The Curse of India’s Growth

For more than two decades society has been under a kind of Orwellian spell where almost everything written or said in the mainstream media and intellectual circles in fact means its opposite. Clichés like “end of history”, “socialism has failed”, “capitalism has lifted millions out of poverty”, etc., reek of a moral and ethical decline of the system and society as a whole.

The most significant case in point is India. Its “spectacular growth rates” and its economic exuberance have been and are being glorified by the analysts and commentators. All this deafening noise about the “largest democracy in the world” is repeated over and over again as if to hide the stark realities that afflict Indian society today.

India has more billionaires than Japan yet almost half of world’s poor inhabits this “largest democracy”. For the last decade India’s growth rate has been around 8-9 percent, and yet of its 1.2 billion people 85 percent, or 900 million, live on less then 45 cents a day according to Newsweek. A decade ago these destitute souls were 770 million. This is a graphic illustration of the character of the “high growth rates” in these countries, where they have an inverse effect on the living conditions of the masses. It is the organic crisis of a decaying capitalism that has failed to develop society.

In another article Jawed Naqvi narrates an anecdote that elaborates on the plight of the masses in India. “In one of the visits to the sight of the Narmada anti-dam demonstrations led by Mehda Patkar, a woman protester was carrying a bottle of water to beat the scorching heat. She was surprised when some of the boys asked her what she was carrying in the plastic bottle. The boys simply refused to believe that it was water and nothing else… One of the boys produced his own version of water, a bottle of brown liquid, and insisted that water was brown and not transparent”.

The Times of India wrote, “Indians have learnt to live with pollution inhaling more particles each day than a chain smoker in the west. India’s cities are amongst the world’s dirtiest”.

Nationalism, cricket and democracy are the real opium for the Indian masses. The real face of its democracy begins to emerge when one takes a peep at the backgrounds of its parliamentarians. Three hundred of its 543 members are billionaires, while 180 are millionaires. More than 150 have criminal charges against them. In the last Lok Sabha there were 128.

A 2009 article in The Guardian, “In an election for the masses the rich will be the winners”, elaborates on India’s politics, “Party manifestos don’t directly address questions about acute poverty, lack of healthcare, education, sanitation or malnutrition   which affects more than half of India’s children. Most parties don’t even make pledges on redistribution… Remarkably no party, not even the left, demands that the rich be taxed adequately… The affluent in India pay among the world’s lowest tax rates…” (21 April 2009)

Ministries are traded and the giant corporate houses buy them for their economic gains. The richest man in India, Mukesh Ambanis, is reported to have said recently that “Congress” was his “Dukaan” [workshop]. The same goes for most mainstream parties. India remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. According to the Swiss Banking Association’s 2006 annual report, the top five depositors by nationalities were India: $1,456bn, Russia: $470bn, UK: $390bn, Ukraine: $100bn and China: $96bn. Graft in India is once again shaking the incumbent Congress-led dispensation. One of India’s top tycoon’s, Rattan Tata, is reported to have said that he was put off launching a domestic airline because of the “expectations of bribes” by the officials. The latest scandal involving ministers and chauvinist media hawks, in telecoms, is said to be worth more than $40bn. The “Global Financial Integrity” has estimated a loss of $460bn in illicit financial flows through India’s corruption since 1948.

In spite of India’s excruciating poverty, the regime has been spending extravagantly on arms purchases. Since 2005 India has been the biggest arms buyer among the developing nations. This year it has further increased its military spending by twenty percent. The astronomical costs of its nuclear programme have been an even greater scourge for the teeming millions.

Sixty three years after bloody partition, independent India has brought even greater misery on the inhabitants of this tragic land. The ruling classes have failed to carry through the tasks of the national democratic revolution. There nationalism has been a mere deception. Lakshmi Mithal, the largest steel producer in the world, who owns Arcelor Mittal conglomerate, has hardly a single foundry in India.

Superstition, black magic and witchcraft are endemic. Even the largest corporate magnates have astrologers sitting on their board of directors. The secularism of the Indian state is a facade. Religious obscurantism and bigotry are poisoning politics and society. The cohesion of the nation has started to fall apart and is in a phase of disintegration. In large swathes of India the writ of the state has been devoured. From Kashmir to Manipur, Assam and Orissa, the separatist forces are gaining support.

The social and physical infrastructure is a graphic expression of the combined and uneven development of capitalism. The ultra-modernity has failed to uplift massive regions from extreme primitiveness. The whole economic cycle excludes more than two thirds of the population and the market dynamics are based on a middle class of about 250 million. It is a substantial base but devoid of the vast majority of the population. Nehruvian socialism failed in its Keynesianism to develop a modern industrial society. “Trickle down economics” has been an even greater disaster for the masses.

The Indian proletariat has striven time and again to launch valiant movements to overthrow this rotten Indian capitalism. Its has been betrayed again and again. The Stalinist leadership of India’s mass communist parties has been hamstrung by its redundant ideology of the “two stages” and its parliamentary cretinism. At crucial junctures of revolutionary situations the left leaders have capitulated to the Indian bourgeoisie whose progressiveness was merely a mirage.

Today, however, there is ferment in the ranks of these left parties. The workers and the youth are yearning for a revolutionary socialist alternative. Maoism and guerilla tactics have revealed their failure in a huge industrial society. It is the mighty Indian proletariat that has to lead the revolution. And a Marxist leadership will ensure its victory.