The Empire Begs Back
What does it mean when the UK High Commissioner visits Modi?
Rightwing Hindutva social forces may well have collaborated with the colonising Britishers during the highnoon of India’s Congress-led freedom movement, their standard polemic after Independence has been that what ought to have remained an indigenised Bharat has been systematically degraded into an internationalised India by generations of secular-liberal Indians whom they habitually characterise as “Macaulay ki Aulad” (Macaulay’s children, because the induction of English into Indian administration and education is seen to have been the one decisive act of such subversive cultural transformation).
In that polemic, Nehru has often been their chief bete noir, regarded as an “un-Indian” anglophile, a denigrator of long-held Hindu customs and traditions, a shallowly westernised moderniser, and, worst of all, a leveling and godless socialist at heart.
Well now, how times do change.
There is jubilee among current-day Hindutva sartraps as we write: for lo and behold, no less than the British High Commissioner in India has gone and met the globally ostracised Narendra Modi!
Only one conclusion is permitted—that Modi’s international isolation has ended, the high-falutin world that espouses all that nonsense about “human rights” has come to its senses, and that Britain has put the imperial seal on Modi’s progress report as a great “developer.”
Pathetic you might say, and you would be right.
Yet why, despite the disclaimer made by the High Commissioner that the meeting should not be construed as any sort of endorsement of Modi, the meeting at all?
The fact is that many of the “developed” world’s erstwhile givers are today reduced to being willing takers from the very worlds which they once ravaged for their development. The so- persistent economic collapse of western Capitalism now underway leaves them little choice but to seek afresh among the brown and the pale races for some piece of their burgeoning cake.
Put simply, the Empire is begging back.
And the poor British High Commissioner is not alone. Do recall that not too many months ago, no less than the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, went to meet another Indian Chief Minister, namely, Mamta Bannerjee in West Bengal to plead with her for suspending her opposition to the induction of FDI in Indian retail.
Desperate times, desperate visits.
Yet why does Gujarat seem a preferred destination? The reasons here are not far to seek.
The last thing that has ever interested the Western ruling classes, strident protestations notwithstanding, has been the state of democracy or human rights in other parts of the world, except when it suits them tactically to foreground such “values.”
Their economic interests are always seen to be best served by regimes that ensure minimal democratic opposition in their domains, next –to- no labour issues, and a state apparatus always at beck and call to curb tendencies that may thwart the brutal procedures of profit maximisation.
Which is the reason why ever since the reorganisation of the geo-politics of the globe after the second world war, the concerted efforts of Western ruling classes were to consolidate totalitarian regimes, military juntas and dictatorships, even theocratic barbarisms that would be friendly to infusions of western Capital and to its free runs among the resources of the world’s “hinterlands.” And if, for instance, in West Asian regions, selectively, western Capitalism has recently felt the imperative to destabilise some regimes ostensibly to promote democracy, the simple logic has been that these were cows that were no longer yielding milk and butter in desired proportions.
Reason why a Bahrain or a Yemen, or, most of all, the world’s most oppressive negator of human rights, Saudi Arabia, remain in good books; they continue to yield dividends that the Western “military-industrial complex” (Eisenhauer’s coinage) cannot afford to jettison in favour of either democracy or human rights. Nor is it an issue that the Ben Walid region in Libya has this past week seen a genocide at the hands of the new Libyan regime far worse than anything Gaddafi could have been accused of, or Assad has done in Syria. You see the new “liberated” Libya has now placed its oil fields with glad alacrity at the service of American oil corporations. Ergo, both democracy and human rights have returned to Libya, haven’t they? Both guarded by the Al Queda in the Maghreb. Could there be more sanguine confluence?
In our part of the world, China remains the primary preferred destination for western Capital for reasons aforesaid—no oppositional political formations, no out-of-control unions, all backed by unusual social cohesiveness. Everything pretty much amenable to unhassled single-window clearances.
After China, India’s own Gujarat as led by Modi. A leadership that has so nicely rendered his own party null in all decision-making matters, complete absence of the least forms of Left-of-Centre politics, a Congress party that until now has been at a complete loss to demarcate itself from Modi’s polemic about “development,” and heinously shy of taking on the local Caligula on the subject of the massacres of 2002, fearing loss of vote.
Thus having proved that he can parcel off rich farmlands, forest reserves, coastal fishing areas, mineral and water resources, to foreign and Indian developers at will, without fear of political or social upheaval, who better to meet in an India where in most other places oppositional political forces and non-governmental organisations often make the job of milking the realms painfully cumbersome. Modi can deliver, as dictators do elsewhere. At least so long as they behave like “our sons of bitches” rather than somebody else’s.
Thus, what does it matter to the High Commissioner in question that the Modi phenomenon in Gujarat has wilfully, and seemingly irretrievably, ghettoised her fear-ridden Muslims, disenfranchised her adivasis, fisher folk, farmers (five thousand suicides in less than a year)? Or that malnutrition among Gujarati adivasis,dalits, women, children should be among the highest of any Indian state? Or that the sex-ratio of women to men among Gujaratis should be among the lowest as well? Not to speak of an administration that is shown day after day in court and other legal-investigative proceedings to have been hand-in-glove with both the genocide of 2002, with cussed attempts to subvert all subsequent attempts to unravel the truths, and with the “encounter” murders of scores of innocent or inconvenient citizens.
All that the High Commissioner is asked to see by the Tory regime in Britain, abetted with all its resourcefulness by the mercantilist Gujarati diaspora, is what goodies Modi is prepared to offer in return for the so-publicised stamp of approval, and timed with great finesse to precede the coming elections in December wherein, from all accounts, Modi is no longer sitting as pretty as before, thanks to the defection of a powerful Patel falange working now as a separate political party, and a resurgent Congress rather more effective in showing up the truth of Modi’s claims about “development.” Notwithstanding the fact that some electronic channels friendly to Hindutva, and to Modi especially, are busy prognosticating an improvement in Modi’s seats in the Assembly even as they tell us that his vote share is slated to go down some 4%.
Inwardly among many Gujaratis, a sense of shame attaches to the efforts afloat to sell the Modi-High Commissioner meeting as a vindication of the Hindu samrat (czar) by Macaulay after all.
It will remain to be seen how the elections in Guajrat turn out. With all the hulaballoo, if Modi loses seats, Brittania might not feel so good about her grand gesture. If Modi crushes the secular “pretenders” well then, other ambassadors may follow the High Commissioner to make hay in the Modi sunshine, wherein foreign investments and Hindutva fascism may, after all, coexist happily to salvage, in whatever measly proportion, Western Capitalisms’ sinking flotilla.