Enough Is Enough
Moving towards Saffron Fascism?
The Modi government has
been claiming that under the new
regime, the Gross Domestic Product has grown at a rate of 7%, and this is being highlighted as an index of development. But the fact is that the method of measuring the GDP has been altered in such a way that the growth rate can be inflated artificially. More importantly, this rise of the GDP has no reflection in employment. In the organized sector, the rise in employment has been 1% or a little more than that. Whatever employment has been created is in the unorganized sector. Workers of this unorganized sector constitute more than 90'% of the total laboring population of the country. They do not have the benefits of minimum wage or safety of job or any other social security. To India's national income, the contribution of agriculture is 14%, and while the service sector and manufactures contribute 60% and 16% respectively. But of the working population, 49% are employed in agriculture, while the shares of the service sector and of manufacturing are 27% and 13% respectively. This means that the average income of those employed in agriculture is less than that in the other sectors (49% get 14% of total income). That is why a trend towards moving away from agriculture is observable. But this shift is towards the unorganized parts of the service or manufacturing sector where the minimum requirements of living are not obtainable.
The condition of acute distress in the agricultural sector was more glaring in 2015-16 with thousands of farmers committing suicides owing to indebtedness or scarcity or drought. In vast stretches of the country, the people did not get even potable water. The MGNREGA was introduced during the UPA regime in order to provide the rural toilers with some employment. Just at the time of the Modi Government's coming to power, those economists who hailed his enthronement, advocated a reduction in expenditure on MGNREGA. This has actually happened. In 2009-10, about 3 billion working days were created through MGNREGA, but the figure came down to 1.55 billion in 2014-15. The same year, the central government fixed a maximum of Rs 340 billion for MGNREA. The result was the exhaustion of money towards the end of the year and those who sought employment got no work or compensation. Yet in view of the situation of nationwide drought, a much larger quantum of employment was needed. On the other hand, the Act has been so modified that the employment-seekers, when they do not find jobs, get nominal amounts of compensation. Earlier the provision was to pay compensation up to Rs 3000. Now it has been brought down to 0.05% of total pay. As a result, in 2014-15, the average quantum of work per rural family was only 9, and those who got work opportunities obtained only 33 days of work.
Under British Rule, any opposition to the government was called sedition. During the Congress rule too, many demonic acts and rules were passed, e.g. the PD Act, the Defense of India Rule, the MISA, the TADA etc. But the way the state, the RSS and their student wing, the ABVP have been attacking all institutions of independent thinking and launching onslaughts on whoever differs from their definition of nationalism is unprecedented in Indian history, comparable only with the black days of the Emergency. At the Jawharlal Nehru University, some students held a meeting where some questions were raised on the hanging of Afzal Guru. These students have been branded deshadrohis ('traitors to the country') and fined Rs 10 thousands to 20 thousands. Kanhaia Kumar, leader of the JNU students' union, have been implicated in trumped up cases and beaten up by the hooligans of the Sangh Parivar inside the court premises. Some students have been expelled from the campus for five years. Such incidents are no longer confined to the JNU, and have taken place in the IIT, Chennai, Pune Film and Television Institute, Jadavpur University, Allahabad University and Aligarh Muslim University. The attitude is that whatever be the issue (be it the Kashmir Problem, beef-eating, problem of the North-East or anything else), the way the government and the party in power thinks would have to be accepted by all. The student community of the country has refused to oblige.
The basic characteristic of the Indian constitution is its secular character. The people were free to exercise their religious beliefs but the state would not practice any favouratism for any particular religion. Every citizen, irrespective of his/her religious identity, was entitled to equal rights and stature. But the RSS, the champion of Hindutva, does not have any faith in it, and thinks that if persons who are not Hindu by religious faith are to live in India, they have to live under Hindus. The RSS and their affiliates have been propagating this theory for many years and accordingly, have been perpetrating various violent attacks.
After Narendra Modi's ascent to power, the aggressive activities of the champions of Hindutva have increased manifold.
Now, before the assembly polls in UP, they have raised the cry that this state is becoming another Kashmir, although in reality, Muslims constitute only 13% of the population there. They won 73 Lok Sabha seats in UP by bringing about a communal polarization. They are now trying to proceed with that objective in view.
The Hindu (20 June, 1916) has published a statement by the minister of state, Human Resource Development. He has said, "Yes, we want saffronization of the education system and the country". This is not the voice of a minister of state only. This is the voice of the Sangh Parivar and of Narendra Modi himself although Modi does not say this directly.
Narendra Modi claims to be a devotee of Ambedkar, but he is acting in a way exactly contrary to Ambedkar's wishes on social change. In the 'directive principles' of the Indian constitution, Ambedkar envisioned an India in which everybody, irrespective of nationality, caste and religion, would get equal opportunity, and power and wealth would not be concentrated in few hands. But under Modi's dispensation what precisely takes place is this concentration and deprivation. The wealth of Ambani, Adani and other large capitalists is growing by leaps and bounds, while the monthly incomes of more than half of the families are less Rs 5000 each. Dr Ambedkar had wanted dalits to receive opportunities for higher education and to participate in the structure of the state. But in Modi's regime, scholarships for dalit students in higher education are being stopped and they are being harassed in various ways.
Deprivation of and offensives against dalits are not new phenomena in Indian society, and were witnessed during Congress rule also. But the orientation of the Modi regime is the varna system, and naturally deprivation of dalits and offensives against them are growing in a manner that is unprecedented.
The Indian constitution promised to remove the differences between dalits and adivasis and the upper echelons of the society, and hence called for special actions in favour of the former. That was put into effect through the Tribal Sub-plan of 1974-75 and the special Component Plan of 1979-80. The plan envisaged the allocation in every budget for dalits and adivasis of an amount of money that would be proportional to their share in the total population. It implied that if dalits constituted 15% of the population, 15% of the budget would have to be allocated for them. There are many examples of misuse of this money in various ways. Yet a portion of it is used for dalits and adivasis. It is found that under the Modi regime, the allocation under the Tribal Sub-plan is 4.29% (lowest after 2011-12) and that under the Component Plan 6.62 (lowest after 2007-8). Not only the allocations have been reduced, offensives against them are growing. Those who were attacked for "ghar wapsi" were dalits. Besides, the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau corroborate this fact. Whereas in 2013, the number of incidents of such attacks was 39,408, this number grew to 47064 in 2014. Official statistics for 2015 are not yet available, but the reports published in newspapers on such attacks, particularly on rapes of dalit women, seems to suggest that such incidents have increased largely in 2015.
The Modi government has handed over the mineral-rich areas of the plateau regions of Central India (Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, the south-western part of Orissa as well as adjacent Telengana and Andhra) to large domestic and foreign capitalists for plunder of mineral resources. They are seizing these areas by force with the assistance of the state. They are obeying none of the safeguards that are embedded in the new Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Actually, the Modi government had wanted to cancel this Act, but failed because they did not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha.
Capitalists would not invest unless able to sell their commodities in the world market. The way to it is easier if the costs of production are reduced. Indian capitalists would not take the path of improved technology and research for cost reduction. The easier way is to reduce labour costs. Already most of the workers of the country are employed in the informal sector (where there are no appointment letters, no ESI, no provident funds). Owners make huge profits by fixing wages arbitrarily and tiring workers at will. But workers belonging to the formal sector, who constitute a small section, cannot be dismissed arbitrarily and have to be given some doses of social protection. The Modi Government's concern is about them and it wants 'labour reform', which means the exclusion of most of the workers from the purview of the Labour Act. At present, there are 175710 factories in the country, among which 125301 employ less than 50 workers each. The Modi government is seeking to pass such a law by which factories employing less than 40 workers will be considered small enterprises. Right now, there are fourteen laws, beginning from the Factories Act, 1947, which are applicable to enterprises employing more than 10 workers. In the amendment proposed by the Modi government, most of the factory workers of the country will be pushed outside the purview of this Act. Some BJP-led state governments (e.g. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh etc) have already passed such laws. Now, Modi wants to introduce this 'labour reform' all over the country, so that the profits of capitalists increase further and the wages and other benefits of the working class are further reduced.
Just as the working class is forced to tighten its belt, capitalists are given liberal doses of concessions. During the last financial year, capitalists were given tax concessions to the extent of about 500 billion of rupees. Besides, big capitalists have been taking gigantic amounts of loans from public sector banks, but not repaying them. The episode of Vijay Malya is known to all. He has fled to England after taking bank loans worth Rs 70 billion. Actually, he has been allowed to flee. Similarly, another large capitalist group, namely the Adani Group, took Rs 720 billion as loans from public sector banks, which is equal to the total amount of loans received by the farmers of the whole country. The Adani Group purchased coal mines in Australia with a portion of this money. That project has failed, and now it is being heard that talks are there for waiving the loans taken by the Adani group.
Blusters about recovery of black money are no longer there, because it is these black money bags that enthroned Modi.
Earlier, the Government of India had made various compromises with US imperialism. But use of India's military institutions for the sake of the US imperialists was not approved. Narendra Modi hat made an agreement in this direction during his recent tour of the USA.
The agreement that Modi has entered into during his latest tour of the USA for the purchase of nuclear reactors has thrown overboard India's national interests. India is to purchase two reactors of API000 design produced by the Westinghouse Company, which would cost Rs 1400 billion. The cost of installation for one MW of electricity is Rs 700 million. The cost of India-made nuclear reactors is, on the other hand, Rs 100 million per MW. The electricity produced by the reactors of Westinghouse would cost Rs 25 per unit. Who are to purchase electricity at such a heavy price? Yet solar electricity can be produced in the country right now at a cost of Rs 5 per unit. What national interest is going to be served by purchasing Westinghouse reactors? Yet anybody who questions such moves is branded 'anti-national'.
With every neighbor, namely Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maynamar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and China, India's relation is one of distrust. India has interfered in the internal affairs of each, and created a relation of bitterness. This distrust has percolated to African countries also. Recently, an African Day was observed at the initiative of the Government of India. Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of 54 African states boycotted the ceremony. It is an important incident, because representatives of 54 different countries took such a decision in a united manner. When Africa was fighting against racialism, India stood by her. But now, the more the philosophy of Hindutva comes to dominate, the more the upper caste Indians are behaving with the Africans in the same way as Europeans have done so long. What united 54 African countries is not a few isolated incidents, but the attitude of the ruling party and government of India.
In a word, the Modi government has created a mistrust, if not enmity, with all of those who could have been India's friends.
Efforts are there to push into the backwaters whatever progress the Indian people have attained through the national independence movement, land struggles, working class movements and other democratic movements, and to take India into a dark age in which the state will be guided no longer by the constitution, but by the Manu Samhita and Brahminism. In the thirties of the last century, a fascist captured power in Germany by raising the slogan Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Em Fuehrer and ignited the fire of a world war. Saffron fascism is expanding in India by means of a queer mixture of that Hitlerite ideology and Manuism. [abridged]
Vol. 49, No.8, Aug 28 - Sep 3, 2016