Growth and Pretensions

The state of the economy continues to be discussed, while the ruling party at the centre as well as the central government goes on denying the stark facts. Facts, however, remain. As per the Global Hunger Index, India can now boast not only of more than one hundred billionaires, but also of a higher percentage of hungry people compared even to Pakistan. Border conflicts erupt with disconcerting regularity. It seems that both governments want them to continue. Just as the present government of this country needs it to sell its own brand of patriotism and to intensify its hate campaign, the government of Pakistan needs it to suppress the rights of the Baluch nationality and to create a facade of unity of the Pakistani people. Interestingly, both have nuclear capabilities and both are subservient to the USA. Both governments' efforts to curry the favour of the U. S. government are getting clearer with every passing day.

Discussions on the falling rate of growth have, however, paid little heed to the fact that raising just the rate of growth does not eliminate poverty. Rather it may well accentuate the dehumanizing economic inequality. Of course, there are a large number of people, mostly belonging to the urban and semi-urban petty bourgeoisie, who continue to believe that granting more and more concessions to the corporate bourgeoisie should generate more employment. It is well-nigh impossible to make them understand that the corporate bourgeoise's sole aim is to maximize profits and in order to pare costs, they rely increasingly on labour saving techniques. Of course, smart propaganda, financed by the corporate bourgeoisie, stupefies people and creates a larger than life image of some hero, just as the images of Hitler and Mussolini were created in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Brown shirts of the Nazi Party used to talk about socialism, and they, having helped the Nazi Party's ascent to power, were eliminated by Hitler. Poverty is something embedded in the class structure of the country and developmental terrorism, the core of which is forcible ouster of dalits, adivasis and other depressed identities from their traditional sources of livelihood, is scarcely able to alleviate the problem of poverty for the simple reason that it destroys more livelihoods than it creates. It should also be noted that the old method of measuring poverty solely in terms of a subsistence minimum( as Dandekar-Rath and some others suggested) is now hopelessly obsolete, and if measurement of poverty in terms of it is combined with the measurement of existing magnitude of inequality, the number and proportion of poor people in India will turn out to be far greater than appears at the first sight. Not only the communal BJP, which is regularly fed by corporate donations, but other political parties also are indifferent to this fact.

The problem of job creation is now too glaring to be brushed aside by titillating the dormant and covert communal sentiments of the majority community. So, the government has been forced to promise that fifty million jobs are to be created in the next five years in the small industries alone. It may be recalled that before the 2014 polls, the BJP and Narendra Modi had promised 100 million jobs in five years, and as this turned out to be a gigantic imposture, Modi had to fall back on phenomena like surgical strikes, anti-Pak and anti-China hysteria etc, and Rahul Gandhi's soft Hindutva helped him to some extent. He had however to offer his own excuses that a pokoda-seller earning Rs 200 per day has to be considered employed. It remains to be seen whether the new announcement regarding job creation does not turn out to be as hollow as the promise of 2014. How can the small-scale industries sector, badly hurt by demonetization, employ so many additional numbers and continue to run their business profitably? Will the government subsidize them as liberally as it has done in the case of the corporate sectors? If eliminating unemployment is the foremost priority, common sense suggests that much more concessions should be given to small enterprises, considering their importance in the Indian economy. Besides, what will be the wages of the new entrants? Will they be decent enough to enable them to manage a decent standard of living and to enhance the aggregate effective demand in the economy to an appreciable extent? If these questions are not answered in clear terms, the inescapable conclusion is that such promises, even if to some extent fulfilled, will hardly have any impact on the health of the economy. The fact is that employment creation is by no means the foremost priority of the government. The priority is corporate profits.

That Kashmir continues to remain a thorn is obvious and there is every sign that the Government of India is caught in a quagmire, having to employ all possible means at its disposal to keep the Kashmiri people in chains. How much monetary and human resources are regularly spent for this is anybody's guess. This expenditure clearly represents a diversion of resources that could be otherwise used for socially more fruitful purposes. In terms of HDI, Kashmir is reportedly in a better position than Modi's Gujarat. So, anybody is entitled to form his own opinion.   


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Vol. 52, No. 18, Nov 3 - 9, 2019