Sweet Time For the Left in India
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This a short and quick one.
As the American neocon state borrows a whole sheaf from Chavez and other despised socialists, and stoops to nationalizing—yes, nationalizing-- the great and invincible bulwarks of American Capitalism, it underscores a theory of state that says government must stay out of business, but be ever and devotedly ready to bail it out of despair when its profit-maximising lust gets the better of it and the whole financial system.
In either circumstance, the common citizen must remain the chief guarantor of the profiteer's career. And, in any eventuality, profits must remain privatized, and losses patriotically distributed among the those that pay the tax dollar. The classes make profits out of the masses, and the masses save the classes when their Mammonite chips desert them. A man no less than Joseph Stiglitz has drawn the analogy: as the Berlin Wall was to Communism, the Wall Street has yet again proved to Capitalism. Marx, are you there, and chuckling?
Whether or not the Indian neocons say it publicly, the shamefaced thought must certainly occur to them how fortuitous, after all, might have been their dependence on the Left parties over some four years of its governance. Indeed, the Indian Prime Minister may privately be thanking his stars that he, in his own words, was a "bonded slave" of the supporting Left parties.
Think of what the Indian neocons wished to do when the UPA came to power in 2004, the very same things that the defeated BJP-led NDA regime had been busily doing and wanting to do with greater relish everyday:
--in line with the Washington Consensus and the class interest of the corporates, transfer as much national wealth as they rapidly could from public to private control;
--throw open the banking sector to foreign "players" (never a more apt discourse than that—they who "play" with people's earnings as children do with insects);
--throw open the Insurance sector similarly;
--make ordinary indians' hard-earned savings like Provident Funds available to the private "players" at the stock market;
--disinvest government equity from the public sector in manufacturing and other sectors of the economy, and pass on equity to private investors;
--effect the convertibility of the Indian rupee on Capital Account, so that instant hot moneys could be both brought in and taken out of the country as profits stood to be made or not in any part of the world; remember the East Asian bubble burst of 1997?
--bring in labour "reform" so that moneys "needlessly" spent on assured work -force could be cut by billions through contract hiring and firing, leaving still more for the private profiteer, a measure already in operation in many sectors;
--make land and infra-structure available at minimal costs to private builders in Special Economic Zones to do with as they like; a matter of great contention as we write;
And then think if all that had been allowed to happen without let or hindrance.
And what calumny the supporting Left had to undergo day in and day out from sold-out pundits on sold-out corporate TV channels for standing firm on principle!
Which is why, as I said in another place recently, the Left was in "knowledgeable" metropolitan middle-class homes and the "knowledgeable" media they frequent called an "ossified" and unpatriotic roadblock to India's tryst with greatness (see my "Conversions", Znet, September 7, 2008).
Kudos to the Left-- which could loudly take credit at this moment for having prevented India from sinking alongwith the new "strategic partner"-- for not gloating "we told you so" but, consistent with its admirable anxiety on behalf of India's national future and well being, simply feeling happy at duty done. Not that its battles in this regard are by any stretch of the imagination over.
If the neocon Indian leadership indeed has any shame left, or the least strength of mind to embrace some self-criticism, now is the time to acknowledge the above, and, equally importantly, to open its comprador mind to the Left at home on another impending issue.
Namely, the matter of the nuclear 123.
Once again, after all the disingenuous water has flowed under the Indo-US deal-making bridge, Bush in his now much commented-on letter of determination to the Congress has confirmed to a hilt everything the Left has been saying about the true nature of American intentions.
For a start, Bush makes the brazen declaration that the 123 agreement is merely a "political framework" rather than a "legally binding" document, notwithstanding what the Indian government may think or mouth everyday.
Thus, no assured guarantee of perpetual fuel supply for the reactors that American corporates are dying to ink, no rights of reprocessing spent fuel from such reactors, and no reprieve from perpetual safeguards even after the deal may have been terminated. Indeed, the prospect is one of buying another ten barren Tarapurs, if reports that a Letter of Intent has been given by the Indian government already for such purchases are to be believed;
Not just that, under pretence of doing India great and unique favour, the Bush regime means only to curtail its sovereignty with respect to nuclear strategic issues and bring it into an internationally-controlled non-proliferation regime.
It means to use this so-called favour to draw the Indian state into a military embrace fraught with the gravest long-term consequences for India, the region, and world balance of power. And, yes, "balance of power" should be seen truly once again the germane way to describe what is rapidly happening to East-West relations and world-wide reverberations thereof. (See "Georgia: the End of Unilateralism," Znet, August 18, 2008). Something Indian policy-makers need to think about with alacrity as well, since it has bearing on the 123 deal and much else besides.
As the Mariot hotel in Islamabad burns at this very minute, consuming several foreign diplomats, and as the Indian bear-hug with Bush gets tighter, India-- as much as Pakistan-- needs to understand that such a hug is not a recipe for resolving the "terrorist" problem but for exacerbating it.
As the Left has consistently pointed out, India's incautiously wholesale tilt to the right is a recipe for comprehensive disaster.
It immiserates more and more millions everyday, and simultaneously lends force to racial and religious paradigms of nationalism, a phenomenon alienating in the extreme. And all that in turn fuels concrete grievances into active explosions of violent resentment.
The Indian ostrich had best take its head out of the sands of obdurate imbecility, and revise all its reigning theses as to why these things happen.
It is not to the neo-imperialists and its own military and para-military might that it must look to for "crushing" terrorism.
The Indian state needs without loss of time to return to its own people and look for a new order of trust and negotiation, bolstered by non-partisan and prompt justice-delivery systems. And, most crucially, to restructure wealth and opportunity through visibly equitous institutional arrangements. Indeed, its covenant with the people must brook no fear, favour, or discrimination on behalf of those segments of the polity who exercise clout of any kind.
Most of all, it needs to demonstrate to India's "minorities" that the state is as much theirs' as of the corporates and those others who coerce governance on behalf of majoritarian fascists (see my "Fighting Terror the Terrorist Way, Znet, September 18,2008).
Thus, just as the Left knew provenly better in the matter of the political economy, it is equally on the button in the matter of the nuclear deal, its implications for security and sovereignty, and for the social harmony of the plural nation-state.
When, therefore, the Indian Prime Minister goes to Washington soon, were he to sign on the dotted line of the 123, ignoring what Bush and his minions have openly, candidly, and brazenly averred about what the deal means to them, he would diminish every Indian who is proud of being an Indian and wishes to remain so.
Indeed, even such ones who only till the other day were firmly for the deal—people like the erstwhile, America-friendly, ambassador, Lalit Man Singh—are now saying what we are saying here, and have been saying for more than a year.
Surely, the Indian Prime Minister needs to retain some allegiance, after all, also to a legacy left to him by many previous incumbents in the matter of sovereignty vis a vis imperialism.
In the meanwhile, it is indeed a sweet time for the Indian Left. The country can use them for a long time to come. May they go from strength to strength.