Activity sans Action

All political parties, left and right alike, are basically election-oriented, notwithstanding what they preach in public. The partial lock down coupled with dozens of Covid restrictions in different parts of the country is virtually multiplying the number of destitute people almost every day. Prices are rising and rising while joblessness is so acute that concerned people are afraid to talk about it. Even the leftists are not on the streets though the plight of organised sector workers, not to speak of unorganised sector, defies description. The tendency of governments, both central and state, and major industrial enterprises, is to engage minimum number of employees while systematically contractualising and casualising even perennial nature of jobs. How globalisation has decentralised production system and supply chain to make labour organising difficult is a talking point in left media. But in India this decentralisation started way back in the '60s under the garb of farming out. And they finished the most labour intensive industries of yester years.

It is safe to play with the gallery and make revolution in social media. Secularists and socialists of all hues are busy to debate the danger of Hindutva, not unemployment. No doubt the rise of Hindutva forces or for that matter communalisation of polity is a serious threat to social harmony and integrity of the country but Hindutva cannot be defeated without mass mobilisation against the corporates that back Hindutva. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has very little to lose if its opponents talk more and more about Hindutva and give less attention to a hopeless situation the downtrodden have been in for so long.

Now informal sector provides jobs, rather poor quality and insecure jobs, to about 84 per cent of workforce in India. For one thing the number of informal workers in formal sector is hardly counted. The vast army of non-unionised informal sector workers is the engine of growth. And yet they are the worst sufferers in this pandemic period. Experts are divided over how to combat Covid without jeopardising livelihood of ordinary people. Many opine that restrictions can be eased to maintain normal business activities, schools and colleges can be opened because what is dished out as on-line teaching is at worst caricature of education. Why they have failed to fully vaccinate the population, is not being questioned in the streets. It is discussed in TV channels. And the persons in power simply ignore it. What is required is to raise sustained voice against inadequate budget allocation on health care. That propertied class has benefited from pandemic is a fact of life. That pharmaceutical majors have emerged as new merchants of death is also a hard reality—they control global vaccine market and have vested interests in prolonging the pandemic.

Corona is a blessing in disguise for the powers that be everywhere. The reverse is true for the toilers. The authorities utilise corona stick and lock down to silence the aggrieved. Condition of migrants, particularly from eastern and north-eastern states, has worsened beyond repair. They are totally unorganised. Shedding tears in media makes little sense. They need alternative employment for survival.

For all practical purposes BJP’s Hindutva agenda is going to be tested in the up-coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Fighting Hindutva without attacking the big business houses at their roots, is unlikely to destabilise the saffron establishment. What matters most in UP elections is caste factor though BJP is trying to project its Hindu nationalism with caution. If the voters of UP throw BJP out it would be the first popular rejection of the idea of Hindu Rashtra and ideological defeat of Hindu nationalism. But so long as they get support from the corporate lobby they are not worried about the outcome of elections. Industrialists, big industrialists to be precise, understand only the language of production loss and it can be done only by withdrawing labour. There is none to call the shots. Central trade unions, mostly controlled by ‘national’ parties, including communist parties are essentially apologists of corporate capital. The way the CPM government in Kerala is serving multinationals speaks volumes about their ‘working class’ identity!

Congress is in a dilemma as to how to woo corporates without jeopardising its opposition image, albeit its irrelevance in national politics seems irreversible. The big business is still not convinced that it can deliver. In truth BJP is winning by default. After all the economic reforms programme implemented by Modi and his yes men was actually scripted by Congress. And the party managed by the Gandhi family has not shown any inclination to offer a different economic blue print other than what Modi is executing with a kind of religious ferocity.


Back to Home Page

Vol 54, No. 32, Feb 6 - 12, 2022