Friday, May 16, 2014

What Now for India?

I was dead wrong about the outcome of the elections, but not in my trepidation about what is happening in India.

A great flood of money has washed through our electoral system, empowering forces that are rooted in the divisive communal politics the British introduced during the colonial rule and have fostered through proxies since independence.

Where that money has come from and what it will require the new government to do should be of acute concern to Indians.

All indicators signal that we are headed for a period of undisguised crony capitalism that will see foreign interests in the driving seat, acting through major Indian corporations.

Those alliances are by no means secret, and some are notorious, especially RIL's hookup with BP that has given the most predatory of the energy majors a role in the pricing of our sovereign natural gas resources.

The association of the TATAs with British interests dates back to the opium trade era of colonial rule, and its diversification in recent decades seems to have included, most obviously in the controversy over the allocation of 2-G spectrum licenses, a shadowy role in launching the corruption scandals that tarred the UPA government in its final years.   

The Ruia Brothers of ESSAR and the Vedanta-Cairn India combine also have an earned notoriety.

Beyond the interests of these usual suspects, we can definitely expect the new government to push for foreign/private investment in the Defense Sector, and the forging of an Indian "military-industrial complex."

Such a combination of forces first emerged in the United States after WW-II, and during the Cold War it spread to all major industrial countries, including supposedly "Socialist" countries.

Once created, the arrangement has proved impervious to democratic control, for it thrives on creating and manipulating violent international confrontations, using intelligence agencies subverted from their legitimate roles. "National security" is used to trump all efforts at democratic control. 
On the social front, we can expect to see big business profit from an unprecedented alienation of land from small farmers and inattention to environmental concerns.

The outlook overall is thus grim indeed for India, unless by some miracle Narendra Modi in power jettisons those who financed his rise and implements a truly democratic and indigenous agenda

The Congress in Opposition

The prospect described above offers the decimated Indian National Congress a golden opportunity to rebuild itself as a broad-based representative of national interests.

If a BJP government follows the negative trajectory described above, it will have to step rough-shod over the interests of millions of Indians, especially small farmers and the economically powerless. It will have to misuse the intelligence and police services.

If the Congress sets out to give a voice to those injured by such policies, it can expect to reap a rich dividend at the next general elections.

To do that, it will have to organize a national network to report on what is happening, and perhaps start its own media organizations to provide fair coverage.

At the very least it should have a website to publicize what is happening in the country.

Intelligent use of social media -- which it seems to have not done at all this time around -- should help the rebuilding process.

The Long View

In the long view of history, the particulars of who, what and why of this election are likely to disappear in the face of one overwhelming fact: a single political party has once again become the representative of the nation as a whole. 

The fact that regional caste-based politics have been shown the door is a major positive development. 

The end of the myth about a "Muslim vote bank" is also something to applaud. 

Perhaps that will begin the process of bringing to an end the regressive idea that religion can be the basis for electoral politics, allowing organizations such as the RSS to reinvent themselves and become truly national in identity and purpose.


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