A recent article by Ammu Kannampilly entitled " India's unlikely romance with Ayn Rand ," published by the Asian-based DAWN media group, calls attention to a trend that really isn’t so surprising. With free-market reforms in recent decades, India has become a fast-growing economy with new entrepreneurs and a middle class of millions.
One would thus expect an interest in Atlas Shrugged and Rand’s advocacy of capitalism. But interest goes deeper than this.
One Fountainhead fan, interviewed for Kannampilly’s piece about Rand, explained that "Indian society, despite economic growth, despite globalisation, remains very conservative. So I think her work still resonates here, it provides a space for people to question the traditional order and be an individual."
Indeed, the world’s second most populous country is 80 percent Hindu. A central aspect of that religion is the millennia-old caste system, which holds that each individual is born into the station in life that they deserve. And in India, marriages for the most part are still arranged by families. Thus we continue to see cases like the one in July 2001 when a young couple, he 19, she 18, were publicly hanged as hundreds of villagers watched not in horror but with cheers of approval. The couple's crime: they were in love but were from different castes.
The secular founders of modern India such as Jawaharlal Nehru tried to bar discrimination based on caste, but such prejudices are deeply ingrained and persist.
In my November 24, 2009, essay entitled " Is India Important to America’s Freedom?" I outlined the importance of India both to the future of freedom in the world and as fertile territory for Objectivism, Rand’s philosophy of rational individualism. The romance between Rand and the growing ranks of individuals in India who love their own lives, who want to fulfill their human potential, and who want to prosper and flourish, is not unlikely at all. Let’s hope the romance is consummated Kama-Sutra style and leads to a truly happy marriage!
Hudgins is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.