THE government has come out with yet another gimmick; it is called direct cash transfer. Full details are not known but it apparently involves, as the name suggests, the transfer of a lot of cash from the government treasury to the bank accounts of families below the poverty line. This sounds as if the government is gifting money to the poor, but actually it is nothing of the kind. Actually, instead of your going to the ration shops, you will go to your bank, cash your cheque, and purchase your rations – although they will not be called rations – of higher prices than before, and go home praising the Congress, which has already decided to use it as their winning card, or game-changer.
Why is the Congress Party – through the government – using such gimmicks? Because it is in trouble and almost certainly will lose the next general election. Cash transfer is a good gimmick – it seems as if the government is gifting cash to every poor family in the country, not a few rupee but thousands of rupees every month which can make a difference between a piece of dry roti for lunch and a full meal with rice and buttered paratha. A hundred rupees a day – which is what the cash transfer will amount to – is no joke, when you don’t earn anything at all. And since it will come through your bank account, you will be halfway on the road to the middle class, which is the ambition of every Indian.
Where will the government find the cash? From its revenues, of course. And where do the revenues come from? From taxes, of course, that is, from you and me. The government earns nothing; it only spends, and what it spends it collects from you and me. All that the government is doing is taking cash from one pocket and putting it into another. This is socialism, or is supposed to be socialism, but since there can be no cash transfer without cash, there can be no socialism without capitalism.
Socialism is in retreat everywhere, for the simple reason that it has failed. Capitalism makes money, socialism spends it. Governments are good at spending money, which is why they come out with schemes like cash transfer. For years, they tried their hands at making money but failed. In Soviet Russia, they had to wind up their five-year plans and their gosplans. In India too, Nehru & Co., who got their inspiration from Soviet Russia, made a lot of noise about planning, which means about socialism, but those who followed Nehru discovered that the damn thing simply doesn’t work, and they abandoned it. Now the government relies totally on the private sector, that is, Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis, but does not have the guts to admit it. We have a government that is almost totally dependent on capitalists but call itself socialist!
This is what is happening all over the world, including that great citadel of capitalism, the United States of America. There is a switchover from one ism to another, but mainly from socialism to capitalism. Whether it is China or Soviet Russia, or even Cuba, capitalism is taking over, which explains why there is economic turmoil all over the world, including, of course, India. In India, men who used to kowtow to the government are demanding obedience from the politicians, who are dancing attendance on them. The Ambanis and the Ruias are calling the shots, though outwardly, it seems the other way round.
But in times of trouble, all become socialists. The voter doesn’t trust capitalists, for though capitalists create wealth, the socialists distribute it. This is why the American voter supported Barack Obama, a socialist in wolf’s clothing, because of his schemes for medical care, which Romney & Co. opposed. And this is also why our own Congress hopes to capitalise on its direct cash transfer to people, many of whom have never had a bank account and will for the first time have bank passbooks of their own.
In the Arab Muslim countries, there is an on-going struggle which is being explained as a struggle for democracy. Nonsense. The word “democracy” does not exist in the Arab or Muslim dictionary. Their whole culture is dictatorial in nature, in which one dictatorship is replaced by another. Instead of old-type dictators, you have the mullahs, but they are still dictators. The mullahs are badly in need of cash for one programme or another and there is no cash like oil. All these years, oil has been a monopoly of secular dictators like Gaddafi; now it is the turn of the Mullahs. For the man in the street, nothing will change, for he will have no part in it.
In China, a new generation has taken over from the old one. Last month, they held a big jamboree in Beijing, and much was made of the fact that one Mao has replaced another. For thirty years, under Mao Zedong, China followed the socialist (or communist) path but they had nothing but trouble. They switched over to capitalism in 1980, since when, things have been much better and there is more cash than ever, and also more billionaires per square mile than in any other country, including America. But money always brings trouble and the Chinese are wondering whether the good times will last. If they run out of luck, they will switch over to socialism again, but such switch overs are not easy. And that is the reason why the Chinese are nervous.