By D. Raja
The prime minister attended G7 outreach summit virtually. Known for giving mantras and acronyms frequently, prime minister pitched for ‘One Earth, One Health’ at this rich countries exclusive club. This is ironic since the same prime minister had remained on-committal for the longest time in ensuring evenly priced COVID vaccines for the people of his own country, instead making states pay a much higher price and allowing for those super profiteering amidst the pandemic.
Going beyond this incident, there is also the prime minister’s desperation in trying to portray the country as being close to those richer ones and to be in a visible bonhomie with right-wing leaders of the Western hemisphere. This question attains more significance in the light of the prime minister’s conspicuous absence from the summits of the Non-Aligned Movement ever since he occupied the high office. He attended only a virtual meeting of the NAM Contact Group in 2020,that too only after many of his supposed friends criticized his government for human rights violations, failing to protect minorities, abolition of Article 370 and frequent use of sedition Laws and so on. The answer to this question is two-fold. One stems from the demagoguery of the prime minister resulting in his followers propelling his unsustainable larger than life image.
The second and the more pivotal reason is located in the global structural crisis of capitalism which is threatening the positions of the prime minister and all his friends from the rich country clubs and their respective crony capitalists worldwide.
The crisis is structural in the sense that it is inherent in the nature of capitalism and capitalism has only tried to avert it for as long as it can. Since the1970s, monopoly capital is only producing nominal returns in the advanced economies and this has been the central concern of the rich and powerful and their enabling ecosystems like the IMF. In search of higher returns, investment of capital in the developing world has increased and consequently, standards of life and livelihood opportunities have declined with increased privatization and exploitation.
The advocates of neoliberal capitalism were quick to proclaim victory after the dissolution of the USSR, but the claims of the ‘end of history’ were rendered hollow by history itself as capitalism survived crisis-to-crisis due to state support only. In the process it became more savage and brutal for the majority of inhabitants of earth as it destroyed livelihoods and altered environment beyond recognition. Whether it was the East Asian Crisis, the 2008 financial meltdown or the economic and social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that capitalism has overstretched its limits and that is what creates anxiety among capitalists and their enabling leaders all over the world, the prime minister being one of them.
The anxiety over the failures of capitalism is also widespread among the working classes as insecurities like unemployment, poor wages, inhuman working conditions and lack of social security keep haunting them. These are being used to force them succumb to right-wing, divisive rhetoric of demagogues like Modi and Bolsonaro.
Ideological reliance on the supposedly ‘free’ market was part-and-parcel of the neo-liberal doctrine. Lofty claims of globally integrated free-markets trickling down prosperity could hardly conceal the widening economic inequality during the last five decades, and all this now quantified conclusively by the economist Thomas Piketty and his group.
Alarming levels of wealth concentration at the top and increasing destitution at the bottom have become the hall-marks of neoliberalism. The problem is particularly grave in the countries of the developing world, including India, which have become the isles of relatively higher returns to monopoly capital in the otherwise uncertain waters of the free-market. Indian state under Modi has remained a more than happy facilitator for capitalists to accrue super-profits, including on life savingCOVID-19 vaccines.
This integration of India with the Western economies started a few decades back and now, the bonhomie of the prime minister with the rich has become a heavy purchase for the country as it comes at unequal and devastating terms for the working classes. Intolerance towards the criticism or challenge to the capitalist interest of the state has resulted in severe hardships and rights violations in recent times.
The bandwagoning of the interests of the Indian people behind Western economies has not only created economic hardships but has also curtailed democracy to a significant extent. Access to public health, education, housing, employment and the essentials for wellbeing of the population, are becoming distant as the push for privatisation of PSUs, sale of national assets, weakening of financial cushions like the RBI and LIC and almost absence of employment in the public sector are becoming rude realities. Whatever we see around us, disease and death, inflation, hunger, poverty, unemployment, all follow a single logic and that is the protection of the capitalist interests, is paramount for the state which has become a neo-liberal repressive one. As Samir Amin once said “monopoly capital even in imperialist countries needs the machinery of the state.
They have domesticated the state to serve their exclusive interests.”In this context, the inclination of Indian polity towards advanced capitalist economies is evidently detrimental to the rights and interests of Indian working class and farmers. It has become fatal for the Indian economy. India is sacrificing its independence in matters of economy and foreign policy to best protect the corporate and big business houses at the cost of the wellbeing of the Indian population. The subjugation of Indian interest to the United States of America in matters of external affairs are increasingly pushing India towards becoming an instrument and guarantor of American interests in the region, straining our relations with our neighbours like China and time-tested allies like Russia.
The recent meeting of the G7 agreed on a plan to “Build Back Better World” (B3W) to curtail increasing the socalled Chinese influence and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Even from area list prism, bodies like the G7 and G20 are not representatives of the dynamic development of the global economy in the previous decades and as such, are out of touch from reality. The closing of the gap between the economic strength of China and the US has made the Western world apprehensive and uneasy as it is the first serious challenge to the perpetuation of Western dominance after the disintegration of the USSR. Russia with its geopolitical advantages continues to be a major power. Provocations and trade-wars from both sides are leading the globe closer to a new Cold War and India, instead of looking after the interests of its own people and advocating for a just and inclusive global order, is becoming an accessory to the conflict bandwagoning the US interests.
For peace and tranquility to be the normal in the region, India should adopt an independent foreign policy and should become vocal for the concerns of the Global South instead of succumbing to the agenda of US and Western powers which is creating highly unequal and obliging partnerships. Otherwise the toll of this on the Indian people and their interests will be huge. The Left and democratic forces must take it up as a challenge and mobilise people to resist this process in order to save the Nation and the interest of the people. (IPA Service)