Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
UKIP No Longer About BrExit, Becomes BNP 2.0, Muslim Hate Party - 21st Mar 19
A Message to the Gold Bulls: Relying on the CoT Gives You A False Sense of Security - 20th Mar 19
The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal - 20th Mar 19
Vietnam, Part I: Colonialism and National Liberation - 20th Mar 19
Will the Fed Cut its Interest Rate Forecast, Pushing Gold Higher? - 20th Mar 19
Dow Jones Stock Market Topping Pattern - 20th Mar 19
Gold Stocks Outperform Gold but Not Stocks - 20th Mar 19
Here’s What You’re Not Hearing About the US - China Trade War - 20th Mar 19
US Overdosing on Debt - 19th Mar 19
Looking at the Economic Winter Season Ahead - 19th Mar 19
Will the Stock Market Crash Like 1937? - 19th Mar 19
Stock Market VIX Volaility Analysis - 19th Mar 19
FREE Access to Stock and Finanacial Markets Trading Analysis Worth $1229! - 19th Mar 19
US Stock Markets Price Anomaly Setup Continues - 19th Mar 19
Gold Price Confirmation of the Warning - 18th Mar 19
Split Stock Market Warning - 18th Mar 19
Stock Market Trend Analysis 2019 - Video - 18th Mar 19
Best Precious Metals Investment and Trades for 2019 - 18th Mar 19
Hurdles for Gold Stocks - 18th Mar 19
Pento: Coming QE & Low Rates Will Be ‘Rocket Fuel for Gold’ - 18th Mar 19
"This is for Tommy Robinson" Shouts Knife Wielding White Supremacist Terrorist in London - 18th Mar 19
This Is How You Create the Biggest Credit Bubble in History - 17th Mar 19
Crude Oil Bulls - For Whom the Bell Tolls - 17th Mar 19
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 17th Mar 19
Why Buy a Land Rover - Range Rover vs Huge Tree Branch Falling on its Roof - 17th Mar 19
UKIP Urged to Change Name to BNP 2.0 So BrExit Party Can Fight a 2nd EU Referendum - 17th Mar 19
Tommy Robinson Looks Set to Become New UKIP Leader - 16th Mar 19
Gold Final Warning: Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - 16th Mar 19
Towards the End of a Stocks Bull Market, Short term Timing Becomes Difficult - 16th Mar 19
UKIP Brexit Facebook Groups Reveling in the New Zealand Terror Attacks Blaming Muslim Victims - 16th Mar 19
Gold – US Dollar vs US Dollar Index - 16th Mar 19
Islamophobic Hate Preachers Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins have Killed UKIP and Brexit - 16th Mar 19
Countdown to The Precious Metals Gold and Silver Breakout Rally - 15th Mar 19
Shale Oil Splutters: Brent on Track for $70 Target $100 in 2020 - 15th Mar 19
Setting up a Business Just Got Easier - 15th Mar 19
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis Trend Forercast - Video - 15th Mar 19
Gold Warning - Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - Part 1 - 15th Mar 19
UK Weather SHOCK - Trees Dropping Branches onto Cars in Stormy Winds - Sheffield - 15th Mar 19
Best Time to Trade Forex - 15th Mar 19
Why the Green New Deal Will Send Uranium Price Through the Roof - 14th Mar 19
S&P 500's New Medium-Term High, but Will Stock Market Uptrend Continue? - 14th Mar 19
US Conservatism - 14th Mar 19
Gold in the Age of High-speed Electronic Trading - 14th Mar 19
Britain's Demographic Time Bomb Has Gone Off! - 14th Mar 19
Why Walmart Will Crush Amazon - 14th Mar 19
2019 Economic Predictions - 14th Mar 19
Tax Avoidance Bills Sent to Thousands of Workers - 14th Mar 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast March to September 2019

India, the Reality of Mass Poverty and Social Exclusion

Politics / India Apr 26, 2009 - 01:39 AM GMT

By: Global_Research

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleProf. Ananya Mukherjee Reed writes: “How is India?” asked an erudite friend of mine from North America soon after I reached India last December.


How indeed? I write this piece this week as India goes to the polls: a mammoth process involving 714 million voters is about to unfold over the next one month. The polity looks fractured as never before. Each state – and India has 35 of them – has its own political dynamic shaped by a complex gamut of regional political parties. Relentless opportunism and political ambition, bolstered often by massive private wealth appears to have given rise to a multiplicity of candidates and parties who are able to cull a platform sometimes out of thin air, or even worse, by fuelling caste or ethnic conflict or abusing divisive ‘local’ issues. So deep is the fracture this time, that it looks like 543 discrete elections are being held for the 543 parliamentary seats. No party is able to shape or capture the national imagination, as it were.

Underneath this fractured polity, lies of course, a deeply exclusionary and unequal material reality. Some 200 million are chronically hungry, more than 90 percent of the workforce have no option but informal work with abysmal wages and no security; 80 percent live under $2 a day; 70 percent depend on agriculture for their livelihood; 182,936 farmers have committed suicide; and so on.

The global meltdown has brought yet another level of decimation for the ordinary people. It is estimated that at least half a million jobs have been lost in the export sectors, where barring the IT sector, those affected are informal wage workers, primarily migrants who are forced to return home as they are retrenched. There is little by way of employment opportunity there and entire families are in acute distress due to the sudden end to their remittance incomes. A secondary and more insidious effect is perhaps the fear such retrenchment generates amongst workers who are somehow able to retain their jobs. If migrant workers come from homes where opportunities are decimated and other family members are returning home as they are retrenched, they are very likely to work under conditions they otherwise would not. The fear of retrenchment is a disciplinary mechanism par excellence. Industry leaders thus routinely call for greater labour market flexibility, citing the fact that competition from countries such as Bangladesh – based on low labour costs – are hurting profitability of Indian exports.

Under these circumstances, a fractured polity plays a highly contradictory role. On the one hand, it helps resist the tyranny of a ‘center.’ It can provide the autonomy that a state or local government might require if it wishes to experiment with alternatives (this has been the case of Kerala, the state with the best development record). On the other hand, it vastly reduces the possibility of constructing resistance to problematic policy frameworks on a scale that can actually shift the direction of things. This happens via two causal mechanisms: first, that the fracture hides the constellations of power; and second, it vastly diminishes the possibilities of solidarity.

First about power. There are many dimensions of power – and many constellations that we can speak of. But given the election season, let me take one here: the dimension of private wealth and the manner in which it is facilitating access to political office.

Millionaire Candidates

National Election Watch, a civil society watchdog doing exemplary work on the elections, has released a report which analyses the criminal records, financial assets and educational background of all candidates. Most still refuse to declare their wealth, but even declared wealth has grown by 400 per cent since 2002. According to National Election Watch report, in Karnataka, the state which is home to India’s Silicon Valley, one out of every four contestants is a multi-millionaire. In Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, about 12 percent are multi-millionaires. Seven multi-millionaires are contesting from one the poorest regions in the country in the state of Orissa (a region known historically for the incidence of famine and starvation deaths).

Quite apart from these multi-millionaires, a number of wealthy business professionals have joined the fray as independent candidates. Their mission, as they proclaim, is to “clean politics.” While the political fate is not expected to shine too much in the current elections, they are playing an important role in numbing any possible critique of corporate power. Indeed, the idea that ‘politics’ is unrelated to ‘business’ and vice-versa and that business has the tools and the ethos to solve major social problems has been a critical element of the normative order of neoliberalism, in India and worldwide.

The material reality accompanying this normative order is quite extraordinary. The wealth of 40 richest Indians have come to equal about 30 percent of its trillion-dollar GDP. Of the 47 Indian companies that have made it to the Forbes List of the Global 2000 this year, the sales of each of the top two equal the GDP of India’s poorest 12 states taken together. In a list of the top 50 economic entities in India – comprising of Indian states and Indian corporations – 28 are corporations. Reliance Industries, the corporation that tops the list, has an annual revenue that exceeds the gross domestic product of Kerala by about $2-billion.

The fracturing of the polity not only obscures these constellations of power, but also diminishes the possibility of solidarity and the construction of alternatives.

Consider for example, the resistance to Special Economic Zones (SEZs) or more generally, the resistance to industrialization which displaces small peasants without compensating them adequately or without their consent. In the state of West Bengal, which has been ruled by a Left government since 1977, this conflict came to a head over two projects. The Left Front government actively solicited these projects. Thereafter, it was found deficient in the way it planned these projects, – and worse, took recourse to violence when faced with resistance. It is likely that the Left is going to be punished for this failure of governance in the current elections, as it should be, if electoral politics is to have any substance.

But this is only half the story. What is likely to replace the Left, or dent its prowess, is not a progressive pro-people political configuration – but a constellation of opportunists of various shades. The latter has no agenda for growth or development, industrial or otherwise. The irony in these events is worth noting. While particular factors in West Bengal brought the SEZ/industrialization issue to such a head, the resistance to SEZ did not occur in West Bengal alone. The demand for appropriate designed and democratically governed models of industrialization was voiced by many different communities across India. This was not an opposition to one or two isolated projects, but a more fundamental opposition to the false choice between displacement on the one hand and absence of livelihood opportunities on the other. The deep fracturing of politics is systematically marginalizing precisely such issues, and in doing so is very effectively pre-empting solidarity. Indeed, solidarity has been critical in the recent successes in engendering change, such as the Right to Food movement, the Right to Information movement, the movement for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, etc.

So how is India? Fractured, harassed, trapped within a series of power games orchestrated by its elite? Though poignant and cinematic and Oscar-savvy, this Slumdog narrative is not entirely representative of India. By and large, people continue to struggle, negotiate and survive as best as they can, often winning victories that defy textbook understandings of agency or politics.

As voters, the average Indian remains incredibly astute. As the last elections showed us, all political calculations of an overconfident anti-poor government were revealed to be entirely incorrect, causing them electoral losses they had not imagined. Last week in Hyderabad, India’s hi-tech city, a young man who drives taxis for a living gave me a brilliant analysis. I asked him what according to him “India” is. Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “India is that place where the common man is perpetually looking for justice. There is no justice here, no justice at all.” •

Ananya Mukherjee Reed teaches development studies at York University, Toronto.

 Global Research Articles by Ananya Mukherjee Reed

© Copyright Prof. Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Global Research, 2009

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules