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The Problems will Remain

Anirban Biswas

The results of the assembly polls in five states have falsified the predictions of all exit polls. It is now clear that the politics of communal majoritarianism has not cut much ice. Agrarian distress, adverse impact of demonetisation and GST, failure to bring back Swiss money, failed promise of creating jobs, the Rafael scam—all have played their parts. The slogans of Hindutva and Ram temple, defined to promote communal polarisation, have not been able to cure the damages done. One immediate and good effect of the unseaing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in three states of the Hindi heartland is that the brutal vandalism of the cow vigilantes and the saffronisation of education will in all probability be cheacked, at least partially.

That Narendra Modi is unable to solve the problem of poverty is clear, but not at all unexpected. One important aspect of this failure is his unholy alliance with the corporate groups, and his failure to punish the big defaulters regarding repayment of bank loans. Of course, Modi's immediate predecessor, Manmohan Singh is not altogether free from guilt, whatever his personal image. One cannot be certain whether Modi will be unseated in the coming Lok Sabha polls. But the point is that even if that happens, the problems that plague the country at present will remain. The economic costs of raising the poor above the poverty line and granting loan waivers to farmers are enormous. The problem can be "obviated if the immorally gained assets of the corporate big guns and various other types of blackmoney bags are confiscated and used for financing a nationwide scheme of reconstruction at decent wages. Implementation of such a programme will certainly require a large number of skilled technical persons, not only unskilled labour. But this alternative path of development is of no use to big business, the IMF, the World Bank and the foreign multinationals.

Here lies the real problem. Of all the major parties, there is none that is willing to fight these forces effectively. Hence, whoever forms the government at the centre after the 17th parliamentary elctions, the problems will remain. If a policy of providing doles is adopted, its implementation will require more than ten trillions of rupees. Injection of such a colossal amount into the economy, if it does not enhance the productive capacity of the economy, will only create intense inflationary pressure. The alternative approach, on the other hand, will definitely face stiff opposition from the forces that are ruling the roost. For the time being, however, reduction of the strength of the neo-Nazi saffron brigade is welcome, simply because it will give real democrats greater space to operate. This saffron brigade, whatever the nature of its mask of patriotism, is essentially a servant of global and domestic corporate capital. This is a point that must not be forgotten. 

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Frontier
Vol. 51, No.26, Dec 30, 2018 - Jan 5, 2019