Blind Alley

Politically conscious people are saying everywhere : they need an alternative, social activists are saying they are searching for an alternative to this system. But till now no alternative has emerged, that has convinced the vast majority of the people in the country. Only some scattered ideas, otherwise not very cohesive, are circulating many of which are mere illusions based on expectations of spontaneous mass upsurge. But spontaneity is no answer to organised crime against humanity. And crisis managers in the corridors of power are always happy to project India’s march towards economic miracles. After all American business barons have certified India as a fast growing economy—so it is always growing despite tremendous slowdown in recent months due to demonetisation. While the ruling dispensation at the centre is inventing a new narrative everyday as a diversionary tactic, the Opposition, however, fumbles on every burning issue that affects ordinary people. Former Finance Minister of the Congress-led UPA government described the ‘Note Ban’ as the biggest scam in recent times, but he would have to face oddities if some-one from the treasury bench could raise the issue of Coal Scam, or for that matter 2G Spectrum Scam. In truth politics of scams no longer sells, people are tired of it. Even in vote market, nobody now discusses corruption because it is now a way of life in Indian political culture. That the hidden agenda behind demonetisation was something else, not crusade against black money and corruption, as claimed, is now clear.

Modi’s is a politics of exclusion, and monetary policy, not religious fanaticism which is the reserved domain for their frontal outfit RSS, is his most direct method of carrying this out. After LPG Modi’s government now made Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised food grains from Ration Shops. ‘No PDS food grains sans Aadhaar’! The Supreme Court’s ruling about non-mandatory nature of Aadhaar scheme now mocks at itself. Courts pass judgements and governments at all levels just violate them to have their way. And yet it is the biggest functional democracy of the world. Who bothers about constitutional niceties? Nobody. No political party is serious about constitutional degradation if it suits their vested interests. Modi’s ‘madness with a plan’ is not about patriotism or national security. It’s about corporate, religious orthodoxy and cultural exclusion. Political parties, not excluding left parties, never tried to expose the anti-national and anti-people nature of Aadhaar earlier. And they are reluctant to react this time too as if it is as normal as anything else. What is more their anti-demonetisation rally is thinning ott with every passing day and it is likely to vanish completely after the completion of assembly elections in five states.

‘Diversion’ is the time-tested strategy of all political parties, ruling or opposition alike. So they are now wasting much of their time and energy over Modi’s ‘raincoat’ jibe at Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. So the issue of job, rather new job creation has taken back-seat. The Modis have nothing to worry about so long as they avoid street fight while crying themselves hoarse about people’s plight.

Election comes, election goes. But social inequality that has already reached the tipping point remains; it is widening with alarming pace. And inequality is directly linked to environment, rather environmental destruction by the corporates. If everything goes well, the Modi government would like to lease out around 300 mining blocks during 2017-18. And Karnataka alone has about 100 odd leases which would be put on auction. In other words global giants engaged in mining and extraction, are coming in a big way to clear forests and evict tribals traditionally dependent on forests for sheer survival. They call it development and growth.

No doubt elections in five states including the most crucial one in Uttar Pradesh, are an acid test for Modi, particularly after demonetisation. Strangely, instead of cashing in on the demonetisation issue the Congress-Samajwadi party combine in Uttar Pradesh, for all practical purposes endorsed Modi’s move by offering free Smart Phones to voters. They were doing it at a time when Modi’s own frontal organisation representing the largest number of organised sector workers came down heavily on this disastrous policy of disempowering the vulnerable sections of society. As per Modi’s own frontal outfit’s estimates ‘‘2.5 lakh informal sector units shut down and their workers lost jobs’’. But even the Marxists in parliament think ‘raincoat’ jibe is a good idea to keep parliamentary democracy going.

Debate in parliament even over a sensitive issue like ‘demonetisation and digitisation’ cannot mobilise masses in their millions. India has not witnessed ‘Arab Spring’ while another ‘Spring Thunder’ is long overdue because this system is now an anti-thesis to the declared aim of the Constitution. This Constitutional Democracy has come to a dead end. Players who periodically enjoy ‘limited’ and ‘unlimited’ privileges have totally abandoned the vast majority people, by way of official exclusion process. Independent social movements or spontaneous outbursts without any goal to reach, seem to be the only areas of hope. But sporadic challenge emerging from these tendencies is too weak to turn passivity into mass dynamism without which people will have to move from one crisis to another. Seen rationally, one can today safely generalise that the six decades long effort to bring economic and social justice in the country has failed. Even mainstream parties, not to speak of regional ones, are in the blind alley of ‘identity politics’ or ‘divisive politics’, not national politics.

Vol. 49, No.33, Feb 19 - 25, 2017