Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Market Decline Will Lead To Pension Collapse, USD Devaluation, And NWO - Raymond_Matison
2.Uber’s Nightmare Has Just Started - Stephen_McBride
3.Stock Market Crash Black Swan Event Set Up Sept 12th? - Brad_Gudgeon
4.GDow Stock Market Trend Forecast Update - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Significant Correction Has Started - Clive_Maund
6.British Pound GBP vs Brexit Chaos Timeline - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Cameco Crash, Uranium Sector Won’t Catch a break - Richard_Mills
8.Recession 2020 Forecast : The New Risks & New Profits Of A Grand Experiment - Dan_Amerman
9.Gold When Global Insanity Prevails - Michael Ballanger
10.UK General Election Forecast 2019 - Betting Market Odds - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
UK General Election 2019 Final Seats Per Party Forecast - 12th Dec 19
What UK CPI, RPI INFLATION Forecasts for General Election Result 2019 - 11th Dec 19
Gold ETF Holdings Surge… But Do They Actually Hold Gold? - 11th Dec 19
Gold, Silver Reversals, Lower Prices and Our Precious Profits - 11th Dec 19
Opinion Pollsters, YouGov MRP General Election 2019 Result Seats Forecast - 11th Dec 19
UK General Election Tory and Labour Marginal Seats Analysis, Implied Forecast 2019 - 11th Dec 19
UK General Election 2019 - Tory Seats Forecast Based on GDP Growth - 11th Dec 19
YouGov's MRP Poll Final Tory Seats Forecast Revised Down From 359 to 338, Possibly Lower? - 10th Dec 19
What UK Economy (Average Earnings) Predicts for General Election Results 2019 - 10th Dec 19
Labour vs Tory Manifesto's UK General Election Parliamentary Seats Forecast 2019 - 10th Dec 19
Lumber is about to rally and how to play it with this ETF - 10th Dec 19
Social Mood and Leaders Impact on General Election Forecast 2019 - 9th Dec 19
Long-term Potential for Gold Remains Strong! - 9th Dec 19
Stock and Financial Markets Review - 9th Dec 19
Labour / Tory Manifesto's Impact on UK General Election Seats Forecast 2019 - 9th Dec 19
Tory Seats Forecast 2019 General Election Based on UK House Prices Momentum Analysis - 9th Dec 19
Top Tory Marginal Seats at Risk of Loss to Labour and Lib Dems - Election 2019 - 9th Dec 19
UK House Prices Momentum Tory Seats Forecast General Election 2019 - 8th Dec 19
Why Labour is Set to Lose Sheffield Seats at General Election 2019 - 8th Dec 19
Gold and Silver Opportunity Here Is As Good As It Gets - 8th Dec 19
High Yield Bond and Transports Signal Gold Buy Signal - 8th Dec 19
Gold & Silver Stocks Belie CoT Caution - 8th Dec 19
Will Labour Government Spending Bankrupt Britain? UK Debt and Deficits - 7th Dec 19
Lib Dem Fake Tory Election Leaflets - Sheffield Hallam General Election 2019 - 7th Dec 19
You Should Be Buying Gold Stocks Now - 6th Dec 19
The End of Apple Has Begun - 6th Dec 19
How Much Crude Oil Do You Unknowingly Eat? - 6th Dec 19
Labour vs Tory Manifesto Voter Bribes Impact on UK General Election Forecast - 6th Dec 19
Gold Price Forecast – Has the Recovery Finished? - 6th Dec 19
Precious Metals Ratio Charts - 6th Dec 19
Climate Emergency vs Labour Tree Felling Councils Reality - Sheffield General Election 2019 - 6th Dec 19
What Fake UK Unemployment Statistics Predict for General Election Result 2019 - 6th Dec 19
What UK CPI, RPI and REAL INFLATION Predict for General Election Result 2019 - 5th Dec 19
Supply Crunch Coming as Silver Miners Scale Back - 5th Dec 19
Gold Will Not Surpass Its 1980 Peak - 5th Dec 19
UK House Prices Most Accurate Predictor of UK General Elections - 2019 - 5th Dec 19
7 Year Cycles Can Be Powerful And Gold Just Started One - 5th Dec 19
Lib Dems Winning Election Leaflets War Against Labour - Sheffield Hallam 2019 - 5th Dec 19
Do you like to venture out? Test yourself and see what we propose for you - 5th Dec 19
Great Ways To Make Money Over Time - 5th Dec 19
Calculating Your Personal Cost If Stock, Bond and House Prices Return To Average - 4th Dec 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

UK General Election Forecast 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