Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Selling Dreams from Corporate Fora

A BIZARRE political drama is unfolding in the country. There is still over a year to go for the next general elections in 2014. The leader of the ruling coalition – the Congress – and the principal opposition party – the BJP – appear to have already entered the rat race of projecting the future prime minister. In this context, we are constrained to, once again, make a reference to an old Telugu saying aalu ledu, chulu ledu, koduku peru Somalingam. This roughly translates to mean: neither do I have a home nor a wife, but I have named my son as Somalingam! Neither have the elections been announced nor has either of these parties won the people’s mandate but they are already projecting the future prime minister of India!

Not so strangely, both the parties have chosen to launch their projections from the forums of India Inc. This is a reflection of the reality of two Indias today. The luminosity of ‘shining’ India is directly proportional to the depravity of the ‘suffering’ India. By choosing the corporate fora, both the parties have clearly signalled that they would continue to pursue policies which will only widen the hiatus between these two Indias. Therefore, it is already clear that both these parties will vigorously pursue the neo-liberal    economic reform strategy which is a recipe for imposing further greater burdens on the people if they head any future government.

While speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Mr Rahul Gandhi, among many things, said that India could not be salvaged by a lone ranger messiah riding on a white horse. As though picking up the cue (more of this later), the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant carried forward his nationwide campaign blitz by addressing the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Like the Walrus in Alice in Wonderland, he has begun to speak many things – “cabbages and kings..…”

Both have embarked on selling ‘dreams’ to enlist people’s support in the coming elections. The Congress is talking of empowering a billion Indians. At the same time, it is pursuing policies which are impoverishing a billion Indians. At the other end, these policies are illuminating the lives of the miniscule minority of our 1.2 billion people.

The BJP wants to create a ‘vibrant’ India a la the illusory ‘vibrant’ Gujarat. The 2002 communal genocide in Gujarat is sought to be replicated for the rest of India as the foundation required to achieve such a ‘vibrancy.’ This is the debt the Gujarat’s chief minister claims to have repaid to his state and now wants to repay to India.  Strangely, he speaks of empowering the Indian women while subscribing to the ideology of the RSS which has institutionalised women as the exploited second class citizens in our country.  Ironically, as discussed in these columns in the past, Gujarat has human development indices that are much lower than the national average particularly concerning the girl child – malnutrition, education etc.

These ‘dream merchants’ are trying to sell wares that are completely dislocated from the ground realities of real India. By selling such dreams, they are hoping to transport people, like dreams often do, into an imaginary world of ‘milk and honey.’  What the people require, instead, is to change the conditions of existence in the real world. The creation of a better India for a vast majority of its people can never happen by dreaming. More often than not, such dreams end up being nightmares. It is into the world of such real nightmares that both these parties, through their policies, wish to take India to.

The creation of a better India for the vast majority of our people can happen only when we are guided by a vision and not when we are lulled into a false comfort by ‘dreams.’ While the BJP may have the vision of converting our modern secular democratic republic into the RSS political project of a rabidly intolerant fascistic ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ on the score of improving the livelihood of our people, both the BJP and the Congress follow similar, if not the same, economic policies that continuously widen the gulf between the rich and the poor in our country. On this score, neither seems to be having any vision worth the name for creating a resurgent and better India for all our people. 

Both have yet another thing in common. Both seek to reduce India as the subordinate ally of US imperialism. The unbridled opening up of our economy and domestic market for the profit maximisation of foreign and domestic capital, pursued by both, will lead to yet another loot of our resources and wealth. Instead, this should be put to use for creating a better India for all our people.

It is perfectly possible to do so. The amounts of monies that are currently being looted through mega corruption scams and the huge amount of tax concessions given to the rich and foreign and domestic capital, if stopped, can put together more than sufficient resources to provide all our people with genuine food security, education, health and a shelter over their head. To achieve such a vision of a better India, what is required is a shift in our policy direction. A shift that would be more pro-people which, at the same time, will also strengthen our economic fundamentals. The vast economic, mineral and human resources available in our country can be marshalled to achieve this.

The cue of the white horse that Mr Modi took from Mr Rahul Gandhi appears to have spurred Mr Modi to think that he has launched an “Ashwamedha Yagna.” In this sacrificial ritual, a white horse is let loose by the king and the area it covers is considered his kingdom. If the horse is halted in its run, then the king challenges a battle with the person who stopped the horse. It is normally presumed that no one dares to halt the horse.  However, in the Ramayana, when Rama embarked on such a yajna, his horse was stopped by twin brothers Lava and Kusha. In modern Indian politics, the BJP’s horse will be stopped by a set of twin brothers – the worker (hammer) and the peasant (the sickle) – the red flag. The red flag that has a vision for the creation of an egalitarian better India for all our people.

It is such a vision that the people of India must choose to create a better future for ourselves. This can only happen when popular people’s mobilisations are enormously expanded to strengthen the struggles for such a shift in our policy direction. It is the intensity of such struggles that, in the final analysis, will determine the establishment of a better India.

Editorial People's Democracy 14 April 2013

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