- Worldwide, imperialism shows its reactionary face. Wars are threatening. The exploitation of humanity and nature is brutally intensified. Mass unemployment and poverty are raging. Oppression and violence against women are part of everyday life. The natural foundations of life are endangered more and more every day. The causes of flight are increasing. Rightist to fascist governments are reflected in strengthening of rightist and fascist forces also among the masses. Destruction of the future of the youth – that is the ultimate consequence of imperialist logic.
- In all this our opponents are highly organized! And what about us? The revolutionary, anti-imperialist forces are still very fragmented and sometimes quarrel over trivialities. That must be changed urgently if the world is not to drown in barbarism. But there are also hopeful beginnings of new unions and alliances, and growing need for cooperation.
- The labour productivity of the workers and peasants has exploded during the last decades. The resources of humanity and nature could provide all humankind with jobs, food, education, health, and room for culture and social commitment. But this is only possible in social conditions in which humanity and nature are in the centre and not, like today, maximum profit, imperialist power and rivalry.
- Among the masses the consciousness of the unjust and exploitative societal relationships has clearly developed. The will for change is growing as well as the search for a societal alternative. What is still lacking among the broad masses is the deep clarity about the imperialist roots of the disaster. Confidence and certainty are lacking about the possibility of a society based on unity of humanity and nature, with democracy and freedom and socialist future prospects.
- In many countries, during the last years revolutionary, anti-imperialist parties, organizations and movements have come into existence and have strengthened themselves. The wish grows to cooperate despite existing differences, and in doing so to clarify political contradictions and those regarding world outlook step by step.
- Let us take the initiative for building an anti-imperialist united front for that:
- which is directed against all imperialists, and above all fights against US imperialism as main warmonger, superpower and enemy of all peoples!
- which promotes the worldwide process of clarification about imperialism in order to strengthen self-confidence, the level of organization, and trust, on the national and international level;
- which organizes and coordinates effective steps of joint struggle;
- which lays the foundations to become a superior force to imperialism.
- Discuss everywhere the need for this union and the need to invest resources in this.
- Collect signatories for this call until 1 May 2019!
- Recommend trustworthy representatives who will take initiative for the coordination of a first conference!
- Let us celebrate a first worldwide anti-imperialist day of struggle by mutual agreement in 2020! n
Whether Narendra Modi’s announcement of India’s capacity to shoot down enemy satellites violates the electoral code of conduct or not is a red herring. The debate is helping to obscure a far more serious violation of the oath he swore when he became the prime minister. The second part of that oath says: “…I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”
Modi violated this oath on February 14 when more than 40 CRPF soldiers died in a terrorist attack that he knew was imminent and ought to have prevented. As an astute politician, he knew a major incident would generate public rage that would boost the BJP’s share of the vote in the coming elections. Since then, as I have described in some detail in an earlier piece, everything he has said and done concerning Kashmir and Pakistan has been pure theatre. The engine that propelled his calculated neglect of the threat the CRPF faced is his government’s abysmal failure in virtually every department of government during the past five years – be it the economy, law and order, communal harmony international and inter-state relations.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the economy. Instead of millions of jobs a year as he had promised, his government has managed to jobs on an unprecedented scale. According to the latest National Sample Survey report that the Modi government failed to suppress, there are 11 million fewer workers in industry today than there were five years ago. What is more, 40 million casual labourers in the rural areas no longer have any work. In rural areas, one in six young men between 15 and 29 are now without any kind of work against one in 20 five years ago. In the towns and cities, one in five is now unemployed against one in eight five years ago. The rise of joblessness among women is equally alarming.
No one understands the political consequences of this better than Modi, for this was the age group that had believed his promises in 2014 and voted him to power. He knows that opposition unity is making it virtually certain that the BJP will fall far short of a majority in the next Lok Sabha, so his days as prime minister are numbered. He is therefore prepared to stop at nothing to win. So he has fallen back upon the last staple of the Sangh parivar — rousing Hindu paranoia and beating the drums of war.
For him, therefore, the attack on the CRPF convoy at Pulwama came as a gift from heaven. But was the anger he spewed from every platform in the succeeding days genuine or contrived? Did the attack take him by surprise or did he allow it to happen by not heeding warnings? This suspicion had arisen within hours of the attack because the media found out that the Intelligence Bureau had issued warnings to the Union home ministry in the preceding days that a major terrorist attack in Kashmir was imminent. Two days before the attack, the Jaish had uploaded a video of a truck-based suicide attack in Afghanistan and boasted that a similar attack would take place in Kashmir. Modi’s office could not but have known therefore not only that an attack was imminent. A separate warning had also come from the Kashmir police.
The golden rule of intelligence is that if the same information comes from two independent sources it must be taken seriously. The CRPF was aware of the dangers brewing and had asked for its jawans to be airlifted. But, surprisingly, the Home ministry refused. Since it could not have done so without at least running it by the Prime Minister’s Office, was this mere oversight, or was there a method in the madness?
Rahul Gandhi ducked asking this question but in Kolkata, Mamta Bannerjee felt no such inhibitions. “Where were you Mr Modi when the Pulwama attack took place?” she asked. “You knew that an attack was imminent. The government already had intelligence inputs. Yet why were the jawans not airlifted? Why were proper naaka checks not done and why weren’t the roads thoroughly sanitised? Why did you push them to the brink of death? So that you could play politics ahead of the elections? There can be no politics over the blood of our jawans.”
Intelligence from Pakistan
Modi was able to dismiss this stinging indictment and accuse his critics of being “anti-national” because no one in the media is interested in understanding the lapses that led to Pulwama. In a previous article, I had given Modi the benefit of the doubt. But since then, I have received more information which confirms my belief that he ignored information the Indian intelligence community had gathered from Pakistan about an imminent attack, and thus failed to prevent Pulwama. I have been reliably told that the Pakistan government came to know of the impending suicide attack as early as February 7, and, fearing an Indian reprisal, had begun to move its forces to battle stations.
Such a major military deployment cannot possibly be kept secret because it involves not only moving infantry but activating forward airfields and deploying armour, mechanised infantry and field artillery. Thirty-six years ago, New Delhi got to know of a similar Pakistani deployment – on the eve of Operation Brass tacks – within days of its commencement. With the kind of terrestrial intelligence and satellite surveillance capabilities India now has, it would have known what was happening across the border within hours.
Since troops cannot normally be kept at battle stations indefinitely, the Pakistani deployment was as clear a sign as any that an attack was imminent. Against this backdrop, and the specific intel warnings from the IB and police, the home ministry (and PMO’s) refusal to accede to the CRPF’s request for an airlift seems especially irresponsible.
If this account of the run up to Pulwama is true, then it would explain several anomalies in Modi’s reaction that the opposition spotted but did not understand. The first was his decision to continue with his photo-shoot in Corbett park for several hours after receiving news of the attack. This reflected not so much insensitivity as a lack of surprise. Modi knew a major attack was coming and was waiting for it. So he forgot to be shocked and carried on with business as usual.
A cynical desire to exploit Pulwama to the hilt would also explain Modi’s failure to declare a day of national mourning for the 40 jawans upon hearing of their death, and his refusal to say, or do, a single thing to minimise the backlash that the killing was bound to provoke within the country. Instead, he used his now customary silence and incessant ranting against Pakistan, Kashmiri terrorists and, subliminally, Muslims, even as Hindutva goons beat up and terrorised Kashmiri students in places as far apart as Jammu, Haryana , Delhi and Pune, and forced several hundreds of them to flee to the safety of the valley.
Whatever the calculations, there is a striking similarity between Modi’s behaviour after Pulwama and his conduct after the burning of the bogey of the Sabarmati express in Godhra on February 27, 2002. Before the Godhra incident too there had been no fewer than 20 warnings from the IB that the VHP and Bajrang Dal were planning “something big”, because they were parading and exercising in force, with swords, lathis and spears, – signs that Modi had ignored.
After the coach was burnt, the VHP trumpeted endlessly that 59 kar sevaks had been killed in a conspiracy hatched by Muslims. Throughout the week-long slaughter that followed, not a single word escaped Modi’s lips condemning the obviously organised murders by Hindutva gangs, many of whom sported saffron scares and tikas as they went about doing ‘God’s work’. And even before the corpses had been disposed of, he had asked the Election Commission to advance the date of the state elections from March 2003 to July 2002. (The EC baulked, but eventually agreed to advance them to December 2002).
The similarities do not end there. After winning the elections, Modi did not rest on his laurels. Instead the Gujarat police kept up a drumbeat of no fewer than 22 ‘encounters’, in many of which the police killed alleged fidayeen sent by govt-backed terrorist groups from Pakistan to avenge the death of Muslims in the state. It was clear then as it is now, that Modi would not relinquish power easily, and would stop at very little to ensure victory at the polls. Then his ambitions were confined to Gujarat. Today they encompass the whole of India.
(The Wire) n
What is given below is a primary note prepared by the leadership of the Bhangar movement to help the development of the movement at all India level against the hazards created by the numerous high power Grid Lines along with substations across the country, which are still imposed increasingly day by day against the affected people’s interests. The present situation when the ecological destruction caused by the nuclear, thermal power stations, use of fossil sources of energy, coal mines etc intensifies ecological destruction, it calls for a paradigm shift in the approach towards electricity production, transmission and consumption. When the sources of petroleum are expected to become scarce within few decades, and climate change like phenomena are becoming increasingly serious, a basic shift towards the use of solar, wind like renewable energy sources calls for immediate attention, not by importing the technology developed in these fields by the MNCs, but through indigenous development of decentralized production methods. Such a decentralized energy production shall make the present networks of extensive power grid lines themselves obsolete. In short, along with a people oriented new perspective towards development, the whole gamut of energy production, transmission and consumption demands a basic shift from today’s capitalist mode which promote consumerist greed and over consumption.
A two-fold movement is called for: firstly, developing a countrywide movement against polluting present energy production methods and against the transmission using high voltage power grid lines which intensifies ecological destruction; secondly, developing solar, wind like energy sources based on indigenous, decentralized methods of production which shall dispense with the need of power grid lines. As an important part of such a holistic approach with paradigm shift, developing an all India movement against the power grid lines based on the experience of the Bhangar movement has great significance. All state committees are called upon to make an in-depth study of this question. As a part of this initiative, try to develop anti-power grid movements wherever possible, so that soon we can coordinate them in to an all India movement. The preliminary note prepared by the leadership of the Bhangar movement is sent to help this process
– KN Ramachandran
- Electricity is a pivotal material for the development of civilization. In our age electricity is synonymous of civilization. But in this capitalist and pre capitalist system nothing is produced without its profit making aspect. Now electricity is necessary as we are using water, air etc. But capitalism, particularly monopoly capitalism, is using this need of the people for their own profit. So, instead of its usefulness, sometimes it is becoming a curse for the people. We already know about the effect of nuclear energy system and even about the effects of thermal power on environment. But still In India, there is no such awareness about the hazards of high voltage transmission line. Though in European Countries and America there are so many standards, precautions, compensation, social security, and safety measures are followed while constructing power grid lines, realized through the vigorous protest of the people of those countries, in our country this is not the fact.
- Though Indian Government is very much concerned to “meet” the increasing demand of electricity to every corner of the country, they have no concern about the safety and security of the people and peasantry, suffering due to the transmission line and reckless installment of substations here and there. Even Government is not updating the laws regarding the electricity production and transmission. They are still working based on the ancient Telegraph act, 1828, and only some cosmetic changes are made in 2003 and 2004 due to vigorous protest of the peasantry and local people of every corner of the country. After Singur and Nandigram Movements, when the Land Acquisition Act 1894 has been amended in 2014, an interstate secretariat power committee has made some guidelines to resolve the issues like the question of land acquisition, installment of towers and stringing over the fields of the peasants. In that guideline it was stipulated that “Compensation @ 85% of land value as determined by District Magistrate or any other authority based on Circle rate/ Guideline value/ Stamp Act rates for tower base area (between four legs) impacted severely due to installation of tower/pylon structure : Compensation towards diminution of land value in the width of Right of Way (RoW) Corridor due to laying of transmission line and imposing certain restrictions would be decided by the States as per categorization/type of land in different places in the States, subject to a maximum of 15% of land value as determined based on Circle ratel Guideline valuel Stamp Act rates.
- But this guideline is hardly implemented. And still this guideline is not converted into an Act. So there is no use to go to the court on the basis of this guideline. And still there is no provision of environment impact assessment particularly for this industry. But internationally it is compulsory.
- Actually Internationally three types of loss have been considered by the authorities such as EU, WB, IFC etc. due to high voltage transmission project.
- Land loss for tower base and Right of Way;
- Environmental loss; and
- Loss for the Community people who are living near the high voltage transmission line
- But in our country none of these guidelines are abided by the PGCIL, as well as by the Central and state Governments. So, when the Central Government has now given the call ‘one nation, one grid’ it is dangerous for the people and peasantry, because numerous high tension lines will be going over head all across the country. Government is doing all these without any empirical study on the important question of impact of Electromagnetic field on the health of the people, land use and the impact on the environment.
- Though PGCIL is saying that they have taken a scheme named ‘Environmental and Social Policy and Procedure’ (ESPP), they do not even bother to talk with the local people about their proposed project. And, still the state and Indian Governments are not recognizing the effects of the ‘Electro Magnetic Flux’ (EMF) and ‘Extremely Low Frequency’ (ELF) radiation as important problems. So, actually no limits about the ELF radiation and the limit of EMF radiation are put in actual practice. It is so high compared to the limit stipulated by international standard. And, without any local area study, they are installing substations and installing numerous lines even in densely populated localities.
- In short, we can say that pollution due to high voltage transmission line and installation of sub-stations recklessly here and there are big issues in India now. We can take the above mentioned three points of hazards as has been stated by the WB etc itself. Even PGCIL said in writing about the hazards to SEBI that: The construction and operation of our transmission and substation projects may have significant consequences on grazing, logging, agricultural activities, mining and land development as well as on the ecosystem of the affected areas. The environmental impact of a particular transmission project typically depends on the location of the project and the surrounding ecosystem.
- So a vigorous struggle on the question of the below mentioned three issues is to be waged:—
- Land loss for tower base and Right of Way,
- Environmental loss, and
- Loss of the Community people who are living near the high voltage transmission line .
- We have to demand the enactment of a law under which Environmental Impact Assessment will be made compulsory; proper Compensation to the peasant is compulsory; and all risk factors must be identified and safety measures taken to resolve them. It cannot be made possible if the struggle is limited to a single, or one local project. A country wide struggle is necessary. Bhangar is an example for a successful movement focusing these questions; but only one Bhangar is not sufficient to compel the central and state governments to make an updated Act. In spite of all its limitation, Bhangar is an inspiration and instance about the way of waging the struggle. Through a protracted vigorous struggle it compelled the government and the PGCIL to make an agreement with the representatives of the Bhangar Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and Environment under which the peasants achieved the compensation for the loss of land, and the local people also getting compensation for the losses suffered by them. And, the people have achieved several development projects as explained in this Agreement. (See the agreement).
- Based on this Agreement, wherever movements against power grids are launched, according to the particular situation of the area, implementation of the same guidelines adopted in the Agreement can be demanded from the power ministry, under which 85% of the land value for installation of towers and 15 % of the land value for stringing have to be given. Everywhere we can raise this issue. And, in general we have to demand maintenance of international standards for the installation of high voltage substations and power grid lines. n
The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star has decided to organize a socio-economic study at state level for evaluating the changes that has taken place in the socio economic sectors as a result of the neo-colonial/neoliberal policies pursued at an accelerated pace, so that an all India picture can be drafted for future course of action. This note prepared as a guideline for this Study is sent to all state committees of the Party and party friends who can give valuable inputs for it for suggestions if any and necessary follow up action – Editor, Red Star
The Resolution on Theoretical Offensive adopted by the 10th Congress of our Party among other things called for a deeper and comprehensive understanding of the ruling system in India. Under the present neo-colonial phase of imperialism, as elsewhere, India is also subject to rapid transformation. A scientific understanding of these changes is indispensable for searching out political solutions to the grave issues the country is confronting. That is, the correctness of our theory and the development of our political line are inseparably connected with the objective grasping of the concrete socio-economic situation and the relations thereof in India today.
We have a general understanding on the character of the state and on the specific caste-ridden social formation in the present neo-colonially dependent Indian situation. In this regard, our Party Program briefly says: “2.3.With the transfer of power, India which was a colonial and semi-feudal country was transformed in to a dependent country under neo-colonial domination with agrarian relations subjected to fast changes, as imperialism had abandoned its colonial policy of utilizing feudalism as its social base.” In relation to this, the Resolution on Theoretical Offensive also notes: “We have found that in India and in many other countries under neo-colonial domination, there has been an ever more capitalistic system being introduced in agriculture. We have understood the importance of the environmental question and given it the importance it deserves. Many more questions still face us, such as further studies on the nature of imperialism today, the meaning of a new paradigm of development and the building of socialism with greater democracy. We have to face such questions fearlessly and study them…”
Such an approach is essential for developing Marxist theory and ideological orientation based on which we have to organize the workers, peasants, women and all oppressed to build up the communist movement according to the concrete realities of India. While capital-market relations backed by neo-colonial-neoliberal policies have their reach throughout India, being multinational and casteist in character, these relations are felt in varying degrees and at different levels. As a consequence, even as the mode of production is increasingly becoming capitalistic, uneven development and regional disparities and diversities are still persisting as the general rule than the exception. Therefore, a scientific study on the Indian socio-economic situation shall be in proper linkage with its region-state specificities based on the dialectical approach towards the general and the particular.
Based on data from various sources, we have a general understanding on the macro Indian situation. But we still lack relevant information on state-wise socio-economic condition which is also important for verifying our conceptualisation at the all India level. Therefore, it is essential that Party SCs should have to organize studies to arrive at an objective evaluation or understanding of the socio-economic situation of the respective states. However, this is a prolonged and time-consuming task. Hence, to start with, each SC can prepare a synopsis or an introductory note on the macro situation of the respective state which can be used as a baseline study or background for intensive and in-depth studies in the coming days. To make such a preliminary study, information and data pertaining to the following are useful:
- Land ownership—caste, religion, gender, rural, urban-wise data; land held by government and public bodies, forest land, water bodies, estates, corporate firms, foreign companies and their benamies, religious and caste institutions, mutts and trusts, etc.
- Landlessness or land destitution and the role of caste in it; number and growth of agricultural workers, trends in agriculture labour and wage pattern, number of days of employment, other sources of income, etc.
- Details of farming- corporate farms, big landowners, rich farmers, cultivating peasants, tenancy (including oral, unregistered, and short-term tenancy), farming practices, sharecropping, role of family and hired labour, etc.
- Movable and immovable property held by different categories of the population, information on distribution of rural assets
- Land-use pattern, arable and non-arable land, food crops and cash crops, use of modern agricultural inputs, mechanisation, industrial and non-agricultural land use, land acquisition trends, eviction, displacement, deforestation, ground water use and depletion, details of the nature of emerging land market
- Rural credit availability- commercial banks, money lenders and other informal sources
- Extent and growth of informal sectors and unorganised workers-wages and living conditions
- Socio-economic characteristics of rural population and proportion or percentage of people depending on agriculture/rural/informal sectors, share of agriculture and allied sectors in state’s annual income
- Industrial structure-traditional and unorganised industries-employment pattern in them, small and medium and large industries in the public and private sectors, nature of industries- import dependent, export oriented, local market oriented- share of industry in state’s employment and income
- Education, health, public distribution and other services-literacy rate, female literacy, infant mortality rate, role of government and private sectors in education and health, budgetary allocations for education and health
- Structure of the budget and tax/ expenditures of the state government
- Details on trade and transportation and related activities, role retail trade in employment and income, consumption pattern, state’s share of all India consumer market, public transport, per capita vehicle use
- Information on banking and financial services
- Proportion of the services sector in state’s income and employment
- Urbanisation, migration and growth of slums, extent of rural urban divide
- Data on unemployment, per capita income, poverty, inequality in income and wealth, asset (including land, movable and immovable property) concentration, etc.
Since it may not be possible for us at this stage to directly collect adequate and usable primary data from field level studies and surveys, the State Committees shall initiate steps for gathering required information on the socio-economic structure of respective states from already published relevant sources such as:
- Population and Agriculture Census, Land, Industry and Trade Records, Retail and Wholesale Reports, Financial Statements, Budgets, Surveys, etc. with government (central, state and local) and official agencies;
- Reports of various Commissions and Committees constituted by the central and state govts;
- Research-related documents and published texts by social science research institutions and universities;
- Reports and publications of Labour Bureaus, Commodity Boards, Trade Unions, Consumer Associations, Trade Bodies, Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Banks, Co-operatives, Stock Exchanges, etc;
- Newspapers and periodicals;
- Internet searches; and
- Other usable sources.
presently, our SCs may not have the expertise or the means to carry out this task on their own. A study team/committee can be constituted to seek reliable assistance from outside the party sources. This team can contact economists, social scientists, research scholars and progressive intellectuals and seek their help and cooperation for identifying the data sources, collecting the required information and processing the same in a compact form. This can be discussed and analysed by the SCs from the perspective of our general understanding before adoption. n
On Rahul Gandhi's Populism
Rahul Gandhi’s promise of a Minimum Guaranteed Income of Rs. 72000 (or Rs. 6000 per month) to 5 crore poor families encompassing 25 crore people as the hallmark of the Congress Manifesto is moderate compared with Modi’s 2014 malicious hoax (the most deceptive of all election stunts ever made by any ruler in history) that promised a deposit of Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every Indians that too within 100 days of his ascendancy to power. Rahul’s scheme can be implemented with an allocation of around Rs. 4 lakh crore every year.
The idea of a minimum guaranteed income is not at all a new and novel one. It belongs to the reformist and philanthropic tradition in bourgeois policy making aimed at camouflaging or diverting attention away from the heinous plunder on people and nature committed by rapacious capital. When the consuming power of the vast majority of people on account of the private nature of accumulation is going down and economy is collapsing due to insufficient demand, prudent bourgeois leaders in the past had put forward such initiatives.
In 1933, on the eve of unleashing his populist program called New Deal to overcome the Great Depression, American President Franklin Roosevelt said: “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” Of course, traces of such philanthropic interventions were there in the US even much earlier. To cover up the atrocities and crimes committed against the hapless Red Indians, Thomas Paine, ‘radical’ contemporary of Washington had suggested a ‘minimum guaranteed income’ for all who lost land.
And the advent of the post-war Keynesian welfare state as an ideological weapon against communism had been an enlarged version of the erstwhile philanthropic programs like guaranteed minimum income. When imperialism was thinking of abandoning welfare state in the late 60s US economists like Henry George once again suggested a “guaranteed annual income” which was also supported by Martin Luther King Jr. As neoliberalism began, Galbraith, Samuelson, Tobin and similar well known bourgeois economists started proposing ‘minimum income’. Even Moynihan and Nixon were supporters of the idea. And to fill the poverty gap in US, Clinton as President proposed “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” and Lula da Silva tried to implement what is called ‘universal basic income’ in Brazil under the name Bolsa Familia during the first decade of this century. Several capitalist countries had resorted to more or less similar populist programs. All these initiatives have become unsustainable as neoliberalism and neo-colonial plunder advanced further.
The laws of capital accumulation or the logic of crony capitalism today that has already redefined the role of the state as a ‘facilitator’ of corporatisation are at variance with a pro-people active role of the state. Social spending is to be curtailed for maintaining fiscal and revenue deficits at the desired level. Through superimposed IMF-World Bank diktats such as Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, the state in Afro-Asian Latin American countries are legally banned to actively intervene in the economy. World Bank has been consistently demanding neocolonially dependent comprador regimes like India to fall in line with its market fundamentalism for promotion to a higher ranking in the “ease of doing business index”.
As such, if Rahul Gandhi is to be serious about his proposed minimum income scheme, then his think-tanks should also advise him to have a rethinking on those pro-corporate policies that channel Rs. 2200 crores per day in to the coffers of 9 biggest billionaires in India. If he is still upholding the budgetary policies that granted annual average corporate tax exemptions of Rs. 4 lakh crore and Rs. 6 lakh crore respectively under UPA and NDA governments, then it will be well-nigh impossible for him to implement his promises.
To be precise, even for a philanthropic program as minimum guaranteed income to the people and not to speak of a basic change in bourgeois policies, a reshuffling of the tax-expenditure policies is indispensable. And given his Party’s notorious adherence to neoliberalism, Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income program shall also be doomed as another election stunt.
Modi Government’s Appointment of Nine “Experts”?
Modi government's appointment of 9 “experts” on April 12, from private corporate sector including international and multinational companies through what is euphemistically called “lateral recruitment” to the post of joint secretaries that rank among India’s top bureaucracy is quite unprecedented. Among others, the list includes specialist from even KPMG, the audit firm that is blacklisted by many countries and facing ban in many others for notorious underhand corporate dealings. And 89 names are already shortlisted based on a circular issued on June 11, 2018 by the Dept. of Personnel and Training inviting applications from “talented and motivated” individuals who can “contribute towards nation-building” to be posted in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, shipping, environment, forests and climate change, new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce. All appointees shall be eligible for salaries, allowances and facilities at par with top bureaucrats and shall be “public servants” for the purpose of conduct rules and such other statutes as notified by the government from time to time.
Of course, India being a neo-colonially dependent country, posting of IMF-World Bank pensioners and US-trained technocrats in higher echelons of key policy-making has become an established tradition here. Under the pseudo-nationalist Modi regime, this dependency has intensified further. But the direct recruitment of private-corporate experts from both Indian and multinational sources is a qualitatively new ultra-rightist trend aiming at direct filling of entire administrative machinery with capitalist cronies. It removes even apparent parliamentary control over the country’s administrative machinery (including the IAS, the steel frame(ICS) inherited from colonial masters) and ensures corporate stranglehold over bureaucracy for facilitating the process of corporatisation that flourishes hand in glove with corruption assuming new dimensions under the corporate-saffron rule. And it is logical that these newly recruited corporate nominees shall get precedence over traditional IAS recruits in policy decision-making.
In fact, our neighbour Pakistan had a bitter experience of bureaucratic reforms. In order to weaken the bureaucracy which was a continuation of the “steal frame” inherited from colonial masters, in 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had experimented with lateral entry to senior bureaucratic posts. But contrary to his expectations, it led to a weakening of the whole administration and strengthening of the preeminent position of the military in Pakistan policy-making.
One of the biggest casualties of this corporate-saffron offensive is the constitutionally guaranteed caste-based reservation in recruitment that prevails in India. Of course, since 2014, the Modi govt. has been systematically filling all key policy-making and implementation bodies, councils, and committees of the central government with RSS-affiliated academics, intellectuals, spiritual leaders and even Hindu godmen. The saffron forces have also initiated for a dilution of caste-based reservation through constitutional amendment on economic reservation even as two-thirds of the Class-1 posts in India are already monopolised by the brahmanical upper castes comprising less than 15 percent of the population. The timing of this move is also significant as dalit organisations together with progressive-democratic forces have demanded the extension of reservation even to private sector employment.
This extra-ordinary move should also be viewed in the context of the new conceptualisation with corporate think–tanks of a “de-bureaucratization” or “post-bureaucratic” transformation for bringing the neoliberal state under the direct control of private corporate capital. As a result of corporatisation, a close integration of the top bureaucrats of so called public sector industrial and banking institutions with the CEOs of the private corporate monopolies has already been there. But as the power of the corporate-financial class is growing, it is now striving to bring the entire state apparatus directly under its control. And Modi, at the behest of his corporate masters has abolished the Planning Commission and transformed it into what is called NITI AYOG. The latest decision by Modi, the most favourite of the corporate class is in continuation of this.
Weaponisation of Space as a Corollary of India’s Transformation as Strategic Junior Partner of US Imperialism
Modi’s mid-day announcement of test-firing of anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile after keeping people in suspense for almost an hour on March 27 is already exposed in Indian media as a “drama” and “publicity mongering” for reaping political mileage in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, and the opposition parties have characterised it as a clear violation of model code of conduct. Response from the international media is also more less the same. News agencies have viewed the “satellite strike” in the context of Indian general election as “mission ahead of Lok Sabha election” and perfectly in tune with the “Balakot air strikes” while some has interpreted it as “poll-eve desperation”. However this is just one aspect of the entire issue.
The major question arises from A-SAT launching is in relation to the saffron regime’s basic departure from India’s declared policy against outright weaponisation of space, though trend towards its militarisation— using satellites for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missions—has been there during the neoliberal period, especially after India’s conversion as US’s strategic junior partner. As a member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and as an adherent to the UN Resolutions on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space, from the 1950s onward India upheld space as the common heritage of humankind according to which every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to militarisation and weaponisation of this arena. Thus the Nehruvian approach to the use of space only for peaceful purposes along with non-alignment continued as the official tradition. As such, India has been launching satellites to be used for weather forecasting, communication, agriculture, disaster management, search and rescue operation, telemedicine, etc. And all of India’s prime ministers up to Manmohan Singh (including Vajpayee who revived India’s nuclear weaponisation through Pokhran-II), had to publicly reiterate the need to retain space as a weapons-free sphere.
Even after China’s ASAT test of January 2007, the UPA government, consistent with the erstwhile Nehruvian tradition continued to uphold its declared policy against space weaponisation despite pressures from military establishments in India and US. The then Director General of DRDO V K Saraswat (who as a member of NITI Ayog under Modi is now critical of the UPA of lacking political will) is reported to have submitted a proposal before the Manmohan government to weaponize the outer space, though he himself under instructions from government declared that India will not conduct a physical test to avoid creation of harmful space debris. By that time itself, as reported in the 97th Indian Science Congress held in Trivandrum, Kerala in 2010, India had acquired full-fledged scientific and technical capability for ASAT launching. In spite of that, during a press conference with Vladimir Putin, Manmohan Singh said: “Our position is similar in that we are not in favour of the weaponization of outer space.” A few days later, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony echoed similar sentiments when he stated, “we have always advocated peaceful use of technology. Thus, we are of the view that weaponization of space must be discouraged.” Moreover, in conformity with the 1985 Conference on Disarmament, India has been repeatedly seeking a ban on space weapons at all international fora. In spite of signs of fluctuations in policy towards space militarisation under Vajpayee regime, India was consistently adhering to its commitment on weapon-free space in accordance with the agreements that India entered into with several countries including Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, EUMETSAT-1, European Space Agency (ESA), France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, and even USA.
But with the ascendancy of far-right Hindutva regime in 2014 and India’s further degeneration under US diktats led to former’s intensified integration with US military and strategic interests. In view of the expansionist threat from China including its inter-continental infrastructure project called “One Belt One Road”, US started encouraging the comprador Modi regime to display India’s capability in anti-satellite weaponry as a counter to China’s ASAT weapons that reduce US military effectiveness in the Indo-Pacific Region. As a clear departure from erstwhile policy, at US insistence space weaponisation also became an agenda under US-India Strategic Partnership. In September 2018, both US Secretary of State Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mattis in their US-India “2+2”ministerial dialogue with their Indian counterparts in Delhi decided to “integrate space into the broader US-India Strategic Partnership” and to address space security in the guise of responding to China’s growing military capabilities. ASAT launching by the ultra-rightist saffron Indian regime is the logical culmination of this closer coordination with US. And unlike in the past, under Trump and Modi both the aerospace industries/military industrial complexes in US and saffronised Indian military establishment are in proper coordination especially against Chinese expansionist designs.
Of course, the timing of this US-backed ASAT launching by Modi is dictated by petty political aims of winning the upcoming elections. But in essence, Modi’s move is consistent with its saffron-fascistisation of everything including life and nature. Its move away from disarmament and de-nuclearisation is also consistent with this. At the same time, the cool response from imperialist corporate media, especially that from US on this weaponisation of space by the saffron-chauvinist Modi regime is very revealing indeed.
Corporate Speculators Skyrocket Sensex to Bolster Winning Prospects of Chowkidar of Super-Rich
India’s economic fundamentals are in a downward spiral. Agriculture and industry are in doldrums. Demonetisation and GST have sucked out the life-blood of the people and broken their backbone. Economic growth rate is the lowest since 2008. Unemployment is the highest in five decades. In terms of UN global indices pertaining to hunger, malnutrition, poverty, happiness, etc., India’s position is the worst compared to all neighbouring countries and even much below that of the ‘least developed sub-Saharan’ African countries. During the last five years, inequality and wealth concentration have jumped to epic proportions. India under Modi has become the most corrupt country in Asia. Social and political tensions are mounting for obvious reasons.
It is in this context that global financial speculators backed by corporate media are working overtime to paint a rosy picture of India by boosting up the Indian stock market and driving up the Sensex to an all time peak at around 39000 points. To facilitate this in view of the upcoming general election, global financial speculators ( so called FII) sponsored by Morgan Stanley and others have already channelled around Rs 50000 crore in to the highly foreign-dependent Indian stock market. In the process, while share prices of Reliance, other corporate companies, and new generation banks are bubbling, that of almost all the PSUs are revealingly collapsing. More interestingly, while the Indian Sensex without having any valid economic basis is thus artificially boosted, while all the stock markets in Asia including that of China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia are recording negative trends due to the prevailing global downturn.
The usual trend among stock market the world over during elections is to have a wait-and-watch approach. However, contrary to this, the most corrupt corporate speculators and crony capitalists, both Indian and foreign, who have multiplied their wealth over the past few years and who expect that Modi regime shall stay in power are bent on creating a feel-good factor regarding the Indian economy under his rule. In case of a critical situation, they are confident of repatriating their investment to safe havens on account of the unfettered freedom for capital flight already granted to this traitorous class.
No doubt, it is the heinous and calculated move on the part of this most parasitic strata of financial cronies that has led to the crossing of the Sensex to another landmark on the World Fools Day.
CPI (M)’s Journey from London School of Economics to London Stock Exchange
Kerala is marketed as a hub of Global Speculators and Crony Capitalists!!
If Jyoti Basu former West Bengal chief minister and PB member of CPI (M) created history in his speech at the London School of Economics in the early 1990s through the revelation on “globalization as an irreversible process” by invoking the TINA factor when even Congress chief ministers were tight-lipped on the neoliberal offensive launched by Manmohan Singh, today CPI(M) PB member Pinarayi Vijayan who rules Kerala is again creating history as the first Indian chief minister attending the listing ceremony of KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board—a neoliberal SPV for attracting corporate funds) masala bonds in the London Stock Exchange scheduled on May 17.
Though the CPI(M) then had only 38 MPs, it was the bold investor-friendly and pro-corporate policies including “joint ventures” (forerunners of today’s PPPs, the most heinous form of corporate plunder) along with threats to labour unions of ‘stern action’ that made Basu acceptable as the 1996 consensus candidate for Indian prime minister for the ruling classes. Though he could not become the PM, he reiterated his position among other things by co-opting the MIT-returned Asim Dasgupta as finance minister of West Bengal, who led the Empowered Committee for pioneering the anti-federal and pro-corporate GST till 2008.
In the same vein, today after a quarter century, CPI (M)’s remaining chief minister is becoming the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of neoliberal centers for transforming Kerala as an attractive destination for deregulated and corrupt transnational money-spinning speculators encompassing a wide spectrum of self-professed asset managers, insurance companies, pension funds, banks, stock brokers and so on who are supposed to invest in the so called masala bonds issued by KIIFB.
Alarmed at the wide accolades that Pinarayi is getting from neoliberal centres and crony capitalists for his efforts to spread red carpet for them to Kerala, the opposition Congress, especially in view of the ongoing election, is raising a hue and cry of the whole issue with allegations of corruption. However, even as corruption is inherent to corporatization and financialisation, being adherents of neoliberal developmentalism, obviously the Congress has no alternative to Kerala’s mounting dependence on foreign speculators, international debt markets and neocolonial institutions including World Bank and ADB.
It is the task of the working class, all oppressed and progressive democratic forces to come forward exposing the manner in which the reins of the economy are transferred to the foreign parasitic classes and put forward a political alternative that requires a fundamental restructuring of the system including a reversal of the depoliticizing of development itself.
US Imperialism Strengthens Its Neo-Liberal Offensive by Nominating Trump Loyalist as World Bank President
David Malpass, known Trump loyalist and US Treasury’s under-secretary for international affairs is the new World Bank President. Nominating him Trump said: “America is the largest contributor to the World Bank. My administration has made it a top priority to ensure that US taxpayers’ dollars are spent effectively and wisely.”
As everybody knows, the Bretton Woods twins namely, the IMF and the World Bank are the two economic arms of US imperialism, the supreme arbiter of the post-war neo-colonial world order. As the largest shareholder with 16 percent of the voting power, it is the US that nominates the World Bank’s president since its founding and winning the backing of majority of World Bank shareholders made up of 188 countries including that of EU is usually formal.
Though Malpass is a junior in US bureaucratic hierarchy, comprador regimes in the neo-colonially dependent Afro-Asian-Latin American countries are bound to pursue his diktats in letter and spirit. As Trump bluntly hinted, it shall be the duty of the new incumbent to pry open the economies of the dependent countries and enforce the neo-colonial rules of the game and ensure super-profits for MNCs especially for those emanating from the US by smashing trade unions, imposing tax liberalisations, privatising public sectors and thus achieving what is called ‘ease of doing business’ for transnational corporate capital. And as a diehard neo-conservative, Malpass has to toe his master’s line by effectively using the contemporary world economic crisis and geopolitical tensions as opportunities for super-imposing ultra-rightist and market fundamentalist policies.
A Regret Cannot Exonerate Britain from the Colonial Crimes Committed by It
As the 100th anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre by British imperialism is approaching, in response to the demand of a cross-section of the British MPs for an "unequivocal apology", Theresa May has made a belated "regret" that is far short of a formal apology, even as the reactionary Conservative Party came forward strongly defending General Dyer who led this massacre firing rifles into the crowd on April 13, 1919.
In fact, Jallianwala Bagh is only one among the innumerable crimes committed on the India people by British imperialism. The Wagon Tragedy of 1921 was another massacre in which almost a hundred Mappila patriots, who resisted British colonialists and their Indian agents, the upper-caste Hindu landlords, were saffocated to death by imperial police.
Probably, the biggest and the worst massacre was that of the Bengal Famine of 1943 that according to British records killed 40 lakh Indians consequent on Churchill's order of diversion of food to British soldiers. While talking on the Bengal Famine in 1943, Churchill said: " I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits."
The same mindset has been there for all colonialists who cherished the theory of 'white man's burden'. For instance, as a justification to exterminate the Red Indians, George Washington upheld more or less similar views as that of Churchill. For, Washington said :" (Red) Indians have nothing human except in shape...The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire, both being beasts of prey tho' they differ in shape"
The problem with May and her likes is this colonial mindset rooted in extreme contempt for the colonized. That is why, to appease the defenders of Dyer, she refrains from making an apology. British imperialists fully know that tendering apology for one massacre will force them to apologise for all the crimes against humanity that they committed not only in Asia but in Africa and all over the world in their mad pursuit of building up what Rudyard Kipling, the poet of British imperialism said 'the empire upon which the sun never set'.
We have already noted that the original texts of Lokayata and other materialist thoughts have not been found in India. It can be assumed from different sources that Lokayata philosophy in India was initiated by Carvaka group. Therefore, Lokayata philosophy is also called as Carvaka philosophy. Debiprasad discussed this philosophy in his “Lokayata: A Study in Ancient materialism” at length. Today the efforts are made to reconstruct this theory from other sources, especially from the writings of its rivals. There was a style of debate in our country that to reproduce the theory of the opponents as Purvapakhsa (thesis) in the beginning of a book, and then to present the writer’s own opinion as Sidhantapakhsa (anti-thesis), in order to refute the rival opinion and to reach in a more comprehensive idea or theory (synthesis). This typical style helped the modern scholars to understand the theory of Carvakas from the literature of their rivals which was put forward as Purvapakhsa.
This compulsion to understand the Carvaka theory from its rivals very naturally is responsible for some distortions of the original notion. It was theoretically accepted widely in ancient India that one should display highest honesty in putting forward the opinions of the opponents as Purvapakhsa. However, in the real life, especially, when philosophical battles were directly related to life and death class struggles, very often the Purvapakhsa was distorted form very beginning. Thus, generation of a false and wrong impression on the enquiring theory is not unnatural when it has been tried to be understood from those already tampered presentations. Secondly, there are enough evidences that the Idealist camp in India, especially, the Vedantists — the most prominent leader of this ideological army — are busy even till now to distort the opponent philosophical views continuously as the class struggle in modern India has been directly developed from the womb of the previous struggles. If Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India and a prominent philosopher from Vedantist camp is an ideal example in his effort to continue the distortion of the opponent views in modern India, Madhavacharya of medieval India is the most prominent example of the same. However, most of the researchers, even those who have tried to understand the atheistic philosophical notions from an unbiased position, displayed their dependence on Madhava in order to provide a foundation of understanding the Indian philosophical discourses.
In his magnum opus Sarvadarshanasamgraha Madhava portrayed the Carvaka philosophy in such a fashion that it seems there was no importance of this notion in ancient India. In the war between the gods and the demons (asuras), Brihaspati———the Guru of the gods (devas) created an outright wrong and misleading philosophy which made the followers of it to engage only in merrymaking activities. This philosophy is called Carvaka or Lokayata philosophy. Brihaspati successfully sold this wrong notion to the asuras using some tricks which created a false impression among the asuras that the philosophy was a true knowledge which was supposed to make them victorious against the devas. Madhava further elaborated the Carvaka philosophy, especially, its epistemological side as one-sided theory which only used to depend on perception as the means of getting valid knowledge. Therefore, according to Madhava the Carvakas rejected all other means of knowledge (pramanas) like inference etc. Prior to Debiprasad, there were a number of researchers who tried to understand the materialist theories of ancient India from an unbiased point of view. However, it made Debiprasad taller than them that he never allowed himself to depend on Madhava, on the contrary he destroyed the edifice built by him at the very beginning. In order to do that he negated the philosophical understanding of Madhava and at the same time did not hesitate to raise serious concerns about Madhava’s class loyalty and his very integrity as a truth-seeking philosopher. Debiprasad raised this question in his Lokayata in a following manner:
“The preliminary doubt may be further strengthened by pointing to Madhava’s pronounced political preoccupation. He was, like his brother Sayana, a founder-minister of the Vijayanagara Empire; it is presumed further that he obtained from a medieval monastery the necessary finance for establishing this empire. This shows that he was himself very much in the thick of political activities which were likely to have influenced his philosophical enthusiasm. Philosophy was presumably the ideological counterpart of his practical politics. How could, then, an overt champion of aristocracy like Madhava, give as an undistorted picture of the Lokayata, which, as its name signified, embodied only the world-outlook of the masses?”
Debiprasad raised some fundamental issues in order to negate Madhava. Firstly, he showed that what Madhava wanted us to believe regarding the importance of Carvaka philosophy in ancient India is not the correct picture at all. According to Madhava, the philosophy had no importance at that time. However, Debiprasad proved that the actual case was just the opposite. We have already come to know that no Carvaka text has been found in India and what we today know about the philosophy is from the criticisms of it made by its opponents. There were practically no branches in Indian philosophy which did not try to refute Lokayata. It clearly shows that the philosophy had immense influence among the masses. The name ‘Lokayata’ itself also shows that the philosophy was established deeply among the people (loka). Therefore, Debiprasad argued: “If Lokayata was simply as superficial a proposal as to making merry even on debts, we cannot explain how it could have such a deep and widespread influence, or, why all the schools of Indian philosophy had to take it so seriously.”
Practically, in ancient India it was mandatory for all the best scholars, Brahmins and Vedantists, to study the Carvaka philosophy. Debiprad has given one example. In Mahabharata Draupadi stated to Yudhisthira that when she was a child her father appointed a scholar Brahmin to teach Lokayata philosophy. Draupadi used to listen those sitting on the lap of her father. Debiprasad asked that if Carvaka opinion was so less important a merry-making notion then what was the need for the rulers of the country to learn it so deeply and meticulously?
In the second point where Debiprasad launched his second attack on Madhava was the question of morality. According to Madhava Carvaka philosophy was a notion of eat-drink-and-make-merry sort which used to follow no ethics. Debiprasad showed that this allegation was completely false. The Lokayatikas or the Carvakas did not have faith on Vedantist morality; however, they had their own ethical conception. But it was a sheer slander that they had no morality at all. The Carvakas opposed the morality of austerity and celibacy which was preached by the Vedantists to the people. They did not believe in a life beyond death. So when the Brahmins used to preach their moral practices to the people in order to achieve a better life after death, the Carvakas came into a vehement opposition. According to Debiprasad, the morality based on austerity and celibacy was developed in order to smoothen the process of surplus extraction through an amicable manner which the Carvakas realized and organized the people against it through their philosophical battle.
The Carvakas, on the other hand, used to believe in some sort of tribal morality. In order to substantiate this proposition Debiprasad gave an example form Mahabharata. After the Kuruksetra war when the victorious Pandavas were returning to home hundreds of Brahmins gathered at the city gate. Among them there was Charvaka — the Acharya of the Carvaka group, too. As Yudisthira had arrived there a furious Charvaka told him: “This assembly of the Brahmanas is cursing you for you have killed your kins. What have you gained by destroying your own people and murdering your own elders? You should die.” (Quoted from “Lokayata”, Debiprasad). Hearing this Yudisthira became morally hurt and decided to die, but the Brahmins suddenly regained their consciousness and told Yudisthira that the opinion of Charvaka was not their opinion as a whole. They said that Charvaka was a friend of Duryodhana and a demon in disguise. Declaring this the Brahmins killed Charvaka and burnt him to ashes.
Citing this incident of Charvaka killing from Santiparva of Mahabharata, Debiprasad asserted that it showed clearly that the Charvakas had their own morality which was very much tribal in character. It can be noted that at the beginning of the war of Kuruksetra Arjuna refused to participate in the war after seeing nearly all of his relatives and kins in the battlefield who appeared there as enemies of each other. Therefore, in the great debate against Krisna he raised the same moral arguments which were raised by Carvaka against Yudhisthira. However, those arguments refuted by Krisna through his Vedantist logics. It is not surprising that the idealists in our country always uphold Gita as their main canonical literature and sometime put much more importance on it than even the Vedas and today RSS led Saffron Fascists want it as the National Book, as Gita marked the triumph of idealism over materialism in our country. Carvaka, according to Debiprasad, raised the tribal morality against the immoral war cry of the Rajannyas (inspired by unethical Vedantist logics) and only for this reason he was killed.
We can remember that Engels pointed out same tribal morality in ancient societies on discussing mother-rights in his famous “Origin of Family, Private Property and the State”. In the Preface of 1891, citing the Greek mythology he wrote the following: “For the sake of her paramour, Aegisthus, Clytemnestra slays her husband, Agamemnon, on his return from the Trojan War; but Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and herself, avenges his father’s murder by slaying his mother. For this act he is persuaded by the Furies, the demonic guardians of mother-right, according to which matricide is the gravest and most inexpiable crime. But Apollo, who by the voice by his oracle had summoned Orestes to this deed, and Athena, who is called upon to give judgment — the deities who here represent the new patriarchal order — take Orestes under their protection; Athena hears both sides. The whole matter of the dispute is briefly summed up in the debate which now takes place between Orestes and the Furies. Orestes contends that that Clytemnestra has committed a double crime; she has slain her husband and thus she has also slain his father. Why should the Furies pursue him, and not her, seeing that she is by far the more guilty? The answer is striking: “She was not kin by blood to the man she slew.” The murder of a man not related by blood, even if be the husband of the murderess, is expiable and does not concern the Furies; their office is solely to punish murder between blood relations, and of such murders the most grave and the most inexpiable, according to mother-right, is matricide.”
Engels noticed that in the ancient society the question of mother-right was closely related with tribal morality. Debiprasad advanced this proposition into a new idea that mother-right, tribal morality and proto-materialism in ancient society were related to each other which cannot be described as unethical or immoral, He, therefore, correctly assumed that it was not at all the case that the Carvakas were busy in an immoral life with a philosophy of mere eat-drink-and-merry making. He said: “Carvaka, in this Mahabharata passage, did not say anything that may give us even a remote impression of the let-us-eat-and-drink-for-tomorrow-we-die view of life. On the other hand, if we are at all justified in speaking of any moral value underlying these words, it was distinctly tribal, of those that lived in kinship or gentile organization.”
Debiprasad put forward his counter-allegation that crude hedonism, on the contrary, was a part of Vedantist philosophy. At the verge of Kuruksetra war when Arjuna did not agree to enter the war Krisna presented a long philosophical speech which is known as Gita, where Krisna informed Arjuna: “You will attain heaven if you are killed in this battle, and, if you win it, you will enjoy this earth.” Then Debiprasad spoke: “This was quite outspoken. There was the prospect of pleasure in either alternative — pleasure on earth if you could kill your kins and pleasure in heaven if you are yourself killed. And this was probably the earliest expression of a real ethics of pleasure in the history of Indian philosophical thought. But the ethics of the Carvakas, at least judged on the basis of the Mahabharata-evidence, was an open protest against this. Could it, therefore, be that those who were accusing the Lokayatikas of a gross philosophy of pleasure were themselves subscribing to it, though surreptitiously.”
The third point which Debiprasad brought into a vehement debate with Madhavacharya is related to sexual practice. Madhava opined that the Carvaka theory is similar to indiscriminate indulgence in sexual practice, which almost landed on perversion. In the magnificent debate against Madhava on this point Debiprasad engaged in a long, complicated, technical but splendid discussion which is extremely rare in philosophical discussions at global level and can be considered as path-breaking in several aspects. He pointed out in the beginning of the debate that Carvaka philosophy could not be called as materialism for the same characteristics which marked a philosophy as materialism in present days. Carvaka philosophy had its own features which could actually signify it as proto-materialism. The main debate between this proto-materialism and idealism in ancient India revolved around the theory of origin of the universe, which is called as cosmogony.
The Vedic literatures put forward a particular idealist cosmogony which said that the universe was created by a supreme idea that generally denoted as Brahmo or Paramatma. The theory of Paramatma was called as Atmavada. The Carvakas, on the contrary, put forward an opposite theory which was called as Dehavada. In the debate on cosmogony the Carvakas presented a special kind of theory which said that the universe was formed as a result of sexual intercourse between the supreme male (Purusha) and the supreme female (Prakriti or nature). According to this theory, Deha, that is, the material human body was conceived as a microcosm of the universe itself. And it was formed by the unification of the Purusha and the Prakriti, just like it happens in our everyday life. What was the driving force behind this unification? Debiprasad showed convincingly that the ancient materialism of India clearly noted that the sexual urge was the driving force of this unification. In Gita, the Lokayata view of cosmogony was dealt elaborately where it was said that according to this theory the world originated from the union of the male and the female and that it could not have any other cause than kama or sexual urge (aparaspara sambhutam kim anyat kama haitukam).
However, Debiprasad did not depend on Gita solely. He proved from numerous other sources that the statement in Gita was not a distortion of the Lokayata cosmogony but an honest depiction of the same. Therefore, the sexual practice was an important feature of the praxis of the Lokayata view and centering on kama or sexual urge a special kind of ritual was developed. Here, Debiprasad entered in a magnificent and path-breaking discussion where he showed that according to the conventional wisdom rituals were always connected to the spiritual theology, but the fact was just the opposite. The ancient materialism in India also had its own rituals. And these rituals were known as vamacara or kamachara. The vamacara is usually known as ‘left hand practice’ which is some sort of obscure practice of the Tantrikas. However, Debiprasad argued that ‘vama’ did not mean as ‘left’ in this context. He said, “Vama meant the female and probably also the eros (kama); in the context of Tantrism it meant both.” The Lokayatikas had the same practice as their ritual. Describing the Lokayata view and Lokayata rituals Debiprasad put forward path-breaking discussions. He said: “In all probability, it was a body of beliefs and practices, deeply rooted in the lives of the masses and at the same time hostile to the Brahmanical doctrines. That the Lokayatikas were opposed to the Brahmanical rituals does not necessarily mean that they were opposed to rituals as such; the conflict could have been because they wanted to stick to their own rituals and these rituals were rooted in a set of beliefs with which orthodox Bahmanism was in direct conflict.”
The kamacara or vamacara which was widely described by the opponent philosophers of Lokayata as unrestricted promiscuity Debiprasad argued and convincingly established that it was a specific ritual of the Lokayatikas. Gunaratna, the Jain philosopher of thirteenth century wrote a commentary of Sat Darshana Samuccaya wrote by Haribhadrasuri of eighth century, where he said the following as stated by Professor Dasgupta: “Gunaratna, however, in his commentary on the Sat Darsana Samuccaya, speaks of the Carvaka as being a nihilistic sect who only eat but do not regard the existence of virtue and vice and do not trust anything else but what can be directly perceived. They drank wines and ate meat and were given to unrestricted sex-indulgence. Each year they gathered together on a particular day and had unrestricted intercourse with women. They behaved like common people and for this reason they were called lokayata.”
Debiprasad, however, magnificently took up the very quotation of Dasgupta describing the take of Gunaratna on Carvaka philosophy to show that the practice of vamacara was not at all unrestricted indulgence on sexual intercourse rather a specific ritual related to a specific cosmogony called dehabada. He argued, “The promiscuity of the Lokayatas referred to by Gunaratna suggests an interesting point. It could not have been a mere mark of moral depravity; for the depraved do not have to assign a special day of the year for such orgies. Therefore, the promiscuity had a ritual significance.”
Here, obviously two questions do arise. If the dehavada of Lokayata or Carvaka philosophy is same as the dehavada of Tantrika view then is there any relation between Lokayata and Tantrism in Indian philosophy? Secondly, the theory of Purusha and Prakriti can also be found in Samkhya philosophy which is considered as one of the Vedic philosophies in India. Then, is there any connection among Lokayata, Tantra and Samkhya? Debiprasad investigated these questions and answered affirmatively. This is undoubtedly a splendid discovery in the philosophical discourse and we should be proud for a Marxist philosopher like Debiprasad made this advancement in the theoretical battle against idealism in India. He showed that the original Samkhya had no connection with the Vedas; rather it was developed independently of the Vedas as an opposite view. The Vedantists distorted the revolutionary spirit of the philosophy and made a widespread propaganda that it had originated from the Vedas.
Similar incidents took place in the case of Tantrism. Debiprasad wrote, “…..persistent efforts were made in these treatises to bring Tantrism on theistic lines and spiritualistic ideas were continually superimposed on it. This resulted in the so-called schools of Tantrism, — the Buddhist Tantrism and the Hindu Tantrism, the latter subdivided again into Vaisnava Tantrism and Sakta Tantrism. Tantrism, however, was much older than all these — older in fact than the origin of the spiritualistic ideas in general.” We shall discuss on the presentation of Debiprasad regarding the relation among Lokayata, Tantrism and the Original Samkhya in the following chapter.
However, the most striking development Debiprasad made in his “Lokayata” and a new horizon of thought opened up when he discussed the Asura-view and asserted the ancient materialism of Vedic India had a close connection with the Indus Valley Civilization. This is really a remarkable advancement. Let us quote a small passage from Debiprasad where he quoted Sayana: “On the top of Mount Meru’, said Sayana, ‘lies the city of Amaravati, wherein the gods dwell; and beneath Meru lies Iravati, the city of the asuras.’ It may be difficult to trace the tradition upon which Sayana was dwelling here; but the connection of the asuras with Iravati, as suggested by Sayana, cannot be looked upon lightly. For the archaeologist’s spade has really unearthed the ruins of an ancient city by the bank of Iravati, which on the evidence of the Rig Veda, we are strongly inclined to look as the city of asuras. This city is known to us as Harappa.”
We will discuss this remarkable observation made by Debiprasad in Chapter II: Further Studies in the Indian Materialism.
(To be concluded) n
India’s overall socio-economic collapse under the corporate-saffron fascist regime which among other things include the extreme deprivation of the vast majority of the oppressed and toiling masses is so deep rooted that cannot be resolved through a mere regime change. Mainstream discussion in the midst of the campaign on 17thLokSabhaelection that flourish in corporate media is least interested to go into the deep in addressing this grave question. At this critical juncture, while the BJP manifesto is nothing more than a corporate-saffron statement, unlike in the past, the manifesto of Congress, the other major Indian ruling class party, has given much importance for uplifting the people mainly from their pitiable economic condition. In drafting such a manifesto with a human face, the Congress is reported to have also drawn inspiration from the ideas of a wide array of liberal critics of crony capitalism ranging from Nobel price-winning economist Thomas Picketty to former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan. In this context, this note is an examination of the feasibility of implementing such a populist policy as elucidated by Congress in its manifesto under the existing neoliberal scheme regarding which the Congress has not made any re-examination till now.
Among other things, the Congress and its supremo Rahul Gandhi have come out with a series of employment generation programs, minimum guaranteed income to those below poverty line, increased social welfare spending, etc. For instance, it promises the filling up of 4 lakh vacancies in central govt. departments without any delay. Given the average government expenditure per new employee at about Rs. 600000, this alone requires a minimum allocation of Rs. 24000 crore every year by the central govt. And if the Congress manages to constitute a govt. at the centre, it would also insist the state govts.for filling the 20 lakh posts that remain vacant at the level of states which requires another outlay of more than one lakh crore every year by state govts.
No doubt, the ‘star’ promise made by Rahul Gandhi and the hallmark of Congress manifesto this time is that of a Minimum Guaranteed Income (NYAY)of Rs. 72000 per annum to 5 crore poor families encompassing around 25 crore people. For implementing this, an allocation of Rs. 3.6 lakh crore is needed in the central budget every year. Of course, the idea of a minimum guaranteed income is not at all a novel one. It belongs to the reformist and philanthropic tradition in bourgeois policy making aimed at camouflaging or diverting attention away from the plunder by rapacious capital. When the consuming power of the vast majority on account of the private nature of accumulation is going down and economy is collapsing due to insufficient demand, prudent bourgeois leaders in the past had put forward such initiatives. In fact, the post-war Keynesian welfare state that necessitated a leading role of the state in the capitalist economy had been an enlarged version of this guaranteed minimum income. Even after the abandoning of welfare state since the seventies, several bourgeois pundits have been suggesting a “guaranteed annual income” for maintaining people’s purchasing power at the desired level. But such views became redundant with the rapid spread of neo-conservative neoliberal policies at a global level.
For instance, following Rahul Gandhi’s announcement of the NYAY scheme along with his proposal for removing GST , neoliberal intellectuals and corporate centres started vehemently opposing it (For instance, see, T S Ramakrishnan, “Congress Manifesto: Absolute Profligacy”, The New Sunday Express, 07/04/2019) and characterised the Congress manifesto as “profligate populism” resulting in what they call a “deadweight for the economy”. According to them, the NYAY project alone that requires at least 13 percent of the budget outlay will lead to a violation of the mandatory deficit limits as stipulated by the FRBM Act of 2003 enacted by the Vajpayee govt. at the behest of IMF. According to neoliberal experts, it will also result in no-confidence among international investors for investing money and starting new projects. And the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has strongly criticised Rahul Gandhi for his populist statement on GST. Stock-market speculators and their ideologues have even characterised Congress manifesto a “mirage” as, according to them, every social spending by govts. today has to be in conformity with the fiscal and revenue deficit limits set by the Bretton Woods institutions.
Given this situation, if Congress is serious about its manifesto unlike Modi’s most deceptive and malicious election hoaxes in 2014 such as putting Rs. 15 lakh in the account of every Indians within 100 days of his ascendancy to power, then it has to clearly sort out an appropriate resource mobilisation strategy which is sufficient enough to ensure the required funds for the promised welfare schemes. Otherwise, Congress’s populist promises will also settle down as another election stunt. This requires at least a restriction on the fabulous wealth flows to the speculative, superrich and billionaire sections together with a reversal of the innumerable tax exemptions enjoyed by them over the past several years.
For instance, the budgetary policies of UPA and NDA governments have on an average been granting annual corporate tax exemptions of Rs. 4 lakh crore and Rs. 6 lakh crore respectively, even as top one percent of the same class is currently grabbing 73 percent of the wealth generated in India. And the top 10 corporate giants led by Ambani, Essar, Adani, etc., have in the guise of “non-performing assets” (NPAs) have gobbled up more than 90 percent ofthe 15 lakh crore money from public sector banks. Today, Modi’s ultra-rightist, pro-corporate policies are channelling Rs. 2200 crores per day in to the coffers of 9 biggest speculative billionaires in India. The role of the Indian state under Modi is just to act as a ‘facilitator’ of this corporate loot by the most parasitic money-spinning class in India. Since these billionaires are mainly operating at the sphere of financial speculation in financial and stock markets sucking out wealth from the productive economy through various channels, their wealth accumulation is constantly leading to horrific levels of joblessness in the country.
The upshot of the argument is that abolition of erstwhile Nehruvian restraints to corporate speculators and the consequent fabulous wealth accumulation by them are directly leading to unemployment, price rise and economic deprivation of the broad masses of working people. In an atmosphere of diluted labour laws and deregulated tax and environmental laws, corporate plunderers are appropriating the material conditions of people’s existence and squeezing the productive spheres such as agriculture and industry. In this context, the very sustenance of people becomes all the more difficult as the govt. drastically reduces subsidies and social spending according to neoliberal diktats. Therefore, any proposal to improve the living conditions of the people shall invariably be directed against the unprecedented wealth concentration in the hands of a few financial-corporate elite and against the methods of accumulation pursued by them including the speculation indulged by them in stock, real estate and commodity markets. Only such an intervention can reverse the undercurrents of economic slow-down, agricultural retrogression, de-industrialisation, joblessness, price rise and gruesome corruption.
Viewed from this perspective, the essential resource mobilisation needed for the provision of a minimum guaranteed income to the citizens which may be characterised as reformist is not at all a herculean task. What requires is a restructuring of the existing pro-corporate and pro-rich tax rates. For instance, as noted earlier, one of the sources of huge wealth accumulation by the Indian financial elite during the preceding quarter century of neoliberal globalisation has been unhindered speculation in stock markets. Even a large part of the money with banks and financial institutions, a share of which were formerly available to the so called ‘priority sectors’, started flowing to balloon speculation in stock markets with the initiation of financial sector liberalisation by Manmohan Singh in the early 1990s. As a consequence, the average daily trading on Mumbai Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange today has crossed Rs. 40000 crore or Rs. 14600000 crore per year. But today under pressure from foreign and Indian corporate speculators, no tax is imposed on this turnover in stock exchanges. A minimum 5 percent tax on stock trading alone can yield an annual resource mobilisation worth Rs. 7.3 lakh crore, more than double the amount required for implementing Rahul’s NYAY.
Along with this, a concerted effort is needed to overhaul the inherently regressive nature of Indian tax structure. While capitalist countries collect up to 40 percent of their GDP as the tax revenue, India has one of the lowest direct tax rates and highest indirect tax (GST) rates in the world and the tax-GDP ratio hovers around 15 percent. While the highest nominal corporate tax rate in India is 30 percent, the effective corporate tax rate on account of a host of tax exemptions is as low as 16 percent. Moreover, while direct-indirect tax ratio in capitalist countries is around 65:35, it is the reverse in India indicating the extent of tax burden borne by the common people on the one hand, and loss of revenue to the government on the other.
India which is among the most unequal countries in the world, there is immense scope for increasing direct tax (taxes on income, profits, capital gains, wealth and other assets)collection mainly through raising corporate-income taxes without affecting the common people. While vast majority of the common people whose entire income is spent on necessaries and essential services bear the burden of indirect taxes, the rich sections notorious for their conspicuous and luxurious consumption bear relatively negligible burden of the indirect taxes. It is high time that the taxes on necessaries, mass consumption goods and essential services are abolished and that on luxuries are increased. More than two decades of neoliberal globalisation in India have led to multi-fold galloping in the luxurious consumption of the rich. Deluxe items like private jets, imported luxury cars, yachts, entertainment gadgets, home furnishings and similar other extravagances are inexhaustible source of tax revenue to the govt. These are avenues for a prudent pro-people regime to appropriately intervene in the emerging consumption trend in the economy in a progressive manner. But the corporate-saffron regime or previous regimes for obvious reasons have been incapable to shoulder this pro-people task.
Obviously, under neo-liberalism, a people-oriented, active state-intervention is legally banned as per super-imposed IMF-World Bank diktats. For instance, the entire tax-expenditure policies of the central and state governments in India are now formulated in accordance with the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act enacted by the Vajpayee govt. in 2003 at the behest of IMF as a stepping stone towards the ‘second generation of globalisation’ in India. According to this Act the state is bound to drastically downsize itself by reducing public expenditures and pursuing a ‘pro-investor’ tax regime and transform into a corporate facilitator through market-fundamentalist policies by achieving a higher rank in what World Bank calls ‘ease of doing business index’.
In such a scenario, even a ‘philanthropic program’ as minimum guaranteed income is a wishful thinking since the elected govt. is forbidden to seek a pro-people tax-expenditure policy. In a country like India which has the highest levels of malnutrition, hunger, illiteracy, morbidity, infant mortality, etc. in the world, the neoliberal prescription is to leave everything to the whims of private corporate sector and market fundamentalist forces. Let us once more take a simple illustration. According to a recent report by the US based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), today India has only one govt. doctor for every 10189 people while the WHO recommended ratio is 1:1000. This implies a deficit of 600000 doctors, while the deficit of nurses is 2000000. To rectify this alone requires an annual investment of around Rs. 2 lakh crore. These and other pro-people tasks cannot be left to the private sector and need to be resolved through a pro-active role of the state in the economy. This invariably calls for a repudiation of the philosophy and framework of neo-liberalism itself.
Therefore, those parties which promise an improvement in the material conditions and standard of living of the working class, peasants and the oppressed even while remaining as adherents of neo-liberalism are engaged in hoodwinking the people. Their rhetoric is only another election stunt. Under neoliberal corporatisation where the top-most companies after dissociating from employment-oriented productive activities are engaged in parasitism, speculation and ballooning the bubble economy, without imposing firm restrictions on them, there is little scope for a genuine pro-people program.
On an average, only 10 percent of the billionaire class today is associated with job-generating manufacturing. The remaining 90 percent of the super-rich is remaining as a stumbling block against any advancement of humankind in the progressive-democratic direction. As long this crony capitalists using the neoliberal state apparatus is dictating policies, all those much trumpeted development programs oriented to boosting so called ‘investor confidence’ are leading to accelerated transfer of wealth in to coffers of the financial elite. Unlike the erstwhile Nehruvian model which was the Indian edition of welfare capitalism, it has been the shift in economic policy to neo-liberalism that led to the most naked plunder of people and nature. To facilitate this loot, the leading corporate class is relieved of all governmental controls and regulations, and that is the immediate cause for the unprecedented deprivation of the broad masses of people today.
Hence, any promise of a guaranteed minimum income or minimum standard of living for the people without a program for reversing the neoliberal trend will be added insult to the people and more damaging. n
When the dates of the elections to the 17th Lok Sabha was coming nearer it became clear for the RSS think tanks that even the best possible narrative about five years’ achievements of the Modi government is not going to help it to win again. It was then Pulwama happened, followed by Balakot air strike inside Pakistan. A new narrative was soon put forward and widely marketed with national security and Modi’s sena like utterances. But, after the first phase of elections before which burning problems of the masses like unemployment, farmers’ suicides became so strident that they started influencing the voters, there was re-thinking about effectiveness of continuing this narrative. So, more blatant selected use of ED and Income Department like institutions intimidating the opposition leaders started.
Along with this more naked saffronization measures were resorted to. After threatening all opponents against even mentioning Hindu terror, Modi asserting in his Wardha speech that Hindus can never become terrorists and to say so is an insult to the Hindus, ground was prepared to foist the latest, worst symbol of it, the accused in the Malegaon terror attack, Pragya Singh Thakur is fielded at Bhopal as BJP candidate. Thus the barbarous history of RSS terror is white washed! The sickening history of 1947 ethnic cleansing by RSS cadres of up to 100,000 Muslims in Jammu just two weeks before control of the region was ceded to the newly-formed Republic of India, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi followed by dozens of communal riots, the Babri Masjid demolition, the Mumbai Riots, the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, Samjhauta Express-Ajmer Darga-Mecca Masjid-Malegaon blasts, the 2008 church attacks, assassinations such as that of Pastor Graham Staines and the recent cold-blooded murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Phansare, M.M. Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh, Mohammed Akhlaq, Ghulam Mohammed, Azhar Khan, Pehlu Khan, Zainul Ansari..... all glorified at one stroke Everything. n