By Binoy Viswam
When the prime minister came out with the much-awaited package to fight the pandemic, certain enthusiasts of the Sangh ideology were fascinated. For them the most attractive element was his proclamation of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. They even went to the extent of believing that now India would take her U-turn and tread the path of self-reliance. The unjustified dependence on foreign capital would come to an end, some of them dreamt! The propaganda hype constructed around Atmanirbhar Bharat was of course short-lived. The post truth dissection of the 20 lakh crore package was so ruthless that it buried Atmanirbhar Bharat deep under the soil.
The five days exercise undertaken by the finance minister converted ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ into ‘Nirarthak Bharat’. The series of interpretations of the 20 lakh crores exposed the hollowness of the package. They claimed that 10 percent of the GDP is earmarked for the rebuilding of India after COVID19. But the actual amount they spared may only come something between one to two percent of the GDP. The prime minister in his usual style of rhetoric waxed the poor and promised food, shelter and safety for them. All these were proved a hoax.
In the backdrop of the package, lied the boundless sufferings of the migrant labourers. Along with them all segments of urban and rural poor consisting of agricultural labourers, unemployed workers in the MSME’s, domestic workers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers, headload workers, etc.(forms 90 per cent of the total workforce) are also suffering. Adivasis, Dalits and transgenders were also part of this great army of sufferers. Everybody expected that a stimulus package would not forget these crores of Indians. The scattered pieces of rotis and the rags found on the rail tracks of Aurangabad represent the plight of the other India during the lockdown. Government and their package ignored them in their typical style. Words of concern were mounted on them, but only words! Modi government was not expected to implement any pro poor projects with a socialist perspective. Truth is that their economics and politics are more primitive than even the basic capitalist doctrines.
During such days of crisis capitalist theory advanced the idea of stimulus package in order to come out of the same, which was presented in the work of John Maynard Keynes. Since then on many occasions the capitalist system itself embraced Keynesian theory which emphasized on government sponsored projects to provide employment, food and shelter for the deprived. The prime minister and his finance minister seem to be unaware of this option.
The ideas put forth by renowned economist Raghuram Rajan, Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee were never taken care off. India was witnessing the outflow of food refugees, but the government did not see them. There is no proposal in the package to ensure Rs.7500 in their hands. Instead, the 20 lakh crore package provided them 5kgs of grains and one kg of pulse for two months. It was an insult on the poor. The money reaching the poor would have become the real stimulus for the economy when the government was keen to serve the interests of their corporate cousins with the pretext of fighting the disaster. That is the real face of the anti-people anti-national government of today.
It has become crystal clear that the government is not in a mood to learn any lessons from the bitter experience of the world and India. Their propaganda mills are doing overtime jobs to hide the gigantic failures of their political and economic policies. It is bent to protect private capital by imposing all the burden on the working people. It was part of a grand design to mortgage India at the feet of super rich. The package is a blueprint for the submission of the vitals of the economy before foreign and Indian capital. Mines, defence, electricity, civil aviation, space exploration, all are given to them. The government has been willingly reduced to the role of an obedient facilitator. The workers’ rights are thrown to the wind in the name of labour reforms.
These anti-labour reforms should naturally be resisted and the working class is already on the warpath. Post Covid-19 days are going to be the days of united mass struggles unleashed by toiling masses. The Communist Party has joined the struggle of Indian people, which would be intensified in coming days. The party and the Left are conscious about the necessity of building up a broad platform of struggles at this crucial moment of history. Various political forces having allegiance to the constitutional principles of India should come together.
Along with secularism and democracy, national sovereignty and economic justice also have come to the centrestage of political developments. ‘People before profits’ need to be the corner stone of resistance movement. The meeting of the opposition parties to be held on May 22 carry much significance in this regard. The democratic way of sharing viewpoints and search for unity is the common thread behind the meeting. It has to be strengthened and broadened when a dictatorial government of the ultra-right attempt to sell off the nation through press conferences without even consulting the Parliament! Let all the opposition parties to think in new terms, understanding the fact that our country is at cross-roads.