Five Trillion Dollar Dream

At the time of penning the editorial of the first post-vacation issue of Frontier, the celebration of Durga Puja, the most colourful festival of Hindus, particularly Bengali Hindus, and the worship of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, have ended. One report, disturbing to the advocates of the Hindu rastra, suggests that the number of Pujas in neighbouring Bangladesh has increased significantly over that of the last year. This report, for all its worth, suggests the exaggerated nature of the propaganda, assiduously made by the Hindutvawallas, that in Bangladesh, Hindus are killed regularly in large numbers. Such propaganda is clearly meant to create an atmosphere in which intensified attacks on Muslims may be given a further justification in addition to those already in existence, I because the propagandists have ostensibly no desire to go to Bangladesh and stand by the persecuted Hindus. Before the puja festival, the corporate lobby has been given fresh concessions which, according to some estimates, amount to Rs 1.45 trillions, a colossal amount by Indian standards. Big bank defaulters like the Adanis are going to get away with impunity, and the people are being made to forget the fact of already horrible and growing economic inequality, rising unemployment and similar phenomena by liberal doses of opium, namely religious divides and jingoism in the name of nationalism. Despite the policy of greasing the palms of corporate groups, there is no indication as yet that private investment will rise significantly, because private capitalists are concerned with profits, not employment. The discredited tool of monetary measures like continuous lowering of the repo rate is hardly likely to crank up a faltering economy. But the Modi government would not listen, and the pliant central bank would also turn a deaf ear.

An additional DA of 5 percent has been announced for the Central Government employees. The beneficiaries will certainly remain thankful to the Modi government for this increase and the Finance Minister has made no secret of the hope of raising the level of effective demand with the help of such measures. But the point is that the number of Central Government employees constitute a miniscule portion of the working population of the country, and it is an illusion to suppose that increased demand for comsumption goods on their part of the government employees is will create much additional effective demand in the economy as a whole. The number of people working in the unorganised sector is infinitely larger than those of Central Government employees, and unless the purchasing power of them is raised, there is no possibility of lifting the economy out of the recession. The latter in turn requires lavish investment in public works, infrastructure building and health care. That a government that is more concerned with wooing the corporate big bourgeoisie is unable to do so should be clear, just for the reason that when big bank defaulters are allowed to get away unpunished and billions of rupees in the form of tax concessions are donated to fatten the coffers of the corporates, there is not much left for investment in infrastructure and health care as well as other social welfare programmes. Hence the government, the ruling party and organisations like the RSS and the Visva Hindu Parishad have to offer religion and surgical strikes against Pakistan as a panacea for the economic ills. Mr Mohan Bhagvat has recently said that religion is of nobler than language. Clearly he wants Bengalis, Tamils and other nationalities to forget their own identities and languages and to consider themselves as only Nagpur-style Hindus instead. Amit Shah's advocacy of the necessity of a second language to be learnt by all Indian nationalities is clearly meant to impose Hindi on all non-Hindi speaking people, who form the majority of the population. What should be the second language of those whose mother tongue is Hindi? This is an important question which Mr Modi, Mr Shah and their acolytes prefer not to answer. But it exposes the real design of the Hindutva propagandists regarding language that goes in the name of national integration. The march of the Hindu-Hindi juggernaut is not, however, as smooth as pessimists suppose it to be. The case of 49 eminent persons, well-known in their own fields, may be cited as an example. In July this year, they wrote a letter to Narendra Modi against continued mob lynching, and in early this month, an FIR was filed against them In Mujaffarpur, Bihar by one Sudhir Ojha for 'tarnishing' Narendra Modi's and the country's image. Surprisingly, a case was filed against them and the chief judicial magistrate, fully aware that the letter was written to the Prime Minister, eagerly accepted the petition. This led to a letter of protest by about 180 eminent persons including Nasiruddin Shah and Romila Thapar, and similar other protests from many quarters followed. The Bihar police has finally had to cower before the protest barrage, showing that the drive for imposition of fascism on the country and throttling any voice of dissent may not always have a smooth success. There exists a ray of hope. The drama that has unfolded during Narendra Modi's and Imran Khan's visit to the USA has made one point abundantly clear, which is that both the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan are deperate to win the favour of Donald Trump. What Cuba or North Korea can do, India cannot. Donald Trump may rejoice in this fact that whatever the challenges from China, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Iran etc, he has at least two governments ready to follow his dictates.


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Vol. 52, No. 17, Oct 27 - Nov 2, 2019