Education, Cheap Food, Labour Vital
DON’T BE SLAVE OF WEST EXPLOITATION
By Shivaji Sarkar
New Delhi, January 06, 2011
Yet another New Year has dawned. Would it be a happy one?
Nobody can predict. As for the last many years, which began
with hope ended in despair by the year-end. It is the same
every year --- investment, foreign direct investment, FII
pouring in and fast repatriation --- flying away with profits.
Certainly there is something eerie about it.
Sadly, we don’t change the prescription. The big corporates
and rich individuals flourish. The marginalised get further
marginalised. International bodies lament the trend but in
actuality aid the process. It suits them. As more
marginalisation of the poor means more profits. Growth has
become synonymous with growing disparity and less disposable
income with a larger number of people.
True, exploitation is a bad word but that is what the new
world economics, including Manmohanonics signify. The concept
of growth is based on disposing off human labour. The profit
theory is founded not on the concept of sharing wealth but by
amassing of it by the few seemingly sophisticated but ruthless
management-culture-oriented persons. A statement by a corrupt
MP summarises it. Said he, “Paisa bhagwan to nahi par bhagwan
se kam bhi nahin” (Money is not god but it’s not less than
In this pursuit of “God”, the mighty forget about the lesser
God on whose blood and toil they are thriving. This lesser
God, the common man, is deprived of his livelihood for “GDP
growth”. He is asked to have less for his labour, in the name
of labour reforms, made to pay high prices for all that he
needs food, clothing, shelter or loan.
The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia
has the audacity to blame this poor man’s “increase in
disposable income (spare money)” for the rising prices. He
does not know that someone who does not have an income could
not have spare money. The income of the small number of
salaried class has also eroded under a compound inflation of
over 15 per cent (calculated modestly) a year since the May
2009 Lok Sabha elections. But Ahluwalia sitting in his ivory
tower is not supposed to know that.
The appointees of the IMF in key policy making bodies have
turned high-profit-oriented money making enterprises as models
for growth. If the socialistic model of abhorring profit was
an extreme, the neo-economic model of worshipping it is yet
It is not a dichotomy to see that as corporate profit
increases – their balance sheets and Reserve Bank analysis
testify --- more and more people are put out of jobs. It is
happening in thriving industries. Do we need any more reforms
in the labour sector?
It is time to call for a check on the level of profits. The
biggest consumer goods company Hindustan Unilever has had an
average profit of over 30 per cent during the past many years.
It has been eluding competition by buying up its rivals. Like
the US, India does not have an anti-trust law. The competition
law is more a showpiece and MRTPC has been rendered useless.
The poor is not the concern of the corporate. The Government
has to fend for them.
Undoubtedly, Government programmes have many things for the
poor – from Rs 2 rice or wheat to 100 days of guaranteed work
assurance under the MNREGA. It sounds good. Rarely the
pitfalls, siphoning of cheap food grain to corruption in
MNREGA, allow the poor to reap the benefit of the programmes
in most States.
This is in contrast to what the Indian “bania” used to do.
Somewhere they do it still. Charity has been part of their
business practice. It is called “dharmada’. They used to
donate 1.5 per cent of their income to it. In many places,
free schools, dispensaries, hospitals, orphanages and shelters
were run by dharmada. It has been more effective than what
corporate social responsibility (CSR) is supposed to be. The
CSR either is not there or if at all it is used as propaganda
to bolster the corporate image and evade taxes.
Corporates do not like charity the way the desi baniya has
been doing. It is not on radar of the IMF-World Bank economy.
Though charity contributes to welfare of the poor, in modern
economics it is considered a burden, a reduction of profit.
The modern economic concept is based on the concept that one
is not supposed to get something if he cannot pay. Charity is
just opposed to it and based on the concept of empowering one
who can’t do it himself.
This is how education is being made so expensive that a
generation is going under the debt trap. Till the early 1980s
investment by the bania and the concept that education has to
be provided as a “gift”--- vidyadaan --- created the capable
Indian seen in prime positions the world. Today this has been
replaced with the idea that if one paisa is invested then one
must get back ten paise.
It has made education unaffordable even by the many so-called
middle class people. Profit-orientation that was anathema to
Government institutions has become their policy as well. They
have also reduced scholarships and free education. Lakhs of
students find it difficult to continue with their courses and
Are we waiting for a recent UK-type agitation against
expensive education? India needs to understand that easy
affordable education has led the country on the growth path.
There would have been no Manmohan Singh, Prashant Mohalanabis,
APJ Abdul Kalam nor RA Mashelkar had there not been the system
of affordable education in the country. Why is this nation
trying to compromise on this USP?
Agriculture still employs over 55 per cent people (almost 60
crore). It is one of the robust sectors. But for the sake of
making ways for corporate entry, the entire sector is being
rendered sick. Our farmers are indeed capable provided they
are supported adequately to make the country food sufficient.
The Government policies are preventing it. A re-look at the
farm policy to create a resurgent India without interference
of the corporate is needed.
The New Year calls for a new orientation to create an economy
that is based on sound political concept that supports the
poor, workers, agriculture, education, keeps the corporate on
leash and checks rising prices. The nation needs to globalise
on its terms as China is doing. It need not be slave to
western exploitative concepts. ---- INFA
(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)