While Modi-2 is moving fast with its Project J&K, NRCs and all other saffron plans of muscular nationalism, even the mainstream media is compelled to talk about the economy going to the dumps, millions of jobs getting junked, essential commodities and services becoming costlier, not only hundreds of medium and small enterprises closing down, but major automobile units also declaring lock-outs, and the Sensex is spiralling down. As usual, utilizing this slow down, the India Inc, the corporate bosses, have already asked for Rs 1 lakh crore stimulus package from government to kick-start investment cycle, to revive growth, when at least five million Indians have lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, and are in miserable condition. The draught and now ravaging floods in vast areas have thrown many more millions to serious plight.
Now more and more international economic sources also admit that Modi’s abrupt withdrawal of high value currency notes from circulation in November 2016, in the name of ending black money, curbing tax evasion and promoting digital transactions, disrupted small businesses and sparked layoffs. The introduction of GST next year compounded difficulties for some more businesses. Along with the traditionally poor rural masses, now the newly unemployed were mostly higher educated and young people, in the 20-24 age range, according to the study titled “State of Working India 2019”. “Among urban men, for example, this age group accounts for 13.5 percent of the working age population but 60 percent of the unemployed,” it said. An official survey that the government withheld showed unemployment rose to its highest level in at least 45 years in 2017/18. The unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in February 2019, its highest since September 2016, and up from 5.9 percent in February 2018.
Some of the recent indices compiled below show the extent of this economic slowdown: Jet Airways closed down, Air India in Rs 7600 crore loss, 54,000 jobs of BSNL in danger, No money to pay salary for HAL employees, Postal department at a loss of Rs 15000 crores, 1 million to be laid off in Auto Industry, Aircel is dead, JP Group finished, most profitable company in India – ONGC- is now making losses, PNB is in continuous losses, Videocon (India) bankrupt, Tata Docomo perished, and many more such distress stories not published in mainstream media. In the real estate sector, 12.76 lakhs flats are unsold in 30 major cities. In the automobile sector Rs 55000 crores worth cars are lying at factories or in sales rooms with no buyers. Same situation in two-wheeler and three wheeler fields also.
Though, as announced in this year’s Budget the Railways and all other remaining PSUs are on sale very fast through step by step privatization, the heritages like Red Fort are given on rent, air ports are given to Adanis for maintenance and operation, and red carpet is spread for the FDIs, giving more sops, the capital investments for the projected PPPs are very slow. At the same time, most of the present PPP projects under construction have failed to complete their targets in time. As the external debt of the country has reached 500+ billion dollars, the interest burden is also skyrocketing.
Meanwhile, even after allowing Rs 2.4 lakh crores loan waiver for few corporates, and huge amounts were written off as Non Performing Assets (NPAs) under Modi-1, all the nationalized banks are still incurring huge losses. But the government has not taken any effective action so far against the 36 largest debtors missing from the country. According to The Financial Express the loan write-offs by banks has crossed Rs 2 lakh crore (https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/banking-finance/npa-clean-up-loan-write-offs-by-banks-cross-rs-2-lakh-crore-in-fy-19/1646343). It is people’s money, being written off “liberally” by the public sector banks. Though technically the defaulters still remains liable to the lenders even after write-offs, the real urgency and public pressure reduces substantially. And the pressure of new NPAs (again - freshly lent using more of public money) will always take priority, thus pushing the written-off loans to the back burner. “In FY18, PSBs had written off loans worth Rs 1.28 lakh crore. Had banks not written off loans worth close to Rs 2.06 lakh crore in FY19, the value of non-performing assets (NPAs) in the system at the end of the year would have risen by an equivalent amount. The amount of loans written off in FY19 by PSBs could turn out to be even higher as the numbers for Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank, which now stand merged with Bank of Baroda (BoB) are unavailable.”
Not only the Nobel-winner Paul Krugman, but also a number of economists from India and abroad, who are in the main upholding the neo-liberal path, have warned that India’s growth story could end with mass unemployment and escalating stagnation. Still no corrective measures are put forward in the Budget (see the article on Budget). On the contrary, utilizing manipulated statistics, as Arvind Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) under Modi.1 has pointed out, illusory figures of GDP growth are repeatedly presented to cover up the increasing slow down of the economy, which have once again reignited serious concerns about the credibility of government’s economic growth data, including the 2019 Budget estimates, even among neo-liberal economists.
The real concern of the working masses are factors like the decline or stagnation in real wages and real incomes, the lay-offs and retrenchments, the search in vain for jobs, the death and devastation caused by flood or drought, the crippling shortage of water and electricity, and the fight for survival in an unequal and harsh world affecting them. They are hardly addressed in the Budget proposals, while Modi and friends are celebrating their Project Kashmir and other measures palatable to their majoritarian Hindutva vote bank.
Even the concern of Modi’s own people in the RBI, SEBI, the stock exchanges and corporate headquarters, and banks are about the steep decline in the BSE and NSE indices, the depreciation of the rupee, the rising yield on bonds, the mounting losses in public sector banks, the stiff taxes, the pull-out by FPIs (foreign portfolio investors). At the same time, contrary to the projections in the Budget, the GDP growth rate continues to decline from 6.8% for the whole year to 5.8% in the last quarter of 2018-19. Core sector growth has dropped to a 50-month low of 0.2%, while capacity utilization in all manufacturing segments reached below 70%. The rupee is now Asia’s worst-performing currency, falling 3.4% against the US dollar in August. Investment in new projects (private and government) announced in the quarter ending June 2019 declined to a 15-year low of Rs 71,337 crore. The value of projects completed in the quarter fell to a five-year low of Rs 69,494 crore. Revenue earning in rail freight (that comes from carrying coal, cement, petroleum, fertilizer, iron ore, etc) grew only 2.7% in April-June 2019, falling from 6.4% in the same period last year. In consumption field, in Q1 of 2019-20, car sales were down 23.3%, two-wheeler sales were down 11.7%, commercial vehicle sales were down 9.5% and tractor sales were down 14.1%. July was worse. Industry associations (SIAM and FADA) have reported that 2,30,000 jobs have been lost and 286 dealerships have been shut. Consumption of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) was no better. Hindustan Lever, Dabur, Britannia Industries and Asian Paints, among others, have reported volume growth rate in April-June 2019 as one half or less than the volume growth rate in the same period last year. Among the sectors of growth: government expenditure, private investment, private consumption and exports, none of them is revving up.
In this situation, contrary to the optimism projected by the Modi-2, the economy is collapsing. It shall get aggravated as the US and other major economies are also under the threat of recession. Modi-2’s calculation is that the people’s reaction to further pauperization as a result of the slow down can be drowned by creating a flood of aggressive muscular nationalism, speeding up to Hindurashtra! It is the task of the struggling forces to expose and defeat the RSS project by mobilizing the masses and leading them towards their emancipation by throwing out Modi’s neo-fascist regime. n
Debiprasad threw new light on the question of the transition from matriarchy to patriarchy and its relation with materialism in our country. His investigation have problematized the apparently organized, however, a linier theory that the primitive communist society was matriarchal and the class-societies were patriarchal. He devoted two chapters for this subject in his Lokayata, under the title of Ganapati and Gauri. He showed that in the initial stage of hunting-gathering society where gathering was more prominent than hunting, there the society was matriarchal in nature. However, in the higher stage of hunting-gathering society where hunting was more prominent especially hunting by bow and arrow was introduced there the domination over the society was shifted to the hands of the male-folks from the women. Why? Debiprasad did not enter into a detailed discussion, but he indicated towards a huge socio-cultural- psychological and economical shift of the society. While Morgan and Engels both relied on the economic cause behind this transition in a strict sense, Debiprasad found it unsatisfactory, though, he never challenged it openly rather restricted himself in some indication, probably for the reason that he was a Marxist in such a time when economic determination was recognized as an essential component of Marxism and any deviation from it used to be considered as a deviation from the philosophy itself.
Similarly, Debiprasad showed that when the society advanced from the higher stage of hunting-gathering society to the initial stage of agricultural society again the domination over the society was changed and a reverse journey from patriarchy to matriarchy took place. Why? Why a gathering based society was generally matriarchal and a hunting based society was patriarchal? And why the initiation of primary agriculture re-established the domination of the women once again? Debiprasad employed one simple sentence to indicate the reason of the change. He said, “Hunting was the job of the male”. It is a well-accepted fact among the Marxists that the division of labour between male and female was the most primitive division of labour in human history. However, the Marxists never studied deeply the consequences of this division of labour in a society. Debiprasad restricted himself only in some indications which must be studied and elaborated by a new generation of the Marxists. In the chapter of Ganapati Debiprasad showed that the main weapon of the god was bow and arrow. In our country there are eighteen forms of the god Ganapati are found, with the common weapon of bow and arrow. It establishes sufficiently that the god emerged at the tribal hunting-gathering stage of the society which must have been pre-Indus Valley Civilization.
Before the discovery of the remnants of Indus Valley Civilization in the beginning of the last century it was thought that the Vedic civilization was the earliest civilization in India. However, the discovery extended the horizon of human knowledge about the history of civilizations of our country. More the study of this newly discovered civilization proceeds it has been revealed that it was an early agriculturist society where no definite evidence of ploughing is found. The inhabitants of this society learned to use floods and river water wisely as well as learned to erect dams for agricultural use. This civilization was a bronze-age civilization and mainly depended on agriculture. Debiprasad showed that this civilization was a matriarchal society where Ganapati lost its importance and in that place goddess Durga or Sakamvari or Gouri emerged.
Debiprasad discussed elaborately with an ancient ritual which is still observed in a large part of our country, called, Ganesha Chaturthi Vrata. This is a ritual related to agriculture where the presence of Ganesha or Ganapati is mainly namesake. The main character in this vrata is Gauri. The vrata is observed at the session of sowing the seeds. In the first day of the ritual the image of Ganesha is placed at the site of the ritual as simply the representative of the new moon but actually he is nothing to do with the ritual itself. From the second day he is totally absent and the ritual take a complete feminine character where Gauri replaced Ganesha. However, Gauri is not the Gauri of our familiar Puranic pantheon; instead, she is a bundle of plants, along with her human representative: a virgin. Debiprasad wrote: “The plants are collected by women, placed on a diagram drawn with turmeric powder. While wrapping these up in a bundle, married women are served with vermilion. Only women remain to participate in the rest of the ritual centering round this bundle of plants. The plants, along with the virgin, are carried from room to room and asked, ‘Gauri, Gauri what do you see?’ The virgin answers, ‘I see prosperity and plenty.’ To make this dramatic visit of Gauri realistic, her supposed footprints are actually drawn on the floor showing that she did enter the rooms.”
The people of Bengal and other eastern states know very well that these types of rituals and festivals take place throughout the months of September, October and November which are essentially related to faith, magical believes and conventions connected to agriculture. It is very clear to understand that all these rituals and festivals were originated in a society where hunting was no more the main economic activity. It was already replaced by agriculture, however, agriculture remained in its initial stage. At that point of time sufficient development in natural science was absent. As a result the human did not know the biological mechanism of a plant which produces crops. Agricultural production was still mere a mystery for them. At that uncertain state of affairs for production, for rain, for fertility of the ground and overall agricultural success the human needed to depend on magic and magical beliefs. These rituals and festivals related to agriculture were mere reflection of this fact. But what is the relation between agricultural rituals and the women? Why in all the agriculture related rituals and festivals are dominated by the women? Why in the brata like Ganesha Chaturthi the presence of the god Ganesha is only namesake? What is the significance of exit of Ganesha from the scene from the second day of the festival?
According to Debiprasad the answers of these questions lie in the fact that agriculture was invented by the women. Therefore, agriculture, especially, in its initial stage was the job of the women. As the hunting was the job of the men and the society mainly depended on hunting was invariably male-dominated, similarly, the society depended on early agriculture was invariably dominated by the women. Debiprasad quoted Briffault, “In the primitive division of labour the gathering and the cultivation of the vegetable food are the special occupation of the women as hunting is that of the men.” (Lokayata/252). Debiprasad quoted Giles from Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: “Primitive agriculture is not altogether nor to any large extent, in the hands of males. As Von Den Steiner remarks of the Bakairi of Central Brazil, it is women that has invented agriculture….” (ibid/252).
At the first stage of societal development when gathering was the main economic activity women was the driving force of the society. When economic dependency was shifted on hunting the women were dislodged from their dominating position and the male folks came in the fore. The women were deputed to perform the household activities, childbearing, child-rearing and animal husbandry. In the course of performing these duties, especially animal husbandry, someday women invented agriculture. And it happened so naturally that not only in India, but in a large part of the globe it is evident that all the early agriculturist societies were characterized by female domination, matriarchal and matrilineal elements based on mother-right. Obviously India played the key-role to develop early agriculture and matriarchal system based on that. Debiprasad quoted Ehranfels: “Women here not only invented systematic tilling of the soil, but also put this into practice, which can be no means have been an easy task, as conservatism was so strong in primitive society, specially, in the primeval culture-circle, that some remnants of these pre-agricultural groups have been preserved to the present day. In consequence of the tilling of the soil the people of this first matriarchal culture-circle gave up roaming in the forest and became first settlers.” And again, “The mutual relations between Indian and non-Indian mother-right cultures are manifold. The general geographical and also the archaeological situation favours the theory that the world-culture of mother-right originally emanated from India.” And the mother-right of Indian society “appears to have created the ancient matriarchal civilization in the Mediterranean Basin, Oriental Africa, the Near-East and specially Southern Arabia.” Therefore, it was not an accident that the early materialism or proto-materialism found its early home in India and India was a land of materialism, quite contrary to the claim of the Vedantists that it is a land of spiritualism and idealism.
With the introduction of early agriculture there happened the exit of male and again the female-folks came in the fore. The main economic activity again came back in the hands of the women and the male-folks took the backbench. This social phenomenon is reflected in the brata like Ganesh Chaturthi where the presence of the god Ganesha is only namesake and he actually exit from the scene from the second day of the festival. Debiprasad here clearly deviated from the picture presented by Morgan and Bachofen, and also to some extent Engels regarding the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal society. Morgan explained the transition as a general point of view which very often seems as a linear development. However, contrary to that Debiprasad offered a comprehensive theoretical framework which actually contains the zigzag path of societal development. The initial matriarchal society based on gathering and hunting, where the main emphasis was laid on gathering, not hunting, was replaced by the higher stage hunting-gathering society where hunting by bow and arrow was the main economic activity. We have already seen that this type of society was invariably a patriarchal one. From this stage society developed further, somewhere in the globe to the early agriculturist society and somewhere into the pastoral society. Debiprasad wrote: “The categories do not constitute a fixed chronological sequence. Food gathering and hunting have come first everywhere, but the higher grades depend on the local fauna and flora and other environmental factors. Thus, after food-gathering and hunting, some of the people of the ancient times moved towards the pastoral economy while some others discovered agriculture.” (ibid/236) In the pastoral society patriarchy continued, however, in the early agriculturist society the matriarchy came back which was again replace by patriarchy when agriculture rolled on into the higher stage of agriculturist society.
These observations of Debiprasad solved the age-old riddle regarding the early Vedic society. From the theoretical framework put forward by Morgan and Engels we came to know that the classless society was matriarchal society based on mother-right but when the private property came in dominance the ancient clans had to be broken and the mother-right must be destroyed to pave the way patriarchy in order to retain the property within the family. Therefore the uncertainty in the identification of the father of a newborn baby must have been vanished. As a result monogamy was imposed on the women while polygamy in case of the male-folks continued. Therefore, class societies must be patriarchal according to this theoretical understanding. In the main classless society was matriarchal and class societies were patriarchal. This was a clear-cut characterization put forward by Morgan and Engels. How then can we explain the presence of the class divided early agriculturist society like Indus Valley Civilization which was matriarchal in nature? And how can we explain the presence of classless pastoral society like the early Vedic society which was patriarchal in nature? Morgan-Engels formula does not provide an answer. Here is the significance of Debiprasad that he solved these riddles with more elaborated observations which in return developed not only the general philosophical understanding but the Marxist theory on the questions related to the transition from pre-history to the civilization.
What was the main reason behind the transition from classless matriarchal society to class divided patriarchal society? According to the Morgan-Engels theory although the classless matriarchal society had its own dynamics and constant changes can be seen throughout the history of classless society, however, it was the origination of private property which put the last nail on the coffin of the matriarchal society based on mother-right. On the contrary Debiprasad put forward a different idea. The gathering-hunting society was matriarchal because gathering was in the main the job of the women. The higher stage of hunting-gathering society was patriarchal because hunting, especially, by bow and arrow was the job of the men. Pastoral society was patriarchal but early agriculturist society became matriarchal because agriculture was invented by the women and it was their job. Now what does it all mean? How far this psycho-economic and cultural approach can be considered as a Marxist approach? These questions deserve an elaborated discussion which we like to address in opportune moment. However, it can now be said at least that if the Communists of country already would have taken up these valuable observations of Debiprasad and addressed these questions there was a chance to develop the Marxist theory in order to combat the mechanical Marxist ideas which have played very important role to develop revisionism.
Anyway, according to Debiprasad early agriculturist Indus Valley Civilization was the source of matriarchal society and consequently proto-materialist beliefs like Tantra. Tantra like doctrine which gives immense importance to the concept of awakening the female power was originated in a matriarchal society. The deities like Kali, Durga, Gauri or Sakamvari came into the imagination of the people at that type of society, Debiprasad explained. In order to describe the origination of Shakta cult (related to goddess Kali) he quoted many times from The Indo-Aryan Races written by Ramaprasad Chanda: “The Shakta conception of the Devi, as Adya Shakti, ‘the primordial energy’, and Jagadamva, ‘the mother of universe’, also very probably arose in a society where matriarchate or mother-kin was prevalent.” It is a well accepted fact the Aryan society was not this kind of society; neither matriarchal nor matrilineal. That was the reason why Debiprasad asserted so confidently that Tantra or ancient materialism in India was originated in Indus Valley Civilization and had a close connection with matriarchy.
Debiprasad considered this magic-based belief-system which had its lot many deities and rituals as pre-spiritualistic or proto-materialist? He remarked, “Ganapati, indeed, leads us to presume that the nature of this pre-spiritualistic, or at least proto-materialistic, that is, Lokayatika, in the sense in which we have understood it.” But the question is why Debiprasad did not want to identify these belief-systems with religion proper? Why he called these notions pre-spiritualistic or proto-materialistic? A thorough reading of his texts suggests that one of the major reasons behind this understanding Debiprasad was that these belief-systems worked in order to develop the productive power of the society through more confident and enthusiastic human action while the religious doctrines always undermine human action and teach to suspend human efforts as the supreme goal of humankind is never related to this-worldly phenomena.
Since the time around 15OO BCE the Aryan tribal groups started to enter ancient India or Jambudwipa. We have already seen that the Aryans were pastoral and nomadic groups based on patriarchal social system. As a result a ferocious conflict started to open up in this part of the globe between matriarchal early agriculturist people and nomadic pastoral patriarchal tribes. Since the Indus Valley script is yet to be decoded and on the other hand the Aryans had no script at all at that point of time, the history of this conflict is not readily available. Debiprasad tried to reconstruct this history from myths, puranas and ‘religious’ texts. Bachofen applied this same method in his famous work Mother Right. Debiprasad reminded us that Marx too admitted this method: “As is well-known, we have abundant data from the religious and mythological point of view, but hardly much from the point of view social history proper. So we propose to begin from a different end. If it true that religious ideas are ultimately conditioned by concrete material factors, it should be possible for us to discover something about these material factors by examining the religious ideas in which these are reflected. As Marx said, ‘the reality of the past seems reflected in mythological fantasy’. We may therefore examine the mythological fantasies in order to arrive at the ancient reality.” (ibid/126)
In order to understand the history of this conflict Debiprasad resorted to Rig Vedic evidences. He described elaborately how Indra, the war-god of the Aryans defeated, raped and drove Usha, the mother-deity of matriarchal Harappa from the valley of Indus to the banks of Bipasha. From the narratives of killing Vrta by Indra Debiprasad described how the Aryan destroyed the dams built by the people of Harappa civilization in order to destroy their agricultural system. However, the materialism of Indus could not be destroyed by the Aryans. The stiff battle of this notion with the Aryan idealism continued even after the destruction of Indus Valley Civilization. And it is a more interesting fact that the materialism which came into being in the Indus civilization became popular among the oppressed masses in the Vedic society when it broke down into warring classes. His struggle is continuing even today. Debiprasad opined that the fate of present class struggle in India depends on how this age-old contradiction will be handled by the present generations of the toiling masses. We will try to understand the view of Debiprasad on this immensely important subject in the following chapters.
(Next: Chapter — III, Vedic Society and Vedic Philosophy)
Fascism as a topic is conceptualized and debated today with respect to different ideological persuasions ranging from liberal bourgeois and reformist to Marxist positions. A striking characteristic of the fascist parties, movements and regimes today is their adaptation to contemporary conditions and unlike that of the inter-war European fascism, many of them are coexisting in varying degrees with outward manifestations of bourgeois parliamentary democracy, though in essence all of them stand for an outright negation of it. A de-facto fascist dictatorship can exist even with the façade of elections if it is possible to hold entire mechanisms of state power under its control so that no other party or coalition of parties except the fascist party comes to power. Common manifestations of fascism (also called ‘neo-fascism’ today to differentiate it from ‘classical fascism’ that emerged in Europe of the inter-war period) such as terrorism, ethnic and racial cleansing, extermination and oppression of minorities, immigrants, refugees, women and other oppressed, climate catastrophe, super-exploitation and oppression of workers, elimination of hard-earned democratic rights, militarisation and above all unleashing the power of corporate capital on all aspects of socio-economic life are visible at a global level ranging from the Americas and Europe to Asia. However, irrespective of the manifestations of fascism, Marxism invariably situates it in the whole trajectory of transformation of imperialism and finance capital. At the same time, from a Marxist perspective, no social phenomenon can be analysed from a static perspective. Therefore, fascist regimes’ organic link with the logic of capital accumulation today may assume different characteristics according to varying historical, national, political, economic and cultural context.
Origin and Development of Fascism
From the very beginning of the outbreak of fascism in Europe, when liberal-bourgeois and reformist circles interpreted the phenomenon as ‘authoritarian capitalism’, it was Marxism that based on a comprehensive analysis of monopoly capitalism approached fascism as rooted in the very foundations of finance capital and as the outcome of the extreme intensification of the internal contradictions of imperialism. Fascism outbreaks when these contradictions sharpen and lead to a severe internal crisis which cannot be resolved through normal methods of surplus value extraction, from both internal and external sources. For instance, unlike the other European powers who had their colonial empires and the US which could enforce its imperialist diktats over the entire Americas and the Pacific even “without colonies”, both Germany and Italy had restrictions to pursue an imperialist policy abroad. On the other hand, these two countries though rivals in World War I, and having lost their colonies and hence weakened during the war, went through unprecedented domestic economic crises resulting in militant working class struggles leading to social disruption, especially in the context of the ideological-political challenges raised against the capitalist-imperialist system by Socialism in Soviet Union. However, in the absence of a communist leadership in these countries, as that led by Lenin in Russia capable of overcoming the crisis through a revolution, the situation was favourable for an interpenetration between monopoly finance capital and bourgeois political leadership giving rise to fascism.
Thus the social anarchy arising from all round economic crises and political turmoil provides a fertile breeding ground for fascism. Such a situation is an opportune moment for fascists to have their firm foothold by attracting the depoliticised petty-bourgeois sections through rhetorical and demagogic proposals, though they are mutually contradictory and ill-digested, and blaming the racial, religious, regional and national minorities and other marginalised for all the misfortunes of the society. Once fascism firmly establishes, as happened in Italy and Germany, along with the petty bourgeoisie, other sections of the population such as unorganized workers, unemployed youth, criminal and lumpen elements are also attracted to fascists. Gradually fascism makes further headway through elections by appeals to the disgruntled larger sections of the dissatisfied people. Both Mussolini and Hitler in their programs even included better wages and social security for workers, protection to petty traders, increased state-sector investment, more taxes on the rich and similar other demands pampering to the sentiments of common people. Together with this, blatantly false and malicious propaganda were systematically used to build up hatred among the common people against targeted sections of the society. For instance, in the fascist definition of ‘New Germany’, Jews, communists and trade unions were identified as enemies of the nation. After assuming power, while constitutional and parliamentary institutions and democratic values were demolished from above, armed fascist goons and storm troopers (black shirts, brown shirts, etc.) integrated with state’s repressive apparatus and effectively propped up and funded by monopolies are let loose on the people from below.
From the very beginning Marxists tried to have an in-depth understanding on the fascist transformation of the bourgeois state. In fact, Lenin had mentioned on Mussolini fascism though he had no direct knowledge of the working of the fascist party at that time. And, he had interpreted the Russian ‘Black Hundreds’ as a proto-type of fascism which in the hands of police chiefs under Tsardom was used as a para-military weapon against the revolutionary movement. However, it was only after the coming to power of Mussolini and Hitler that Comintern (Communist International) came to have a clear-cut understanding of fascism. Thus, it was based on an objective evaluation of the transformation of the bourgeois state into a dictatorial, terrorist and annexationist regime during the twenties and thirties that the Report drafted by Dimitrov and adopted by the 7th Congress of Comintern (1935) and endorsed by its 13th Extended Executive Meeting defined fascism thus: “Fascism is an open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialist elements of the finance capital… Fascism is the government of finance capital itself. It is an organized massacre of the working class and the revolutionary slice of peasantry and intelligentsia. Fascism in its foreign policy is the most brutal kind of chauvinism, which cultivates zoological hatred against other peoples.” Obviously, this definition of fascism is the most comprehensive one that unfolds the close integration of both the economic foundation and political superstructure of fascism with the domestic and overseas interests of finance capital. In those countries where the fascists took over power, the communists and trade unions were physically eliminated while bourgeois opposition was in total disarray. And, as elucidated in the above definition which provided a concrete understanding of fascism at that historical context when domestic resistance against fascism became virtually impossible, it was Comintern that under its initiative forged an anti-fascist front including a broad alliance with other bourgeois regimes to resist and defeat the fascist challenge.
The defeat of fascist powers Germany and Italy in World War II followed by the surging national liberation movements and advancement of socialism increased the prestige of communist movement and inspired world people in general. These were threatening factors for the perpetuation of the colonial system of imperialism. This prompted world imperialism led by USA, the supreme arbiter in the postwar order to bring about necessary changes regarding the form of finance capital’s continued expansion at a global level. Thus to hoodwink world people, the camouflage of decolonisation together with welfare state based on Keynesian state intervention was initiated even while laying down the foundations for a neocolonisation process for more intensified penetration of finance capital into erstwhile colonies. However, as generally acknowledged, the International Communist Movement (ICM) on account of ideological-political factors, failed to properly grasp the content and gravity of this epoch-making transition from colonialism to neocolonialism. The Khrushchevite revisionism that emerged in the mid-fifties even interpreted neocolonialism as a weakening of both imperialism and hegemony of finance capital. This was at a time when the US ascendancy as the postwar imperialist leader had been filled with loot, plunder, horror, genocide and even ‘holocausts’ on defenceless people the world over.
Neocolonialism does not at all imply that it is less militaristic than old colonialism. As an inalienable component of Cold War initiated against Soviet Union and socialist bloc, the US also went on installing ‘fascist regimes’ backed by military coups in many countries from Latin America, its backyard to Asia. As part of the Cold War offensive, several anti-communist, fascistic, terrorist and counterrevolutionary organisations were also planted within seemingly independent bourgeois regimes in many parts of the globe. Such terrorist outfits and right-wing forces often acted as effective tools in the hands of US imperialism to direct against the emerging national liberation and revolutionary movements in neocolonially dependent countries. In a number of countries from Latin America to Asia including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines and so on, US succeeded in installing fascistic regimes through military coups. McCarthyism characterised by heightened anti-communism and political repression in the US that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s provided the required ideological basis for all these fascistic-counterrevolutionary US overseas moves often keeping US-trained fascist cadres at “civilian deep cover” in neocolonies and dependent countries ensuring the neocolonial rules of the game of as per the diktats of finance capital.
By the turn of the 1970s, the post-war imperialist ‘boom’ came to a close and on account of the irresolvable contradictions inherent in capitalist-imperialist system, persistent stagflation emerged as a relatively new, more prolonged and more complex phenomenon compared to the imperialist crisis of the 1920s and 1930s that gave rise to fascism. However, unlike the situation then, by the seventies the ideological-political setbacks of the ICM became so glaring that yielded the political condition for imperialism to abandon ‘welfare state’ altogether and resort to a change in the accumulation process through neoliberalism. In essence, it implies a reversal of the downturn in profit rate from stagnating productive sphere by developing new avenues of plunder from the ballooning financial sphere utilizing latest advancement in information and communication technologies. Obviously, the parasitism, decay and degeneration associated with this neoliberal accumulation has been complex, multi-dimensional and several-fold more pronounced than that exposed by Lenin a century back and the political reaction emanating from it shall therefore is bound to be horrific. On the eve of the altogether collapse of Soviet bloc and emergence of post-Cold War neoliberal situation, US imperialism so cunningly and assiduously brought up the so called “Islamic terror” as its new enemy and a critical counterweight in its militarisation strategy leading to a more favourable condition for a bouncing back of fascism with intensified vigour. However, instead of open military coups, required groundwork has already been underway by neoliberal centres and deep-seated reactionary forces that made it possible for fascist parties with their far-right socio-economic and political agenda to ascend to power through ballots even maintaining formal constitutional edifice or apparent features of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. As such, today’s fascism or neo-fascism cannot or need not be mere text copies or stereotyped versions of erstwhile classical fascism of the 1930s.
Fascism under Neoliberalism
From the Marxist-Leninist perspective, the neoliberal wave of fascism or contemporary fascism can be analysed only with respect to what is called globalisation or internationalisation of capital, i.e., limitless and uncontrollable cross-border movement of finance capital today. Though bourgeois intellectuals characterise globalisation an irreversible process, it is not all linear and is subject to several inherent contradictions. Strikingly, while capital is increasingly becoming global and transnational, resistance to it tends to be disorganised or fragmented due to the success of imperialism in creating division among anti-globalisation forces on the one hand, and on account of ideological-political weakness on the part of organisations and movements leading the working class and the oppressed on the other. For instance, when imperialism started unleashing the tyranny of finance capital on workers and oppressed beginning with Thatcherism and Reaganomics by resorting to a dismantling of the welfare state and replaced public sector and social democratic ideas of distribution with privatisation/corporatisation together with propping up of voluntary and NGO spending, the Left failed to build up effective resistance against it due to lack of a coherent and clear grasping of neoliberalism. The emergence of postmodernism and post-Marxism as neoliberal ideologies espoused by ultra-reactionary imperialist think-tanks since the eighties and manifested in such prognoses as ‘identity politics’, ‘multiculturalism’ (that emphasises difference rather than commonality), etc. that negated both the importance of working class resistance against capital and united political struggles by the oppressed has led to an effective depoliticizing mission preparing the groundwork for the emergence of several neo-fascist trends. In the guise of fighting the ‘evils of capitalism’, postmodernism went on glorifying and romanticizing the orient, the past and all obscurantist and pre-modern identities and ‘subaltern cultures’. This brought forward various religious fundamentalist, revivalist, chauvinistic, xenophobic, and autarkic reactionary ideologies to the centre-stage of history to divert world people’s attention away from the global operations of corporate finance capital.
This all round depoliticising provided a fertile ground for the rapid emergence of many neo-fascist forces all over the world. Neo-fascists everywhere are quick to take advantage of the mass psychology of social and economic insecurity due to the loss of livelihood, employment, habitat and environment arising from corporate plunder as well as people’s loss of faith in mainstream traditional parties including social democrats who have no alternative to neoliberal policies. Everywhere, fascists use more or less the same campaigns with populist, romantic, idealist and moral nuances often filled with hatred towards the ‘other’ based on hypotheses such as ‘clash of civilisations’ though with variations according to concrete local, national, historical and cultural contexts. Often, according to the specificities of each country, fascists could be seen conspicuously pursuing an exclusivist line allying with the ‘homogeneous’ part (often representing the majoritarian culture) of the population effectively pitting against the ‘heterogeneous’ sections generally composed of religious, ethnic/racial and linguistic minorities, migrants, refugees, dalits, tribals and other marginalized and oppressed sections. And a striking feature of all the far-right neo-fascist parties and forces is their apparently anti-establishmentarian and anti-globalisation (often right-wing populist) stance often sprinkled with seemingly anti-ruling class rhetoric directed against the privileges of the superrich and the elite. Trends like ‘new history writing’ being sponsored by European neo-fascists today is also of particular relevance here. An example is the McCarthy-style argumentation that the anti-fascist alliance of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt was the wrong one; rather what required was Stalin’s defeat led by the Hitler-Chamberlain-Hoover coalition. In the latter case, Europe would not have to bear the burden of the ‘welfare state’ that led to the stagflation of the 1970s, it is argued. In India, for instance, a ‘new history-writing’ is in the offing whitewashing all the misdeeds and ‘anti-national’ history associated with RSS. No doubt, whatever be their populist pretensions, once in power, the neo-fascists show no qualm for betraying those masses who enabled them to rise to power thereby wholeheartedly serving the interests of international finance capital and ruling classes -- a common feature of fascists of all hues, both old and new.
Fascist Transformation in India
The advent of fascism in India needs to be analysed in the broader global context briefly analysed above. BJP that rules India today is just a political outfit of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) that came in to being in mid-1920s more or less at the same time when fascism appeared in Europe, and as per records, fanatical adulation or admiration of both Hitler and Mussolini was endemic to RSS leadership from the very beginning. For instance, Moonje, the mentor and political guru of Hedgewar, the founder of RSS, had visited the Italian fascist dictator Mussolini in 1931 and inspired by the Fascist Academy of Physical Education that trained paramilitary lumpen goons like Black Shirts, started the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik in 1937 for imparting paramilitary training to RSS cadres and Hindutva goons under the management of Central Hindu Military Education Society. In fact, Bhonsala School’s links with terroristic actions by Hindutva extremist groups including 2008 Malegaon blasts had been known to Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad led by Hemant Karkare. Now after the ascendance of Modi.2, the RSS initiative to start Army Schools on the model of Indian Military Schools to train children to become officers in Indian armed forces with effect from April, 2020 directed towards open saffronisation of the entire Indian military apparatus should be seen as part of the qualitatively new trends linked with RSS directly taking India’s reins in its own hands.
Meanwhile, as a fascist organisation espousing Hitler’s Aryan racial puritanism and white supremacy together with genocidal hatred towards Muslims in a predominantly brown-skinned India and with extreme servility to British imperialism, from the very beginning, the RSS totally distanced itself from the independence movement, and hence remained outside the Indian political mainstream for a long period. As a brahmanical Hindu supremacist organisation, the RSS vehemently opposed the adoption of Indian Constitution and suggested ‘Manu Smriti’ (the sacred book of chaturvarnya or varna system) in its place on the ground that a Republican Constitution would give equality to all castes. Being banned three times as a terrorist organisation, it was its ‘laudable action’ during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency that enabled its entry into the mainstream politics. Since then, leading the ‘Sangh Parivar’ composed of hundreds of secret and open, militant terrorist outfits and widening and deepening itself across space and time and with its far or ultra-right economic philosophy and unwavering allegiance to US imperialism that leads the imperialist camp, today RSS has grown into the biggest fascist organisation in the world with innumerable overseas saffron extensions and affiliates backed by immense corporate funding.
Revealingly, RSS’ sudden shoot-up from relative obscurity to the political lime-light in mid-1970s is coterminous with imperialism’s transition to neoliberalism in the context of its first biggest postwar crisis. And, as a manifestation of the mounting neo-colonial plunder and consequent increasing integration of India with imperialist capital, by 1970s, India was also in the grip of an unprecedented political-economic instability aggravating all the contradictions in the country and Indira Gandhi’s proclamation of Emergency in 1975 was comprador Indian state’s response to this crisis. In view of Indira Gandhi’s alliance with Soviet Union at that time, it was also convenient for RSS to carry on its anti-Emergency campaign with US backing. Obviously, lifting of Emergency and Indira Gandhi’s return to power in 1980 was immediately followed by India’s abject surrender to US diktats through a huge Extended Fund Facility loan from IMF with stringent conditionalities. It was during this extremely crisis-ridden period of India that the far-right fascistic RSS designed its well-thought-out strategy of occupying Indian state power by floating BJP as its political party. In the ensuing period, it was effectively taking advantage of the facilitating role of the soft-Hindutva Congress that RSS, the electoral machine of BJP transformed the latter into India’s biggest ruling class party within a relatively short span of time.
And, with the entire trajectory of this long drawn-out process marked by such landmarks as the beginning of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, Vajpayee-led government in the late 1990s, Gujarat Pogrom in 2002, the ascendancy Modi regime in 2014 followed by its reiteration as Modi.2 in 2019, the fascistisation has reached a qualitatively new stage in India. With Modi.2, in continuation of the saffronisation of all the constitutional, administrative and institutional structures required for a fascist transformation already underway, RSS is now moving towards its ultimate goal of establishing Hindu Rashtra, which is an intolerant theocratic state unequivocally defined by M S Golwalkar in 1939 in his magnum opus, ‘We, Our Nationhood Defined’. For instance, under its corporate-saffron raj of Modi.2 is blatantly unveiling itself as a typical fascist state acquiring all the requisite features of a majoritarian Hindu Rashtra firmly adhering to the process of forcible integration of Kashmir into Indian Union, superimposition of Hindu code under the euphemism of uniform civil code, construction of Ram Temple at the site of Babri Masjid and even making Muslims as second class citizens by amending the Citizenship Act itself. All other specificities of corporate saffron fascism such as anti-Muslimness, pan-Indian homogenizing drive subjugating the oppressed caste organisations aimed at integrating them into Hindutva, rejection of all values of modernity such as rational-scientific thinking, fostering the cult of tradition and obscurantism, treating dissent and disagreement as treason, worship of heroism and elitism, anti-communism and an uncompromising integration with corporate finance capital are to be analysed in the proper perspective.
And, in this whole course of transformation that propelled RSS to wielding Indian state power, a neoliberal process spanning almost a quarter century, the soft-Hindutva Congress had been faithfully playing second fiddle to the former without any let up. After her return to power in 1980, Indira Gandhi totally reversed her earlier approach towards Sangh Parivar. After her assassination, her son Rajiv Gandhi who ascended to power provided facilities to Hindutva forces for performing shilanyas at the disputed site where Babri Masjid was located. In the series of highly venomous and violent saffron offensives and communal riots that ensued since 1984 such as the ‘Liberation of Ayodhya’ campaign by Dharam Sansad, formation of Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini as aggressive Hindutva militant organisations respectively for young men and women, etc., the Congress while remaining a mute spectator, also tried to cash in Hindu sentiments for electoral gains. It extended all facilities to VHP to collect Ram Shilas for the foundation of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and even allowed it to lay foundation stone of Ram Mandir in 1989. The Congress government pursued the same soft Hindutva approach when the VHP organised a number of international conferences since mid-1980s for rallying Hindutva expatriates around the idea of saffron consolidation. In the background of the Mandal agitations, though Advani’s Rathyatra was stopped in Bihar, with the connivance of the Congress regime, including communal riots in many parts of India, immense damage had already been done as was manifested in BJP winning Assembly elections in Gujarat, Rajasthan, MP, Bihar and UP. Quite logically, the Rao-Manmohan government that demolished the Nehruvian model and embraced full-fledged neoliberalism in 1991 also extended security cover for the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindutva goons in the next year. By that time RSS had succeeded in converting Ram into a political symbol for capturing state power. And the ten-year UPA regime in its relentless pursuit of soft-Hindutva did nothing to bring the perpetrators of Gujarat Pogrom before law even as US denied visa to Modi for ten years due to this. To be precise, while the soft Hindutva pursued by the Congress totally devastated it, the RSS-led BJP with its hard Hindutva became the ultimate victor.
This understanding on Indian fascism is also fully in accord with the specific historical factors and concrete political conditions of the country. It is a fundamental Marxist approach that any social phenomenon when develops further and transforms in a different social formation will inevitably adapt itself to the particularities and specificities of that context. Of course, fascism’s inseparable integration with the hegemony of corporate finance capital is its universal character. However, ascribing a universal pattern or form to the emergence of fascism for all situations is erroneous, and it will impede the building up of anti-fascist struggles too. For instance, in his concluding speech at the 7th Comintern Congress that defined fascism with its firm foundations in finance capital, its General Secretary Dimitrov had also underlined different course of development of fascism in colonial and semi-colonial countries, and in these countries, according to him, “there can be no question of the kind of fascism that we are accustomed to see in Germany, Italy and other capitalist countries”, and for such countries he suggested an analysis of their specific economic, political and historical conditions based on which fascism may assume different forms. As such, communists can formulate the methods of resisting and defeating fascism in India only through an evaluation of the country-specific or national peculiarities that provide the fertile basis for the development of Hindutva fascism integrating itself with corporate finance capital today.
Viewed in this perspective, the specific feature of Indian fascism as embodied in the ideology of RSS is aggressive ‘Hindu nationalism’ or Hindutva aimed at the establishment of a Hindu theocratic state or Hindu Rashtra. But as is obvious, the content of this nationalism is at variance with classical fascism that waged aggressive wars for the protection of bourgeois national capitalist interests. In Afro-Asian-Latin American countries which have a long period of colonial and neo-colonial oppression, nationalism or patriotism must invariably be linked up with anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles and anti-imperialism is, therefore, an indispensable component of nationalism in these countries. On the other hand, neither in the colonial period nor in the postwar neo-colonial period, RSS has ever resorted to any genuine initiative for an independent national capitalist development. Rather, its entire history from the very inception has been that of betrayal of genuine nationalism. Even today its far-right economic orientation or affinity to neoliberal-corporatization is integrally linked up with its allegiance to US imperialism, leader of the neo-colonial global order. That is, its ‘cultural nationalism’ is only a camouflage for serving international finance capital. In this context, it would be in order, if we make a distinction between jingoistic and pseudo nationalism of RSS from that of the progressive and democratic national sentiment of the people which is directed against imperialism. While the former is chauvinistic, jingoistic, exclusivist, divisive and reactionary that inevitably leads to fascism, in the present historical context, the latter is anti-imperialist and hence progressive, secular, democratic and inclusive consisting of the struggling unity of workers, peasants, women, dalits, adivasis, minorities and all oppressed.
A striking feature of Indian fascism that makes it all the more venomous is its shameless ideological orientation towards Brahmanical Hindutva supremacy. According to this ideology, vast majority of Indian people composed of the lower and oppressed castes are subhuman who deserve no civic or democratic rights. As a result, under Modi.2, on the one hand, most heinous atrocities on dalits and other oppressed castes are strengthening without any let up. Such atrocities manifested in the form of lynching, mass rape and ‘honour killings’ have even permeated to institutions of higher learning and research in the form ‘institutional murders’. On the other, RSS is most opportunistically and cunningly utilising identity politics to carve out caste-based vote banks along with unleashing a process of forcible integration of the oppressed castes in to the Hindutva fold. That is, pursuing an aggressive policy of saffronisation and divide and rule, the manuvadi RSS has also succeeded in deconstructing the various caste-based parties so as to submerge them in to the majoritarian saffron agenda. Therefore, in the Indian context, along with sustained struggles against the foundations of corporate capital, building up effective resistance against the Brahmanical caste system through appropriate ideological and practical interventions such as caste annihilation movement is a major task of the anti-fascist movement that invariably encompasses economic, social and cultural dimensions.
In the 1930s when two imperialist regimes, Italy and Germany had embraced fascism, the Comintern and Soviet Union had been there giving ideological-political leadership to the anti-fascist struggle. On the other hand, today in Europe alone ten neo-fascist parties are in power, and backed by financial oligarchs they have also initiated steps for a pan-European fascist alliance against workers, migrants and refugees. Meanwhile, unlike the relatively nation-centred capital of the pre-war period when European fascism emerged, today finance capital has become internationalised. Consequently, in accordance with the complex dimensions of capital accumulation and the concomitant decay, parasitism and reaction associated with internationalisation of finance capital, 21st century fascism shall inevitably be several-fold oppressive and militaristic. On the other hand, on account of its ideological-political weakness, the communist movement today is not capable enough to take up the task of objectively evaluating and effectively challenging this fascist threat. The situation in India is also the same, though the specificities of Indian corporate-saffron fascism are different. Of particular importance here is the need of clarity on the constituents of an anti-fascist front or platform.
In this context, Dimitrov’s observations in his address to the 7th Congress of the Comintern is very relevant even today. For instance, he had been very sceptical of the involvement of the imperialist bourgeoisie as fascism was inherently connected with the bourgeois attempt to shore up plunder by changing the state-form of class domination. Another weakness pinpointed by him was the class collaborationist attitude of the social democrats. Later, Stalin himself endorsed this position of Dimitrov by pinpointing the weakness arising from the alliance with bourgeois regimes in the anti-fascist front of the 1930s. According to Stalin, at that time itself, the unique nature of accumulation under the hegemony of finance capital had made it difficult for the imperialists to adhere to a regime of bourgeois democracy. He also characterised the reactionary character of social democracy as ‘moderate wing of fascism’ having affinity to the policies of financial oligarchs. In fact, Stalin’s criticism was vindicated later when, in spite of the horrors of Hitler fascism, US imperialism under the camouflage of decolonisation and welfare state went on installing terrorist-fascist military regimes across many countries in accordance with the needs of neo-colonial expansion of finance capital in the immediate postwar period, an aspect already referred.
Today, the fascist offensive is taking place in the neoliberal context when corporate capital as represented by both imperialist and comprador bourgeoisie along with social democrats who are apologists of neoliberal policies has degenerated further together with the concomitant ideological-cultural challenges at the superstructure. In this context, the communists have to pay much attention in differentiating the sustainable friends of the anti-fascist front from its foes and win over the former (including progressive sections of social democrats) to the side of the struggle against neoliberal fascism. The Indian situation is such that along with the Congress which is in total disarray, other ruling class parties together with the social democratic leadership has already gone over to the side of neoliberal-corporatisation that forms the foundations of fascism today, even as the people are coming out against ruling regime in diverse forms. In this context, an anti-fascist offensive is to be initiated based on studying lessons from past experiences and concrete evaluation of the present. Thus, in continuation of the Political Resolution as adopted in the 11th Congress of our Party and taking into account the qualitative changes associated with Modi.2, the Central Committee (CC) has stressed the central role of the revolutionary unity of struggling left forces in the fight against corporate-saffron fascism. The essential basis of such an initiative is the building up of mass movements and class struggle capable of imparting effective resistance against fascism in all its manifestations. To initiate this process, the CC has called for an open dialogue among the struggling left forces to explore the possibilities of developing mass political platforms based on common minimum program at the national and state levels encompassing both parliamentary and non-parliamentary struggles according to concrete conditions. This shall pave the way for a broad anti-fascist united platform at the all India level. Such an effort uniting with all progressive-democratic forces on the one hand, and isolating all reactionary sections who are allying with corporate-saffron fascism on the other, shall enable us to pursue our strive towards the goal of achieving genuine democracy for the people.
- Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works (www. Marxists.org)
- Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder
- James V Gregor, Interpretations of Fascism, Transactions Publishers, New Jersey, 1997
- John Bellamy Foster, Monopoly Capital at the Turn of the Century (www. monthlyreview.org)
- Thomas Klikauer & Kathleen Webb Tunney “Rise of Saffron Power: Reflections on Indian Politics , Counter Currents, May 4, 2019 |
- Red Dawn (MLKP), Issue 18-Winter 2018/19
As we have noted in our analysis of the Interim Budget (“Budget as a Means of Purchasing Votes?”, Red Star, March 2019), that exercise of the Modi government was in total disregard of all established parliamentary traditions, precedents and scruples, including even abandonment of placing the mandatory pre-Budget Economic Survey which was indispensable for the country to know the “real state of the economy”. Modi government was afraid of presenting the Economic Survey asthe data, inevitably be preparedby official agencies such as Central Statistical Organisation and National Sample Survey Organisation, would have to highlight several unpleasant but real facts concerning the economy. If brought to light through the Economic Survey, it would have been an official admission of the frightening disruption that has ravaged the entire economy. And on the eve of the 11thLaksabha election, leading members of these agencies who were reluctant to manipulate the data as demanded by the regime, quite unprecedentedly, had resigned from their posts.
At the same time, utilising doctored statistics, manipulated data and bogus claims, Modi regime transformed the interim budget into an election speech with a whole set of freebies, giveaways, tax concessions, money transfer schemes and other populist programs, each being addressed to specific vote-banks. But after winning the election with a brute majority backed by corporate money power, EVM manipulation and by depoliticising the masses, in the full-fledged budget Modi.2 has brought forward its true colour.
Coming to Modi.2’s maiden budget, several experts including IMF pensioners deputed to India and US-based researchers formerly associated with Modi government, in spite of their adherence to neoliberal economic philosophy, have come out openly against the use of manipulated official data in it. Among them, the most relevant criticism has come from Arvind Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) under Modi.1. Though Modi.2’s panel of economic advisers have rejected his evaluation, Subramanian’s observations have once again reignited serious concerns about the credibility of government’s economic growth data including the 2019 budget estimates made by Sitharaman in her maiden budget. For instance, the 2019 budget claims that in 2018 India was the fastest growing economy in the world. According to Subramanian, this is an overestimation as the methodology used for calculating it was also flawed- an aspect upheld by several other economists too. Obviously, in the beginning of Modi’s first term, in 2015 itself, India had changed the way and the methodology of measuring GDP. The first major change was the use of market prices instead factory or production costs to calculate the GDP figures. This shift in the method of calculation from the traditional practice of using wholesale prices with producers to market prices paid by consumers will definitely give an inflated figure of GDP. Secondly, the base year was shifted from 2004-05 to 2011-12 to assess GDP growth figures. Naturally, when the base year becomes 2011-12 everything included in the calculation will be at the 2011-12 prices which will be much higher than that of 2004-05 prices such that the nominally again the GDP figures will be inflated.
Therefore, Subramanian questioned the claims of the Modi government that under its regime GDP had grown to 7 percent per annum and, according to him, the actual GDP growth under Modi.1 is only around 4.5 percent (hovering between 3.5 percent and 5.5 percent) instead of 7 percent. However, the new methodology enabled Modi regime to suspiciously lower the GDP growth rate of under the UPA regime, and artificially hike that during the NDA rule. Ironically, based on this new methodology, the fastest growth of 8 percent and 8.2 percent was respectively recorded during 2016 and 2017 though these were the years when both demonetisation and GST had devastated the economy. More revealingly, even today reliable data regarding the unorganised sectors are lacking, and it is this area that contributes 60 percent to the entire economic system.
Since, Subramanian’s comment is based on these facts and on his own research, which has been published by the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, many economists and statisticians have come to believe that Modi government’s GDP figures are exaggerated or overstated by about 2.5 percent! Hence when Modi government claimed India as the fastest growing economy in 2018, many leading economists have pointed out that this claim is baseless as it is on the basis of a flawed methodology.
Subramanian has even gone to the extent of calling for an independent panel of experts comprising Indian and foreign nationals to examine India’s GDP data. To quote him: “My new research suggests that post-global financial crisis, the heady narrative of a guns-blazing India - that statisticians led us to believe - may have to cede to a more realistic one of an economy growing solidly but not spectacularly.” As such, several experts asked for restoring confidence in the official data by urgently revamping the statistical system to have an accurate picture of the economy and capture real-time data for policy analysis. Revealingly, finance minister Sitharaman has not yet been able to answer the question relating to the discrepancy in revenue collection between the Budget estimates and Economic Survey, the latter being generally recognised as reliable. Thus, while the Budget Estimates for 2018-19 expect a revenue of 17.3 lakh crore, Economic Survey puts the same as only 15.6 lakh crore—a gap of almost Rs. 2 lakh crore, a manifestation of utter confusion connected with data manipulation.
When Sitharaman in her budget speech elaborated the government’s goal of transforming ‘fastest growing’ India into a $5 trillion economy in the next five years (i.e., almost doubling from the present $2.7 trillion) that requires an annual GDP growth rate of 8 percent, and outlined her budget estimates in conformity with this task, the fact remains that the whole exercise is based on unrealistic and unscientific data. Most important is the fact that even this $2.7 trillion which at present is equal to the state domestic product of California, one among the 50 states in US, itself is an exaggerated figure. As already pointed out, the present high growth claim is not at all reflected in the economy or experienced by the people since, despite the government’s claims of rapid growth, unemployment touched a 45-year high that too during the last two years of Modi.1. Further, in spite of several initiatives on the part of commerce and finance ministries to boost exports, on a year-on-year basis, Indian exports have dwindled in 2018 by 9.71 percent relative to the previous year due to both domestic factors and external factors such as ongoing global stagnation and strengthening of protectionist walls being built by a number of countries including the US.
Coupled with this, the industrial sluggishness or deindustrialisation, unprecedented agrarian distress as manifested in the increasing mass suicides of peasants across the country and above all the total devastation inflicted on the informal/unorganised sectors (on account of demonetisation that created a sudden stoppage of cash flow to them on the one hand and GST that led to the withdrawal of all special tax provisions and corporate restrictions that sustained these sectors) that provide employment to more than 90 percent of the Indian people and contribute almost 50 percent to country’s export earnings)also reveal that the projected 8 percent growth rate as envisaged in the budget for doubling the GDP to achieve the $5 trillion mark is only wishful thinking.
In fact, the entire growth agenda elaborated in the budget are to unleash what is called the “animal spirits” of corporatesto achieve the $5 trillion goal. To achieve this, while blatantly hoodwinking the people through certain populist schemes like Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Bamboo and Khadi clusters, Rural Housing Schemes, KissanSammanNidhi, etc. to rural sector and peasants, (even as reducing MGNREGS allocation by Rs.1000 crore!) and appeasement of middle classes through certain income tax exemptions, this budget, true to the far-right economic orientation of saffron fascism, has opened up avenues for the biggest-ever corporate plunder and loot along with integration of India’s infrastructure, finance, trade and service sectors with foreign corporate speculative capital. All the restrictions to the free entry of FDI into social overheads, insurance, banks, aviation, retail trade and even media are abolished. Even namesake controls on foreign portfolio capital which is coming solely for speculation are being taken away.
For instance, the hallmark of Modi.2 budget is its announcement of an infrastructure program envisaging investment worth Rs. 100 lakh in 5 years along the notorious PPP route that has become the most widely recognised form of private-corporate plunder under neo-liberalism. The whole projects under this proposal utilising country’s land and scarce resources, budget allocations and above all public money deposited in banks will be led by the most corrupt corporate thugs, both foreign and domestic. Unhindered entry and exit of 100 percent FDI as announced in the budget is in accordance with this corporatisation.
In the case of railways (along with the Planning Commission, Modi had abolished the Railway Budget too), in accordance with the ultra-rightist orientation, entire railway development including rail infrastructure, goods and passenger segments is also brought under the notorious PPP model led by Indian and foreign corporates and an investment of Rs. 50 lakh crores is envisaged for this for the period between 2018 and 2030. To start with, projects in two corridors — Western corridor (Delhi-Mumbai) and Eastern corridor (Delhi-Howrah) — have already been initiated. In the same manner projects for building up 125,000 km roads with an allocation of around Rs. 75000 crore on the part of government under PPP will be undertaken in the next five years.
Modi.2’s first budget is going to create history by granting tax-exemptions worth Rs. 8.99 lakh crore to monopolies under various heads out of which corporate income tax exemptions alone amounts to Rs, 4.69 lakh crore. The consequent revenue gap is to be filled up by hikes of Rs.2 cess/litre on patrol and diesel with their concomitant cascading effect on the prices of all necessaries, Rs.2 cess/litre on patrol and deisel will make the prices of necessaries and essential as announced in the budget. The gains from corporate tax-cuts announced in the budget are applicable to almost 99 percent of the business class, even as India’s income tax base still remains too narrow with just 4.6 crore tax-payers filing returns.
At a time when even leading financial tycoons like George Soros have written to US presidential candidates seeking increased taxes on the superrich and billionaires, Modi government has reduced corporate tax from 30 percent to 25 percent (in view of various corporate tax-exemptions, experts have already pointed out that the nominal tax of 30 percent means an effective tax of only 16 percent) for companies with a turnover of up to Rs. 400 crore. While corporate tax rate in India, a country having the highest inequality in wealth and income with around 80 percent of the additional income generated being gobbled up by the upper-most one percent of the population, is the lowest, even imperialist countries like France and Germany still have 56 percent tax on the superrich. Further, India under the Modi regime has become the country having the lowest tax-GDP ratio of 11.7 percent.
Along with this unleashing of corporate capital to every sphere of economy, the budget also envisages several neoliberal steps for discipline and keep workers at its disposal. In this regard, the move to transform all the existing 44 labour laws into 4 Codes has already been taken during Modi.1 itself. Among them, the first one, i.e., the bill on the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH Code) that legally empower employers to extend working time to 14 hours against the existing 8-hrs work, abolishing guarantee for ‘equal pay for equal work’ and incorporating provisions for transforming the state as a ‘facilitator’ of corporates against the interest of workers is already presented before the parliament. This Code that seeks to merge 13 labour laws into a single code applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people and, therefore, encompasses 40 crore of Indian workers, together with the other 3 Codes, is a flagrant violation of ILO regulations and a clear-cut corporate-saffron fascist move towards unfettered corporatization. At a time when the domestic market is shrinking, the idea is to emulate China’s model of capturing global market with low-priced goods and to strengthen the present trend towards India’s transformation as a cheap-labour based export-oriented economy. In conformity with this Code, without even convening or even consulting the Statutory Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, to appease the corporate plunderers, the Modi govt has fixed Rs. 178 as the daily wage for workers. Modi’s anti working class position is once again evident as according to a Report, out of the Rs. 47127 crore Construction Cess collected as of March 2019, only around 19000 was spent, and the worst case in this regard is that of Modi’s own Gujarat spending just 0.09 percent of the cess collected.
The budget has other notable anti-people measures too. The disinvestment target pegged at Rs. 1.05 lakh crore is the biggest-ever intended to instalment-wise sell-out of all the remaining PSUs by such as BSNL, ONGC, GAIL, etc., to the corrupt capitalist cronies at throwaway prices. And as manifestation of the interpenetration between the saffron fascist regime and corporate monopolies which is a feature of fascism, Amit Shah, the Home Minister himself has taken over the charge of the Cabinet Committee for disinvesting Air India. Another closely related aspect of this fascistisation is the defence allocation including pension to the tune of Rs. 4.31 crore out of which an amount of Rs. 1.08 crore is to be directly handed over to corporate arms manufacturers and weapon dealers based in imperialist countries especially, US.
Thus while the budget tries to achieve its high growth target by freeing up the “animal spirit” of the corporate financiers, what witness is a slowing down in all sectors. Even the stock market indices which were galloping upwards when Modi.2 ascended to the throne are going down so that during the 50 days of the government, around 12 lakh crore have been lost in the leading stock exchanges in India. The reason is all round shrinking of the world market mainly due to extreme protectionist policies pursued by countries together with the loss of purchasing power of the toiling masses in the domestic sphere arising from unprecedented joblessness.
In the mad pursuit of making maximum profit at the shortest time possible, capital investment is fast entering in to the sphere of money-spinning speculative sphere altogether abandoning employment-oriented productive sectors where profit rate is relatively low. As a consequence, deindustrialisation and unemployment have become the norm even as wealth accumulation in the hands of tiny superrich and financial elite is breaking records leading to unprecedented inequality and pauperisation of the broad masses. To be precise, budget is reinforcing this negative trend.
The growing threat of ecological catastrophe whose disastrous consequences are already getting manifested in various forms have become the most decisive challenge today. If following emergence and strengthening of the capitalist mode of production, if the plunder of natural resources and the very nature itself started intensifying, after the introduction of neoliberal policies and corporate loot, the ecological destruction reached disastrous levels leading to global warming, climate change like consequences. Cyclone intensities have increased, rainfall is more erratic, extreme weather events are more frequent, pole-ward migration of species is noticeable, crop yield variations are higher, glaciers have shrunk by 275 Gt per year in the past two decades, and climate change impacts have already exacerbated conflicts in many regions.
Climate change is a consequence of a fundamentally flawed relationship between human activities with nature. And it has already reached a stage when sustainable and socially just climate change solutions cannot be achieved by technical tinkering, but only through basically re-structuring society. For example, take the case of impact of greenhouse gases (GHGs), they are global, no matter where they are released. The solutions, therefore, must be global. A country cannot be saved from climate change by it alone cutting down emission. Only a global effort to drastically cut emissions can do that. Because it is global problem that has regional and local impacts, climate change cannot be tackled the same way like local problems, e.g., deforestation, or human rights violations. Though, sectoral and local initiatives, e.g., switching from grid power to solar energy, organic farming, forest conservation can inspire people to join the movement to stop climate change and make a sustainable society, its basic solution calls for a people’s campaign for global climate emergency which must also draw from the experience of local and regional movements and relate to them. The situation has reached such a stage that if emergency measures are not taken urgently to put an end to further ecological destruction, and to revert fast to safer levels, the unfolding catastrophe shall make human existence impossible on the earth.
Though humanity has reached such a disastrous situation, in spite of many assurances the governments of imperialist countries as well as of the neo-colonially dependent countries refuse to implement even the decisions taken by a series of UN initiatives like Kyoto Protocol. As the rule of capital is becoming increasingly monopolistic, speculative, profit oriented and fascistic, none of these assurances are met and the ecological catastrophe is becoming an ever-increasing threat day by day. It is reaching such a stage that there are only two alternatives before the humanity: either throw out the capitalist-imperialist system or perish! Realizing the urgency of the situation, a broad spectrum of people’s movements in our country and around the world including the movements of even school children are actively striving to force the governments to declare a climate emergency and to change their policies which cause ecological destruction. In this situation, the communist forces everywhere are confronting this challenge: integrate with these movements as part of the class struggle, while intensifying the struggles to overthrow the capitalist-imperialist system with the goal of realizing an alternative path of sustainable, people oriented, egalitarian development paradigm linked to all round democratization of society with all power to the people.
For those communists who have assimilated the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, it is not difficult to take this stand. Explaining the exploitative nature of capitalism, Marx and Engels in their numerous studies including The Capital and the Dialectics of Nature have pointed out that under capitalism, the relation between capital and nature have become antagonistic, and if not checked, it shall lead to global environmental catastrophe. Only in a socialist society without exploitation of man by man do nature and human form a fruitful unity. Only in a classless communist society, with the “humanization of nature” and with the “naturalization of the humans” come to their relative completion.
In his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx wrote: “This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature, and between man and man”. But, under the exploitative capitalist mode of production what is happening is basically different. Engels warned: Let us not, however, flatter ourselves over much on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings almost the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancels the first”. But, under neoliberal/corporate imperialism utilizing modern technological devices, as the plunder of nature went on intensifying to unprecedented levels from the 1970s onwards for overcoming its own crisis and for super profit, the nature started taking revenge leading to present ecological catastrophe which is becoming increasingly serious day by day.
Marxism is a social science. It calls for understanding the basic laws of motion of capital it has put forward, and for developing them according to the concrete changes taking place in the society, as Lenin did when capitalism reached its highest phase, imperialism. In the post-Lenin period, as it was confronting new crises, the imperialist system went on transforming its strategy and tactics to overcome the perennial cycle of crises as well as to confront the growing challenges from the socialist camp. It is in this process, during the post-Second World War situation, under the leadership of US imperialism it transformed the colonial forms of imperialist domination with neo-colonial forms, using finance capital, market, technology and weapons-trade as is main instruments of control. Necessary institutions and post-modernism like theoretical positions were also developed for this purpose. In spite of it, as stagflation created new crisis in 1970s, replacing the post-War phase of Keynesian welfare state concepts, it imposed imperialist globalization through neoliberal policies, intensifying the pursuit of super profit by unprecedented plunder of nature. As the consequences of this started getting manifested in various forms, many studies by scientists on the impact of this aggressive attack on nature also started coming out. Many environmental movements also started, in the main led by the NGOs to start with.
But, an evaluation of this period shows that the international communist movement failed to comprehend these fast changes which were making the imperialist system more ruthless and barbarous. When neo-colonialism was “more pernicious and sinister form of colonialism”, the Soviet communist leadership evaluated that it is weakening of imperialism, and abandoning the path of class struggle, it called for “peaceful co-existence and peaceful completion with imperialism, and peaceful transition to socialism”, in the process degenerating Soviet Union and all east European countries to capitalist path! Most of the communist parties around the world including the CPI also followed this revisionist path. Though the CPC under Mao’s leadership tried to challenge this, soon after his death the capitalist roaders usurped power there also. As the challenge from the international communist movement significantly weakened, the imperialist countries could go ahead more speedily by surmounting the systemic crises it went on facing through further intensification of neoliberal/corporate policies and plunder of nature for super profit and monopolization. By this time, the scientists and environmentalists had started pointing out the increasing ecological destruction taking place under neoliberal offensive and were organizing movements against it, But, as a result of the degeneration of former socialist countries and mainstream communist parties to right opportunist positions, they failed to comprehend the changes taking place in the imperialist system and their impact not only to the exploited masses, but also to nature. As the Left Front led by the CPI(M), the mainstream communists in India, like their counterparts in other countries , had become apologists of neo-colonialism and then executioners of neoliberal policies wherever they came to power, like the ruling class parties they also took hostile approach to the ecological movements, Many of them went to the extent of dubbing them as ecological fundamentalists!
By this time the CPI(ML) movement, starting with the great people’s uprising in Naxalbari, but soon pursuing left adventurist line, had disintegrated to many groups under state terror. As most of them failed to make a concrete analysis of the emerging international and national situation breaking away from their sectarian positions, even when the environmental destruction was becoming a serious problem, they also could not recognize its importance.
It was in this situation, the CPI(ML) Red Star, which had initiated the reorganization of the CPI(ML) under the banner of CRC, CPI(ML) from1979, took up an evaluation of the post-War international situation and the transformation of imperialist plunder from colonial to neo-colonial forms along with the changes taking place in the concrete situation of our country. These studies helped it to recognise the importance of the movements developing in different parts of the country for ecological protection. In the second half of 1980s it took active part in successfully preventing the construction of nuclear power plants in Kerala and many other ecological movements. In the 1990s as part of the struggle against the imposition of neoliberal/globalization policies and against WTO, the party, then under the banner of CPI(ML) Red Flag, led or participated in many movements for the protection of environment. After going through many studies coming out internationally and nationally on the increasing contradiction between the capitalist mode of production under neoliberal regime and the threats faced by the natural foundations of human life, the party took up its own studies to deepen its understanding on this important question.
It is based on these studies, the Party Program adopted by the 9th Congress of CPI(ML) Red Star in 2009 (2.1) explained: “during this period, especially after the crisis of the 1970s, with the mad rush for exploitation of natural and human resources utilizing the unprecedented technological advances under the imperialist perspective of development, ever- intensifying ecological devastation has started becoming a major factor both at the international and the national level. It has given rise to a new, fifth major contradiction, at both international and national levels, the contradiction between capital and nature, along with the other four major contradictions”.
In (3.7) it stated: Under neo-colonization, due to the policies implemented in the name of development which actually serve the interests of imperialists and their lackeys, ecological devastation has become an ever intensifying factor. ‘Global warming’ like phenomena and the nuclear catastrophe created by the nuclear arms race, existing nuclear plants which are ‘nuclear time bombs’ as once again proved by the meltdown of Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Under the title: Program of People’s Democracy, it stated: (6.16) Based on the understanding that the contradiction between capital and nature has become a major contradiction at both national and international level, concrete plans should be worked out to protect environment and to develop the perspective on development taking this important question in to consideration.
After this, during the last one decade party committees and the class/mass organizations in which the party comrades are actively functioning, took initiative to launch many ecological movements in different fields and became part of large number of movements along with other ecological movements and groups. At the international level, the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR), in which the CPI(ML) Red Star is a leading member, recognizing the significance of the movement for protection of environment in the context of growing danger of ecological catastrophe, has taken up different initiatives. It is in continuation to these, presently party has become one of the members of the organizing committee for the South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis which is organizing an important Conference at Hyderabad on 18th to 21st September. Under the initiative of party members a website: www.ecopolitiks.org is also propagating the significance of this movement
After officially acknowledging India’s historic economic downturn in 70 years, on August 23, 2019, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced a series of initiatives including further abolition of corporate taxes and many wealth transfer schemes to the superrich completely ignoring the unprecedented deprivation and destitution borne by the vast majority of common people. Till now, the govt. spokespersons have been working overtime to depict a rosy picture of the economy even manipulating data with official agencies. However, this ‘window dressing’ got exposed itself when global credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service and even the Bretton Woods twin (IMF-World Bank) themselves have come forward strongly confirming a well-defined recession in India. It is in this context that, following Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar’s comment on the threatening financial system and particularly in the midst of Modi’s world tour, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reiterated her govt’s unwavering commitments to corporate capital as announced in the maiden budget along with several fresh corporate-investor friendly measures.
The package of announcements include a series of tax exemptions and tax rolling backs including withdrawal of capital gains tax and surcharges on corporate speculators-- both foreign (FPIs) and domestic-- in stock markets, infusion of an additional Rs. 70000 crore into banks enabling them to lend another Rs. 5 lakh crore to corporate sector, dilution of violations of Corporate Social responsibility as a mere civil offence, pursuance of a soft approach to tax evaders, empowering bank officials to pursue a soft approach to corporate defaulters and so on, all in essence aim at further encouragement to ‘ease of doing business’ and boosting corporate animal spirits.
While such a mega booster is imparted to the corporate billionaires and foreign speculative investors for sky-rocketing the stock indices, there is not even a mention on the ground reality of the economy or on the extent of deprivation to which vast majority of the toiling people are subjected. In fact, the whole economy has been shrinking on account of withdrawal of productive investment by both public and private sectors, and as a manifestation, post-GST tax collection itself has gone down by 10 percent. Indian rupee's biggest ever depreciation is also integral part of the all round economic collapse. And even in the productive sphere that is sustaining, on account of the informalisation and casualization of workforce unleashed by corporate capital in its mad pursuit of super exploitation, the real earnings and purchasing power of the workers are shrinking at an alarming rate, even as unemployment rate is the highest in five decades. At the same time, under the Modi regime, with more than 80 percent of the national wealth generated being gobbled up by just one percent of the most corrupt corporate class, India has become one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Meanwhile, under such pro-corporate measures as Demonetisation and GST that while sucking out the life blood of the vast majority depending on cash-based informal and unorganised sectors on the one hand, and fattened the superrich on the other, corruption has grown to such an extent making India the most corrupt country in Asia surpassing Thailand and Pakistan. While there is no dearth of anti-corruption rhetoric from rooftops, the ultra-right neoliberal policies of the corporate saffron regime has done nothing to unearth the accumulation of vast sums of black money by the ultra-wealthy sections in offshore and domestic tax havens. And a major factor behind the unprecedented liquidity crunch that the economy confronts today is the diversion of funds mobilised from various sources to intricate, tax-evading underhand deals. Along with this, intensified downsizing and rollback of the state sectors coupled with collapse of industry and agriculture and drastic reduction in social spending have led to absolute reduction in the consuming/purchasing power of the people leading to lack of ‘effective demand’. Ironically, even while the economy in general is experiencing a downturn and common people are subject to more deprivation, corporate billionaires are successful in shoring up their super-profits. For obvious reasons, it is well-nigh impossible for Sitharaman even to mention these underlying factors that led to the present economic tsunami in India with its unfolding repercussions in the days ahead.
The slew of neoliberal-instigated tax-liberalisation and wealth transfer measures intended to further replenish the corporate looters now pursued by the Modi regime that resemble a ‘mini-budget’ are quite reminiscent of the ”quantitative easing” and “rescue packages” pursued by the imperialist powers ranging from the US and EU to China following the 2008 global economic meltdown. According to estimates, for instance, immediately after the financial crash, around 25 percent of the GDP of US was channelled in to the coffers of corporate-financiers who themselves were responsible for the crisis. But the crisis is still continuing. The outcome of the booster dose now imparted by Modi.2 is also going to be the same.
As the global economic downturn following the 2008 financial breakdown is a continuing process, India’s sudden economic collapse under Modi regime, though connected with many external factors, is different in many respects. For, as highlighted by several international and Indian experts, the Indian economy had been ‘relatively immune’ from the global meltdown of 2008 and as can be guessed from several studies such as the recent one by the Economic Research Department of SBI, the Indian economic scenario was relatively better on the eve of Modi’s ascendance to power in 2014. However, as reported in the media, now apart from manipulation of data, a despicable move also is there to erase such statistics which are unpleasant to the regime from govt websites altogether, even as under Modi.2 alone Indian stock markets have experienced a whopping loss worth of more than Rs. 15 lakh crore within a span of just three months. This bursting of the bubble itself is a symptom of an extreme crisis where even the corporate cronies integrated with the saffron-fascist regime are losing faith in the economy. That is, the extent of the historic collapse of the Indian economy is incomparable with the contemporary situation elsewhere including that in the leading imperialist powers US and China which are engaged in an unprecedented protectionist tariff/trade war.
Therefore, the ongoing economic collapse is inseparably linked up with the far right shift in economic policies under Modi regime. The root cause of the crisis today is the pan-Indian extension of the Gujarat model of aggressive corporatisation that took away even namesake barriers to corporate plunder. Indian economy today is engulfed in a vicious cycle of corporatisation-stagnation trap. No amount of ‘window dressing’ as that now resorted by the regime can drag the economy out of this crisis which is bound to assume further dimensions. What requires is a fundamental and immediate reversal of the explosive growth of the most corrupt and parasitic corporate class sucking out wealth from the real economy through manifold ways while remaining at the sphere of speculation. And as the crisis intensifies, along with putting heavier and heavier burdens on the shoulders of the people, all avenues at the disposal of corporate-saffron fascism are deployed not only against workers and all oppressed including dalits, adivasis, women and minorities, but also on political opponents and dissenters. Obviously, there is no shortcut, and the only option is a political alternative capable of resisting and defeating this horrific situation.
Com James PJ
The establishment of the first Hindu Court in UP’s Meerut district on August 15, 2019 (72nd Independence Day) with Pooja Shakun Pandey, national secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, notorious for re-enacting ‘Gandhi assassination’ on last January 30, as the first judge should not be construed merely as symbolic. The judge then itself, pronounced that the Court will have proper jails and maximum punishment will be death. The bylaws of the Court based on Manu Smriti will be released on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, and the names of five more judges will be announced then, who will take charge in different parts of the country. Meanwhile, Hindu Mahasabha has plans to set up similar courts in Aligarh, Hathras, Mathura, Shikohabad and Firozabad on November 15, the day when Nathuram Godse was hanged. The main motive of the courts, as per the Hindu Mahasabha leaders, was to settle the issues related to the Hindu community on fast track basis as they remain pending in judiciary for long.
It should be noted that while Dr. Ambedkar was drafting the Indian Constitution, the RSS had expressed its outrage at him and demanded that Manu Smriti which epitomised the superiority of Brahmin men and considered women, the lower castes and the “untouchables” as subhuman, be made the basis of Indian Constitution. RSS justification for making Manusmriti as Indian Constitution had appeared in two Issues (November, 30 1949 and January 11, 1950) of Organiser, its mouthpiece. The November 30, 1949 Issue, among other things said: “The worst about the new constitution of Bharat is that there is nothing Bhartiya about it ... in our constitution, there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.”
Viewed from this perspective, the Manu Smriti-based Hindu Court that is being inaugurated in UP is to be understood as integral part of a broader saffron theme towards open Hindu Rashtra. It is in accordance with the tenets of Manusmriti that the Hindutva forces led by the RSS have consistently been demanding the abolition of caste-based reservation. The recent reassertion of this position by Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief himself is to be viewed in this context. A few days back, RSS was in the news for starting military schools for supplying personnel to Indian military. This is perfectly in tune with the erstwhile fascist tradition where paramilitary lumpen goons (eg. Black shirts of Italy and Brown shirts of Germany) trained in ‘fascist academies’ merged with the official military apparatus in enforcing the rule of fascist regimes. The establishment of Manusmriti courts by Hindu Mahasabha having more pronounced ramifications is a further step forward in this direction.
Unlike Italy and Germany when fascism suddenly shot up from the economic and political crisis of the 1920s, fascist transformation in India is to be understood as a systematic, steady and long drawn-out process spanning almost a century and having deep rooted and multi-dimensional penetration into entire civilian and military apparatuses of the Indian state. And unlike the Italian and German fascists who had sharp contradictions with other imperialist forces that turned out to be their Achilles’ heel, the Hindutva fascists from the very beginning have been shrewd enough to serve the interests of international capital at every step--an aspect to be noted by democratic forces in India. No doubt, the whole trajectory is now being cleared for India’s eventual transformation in to a Hindu Rashtra.
The unfolding scenario with respect to Kashmir now reveals a well-thought out strategy behind abrogation of Article 370 and 35A as these clauses had been a barrier to the unfettered plunder and loot of the Kashmiris and their resources by the corporate speculators and financial cronies. The Modi regime which in its compradorial role acts as a facilitator of corporatization, on account of this, has already led India to an unprecedented economic collapse as manifested in diverse forms. But, due to its 'special status', unlike in other parts of India, J&K has been relatively immune from this predatory plunder and pathetic situation thereof.
However, following the Constitutional coup transforming Kashmir into a prison house as the most militarized region in the world and caging the entire Kashmiri people violating all their fundamental rights, now Modi regime is laying down red carpet for all corporate plunderers, both foreign and Indian. To facilitate this neoliberal task, the comprador Modi regime is going for a Global Investors Meet in Srinagar during October 12-14 this year and the task of accomplishing this has already been entrusted to Reliance led by Mukesh Ambani along with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Revealingly, to tide over its crisis, the RIL has entered into a strategic deal with Saudi’s Aramco, the biggest oil giant, acquiring 20 percent of RIL ownership at a price of Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. This deal among other things has ensured the support of Saudi, the embodiment reaction, so called guardian of 'Ummah' (Islamic Community) and above all the West Asian pillar of US imperialism, to Modi's Kashmir move -- once again underlining the power of finance capital, the supreme arbiter in all political dealings today.
Thus, to be precise, by its naked sellout of Kashmir to corporate financiers along with the ongoing surrender of Indian economy as a whole to imperialist capital, Modi regime has succeeded in ensuring the support of all imperialists. In this context, Pak foreign minister's desperate comment that the leading world powers "will not back Pakistan on the issue due to their economic interest in India where many are strongly invested” conveys the political undercurrents behind the move.