It was the summer of 89 and I was in my second year of college doing my B.Com. I was working for my father in New Delhi. He had a factory where we made cast iron machine parts. A few years ago the government had set quota's for the pig iron used for casting. The criteria for quota was whatever quantity had been bought during the previous months. It was the start of the shortages, black market and bureaucratic interference in the business which was already very difficult to conduct. There were dozens of inspectors from various departments and they had be paid-off or you could forget about doing any business. There were so many ridiculous laws that it was impossible to comply with them even if you wanted to.
One of my jobs was to check with the local govt. office if our quota of pig iron had come. I had to go to the office which was on the outskirts of the city on my puny scooter between rashly driven trucks since nobody would tell you anything on the phone even if you somehow got through. One time I went their consecutively for three days , stood outside the office (no place to sit and during summer it can reach 44 deg. C/111 F.) and still had no news of our iron. Since there were no mobile phones at that time and no payphones around I had to beg some official to let me use his phone to make a call.
The staff was indifferent at best of times and outright hostile at other times. All the offices were dull, dusty, drab, dreary and every time you entered one your heart sank a little at the prospect of dealing with people who didn't even bother to look at you and were deliberately dismissive. If you persisted they would snap at you like a rabid dog and it was almost physically painful when you had be very polite and use deferential tone even when you wanted scream at them and ask them if they were human before grinding there faces in the pile of dusty files in front of him.
Sometimes I wish I could have made a virtual tour of the whole experience for the benefit of those people who want more regulation, more interference and remind them of those days. As such we are hardly out of the license and inspector raj and some people want to drag us back to those evil times.
I wish I could tell people in America that I had lived through the worst case scenarios portrayed in "Atlas shrugged" by Ayn Rand. A society which mocks and denigrates the achievements of it's producers is not a pleasant place to live in. I dreaded the days when some new teacher would ask kids about their fathers profession and I kid you not when I say that after saying my father was a businessman I would see contempt and in one particular case downright hostility. This one teacher got on my case and constantly taunted me by saying why did I have study since my father was a big businessman I didn't have to worry about making a living anyway.
I wonder about America's capacity for more abuse. Is Obama going to be the last straw? Is he going to turn people away from socialist idea's by proving their futility and failure. With Santelli's rant on CNBC getting widespread support and a lot of resistance to the bailout I would say Americans are not ready to throw in the towel and surrender meekly. With core of objectivist activists leading the way their is still hope for the greatest country in the world. And don't forget people like me who are American at heart (born in the wrong place) who will do there best to keep it that way.