CHOSEN REPRESENTATIVE OF THE MOST CORRUPT CORPORATE CLASS - PJ James
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03 April 2019

As Modi’s rule has reached its fag end, we are witnessing now is the latest malicious move to withhold the release of official data prepared by government’s own statistical machineries. The most conspicuous has been the ban imposed on publishing the NSSO’s 2017-18 data on employment. Modi came to power in 2014 with a promise of creating additional two crore jobs per year. But according to the NSSO survey, the details of which are leaked out on March 20, 2019, instead of the creation of two crore new jobs per annum, the country has been losing one crore jobs per year. Since this reversal on employment generation has obviously taken place due to Modi’s corporatisation policies, using the NITI Aayog, which devoid of any statistical expertise and that is working as a public relations department of the saffron regime, the govt. has released a series of doctored data which were completely at divergence with the NSSO figures.

Earlier, two members of the National Statistical Commission led by its chairman PC Mohanan had resigned protesting against the government’s manipulation of data. They had also questioned the manner in which the Modi government resorted to the new series of GDP data that can depict a relatively higher growth rate under Modi by artificially lowering India’s growth rates during the UPA regime. Contrary to Modi’s claims, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in February this year from 5.9 percent in February 2018 which is the biggest job loss that India is experiencing in five decades!

While 60 percent of the toilets built under the Swachh Bharat are lacking water and in Chhattisgarh (which declared its rural areas ODF-open defecation free), for instance, in all the 18769 villages surveyed, they are used as storehouses instead of using for the expected purposes. During the first year of his ascendancy to the throne, budget allocation to healthcare was reduced by 15 percent. At a time when 2.4 million Indian people are dying per annum due to lack of primary medical aid, and renowned international journals like Lancet exposed this deplorable situation in India, in 2018 Modi started Ayushmann Bharat with much fanfare. It also proved another publicity stunt since only Rs. 2000 crore was earmarked for this project whereas the initial minimum requirement was Rs. 30000 crore for including at least 10 crore people under this scheme. Even if it is spent, it would have been less than Rs. 20 per person. While Modi has already spent Rs. 3643 crore on Shivaji statue and more for that of Patel, in the neighbouring BJP-ruled state of Maharashtra alone 4000 peasants had to commit suicide on account of a debt of Rs. 150 crore to banks from which leading corporates Amabani, Adani, Essar, etc. have looted Rs. 15 lakh crore in the guise of non-performing assets (NPAs). Like MNREGS, both Swachh Bharat and Ayushmann Bharat have turned out as mere hoax.

On the one hand, Modi government without sending lawyers to the court cunningly created the situation for the SC passing an order on February 13 evicting more than a million hapless tribal people from their habitat, and on the other expedited wildlife clearances for facilitating corporate mining and environmentally harmful projects in ecologically fragile and sensitive regions to the detriment of forest dwellers in particular. To speed up corporate plunder of nature, after coming to power, Modi actively intervened to dilute the 2013 Land Acquisition Act that under the UPA regime had brought about some regulations in corporate land acquisition and certain procedures for eviction of peasants and adivasis from their land.

While curtailing federal powers of the state government through such neoliberal offensives as GST, regarding execution of corporate projects, Modi regime extended a free hand to them to act in violation of even central laws and against the rights of forest dwellers and marginalized sections. In brief, regarding land acquisition and natural resource appropriation for projects whether private or PPP route, the Modi regime is openly siding with the corporates against the sustenance and livelihood of the oppressed.

While these lines are being written, the UN had released its latest World Happiness Report ranking India at 140 among 156 countries for which study was conducted. India which is among countries at the bottom of the index that experienced the highest decline in welfare and happiness in recent years has gone down seven spots compared with the last edition of the Report which analysed economic, political and social stresses that people suffer. People’s lives with respect to per capita income, healthy life expectancy, freedom and liberty, absence of corruption, social support, etc. are taken as the criteria for the study. Thus while Modi was shoring up India’s ranking in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index by liberalising all laws pertaining to environment, labour, tax and even democratic rights, unleashing all kinds of financial parasitism, unknown levels of corruption leading to predatory plunder by corporate MNCs and crony capitalists, India with its 140th rank has been going down in terms of UN’s World Happiness Report, even much below that of neighbouring Pakistan (67), Bhutan (95), Bangladesh (125) and Sri Lanka (130). As a manifestation of this, while Modi-bhakts and corporate-saffron media are working overtime to fool people in to believing that India is fast developing, all the basic economic, social, democratic foundations of the country are collapsing.

Modi came to power on an anti-corruption plank taking advantage of people’s fury against the corrupt UPA government. But what India witnessed since then has been the unravelling of Modi himself as the agent of most corrupt crony capitalists. In the notorious Rs. 59000croreRafale deal with a reported underhand dealing of Rs. 30000 crore, Modi himself is exposed as the agent/middleman of Ambani. No prime minister in India has degenerated to such a level. Probably, Modi’s unveiling of himself as the chosen representative of the most corrupt corporate class is with regard to his approach to corruption itself.  The BJP itself later admitted Modi’s promise of putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of each Indians after repatriating unaccounted money from abroad as a mere election stunt. The alteration that he has brought about in election funding through the Electoral Bond Scheme based on inputs from neoliberal centres is an ingenious move to cement the corporate-saffron unholy nexus.  This scheme that channels unaccounted black money from foreign tax havens and corporate sources is already exposed as a corollary of the financial parasitism and corporatisation underlying behind the so called Modinomics. Till date, the BJP has reportedly cornered around 95 percent of the tens of millions of worth black money donations mobilised through Electoral Bonds.

And to facilitate the legitimisation of funding from foreign tax havens, Modi has gone even for amending the Foreign Currency Regulation Act of 1976. In 2017 itself, in the third year of his rule, as underlined by Transparency International, Modi has earned the distinction for his regime as the most corrupt in Asia relegating Pakistan and Thailand in to the background. All investigative and enforcement agencies were manipulated to cover-up corruption by the ruling regime even as they are systematically directed against political opponents. According to the latest information, the income tax department that has been in possession of a diary by Yedyurappa, former Karnataka CM that contains huge pay-offs of over Rs. 1800 crore to central  BJP team along with extortions worth Rs. 2690 crore, did nothing to investigate them.

Under Modi regime, corruption has assumed a new dimension of being ingrained in to the very process of formulation and implementation of policies through the unholy nexus among corporates, politicians and bureaucrats. Demonetisation itself was a classic corrupt move for wholesale whitening of the unaccounted black money hoardings of the most parasitic corporate class and politicians associated with BJP. While sucking out the meagre cash holdings of the vast majority of toiling people, demonetisation enabled the corrupt super-rich to consolidate the country’s wealth in their hands. By damaging the circulation channels and supply chains of the economy it paved the way for further corporatisation by destroying the informal and agricultural sectors that provided employment for 95 percent of the Indian workforce, and ultimately led to a 2 percent decline in India’s national product or loss of around Rs. 3-4 lakh crores during the financial year that proceeded demonetisation.  One of the declared objectives of demonetisation was a transformation to digitization and cashless transactions. But as per the latest RBI Report on currency circulation, demonetisation resulted in around 20 percent growth in currency circulation, rising to 21.41 lakh crore as on 15 March, 2019 from Rs.17.97 lakh crore as on 4 November, 2016, on the eve of demonetisation. According to BJP’s own statements including the affidavit it submitted to Supreme Court, demonetisation might have been whitened a minimum of Rs 5 lakh crore worth black money.

Along with it, the GST that is being superimposed over states  destroying the federal structure, depriving the states of their constitutional  right to resource mobilisation and transferring the reins of the unified Indian market to corporate monopoly forces has broken the backs of retail, informal, traditional and self-employment sectors where vast majority Indians depend for their sustenance.

Under the ultra-rightist, corporate-saffron regime, India witnessed a systematic destruction of almost all PSUs in strategic and key sectors including even the defence sector. While the budgetary targets pertaining to social welfare expenditures remain unfulfilled throughout, the disinvestment target for the fiscal year 2019 is already met.  As announced by the finance minister on March 22, 2019, disinvestment receipts for the financial year have touched Rs. 85000 crore as against the budgetary target of Rs. 80000 crore. Along with this, calculated steps were initiated to privatise or destroy public sector/departmental undertakings relating to railways, oil and gas, national highways, ports, airports, telecom and so on. As a result, for instance, BSNL and ONGC are on the brink of collapse while Reliance Jio and Reliance Petroleum have already taken over their positions. On account of Modi’s ultra-rightist policies, while the entire employment oriented productive spheres including agriculture and industry are facing reverses, the wealth of the top 9 Indian billionaires including Ambani and Adani are galloping at the rate of Rs. 2200 crore a day or Rs. 803000 crore an year! This occurs when earnings and living conditions of the common people go on declining such that in the Global Hunger Index India’s ranking under Modi rule has deteriorated by 37 percent reaching 100 among 119 countries, much below that of neighbouring countries.

Unlike the UPA rule, the period since 2014 when Modi has been in power experienced sharp decline in international crude oil prices.  Countries like Iran and Venezuela which are facing unilateral Yankee embargo are even ready to part with their huge stocks of oil and gas even at a reduced price than the prevailing international prices. But Modi as US bootlicker and chosen agent of the most corrupt financial corporate class used this occasion for plundering people and fattening private oil giants like Ambani and Essar. Compared with the period of the UPA regime, when international crude oil prices plunged from $ 140 a barrel to around $ 50a barrel during the entire period of Modi rule, instead of reducing domestic oil prices, Modi went on raising taxes on petrol and diesel without any let up. Thus he raised taxes on petrol and diesel by 200 percent and 400 percent respectively, and a doubling of LPG prices such that both the central and state governments could gobble up around Rs. 15 lakh crores from this account alone.

Instead of spending this amount on people-oriented programs Modi in his budgets provided corporate tax exemptions worth Rs. 6 lakh crore on an average. Together with the highest GST rates in the world coupled with corporate control over price-fixing, the fuel price hike which also is the highest in the world has led to a sky-rocketing of the prices of all items of mass consumption and essential services even as peasants are denied minimum prices for their sustenance.

Closer examination will reveal that under the cover of saffronisation and all round campaign for Hindu Rashtra, Modi has been working overtime to serve his corporate chieftains. The ultimate beneficiaries of war- mongering and war hysteria built-up by Modi regime are the corporate class. Unity among the working class and oppressed people against the corporate-saffron regime is diverted by creating mutual hatred among the general public and feelings of insecurity among dalits, adivasis and minorities. Patriarchal and obscurantist religious and caste-based values are directed against women for cooling down their fury against the system. Institutions related to education, research and culture are manipulated and brought under corporate-saffron diktats.

Under Modi regime, since policy decisions are often conceived in the corporate- saffron-bureaucratic nexus, parliament, various parliamentary committees and related institutions have lost their significance and elected representatives of the people are kept in the dark regarding strategic decisions. Together with parliament, judiciary, administration, enforcement and investigative agencies and police are subjected to saffronisation. Even military is utilized for serving the saffron agenda. Corporate-saffron think-tanks are hand-picked to serve crony capitalism where corruption forms an integral part.  While constitutional offices like CAG and autonomous bodies like RBI and CBI are denigrated, non-constitutional posts like the National Security Advisor and those who have access to PMO’s office wield extra-constitutional powers. Those who oppose the regime are charged with colonial sedition laws and black laws such as UAPA while saffron intellectuals and activists behind terrorist attacks and cow vigilantes are let scot-free by official investigative agencies. Even judges who refuse to toe the official line are dealt with accordingly. UP has become the “fake-encounter capital” of India where a reign of terror is unleashed on political opponents and oppressed sections.

At this critical juncture, all the democratic forces in the country are duty-bound to come forward for overthrowing this regime based a concrete evaluation of the horrific situation that we are facing.

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Kabeer Katlat

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.