Capital Quit India: Corona or No-Corona

Bhaskar Majumder

If I am asked what is misguiding, knowledge or ignorance, my response in the twinkle of an eye will be knowledge. Who misguides? The knowledge-worker misguides. Who is misguided? The ignorant worker is misguided. This is not to deny that knowledge also guides. Misguidance is embedded in guidance. It seems I confused many of my readers. My simple point is, knowledge developed the capacity to guide and in the same process developed the capacity to misguide, the capacity that ignorance did not try to achieve. Now it seems clear to all.  

I posed the above question in the context of institutionalized loot of the nation – loot of labour-earned savings of the people most of who were institution-ignorant though some of them were alphabet-literate and most of them finance-illiterate.

The people-voters were convinced that they would get back the money siphoned off from the banking system a few years back for the personal pledge that flowed out from the vocal cord at the top of the power pyramid. Some innocent people and Bhakts still believe it – after all, hope is where life is.  Pending the reverse flight of capital to go into the pockets of the poor people, some announcements have come through the electronic media that labourers are to work more by hours under no protection from labour laws for output lost over 40+days meant loss of GDP and hence lost growth had to be replenished. Innocent workers hardly understand growth theory.

While I am not much concerned for growth for “trickle down’’ never worked in India as may be elsewhere and “Gariv Hatao’’ worked more than “Garivi Hatao’’, the policy-slogan of early 1970s, the root causes of Garivi remained unaddressed for Gariv was a necessity for the polity and Garivi a necessary condition for a growth economy or discourse by the economists. If labour is indispensable for production as might have been learnt by now by the Economists from the Karnataka episode of confining labour at work-zone post-Corona 2019/2020, then one needs to understand a little more. Where did labour go?

The first answer is, labour went into labourers’ pockets as wages distributed by capital-owners; labour went to add to productive assets owned by the capital-owners; labour went into the pockets of the capital-owners as profits in the Schumpeterian frame. All these are well elaborated in any standard textbook on development economics. Labour built roads and ports that also facilitated the colonial masters to loot India that included both labour and nature. Post-independence, labour went partially to the banking system as savings that was systematically looted by the Deshbhakts. Why the looters of the workers’ savings called Deshbhakts? The reason is, as informed, their loot has been legalized – it has been written off by the monetary authority. Any kickback in this writing off, or is it a normal practice in efficiency of the monetary system? Was there any prior informed consent from the savers that their money was getting lost through Quit India or through other channels?

The list of wilful defaulters is star-studded or diamond-studded. Topping the list of wilful defaulters is C’s scam-hit companies which owed Rs 8048 crore; J’s companies owed Rs 4,076 crore; H owed Rs.1962 crore; Baba owed Rs 2,212 crore; VM owed Rs 1,943 crore. Of the 50 listed defaulters, seven companies were in the Rs 2,000 crore plus bracket; 18 companies in the Rs 1,000 crore plus bracket. The top 50 wilful defaulters are spread across various sectors of the economy including IT, infrastructure, power, jewellery, pharmaceuticals. A majority of them have defaulted nationalist banks over decades. Some of these defaulters were absconding – either at home or abroad.

This money that was looted belonged to the workers or the common people. Rather than soft nomenclature like defaulter – wilful or otherwise, they are to be termed “thieves’’ – it was loot of the nation. The crude fact was, this loot was through institutions. I have reasons to opine that on this Capital Quit India, the twin authorities – monetary and fiscal – were intertwined.

I confess at this stage that my knowledge in money-banking-finance is nil – so I am not capacitated to misguide my readers or any knowledge-institutions. I am told, wilful default means by anyone who has the means to pay but did not and will not pay. The monetary authority (RBI) maintains records of loans above Rs. 5 crore given by banks; hence the responsibility lies with the RBI if any default occurs. Common people as savers are far distanced from the RBI. Of late it is reported that three promoters of Baba’s commerce allegedly cheated a consortium of six banks to the tune of Rs 411 crore and Quit India. The State Bank of India acted long after the promoters absconded. Was the SBI un-smart or over-smart?

As a layman, my question remains, who authorized these finance institutions to write off bad debt or NPA or call it by any name? My understanding is, people owned it, though the finance-institutions were the custodians.

Suppose some of the looters “Quit India’’ and got citizenship of other countries as proof of their Deshbhakti pledging not to re-loot India. Also, suppose, they have money-tohobil to buy the geographic space of India – what happens? If the twin authorities agree, the looters may buy the space – no allegation of loot will re-emerge.

In late 1990s, I calculated the ratio of sales of top seven Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of top seven countries in the Third World by size of population that included India. The result was 2:1 in favour of countries. Given the trend, after two decades, the result now may be 1:1. If these top 50 wilful defaulters form a guild to purchase India, then what happens? Is a sovereign country saleable?

In India’s past, villages were donated by the Monarch and Zaminder. In India’s present, can India be written off as NPA?

Apology: All names of defaulters are hypothetical. I have full faith in the Constitution of India.         

Bhaskar Majumder, Professor of Economics, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad - 211019

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May 11, 2020

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

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