A Matter Of Economics
By Dr R. Balashankar
Globalisation has made many Indian politicians snobbish. They have lost their rustic charm, their penchant for socialist sounding rhetoric, their earnest political instinct to behave just as one of us. They want to sound pompous, super class, urbane; very polished, consensual and almost imitating their counterparts in western democracies. A hardliner tag is a red herring.
So when Uma Bharati thundered to burn down the first Walmart store in India, (later SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav also repeated the threat), the redoubtable Gurdas Dasgupta of the CPI, acrimoniously regaled the media calling Uma a “mental case.” Those familiar with Communist antipathy for the US brand would have expected Dasgupta to utter what the BJP leader said about the hated transnational entity. The days of fire spitting, revolutionary Communists who in the same breath swear by democracy and bloody class war are over. Through the fifties and sixties, late Marxist patriarch EMS Namboodiripad used to say that the CPM joined the electoral politics to wreck the Constitution from within. “Mass struggle and governance will go hand in hand,” used to be their refrain.
Listening to the paeans for democracy, from Marxist leader Basudev Acharya in the Lok Sabha, participating in the unanimous condemnation of the attack on Sharad Pawar, I wondered, has the Indian Communist become such a committed social democrat? Democracy, after all, is very good at incorporating and reforming rebellious creeds. Be it on the Anna agitation or the attack on Sharad Pawar, the rare unity of the political class was at variance with the public mood as expressed in market place and cyber space.
At another level Rahul Gandhi, the aspiring politician scion of the Congress first family says, “the political system is most corrupt.” Some cheek that. As the entire nation is at the brim of a revolt at the Sonia-Manmohan brand of crony capitalism gobbling up the whole national wealth the one who benefits the maximum from this diarchy thinks such blabbering can deceive the masses and fight the opposition’s anti-scam campaign. This again is being a snob. Of course Congress abounds in that class. The party sends the CBI behind Kiran Bedi, Aravind Kejriwal and Swami Ramdev, while it protects sharks like Mayawati, Mulayam. Laloo, 2G and CWG accused. Congress confidants confess that even the Retail FDI binge is a calculated ploy to divert focus from first family corruption and black money trail debate.
India is a land of variety, diversity. We celebrate this as the incredible asset of our nationhood. When Pepsi and Coca Cola were allowed to open shops here, they did not bring much FDI. But they together guzzled up all Indian soft-drink brands. The same has happened with Indian detergent, radio and television brands. The frightening influence of the FDI in our media has now become a cause of worry for all nationalists.
Globalisation seeks to destroy all variety and westernise all of us. It is the culture of monopoly that is at the root of the western economic model. Our system today looks cloned because of the influx of westernisation. The political parties have discarded their ideological moorings. Newspapers and television channels speak the same language. There is little to choose, no distinctiveness. Even during Emergency, we had a few dailies that defied censorship and stood separate. And today? They all look as if edited by the same censor. This is what crony capitalism is doing to our media. So they all in one voice support the Retail FDI decision, parroting official statistics.
Have we promoted any Indian brand in the last two decades? As a state policy US promotes its brands. Is it necessary that we dovetail their style, mannerism and put on accent? Their fashion, habits, dress, and food. Mayawati is right. It is to help their foreign friends that the retail sector is opened
In the normal course, such a momentous and controversial decision, when the Parliament was in session, would have been announced only on the floor of the house. But the media conveniently overlooked it. No analysis was made as to how it will benefit India when the entire capitalist world is witnessing an economic cataclysm.
The US was lobbying for long. We have a government and a media that believe anything good for the US has to be good for India. Or that India has a duty to save the West now that it is in decline.
Western economists and thinkers have identified their problem. If the humongous volume of economic literature they are producing post-recession and sovereign defaults is a guide, they have understood how to fix their economy. Only that they have to prepare their people for it. But Indian lackeys of the failed system want to transplant all that America did as part of its blind adherence to market economy. Can such cloning work here?
Cartelisation and monopoly are what the Walmart promises to bring. FDI is the last thing it can bring. If Manmohan Singh is so eager to attract FDI, what was he doing all these years when the country witnessed an unprecedented flight of capital; with industry associations and honchos complaining that investment climate in India was oppressive because of paralysis in governance?
It is good to see, except for the Congress, all political parties standing up as one against the FDI in retail. This is a major shift that we are witnessing in many years. Let’s hope this unity is sustained. For too long, the glamour of globalisation mesmerized our political class into ideological hibernation and money became the only stimulant that drove politics.