India is the most hopeful nation on the earth, Roger Cohen wrote in The New York Times. Millions of educated, bright and young people live with great expectations in this country. These young and aspirational millions are hopeful of a bright, comfortable and shining future.One tricky question lingering in the mind of every Indian today is, Does contemporary India fare well in fulfilling the changing aspirations of India’s aspirational millions? Is India the real destination for cherishing the dreams of rising millions?
India is no more a land of Gandhi- a co-operative society of Charkha-driven economy.The Post-Reform India deliberately contradicted the Gandhian trustee-ship and concomitantly led to the division of society into two antagonistic classes. Marx said that accumulation of capital divided the society into two antagonistic classes directly facing each other. India’s burgeoning middle class craft an India which has become what economist Utsa Patnaik eloquently termed Banana Republic. The crony capitalism has left millions reeling under abject poverty, chronic state failure and tainted political regimes.
The whole tribal movement, wrongly called Naxalism, is a result of destructive exploitation of forest resources. The uneven exploitation of resource-rich tribal areas endanger the livelihood of millions and make them vulnerable to various destructive environmental consequences. The Narmada project is a case in point.The tribal movement testifies the convulsion of state agencies and the immediate danger to their existence posed by the corporate greed. The recent media reports reveal how Salwa Judum, a private militia, is being financed by Tata Company to eliminate Naxals and make tribal land available for its projects.
The more saddening fact is that the state is turning a blind eye to the crime and the killing, rape and destruction by the corporate mafia. What is rather more sad the fact that the tribal movement rarely get media coverage and has few elite speakers. Arundhati Roy who made a bold and courageous attempt to bring tribal cause into limelight is being charged with sedition. Arundhati Roy’s political advocacy of tribal cause is riven by excessive corporate control over media, dysfunctional state agencies and political corruption.
Amartya Sen argued that the Idea of Justice demands that each citizen has equal access to entitlements and liberties. Each citizen should be entitled to the equal distribution of titles and opportunities to make the society just. India’s economic miracle has not blurred us to the ‘other’ side of the story. India’s ‘other’ side is a world inhabited by the people- poor, hungry and violent.This world has no stake in Rising India. They are instead considered to be polluting India’s VIP culture. India’s other side has a long history of deceitt, discrimination and loss.
The British Imperialists called them Subalterns- a discriminatory and downtrodden community who are vulnerable to all kinds of discrimination and exploitation.In post-Independent India, the Subalterns become Dalits, Tribals etc. These communities have been kept backward and in a ceaseless state of abject poverty through institutionalized discrimination.The legal provisions of reservations, positive discrimination and affirmative actions were blatant attempts to keep these communities in abysmal poverty.
The Mandal Commission, for example, is a deliberate Hindu ploy to keep Muslims vulnerable to the discrimination of Hindu majority. India is progressing. But at the exclusion, albeit elimination, of majority. The accumulation of capital and uneven distribution of entitlements lead to the uneven development and dependency of the majority on the few. Ashok Mitra, a staunch Marxist, recently said,” A billionaire has the audacity to build a house worth 5,000 crore when half of the population of Mumbai lives in Jhoppad Pattis.”
The neo-liberal policies adopted by India since 1991 wrought havoc on public life.The advent of MNCs and TNCs has unleashed new forces of imperialism.The horror, terror and destruction inflicted on India’s poor by these MNCs has endangered their existence.In the name of Globalisation and development, the state has marginalised farmers by paying a pittance as compensation. Progress has become a dirty word in our poisonous lexicon. Progress is a vital condition for prosperity.But whether progress has prospered or ruined India’s majority is a visible fact.One wonders how much prosperity has been generated by twenty years of economic liberalism. Does economic liberalism practically uplift India’s millions from the state of constant grind and abysmal poverty?
These are the questions which need to be answered.Marx was right in predicting the inhuman consequences of capitalism.Capitalism remains the most hollow and disastrous way of organising social life.We can still make our future better by replacing barbarism with humanism and end this.
Image Source: By Augustus Binu/ www.dreamsparrow.net/ facebook (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Peter van der Sluijs (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons