India at 64
September 18, 2011 Leave a comment
– MTS (Bengal)
[The following article was written by a comrade from the MTS group in Bengal and sent to us for publication. We therefore, are printing it here.]
On the midnight of 15th August 1947 a nation was born. This new nation was greeted with this famous line by Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, “On the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps,India awakes to light and freedom!” Around 64 years since then, the present day prime minister ofIndia, Manmohan Singh greeted it with a message of ‘growth’, ‘development’ and ‘power’. But the irony of history is that just as the first prime minister ofIndia presided over a partition, the present prime minister also presides over a partition. The first partition was the partition of the “Empire of India” intoIndia, andPakistan. The ongoing partition is betweenIndia, that is theland ofBillionaires, and Bharat that is the land of impoverishment.
On the one hand Indiaboasts of harboring the 4th largest concentration of billionaires in the world, whilst on the other hand, ‘Bharat’ possesses 836 million people living on less than Rs.20 a day. With such mass of poor people,India achieved the great distinction of being ranked 126 in international human development index. What this means is, that the poor are more fortunate to be born in countries likeBolivia, Guatamela andGabon than inIndia. And as the poor continue to get poorer under the pressure of inflation, unemployment and overall pauperization, the rich riding on the most brutal exploitation of the poor in the history of the sub-continent, scale such enormous heights of wealth and power that they are today richer than the billionaires ofGermany andRussia on net asset worth basis.
In the last 20 years in particular, Indian capital has expanded, and expanded and expanded like there is no end. There are today 100000 dollar millionaires inIndiaof whom 25000 reside in the cesspool megalopolis of Mumbai. A city where over 60% of its inhabitants are slum dwellers having to live on around a quarter of the city’s total area! The remaining 75% of the city of course is very well open to the rich and their children to live and thrive in. Never mind the fact that there is so little for the poor than 2.5 million of their children die every year out of the most avoidable reasons. What makes this state of affairs worse is the fact that over the last 15 years since the dismantling of Statism, the decline of infant mortality has actually slowed!
The misery of the poor can be seen further by the miserable expenditure patterns where they end up spending more than half of their income on essentials, like food and clothing and healthcare and little on education. The privatization of healthcare and education has added towards making these services out of reach for the vast majority of the country’s citizens. Indiatoday in fact has the 6th most privatized healthcare in the world. The data from the MPCE shows that out of Rs 503 as monthly expenditure, Rs.34 goes on healthcare and Rs17 on education. With these standards the quality of education they receive itself amounts to being sub-standard, to mention nothing of the quality of public healthcare. This is the average spending of an Indian farm household.
The bourgeois ideologues who dominate the media inIndiatoday, of course, shamefully boast of the achievements of Indian capitalism in supposedly raising the standards of the poor. Among other things they cite the enormous rise in labor productivity over the last 2 decades which has gone up by 84%! Of course what this statistic very cleverly hides is that the bulk of labor inIndiais employed in pathetically low productivity industries in the informal sector. A small minority that is employed in the organized sector has for the most part been under attack during the periods of reform with privatizations, wage cuts, ‘rationalization’, and contractualization of workforce. This is the consequence of the natural shift under Capitalism from labor intensive to capital intensive production, creating among other things a decline in real wages by 22% inIndia. In the same period salaries of corporates skyrocketed to astronomical heights, making the rich ofIndianot just richer, but amongst the richest in the world!
Whilst, the condition of the urban workforce is degrading, that of the rural workforce or peasants and landless agricultural workers, is degrading to genocidal proportions. The pauperization of the peasantry and its present round of destruction, outdoes anything that the British with their colonial economy were capable of. The Indian bourgeois may take pride in the fact that it has achieved a task greater than their former colonial masters. This century is witnessing a genocidal drive for proletarianization which seeks to eliminate the entire class of rural peasants and poor driving them in the millions in desperate migrations into urban megalopolises.Indiahas added more hungry people in the last 2 decades than the whole of the world put together! Rural food consumption has dropped to a level 100kg less than what it was 10 years ago. What this reveals, is that poverty in ruralIndiahas increased whilst wealth concentrated in the pockets of the urban bourgeois and their nepotistic allies in large landed classes of ruralIndiahas increased! As if it wasn’t enough to pauperize the peasantry ofIndia, the Indian bourgeois has now undertaken a massive expansion of agricultural businesses in East Africa which is amounting to exporting the poverty ofIndiato the shores ofAfrica. Yesteryears colonized have become today’s colonizers.
The Class of “Dark skinned Englishmen” as Bhagat Singh would have had us call them, has now taken over the assets of the old Empire and are carving their own empire of misery and nepotism. The parliament has been reduced to a pig sty of criminals with 183 of them being hardened criminals and almost 300 of them being multi-millionaires! But never mind that, they are still entitled to gaudy (and useless) parliamentary privileges, including food at wonderfully subsidized rates as low as 8 rupees for a full plat of Biryani! It would seem that the rates of the parliamentary canteen have stagnated just like the mindset of the Indian bourgeois, stuck with an imperial hangover from the colonial era!