People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
"Loot And Not Debt"
An Admission In Vain
IT has taken the BJP-led NDA government more than four years to admit that the loans taken mainly by the corporate world from the nationalised banks and not returned are a "loot and not debt". These were the words of the new finance minister, Jaswant Singh, who seems to have shelved his diplomatic ambiguity and capacity at obfuscation that he employed as the external affairs minister.
During the different tenures of this government, such "written off" loans increased in their value from over Rs. 30,000 crores to a whopping Rs. 83,000 crores as of date (official figures). When the CPI(M) resolutely sought to persuade the government to recover these loans, or, atleast make public the defaulters, Vajpayee's government took refuge under some archaic law stating that the list of defaulters could not be make public. While refusing subsidies for the poor at the drop of the hat, this government continuously doled out huge public funds to the corporate world. This, amongst many other things, was the manner in which the government continuously subsidises the rich at the expense of the poor.
It was left to the Left-led unions in the banking sector who actually exposed and made public the entire list of defaulters. Even then, this government refused to act.
The whole country has, all along, rightfully suspected the political pressures employed by those in power to dole out public funds to favour corporate houses. The nexus of the corrupt politician-bureaucrat-businessmen has siphoned off such massive amounts which otherwise could have been used to finance huge social infrastructural activities.
Having done all this during the last four-odd years, the finance minister now thunders to declare, when his own ministry presided over this, as loot. Mere declarations are not enough. How the finance minister seeks to proceed to recover these huge amounts is not known and for all practical purposes, any such effort may never materialise.
On the contrary, the finance minister has given the government's assurance to the defaulting corporates that if they have any problem in returning these loans, then "the government is there to look into it". Clearly, all exclamations of how public money is being looted is meant only for public consumption. In this context, it must be recollected that it was the same Jaswant Singh, who, as finance minister in the 13-day Vajpayee government in 1996, promptly cleared the scandalous "counter guarantee" for Enron. Worse is the fact that he did this knowing fully well that the government was bound to fall and on that very day when the government lost the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.
This government has no time to look into the problems of the people, but is ever ready to jump to the rescue of the corporate world and the MNCs. This precisely is the logic of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (LPG). Under this economic assault, the state does not withdraw from economic activity per se. It abdicates its responsibility to the people to provide the basic necessities for a decent livelihood. On the other hand, it intervenes in the economy for the benefit of the capitalists and the corporate houses. The thrust of these economic policies are, therefore, against the people and towards, to use the current fashionable jargon, being "investor friendly"; creating the "feel good factor" etc.
This Vajpayee government has, in a predatory fashion, unleashed the worst onslaught on the livelihood of the Indian people, such remonstrations notwithstanding. When the time comes, the people will give this government the proper answer and avenge the loot of their livelihood.