Crisis in Permanence

That rural reporting still gets encouragement from a national daily is a news because it is the general trend for governments and big media houses to ignore real issues that affect the vast majority of people. That farmers’ suicides no longer make any sensational news item is no less horrific though the plight of the widows of farmers who committed suicide, particularly in Vidarbha region beggars description. For all practical purposes farmers’ lives don’t matter in a situation where nothing but ‘investment’ at any cost matters. Those who are obsessed with ‘growth trajectory’ and ‘development bonanza’ don’t bother about how a small news item dumped in an obscure corner inside a daily, tells their real story of development and job creation. It may be shocking but it is the real issue that they are trying to hide and overlook. Graduates, post-graduates and even Phd holders were among the 23 lakh applicants vying for the post of peon in Uttar Pradesh government secretariat. What one can read between the lines is the employment situation, rather unemployment situation, in populous states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, borders on panic. But things are no better for the educated unemployed in the so-called developed regions. In many ways it resembles the scenario of the late sixties and early seventies when unemployment of the educated youth triggered massive social unrest, street violence and state repression.

Too many people are chasing too few jobs. But it is not an issue, at least not a ‘real issue’ for governments and political parties. They have their own agenda to divert public attention. Reservationists are in power in Uttar Pradesh but they are not concerned about huge joblessness, they are happy that their caste brethren will get the quota. They project quota—reservation within reservation—as panacea which it is not. In case of Uttar Pradesh of the total 368 Group-D posts 268 are for general category and the rest are for SC, ST and other reserved categories in the age group of 18 to 40 years. For them quota agitation is an end in itself but it has its limits. And yet they think they could bring in social justice by talking more of the same—quota. Job for all is not their slogan but quota is. Without the scope of further expansion of quota culture in government jobs they are themselves jobless.

If ‘development model’ practised by successive governments, irrespective their colour—saffron or green—is against the interests of the vast majority of people, then ‘no development’ should be the only slogan. The brand names of pro-development and anti-development make little sense in the question of life and death. Even the leftists feel shy of telling the plain truth, lest they are dubbed anti-development. Communists too in this hapless country have developed a habit of interpreting ‘development’ and ‘under-development’ through the prism of the political right. It cannot be otherwise in a situation where the left forces never set the agenda, they just react to the agenda set by others.

In the West and America they are de-commissioning big dams. But in India they can think of more big dams while implementing the suicidal river-correcting projects despite massive disasters caused by dams. For the progressives it is not a real issue, not an issue of life and death question for hundreds of thousands of people. What matters in their political calculus is saffronisation of polity and communal diversion. Their combined efforts to locate communalism in the saffron brigade only have failed to incite positive response even from the victims of communal violence.

The real issue is how effectively to say ‘no’ to ‘development’ without being dubbed anti-development. If capital intensive industry is at the root of jobless growth then it must be opposed actively even by running the risk of being called anti-development. Enough is enough. Without a direct confrontation with the state, this ‘development’ model cannot be thwarted. Taking shelter in communal-secular divide cannot help.

In truth the left has found the easiest way of keeping their left flag flying by continually focusing on the rise of hindutva forces and communal danger while sidetracking the real issue—the issue of rule of the corporates. They hope to combat communal fascists simply by issuing harmless press statements. As a result the atmosphere always remains super-charged with communal tensions and it needs just a spark to divert public attention from real issues to secondary issues.

It is not a question of judging events by their multi-ethnic and religious character, important as that is, but of the relation of the people to a strategy of action needed to overcome the terrible retrogression the society faces today. There are no easy prescriptions or formulae for today to create the public space for the deprived and aggrieved. The door to a new society for a new generation that is being forged in the crucible of revolution and counter-revolution cannot be opened by passive resistance to regressive forces. Then what does it mean to be human is the basic issue of all real issues!

Vol. 48, No. 12, Sep 27 - Oct 3, 2015