Following Modi’s invitation at the 2019 BRICS summit at Brasilia in Brazil, Bolsonaro, the fascist president of Brazil dubbed as “tropical Trump” came to India as the chief guest of India’s 2020 Republic Day celebrations. In addition to their mutual cooperation as members of BRICS, during his stay in India between January 24 and 27, both India and Brazil signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty upgrading their strategic partnership to “the next level”.
Accordingly, the main thrust of the agreement that Union Cabinet finalised on January 22 centres round bolstering “counter-terror cooperation” between two countries. Among other things, it “aims to enhance effectiveness of both the countries in investigation and prosecution of crime through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.” On January 27, Bolsonaro addressed the India-Brazil Business Forum too. Brazilian companies like Marcopolo already have joint ventures in India.
With his ideological basis in Evangelical Christianity, Bolsonaro has a high exaltation of Trump’s militarisation. Being the most trusted junior partner and closest friend of “Evangelical” Trump, under Bolsonaro, the fascist regime of Brazil is working as US imperialism’s strategic pillar in Latin America. Following the footsteps of arch-reactionary Trump, Bolsonaro has no qualm in openly upholding his support for the corporate plunder of nature and in displaying his disdain for the indigenous people of Amazon.
Today, as is the case in India, on account of his far-right neoliberal policies, Brazilian economy is in a prolonged crisis. Working class and oppressed peoples of Brazil are rising up against his fascist regime. Bolsonaro is engaged in ruthlessly suppressing these struggles. And he himself has become a model for all fascists in his justification of the domestic use of military forces against working class struggles characterising them as “terrorist protests”.
The Hindutva fascistic regime of Modi, being the South Asian pillar of US imperialism, had attempted to bring Trump, the imperialist master as the chief guest of last year’s Republic Day. The choice of Bolsonaro, his junior partner as this year’s Indian guest was in continuation of that. The strengthening bilateral legal and criminal cooperation between the fascist regimes of Brazil and India is firmly rooted in their close and mutual affinity towards Zionism as well as Islamophobia so assiduously brought up by US as integral component of neoliberal world order.
The emerging tripartite alliance among Trump, Bolsonaro and Modi calls for serious attention on the part of all peace-loving and well-meaning people the world over. (In this regard, those who are interested may go through an article entitled “Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi: anti-migration, ecocide, and conflict escalation: The agenda of the global right” by Beatriz Martinez Zaavedra, Sept 20, 2019 in www.opendemocracy.net).
Bolsonaro allowed the destruction of half of the tropical Amazon forests, during which hundreds of aboriginals’ families along with millions of animals and birds perished to open the area for corporate forces. Putting an end to the welfare policies of Workers’ Party, it has scraped all labour acts and impoverished the toiling masses greatly. He has deploye vigilantes to pry on people and killer squads to eliminate Bolsonaro’s regime promoted corporate fascism and is a threat to Brazilian people. Exposing the criminal alliance of Modi with Bolsonaro, a number of organizations including CPI(ML) Red Star organized protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on 25th January.
The Indian economy is already in a historic stagflation due to the far-right, corporate-fascist policies of the Modi regime. Both the Economic Survey released on January 31 and the budget that is presented today to the parliament on account of their ultra-right neoliberal orientation cannot admit the corporatisation-induced economic collapse or recognise the corporatisation-stagnation trap that has engulfed the country. Quite logically, Modi’s 2020-21 budget rather than doing anything in the direction of reversing this horrific trend, is simply traversing the beaten track of pampering the most corrupt and parasitic corporate class which is fattening itself by sucking everything from the economy. At the same time, under the cover of “Aspirational India”, the Finance Minister has done maximum effort to camouflage all the negative trends through statistical jugglery.
All the talks about agriculture and allied sectors that still provides sustenance to half of the Indian people including the announcement of a 16-point program for doubling agricultural income by 2022 are only to cover up the increasing pauperisation of the peasants and their suicides. On the other hand, the budget is envisaging an unprecedented corporatisation of agriculture with lease-farming and contract-farming led by foreign and Indian agribusiness giants. And they are given unfettered freedom for hoarding and futures trading in agricultural produce. The budget highlights its very orientation to corporatisation of agriculture by emphasising on “Krishi UDAN” on domestic and international routes in the interests of agribusiness companies.
In the realm of industry and services sector, PPP projects with further avenues of “ease of doing business” to foreign and domestic corporates are announced. In consonance with the latest World Development Report of the World Bank on “Global Value Chains”, the budget repeatedly refers to the need for concentrating on making India as a cheap-labour link in global assembly line led by MNCs. Thus the budget has put forward the new catchword “Assemble in India for the World” altogether replacing the “Make in India” slogan that is a non-starter till today. For the unfettered entry and exit of foreign capital, an Investment Clearance Cell is also announced. Roads including express highways and railways are further opened for PPP projects. 150 more trains along the most profitable roots are set apart for corporate looters. PPP projects are extended even to education sector with liberal inflow of FDI into it and a New Education Policy is under preparation.
In continuation of the pre-budget move towards selling-outAir India, the budget has also announced the disinvestment of LIC and IDBI through an amendment in the coming days. The disinvestment target is more than doubled and is expected to yield more than Rs. 2 lakh crore in the financial year 2020-21. This is to compensate for the huge corporate tax exemptions announced, the rate of which is further reduced to 15 percent. Along with this, income tax reduction/exemptions are offered to middle and upper-middle class sections. Company Act is going to be amended for decriminalising economic offences committed by corporate plunderers. In the guise of modernising and buying new weapon systems, defence forces are allocated Rs 1,10,734 crore, Rs 10,340 crore more than what was provided in last year’s Budget.
As usual, there is no mention on the frightening unemployment situation, sky-rocketing prices, pauperisation and deprivation of the broad masses, horrific levels of inequality and galloping corruption. Core issues confronting the people are effectively camouflaged using high-sounding words and phrases borrowed from neoliberal centres. While the all-round economic crisis intensifying the budget is only concerned with maintaining the profit rates of corporate oligarchs aligned with the Hindutva fascist regime, and in the process putting heavier and heavier burdens on the backs of working and oppressed people. This budget is in fact pushing the economy from the ICU to the ventilator. There is no alternative on the part of the people other than coming out against the out-and-out pro-corporate anti-people proposals of the budget.
K N Ramachandran
CPI (ML) Red Star
1st February 2020
The Supreme Court has refused to stay the citizenship law or eve to stay the NPR process under the plea that it has to hear the government first! The large number of petitions were before the SC for ore than a month. It should have asked the Modi government to present its position by this time. Insteadof doing this, four more weeks are given to the government to reply. After that all the petitions shall be sent to a Constitutional Bench for consideration, according to the CJI, Sharad Bobde. It is a conscious delaying tactics, when everybody knows justice delayed is justice denied. So all those who are opposed to the un-Constitutional CAA and NPR?NRC should understand that through a conscious delaying process, similar to what it did to the Kashmir question, the CAA, NPR, NRC question also it has denied justice to the people who are agitating on the streets in their millions for many weeks, braving the severe cold conditions in North, all over the country. It shows the extent of saffronization of the Constitutional Institutions and the state machinery under the fascist offensive led by RSS.
This situation calls on the students, youth and women who spearhead this movement, the minority Muslim masses, all oppressed classes and sections including dalits, Adivasis and other backward sections, the toiling masses and the democratic forces to carry forward the movement eve more intensively. The ongoing countrywide movement should be developed as a movement for boycott of the NPR/NRC process scheduled to be started from 10th April, to a countrywide Non-Cooperation Movement..With the firm demand Repeal CAA, Boycott NPR/NRC let us intensify the movement utilizing all forms of mobilization and campaign till the Modi government is compelled to revoke the whole fascist process. Widen and deepen the ongoing movement with this orientation, till complete victory!
K N Ramachandran
CPI (ML) Redstar
23rd January 2020
Data from the National Population Register (NPR) Will be Used to Identify ‘Doubtful’ Citizens and, in Turn, Create a National Register of Citizens (NRC)
As protests sweep through India over the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as the National Register of Citizens, an inconspicuous bureaucratic process to create a National Population Register has come under fire. In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government stayed work on the National Population Register on Monday citing the “interest of public order”. While the National Population Register has not made waves elsewhere, in West Bengal, activists and protesters have attacked the exercise, alleging that it is actually the first step to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens.
The National Register of Citizens is controversial: while its purported aim is to identify illegal immigrants, there are fears it could arbitrarily exclude genuine Indian citizens. Ignoring these concerns, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said the Bharatiya Janata Party government will implement the NRC nationwide before 2024. The Bharatiya Janata Party has argued that the National Population Register has nothing to do with the National Register of Citizens and is part of the Census. Scroll.in spoke to experts as well as accessed the legal orders around the National Population Register and found this is not true. The NPR has no relation to the Census and is, in fact, connected to the proposed all-India NRC.
What is the NPR?
According to online literature published by the Union government, the objective of the National Population Register “is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country”. This database “would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars”. What sort of information would the National Population Register collect? Scroll.in has viewed the 14 questions that form part of the exercise, for which a pilot project began in August. The questions include demographic details such as name, age, sex, relationship in household, nationality, educational qualifications, occupation, date of birth, marital status, residential address, birthplace and mother tongue.
Till now, nothing here is very different from the usual data the Union government collects via the Census. But then, the National Population Register also asks a respondent where his or her parents were born. Moreover, the National Population Register also asks for Aadhaar details, driver’s licence, voter identity card and mobile number “if available”. An official told Scroll.in it is not mandatory for respondents to share this information. However, with many respondents likely to give their Aadhaar details, this will allow the Union government, for the first time, to connect their biometric details with information like the birthplace of their parents.
How is NPR linked to the NRC?
The legal framework for the National Population Register is grounded in the Citizenship Act, 1955. In 2003, the Act was amended by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government to introduce the category of an “illegal migrant”. To implement this amendment, a set of rules were issued. (Rules are practical instructions on how to execute a law on the ground.) At the time, these rules barely created a ripple. But they set in place a mechanism that could turn Indian society and politics upside down since they lay out a process to create a National Register of Citizens: “the register containing details of Indian Citizens living in India and outside India”.
The rules read: “The Central Government shall, for the purpose of National Register of Indian Citizens, cause to carry throughout the country a house-to-house enumeration for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual, residing in a local area including the Citizenship status”. For administrative purposes, there are a nested collection of registers: the “National Register of Indian Citizens shall be divided into sub-parts consisting of the State Register of Indian Citizens, the District Register of Indian Citizens, the Sub-district Register of Indian Citizens and the Local Register of Indian Citizens”.
How would these registers of citizens be created? The rules explicitly spell it out: “The Local Register of Indian citizens shall contain details of persons after due verification made from the Population Register.” When the Local Register is generated from the Population Register, a “verification process” would be carried out which would create the category of “doubtful citizenship”. The final National Register of Citizens would be prepared by asking doubtful citizens to prove they are Indians as part of a “claims and objections” process.
This Population Register mentioned in the rules is nothing other than the National Population Register. In a gazette notification issued on July 31, 2019, the Modi government passed an order to “prepare and update the Population Register” in every state other than Assam. To sum up: the National Population Register would create a list of all the residents of the country. And then the National Register of Citizens would take that list and identify people of “doubtful citizenship” – thus, by corollary creating a list of citizens. It is this process that leads Prasenjit Bose, economist and convenor of the Joint Forum against National Register of Citizens, to describe the National Population Register as the “first step on the road to the National Register of Citizens”.
Ranjit Sur, from the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, concurs. “The only job of the National Population Register is to create an National Register of Citizens,” said Sur. “Let me emphasise on the ‘only’.” Protesters demonstrate amid tear gas fired by police during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in New Delhi on December 13. Credit: Reuters
How is the nationwide NRC different from the Assam NRC?
Notably, the National Register of Citizens process described above is different from the National Register of Citizens that has already taken place in Assam. This is because the 2003 rules carve out a special exception for the state.
In Assam, the National Register of Citizens would be created by “inviting applications from all the residents for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual, residing in a local area in the State including the citizenship status based on the National Register of Citizens 1951, and the electoral rolls up to the midnight of the 24th day of March 1971,” the 2003 rules state. In sharp contrast, the National Register of Citizens for the rest of India is to be drawn on the basis of the National Population Register.
As a result, there is a difference in how the National Register of Citizens for Assam and the rest of India will be conducted. “The Assam National Register of Citizens was populated using the application method but the all-India National Register of Citizens will be done through enumeration basis, by going house to house and collecting data in the form of the National Population Register,” explained Ranjit Sur. The Assam National Register of Citizens was widely criticised for being arbitrary. But now activists are noting that the National Population Register method that will be used to conduct the all-Indian National Register of Citizens is even more opaque. “In Assam, everyone knew the cut-off date and the documents required. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, everyone had to stand in the same queue,” explained Prasenjit Bose. “But here everything is left to a bureaucrat. The state will decide who is a doubtful citizen and who is not. It is completely arbitrary.”
How is the NPR different from the Census?
That the National Population Register is part of the Census is a widespread notion. On Tuesday, in fact, reacting to the West Bengal government’s plans to stop work on the National Population Register, the BJP repeated this claim. “National Population Register builds up to the Census data 2021,” argued BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta. This claim, however, is not borne out legally. “The National Population Register is being conducted under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the 2003 rules while the Census is done under the Census Act, 1948,” explained Ranjit Sur. “The Census data is kept secret and cannot be used for anything else. The National Population Register data will be publicly displayed as part of the claims and objections process and will be used to create a National Register of Citizens.”
Sur continued: “Their laws are different, their aims are different. National Population Register has nothing to do with the Census and anyone making that claim is simply saying so to misguide.” This mistaken notion might have something to do with the fact that the two exercises are conducted simultaneously. The Union government has stated that it will “update the National Population Register along with the House listing phase of Census 2021”.
During the last six months after returning to power with bigger strength, Modi-2 has moved very fast further intensifying corporate- fascist policies. It has diluted RTI like laws, made NIT, UAPA like acts more anti-people. Article 370 and 35A were scrapped, reducing J&K to two union territories after imposing clampdown and militarization, turning Kashmir in to an open prison. NRC/Assam was announced, making 19,06,657 people stateless. It is in a hurry to get the Citizenship (Amendments) Bill denying Muslim migrants citizenship, passed somehow in the next parliament session. Orders are issued to get the countrywide NPR ready by next September 30th, with the possibility of 4 to 5 crores people declared stateless. Construction of Detention Camps is speeded up in Assam, and even in some other states, with BJP chief ministers clamouring stringent NRCs in all states. Along with these, hatred, intolerance, and Islamo/Pak phobia is spread more heinously, provoking more mob-lynching. In short, fascistization of all fields is intensified dangerously, advocating muscular nationalism.
At the same time, the post 2014 policies of Modi raj starting with de-monetisation and GST have led to intensifying slow down in all fields of economy. As sales falls steeply, many production units are closed down or locked out throwing out many millions of workers, making unemployment worse. All industrial areas are in recession. At the same time, all sops announced in the name of reducing the impact of slow down, are swallowed by the corporate giants, making them fatter, while vast masses are thrown to more miserable condition. Remaining PSUs including the railways are privatised fast. All doors are opened for all round corporatization, devastating the nature creating climate crisis and severely pauperizing the masses.
As a result of all these, our country is in a critical situation. This demands uniting struggling left, democratic, oppressed classes and forces at every level, and launching people’s movements to expose and challenge the corporate fascist RSS/BJP forces who are trying to transform the country in to majoritarian Hindu Rashtra! Still even after continuation of the clamp down in J&K for more than two months, crores of people facing the danger of becoming stateless under the communal NRC process, and worsening recession further impoverishing the masses, the BJP continues its winning spree in assembly elections since the parliamentary opposition is disintegrating, with many of its leaders flocking to BJP and Modi claiming increasing international support to his Rath yatra towards Hindu Rashtra!
But, the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir has led to non-cooperation movement by the Kashmiri people. The opposition to the NRC is increasing all over the country. It is taking massive forms in Manipur, Nagaland, Assam etc. Resistance from workers and peasantry and the democratic forces against Modi’s efforts to impose a Hindu-Hindi-Hndustan; one nation-one election, one nation-one tax like exclusive policies arrogantly rejecting the diversity of the country, is also growing. At international level opposition to Modi-2’s moves which are creating humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and in Northeast are increasing In spite of much orchestrated ‘Howdy Mody’ with efforts to appease Trump, outside the stadium almost equal number of people demonstrated condemning Modi-rule. This international opposition to Modi rule is intensifying fast. Even though many form the parliamentary opposition forces are surrendering to RSS/BJP and others are still not organizing any movements in opposition, larger number of people’s movements against consequences of ever intensifying corporatization and fascistization under Modi-2 are coming up in different parts of the country. A polarization of public opinion against RSS/BJP is also slowly taking place as reflected in the elections to Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies.
It is in such a crucial situation, the Central Committee of CPI(ML) Red Star calls for launching a powerful Jan Akrosh Abhiyan from 25th November, International Day against violence on women, to 10th December, International Human Rights Day in all the states we are working, based on the slogans: Restore Article 370 and autonomy of J&K people; End clampdown on J&K people; Resolve J&K Conflict based on right of self-determination of the people; Cancel Assam NRC; Withdraw Citizenship (Amendments) Bill; Stop all efforts to expand the NRC all over India; No to RCEP, privatization of PSUs, and corporatization; Stop all Brahmanical Manuvadi measures which pollute Indian polity ,create atmosphere of fear among people, especially minorities; Down with RSS and its Hindu Rashtra!; Struggle for secular, casteless, egalitarian society expanding boundaries of democracy with the vision of all powers to the people, and a development paradigm which rejects neo-liberalism in toto and works for building people oriented alternative development perspective! n
When Modi.2 was ascending to power, we wrote in the beginning of June, 2019: “Then the outcome is an extra-ordinary galloping of financial speculation led by the most corrupt corporate class under whom the so called development itself is transformed in to a by-product of money-spinning businesses throughout. Modi’s second coming implies a further opening up of the floodgates of ultra-rightist, neoliberal corporatisation subjecting the working classes and all oppressed to the domination of the most degenerated financial class in every sphere. Its outcome shall be unprecedented wealth concentration in the hands of the most corrupt tiny financial elite and intensified pauperisation and loss of purchasing power for the vast majority.” (“India’s Impending Crisis”, Red Star, June 2019). Now within three months of Modi.2, India is in that horrific situation. Today, even the saffron-corporate media which till now have been indulging in propaganda blitzkrieg on Indian economy’s concocted fastest growth under Modi are now forced to recognise it as in deep recession. As such, contrary to the hollow claims of 8 percent GDP growth claimed by official agencies at the time of Modi.2’s maiden budget in the beginning of July, the growth rate has now plummeted to just half of what they claimed a few months back.
As is widely conceived now, India is confronting the biggest economic plunge since 1947, even as the saffron leaders continue to boast of making the country a $ 5 trillion economy in 2024. Agriculture and industry are shrinking and unemployment is the biggest in five decades. Exports show the biggest decline in seven decades while external value of the rupee at Rs.72=$1 is the lowest-ever. Consumer market including the much trumpeted fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector is in doldrums. Transactions pertaining to real estate, housing, automobiles, and textiles are at their lowest level. But the most critical aspect of the economic downturn as reflected in the inability of the common people even to purchase a five-rupee biscuit packet is just casually mentioned in the mainstream discussion. Under the UPA regime, Arjun Sengupta, the Planning Commission expert had estimated that 83 percent of the Indian people earn only Rs. 20 or less a day. However in view of the prevailing historic slump of Indian economy, the percentage of pauperised population devoid of even Rs.20 per day will definitely have gone up. In fact, the plight of the most deprived including the peasants, the tillers of the soil, and the unorganised or informal working class who constitute the largest chunk of the toiling masses in India are the least discussed in corporate media.
However, the entire mainstream analysis of the economic collapse is from a neoliberal”supply-side” orientation implying that it views the disease affecting the economy from the perspective of corporate investors and the plausible threat to their wealth accumulation. On the other hand, Modi’s far-right analysts are reluctant to approach the downturn starting from an evaluation of the abysmal fall in consumption or consumer demand, which depicts more than 50 percent decline in the first quarter of the financial year 20019-20 compared to that in 2018-19 according to World Bank statistics. Obviously this is due to the unprecedented downfall of people’s real earnings and purchasing powerarising from unparalleled job loss everywhere. Therefore, common sense demands an urgent intervention on the part of govt. to overcome the deep recession in India through picking up mass consumption demand byboosting employment-oriented productive spheres such as agriculture, industry, manufacturing, etc.
On the other hand, the sole purpose of Modi regime’s maiden budget presented on July 5, and the four successive ‘booster’ or ‘stimulus’ packages (or so called mini-budgets, quite unprecedented in the economic history of nations) announced since August 23, has been to channel more and more national wealth and people’s money directly in to the coffers of the most corrupt corporate plunderers who themselves are responsible for the present crisis. Meanwhile, along with the Modi govt. that identifies itself as a ‘facilitator’ of corporatisation, both corporate media and neoliberal ideologues also are cunningly engaged in camouflaging the fact that the present stagnation is corporatisation-induced. It is well-recognised under neoliberalism that the so called investors who have got unfettered freedom and access to all corrupt means in the economy are interested only in speculative and money-spinning activities along with direct appropriation national wealth including natural resources that yield fabulous profits within the shortest time, and that both employment and share of wages in national income are slowing down at an alarming rate.
The soaring corporate profits and wealth accumulation are systematically backed by what are euphemistically characterised ‘ease of doing business’, ‘investor-friendly measures’ etc. encompassing biggest-ever corporate tax exemptions and direct wealth transfers to the super-rich. In India, for instance, this reactionary process under Modi.1 and Modi.2, have led to a situation where more than three-fourths of the national wealth generated is now appropriated by one percent of the top billionaires. This corporatisation process is also facilitated by continued by a series of fiscal measures pertaining to expenditure-reduction and austerity steps, casualization or informalisation of the workforce and deliberate reduction in real wages and an outright plunder of nature. While these steps result in biggest concentration of wealth in a few billionaires and multi-dimensional poverty for the broad masses they have transformed India as one of the most corrupt countries in the world today. While these trends constitute the essence of the crisis today, the corporate-saffron fascist regime, the co-opted media, and neoliberal intellectuals revealingly keep silence on the concrete Indian situation as experienced by common people.
As is obvious, the successive mini-budgets or booster packages that follow the July 5 General Budget aimed at directchannelling of public money appropriated from the peoplein to the coffers of the corrupt-parasitic billionaires and super-rich classes, cannot in any way resolve the unprecedented economic slowdown. In accordance with the prevailing neoliberal logic, itunleashes the ‘animal spirits’ (a phrase frequently in use among neoliberal spokespersons today) of the anti-people and reactionary financial class further enabling them to appropriate ever-greater share of country’s shrinking output as manifested in the skyrocketing stock and financial indices thereby leading to hitherto unknown levels of poverty and destitution of the vast majority of working and oppressed people. In other words, the outcomeof all the fiscal and monetary measures implemented in under the guise of alleviating the crisis is an aggressive transfer of national resources to corporate looters imposing heavier burden on the backs of toiling people.
Therefore, every intervention on the part of Modi regime to resolve the crisis is nothing but an intensification of the corporatisation-induced recession with wider and deeper manifestations. In other words, the economic collapse is used as guise for strengthening the neoliberal regime in more vicious forms. No doubt, neoliberal credit rating agencies like Moody’s and neo-colonial institutions led by Fund-Bank combine are also instigating the Modi regime to resort to a further deepening of the far-right economic policies in this regard.
For instance, the latest ‘booster dosage’, the fourth in the series,comprising fabulous corporate tax-exemptions announced on the eve of Modi’s Houston program where he accomplished one of the biggest sell-outs of India to US imperialism, led to a sudden ballooning of the stock market that skyrocketed stock indices by more than 2000 points adding the largest single-day speculative gain worth more than Rs. 6 lakh crore on September 21, 2019. Revealingly, this has nothing to do with increasing productive capacity, employment generation and purchasing power of the common people. Rather, these measures trumpeted as pro-investor measures act as a drag on the job-oriented productive economy.
As such, the crux of the problem today is to politically understand that with every step towards boosting corporate accumulation, not only the economy is collapsing, but the scope of manoeuvrability within neoliberalism is increasingly exhausting. Thus it is clear that any attempt at resolving the crisis is to be sought outside the logic of corporatisation, or rather a reversal of Modigovt’s blind adherence to neoliberalism solely oriented to the ultra-wealthy sections. That implies no short-cut but calls for a political resolution with a program of reversing the far-right policies leading to the oppression of corporate-financial class over the people. So long as that political alternative is delayed, every worsening of the crisis that is inevitable will result in the ruling regime continuing to put far more heavy burdens on the backs of the people in manifold ways on the one hand, and utilising the economic collapse itself as the foundation for corporate-saffron fascism on the other. Along with its divisive, majoritarian Hindutva offensive, fascism in India too, as elsewhere, is the super-imposition of the tyranny of the most reactionary, utterly parasitic super-rich corporate classon the broad masses of toiling people. It is definitely a ‘do or die’ situation before Indian working class and oppressed people and there is no other option except to resist and defeatthis terrorist dictatorship of saffron-corporate capital.
“Fourth Booster” is also Incapable to Revive the Economy : Scope of Manoeuvrability is Fast Depleting
Since the 3 booster packages announced by Modi regime since August 23 aimed at unleashing the “animal spirits” of the corporate looters have done nothing to revive the sinking economy, today, Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister has come out with a fourth booster shot to shore up investor sentiments leading to a sky-rocketing of the Sensex by 1650 points increasing the wealth of corporate speculators by around Rs.2. 5Lakh crore, the highest single-day gain in Indian stock market, while these lines are written. Included in this booster shot are a further reduction of the corporate tax rate from 25 percent to 22 percent for existing companies and to 15 percent for new companies, reduction of minimum alternate tax from 18.5 percent to 15 percent, exemption of listed companies from buyback tax, surcharge exemption for speculative (capital) gains made by foreign speculators (FII), etc., that will result in annual revenue loss of Rs.1.45 lakh crore to govt. in addition to the Rs.8.99 lakh crore corporate-tax exemptions announced in the July 5 Budget and a series of direct wealth transfer measures announced in the stimulus packages announced since August 23.
However, according to the logic of corporate wealth accumulation prevailing today, this 4th booster package that is announced as part of mounting crony capitalism—the unholy nexus between the most corrupt corporate capital and the neoliberal state— is not in any way going to reverse the economic downturn. Today India is in a vicious corporatisation-stagnation trap resulting in a total breakdown of the economy. The exponential growth of the parasitic-corrupt corporate class at the expense of employment-oriented genuinely productive activities threatening the very sustenance of the vast majority of toiling people has been the essence of the crisis today. Therefore, boosting up the very same anti-people corporate-financial class through repeated fiscal and liquidity manipulations will not contribute anything in the direction of alleviating the systemic crisis; rather it is oriented towards an aggravation of the economic collapse further. It is also a clear symptom that the space for manoeuvre is fast depleting under neoliberalism.
Further, the injection of lakhs of crores of people’s money in to the coffers of the corporate plunderers who themselves are responsible for the present historic crisis, without doing anything in the direction of reviving the real incomes and purchasing power of the vast majority of people who are subjected to hitherto unknown levels of deprivation and destitution is an outright fascist act too. It is the super-imposition of the tyranny of the most reactionary, utterly parasitic super-rich corporate class integrated with saffron forces on the working class and the oppressed. It is high time.
Where Modi-2 Government is Leading the Economy to ?
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. n