Land of Despair

Nothing has changed for the better, but everything begins with bang. The ruling elites, whatever they say, whatever they do, either in an active or a passive way, are actually testing the limits of people’s patience. Panic is everywhere. It’s market mayhem—plain and simple. Prices follow no logic. More and more people are being asked to tighten their belts because the Manmohan Singhs are determined to woo foreign investors by executing, as quickly as possible, what they call ‘second round of reforms’. In other words they are liberalising the foreign direct investment regime further, only to force more people to go into destitution. Nobody is safe in their bankrupt economy, even for middle income groups, not to speak of casual and irregular wage-earners, the situation is more like a burning house.

The price of gas, coal, woods as fuel for cooking as well as of edible oil of all varieties has already increased by leaps and bounds. Rice and wheat are sold in the retail market at above Rs 20.00 per kg, whereas the PDS (public distribution system or the ration shop) has failed to deliver services. Wheat and rice procured by the government and stored in open space unscientifically are rotting and thus being made unsuitable for human and even animal consumption. Godowns and warehouses of the Food Corporation of India, a government agency, are verminous as well as infested with rodents On the one hand there is colossal wastage of food grains, there is at the same time lack of smooth distribution of these necessary articles of consumption through the PDS for poor people.

Unemployment is soaring, income is falling and as a result young people are being trapped in criminal practices encouraged by criminalised parliamentary political parties of all hues. Gang rapes and murders of young girls almost daily hit the headlines. Students' Unions in Colleges and Universities are overflowing with plethora of funds for the control of which groups set by parliamentary parties and at war with one another are criminalising the academic environment as well. And trade unions affiliated to parliamentary political parties are vitiating the productive environments in plantation fields, work places and factories. The people so called as owners of capital do not own 50% of capital invested in industries—according to some studies, not even 26%. The bulk of the controlling capital in Indian industries is public money extended to the so-called industrialists by the government and the other part is outsourced against which interest or dividends along with a portion of capital have to be repatriated abroad. As and when foreign capital flows inward, the external value of INR (Indian Rupee) stops sliding and therefore seems to be stable but when the outflow overpowers inflow in terms of US$ as has happened recently, the external value of INR falls sharply. These situations of crisis compel the ruling elites to turn to foreign capital more than before. In this way India is tied to debt trap with the passage of time. Violence against women is on the rise and the administration either is openly shielding the criminals or shamelessly calling the incidents as fabricated and stage-managed! Such is the sorry state of affairs in the administration of law and order in the country that intervention of the highest executive office of India has to be sought for redress.

Meanwhile, following heavy rain on 16 and 17 June, 2013 in the Himalayas, came the huge devastation in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Ecological damage of huge proportion due to careless building of dams one after another along the same river as if in steps purported to be for generation of hydro-electricity, changing the courses of rivers to suit the design of buiiders oblivious of the seismic nature of the ground in the region, frequent blasting of mountain sides in order to make rooms for construction of roads and hotels for turning the picturesque hills into throbbing tourist centres—all these criminal deeds to gratify the rapacious greed of the wealthy and the rich few—must witness one day the cumulative effect of all these madness in the form of destruction of the structures that the fragile land underneath has refused to bear at last. There are reasons for high rainfall during monsoon in this area. The area is prone to earthquakes and frequent landslides. Avalanches of huge magnitude are common in the snow capped high mountains areas. The impact of all these forces of Nature which the successive governments at the State and the Centre ignored in spite of warnings by scientists and angry demonstrations by the local people of the hilly region has led to this massive Himalayan disaster, in the last analysis it is a manmade disaster. Human folly and greed cannot be washed away by simply terming the disaster as a natural event. Thousands of people, young and old, perished. Many others orphaned. The livelihood of the local hill peoples has been shattered. The perpetrators of the crime of this Himalayan magnitude on the children of the Himalayas should not be forgiven. Assets worth billions of rupees have been lost and at least another billion will be required for immediate relief and rehabilitation. Builders, real estate sharks in tandem with highly placed bureaucrats in governments at States and at the Centre plus some ministers who can easily be traced if probed are at the root of this misfortune. Net even a word has been spared to punish these guilty people. Rather they are being shielded behind the sympathy wave created for the victims of this catastrophe in general.

General election for the next Parliament is round the corner. As forerunner to that, Panchayet elections in villages and municipal elections in towns and cities are taking place. Taking advantage of these elections to local government bodies, people are being divided along party, caste and religion lines and set at war against each other. Riots are breaking out causing huge loss of life and property. It seems more lives are being sacrificed for maintaining this facade of democracy than what the Maoists are causing for achieving their goal of armed revolution. What kind of democracy is this one that requires garrisons and battle lines of army, paramilitary forces and police personnel, all of them equipped with latest state of technology firearms along with the vigil of air-borne armoury even for local self government body elections?

Whereas the Swiss banks are ready, the Indian ruling class is not willing to reveal and recover huge sums of unaccounted money stashed in fictitious accounts there! Consequent upon such deliberate malfunctioning,, the country suffers,, inflation soars, industrial production decreases, current account deficit in foreign trade widens and the value of INR falls and joblessness has gripped every section of the society. As the US Federal Reserve System is bent upon squeezing in more US$ from the market for crossing their fiscal cliff and combating inflation, much worse is likely to happen in India in the near future unless appropriate measures are taken in right earnest to turn the tide. But the Singhs and Chidam-barams are not listening.

Vol. 46, No. 3, Jul 28-Aug 3, 2013

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