rights.

The historic and enduring popularity in India of Rand’s seminal novels, “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” seems, at first glance, harder to explain.

Decades of quasi-socialist state planning dampened Indians’ entrepreneurial spirit, and the economic liberalization of the past 20 years has done little to promote the individual freedoms Rand held sacrosanct.

According to entrepreneur Monisha Singh, 43, Rand speaks to a part of the Indian psyche that has traditionally been denied its place or voice in society.

Singh, who picked up “The Fountainhead” when she was…

Although Flipkart.com would not reveal exact sales figures, Ankit Nagori, vice president for categories told AFP that Rand “consistently ranks amongst our top 20 writers, in terms of sales, across genres.”

In south Delhi’s busy Midland bookstore, 45-year-old Mirza Afsar Baig remembers the days when his father used to run the shop.

“Way back in 1973 I would see my dad working here and university students wandering in to buy her novels for 15 rupees (28 cents) each,” he told AFP.

“Today, when I am running the place, she still sells in big numbers,” he said.

Prominent Indian media commentator and brand management expert Suhel Seth believes Rand’s anti-establishment message strikes a particular chord with modern, middle-class Indians frustrated by social constraints.

“Indians are still fighting for certain freedoms, their fight for individual rights is thwarted all the time, whether it is by the family structure, or by politicians,” Seth told AFP.

“So it makes sense to me that Ayn Rand’s popularity hasn’t changed in all these years.”

In some respects, that popularity taps into a nationwide fascination with inspirational and self-help literature…

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