People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 28, 2003
WE extend our warm
greetings to our readers on the occasion of the New Year.
such an occasion it has become customary for us to invoke Lord Tennyson’s
famous lines: “Ring out the Old and Ring in the New”. The coming year 2004
indeed provides the opportunity, if not to succeed in ringing out the old at
least for ringing in the new.
special edition brought out by the London Economist annually peeping into
what the new year holds in store says in its lead editorial that a majority of
the world’s democracies constituting more than half of its population will be
electing new governments in 2004. With regards to India it apprehends that
during the election, “with luck the country will keep its communal cool.”
The detailed country-wise assessment elsewhere in the issue states “in a
calendar crowded by state and national elections painful reforms however
necessary is deferred not to upset potential voters and some political parties
will be tempted to stoop to crude populism including stoking communal tensions
in 2004 elections. India is at risk on both counts.”
is quite something for the pro-reform Economist to admit that economic
reforms actually result in electoral unpopularity. This is a candid admission of
the fact that the reforms are basically anti-people and aim at only fattening
the profits of the propertied classes while impoverishing the vast majority of
moot point however is the recognition of the fact that of the many problems
plaguing India and its people, communalism and economic liberalisation are the
two central issues before the people. Through these columns all through the year
we have been drawing the attention of the nation on the need to combat both
these features along with the growing levels of corruption at high places and
the distinctly declining political morality in the country. Any meaning to the
words “ringing out the old” in Indian context can only mean the defeat of
communal forces, the reversal of anti-people economic policies and the arresting
of corruption at high places.
Indeed 2003 saw the institutionalisation of both corruption and communalism. The aftermath of the Gujarat carnage continues to haunt the country. The conduct of the BJP state government in Gujarat in brazenly defending the perpetrators of ghastly communal violence has exposed the degree of institutionalisation of communalism. Similar tendency of institutionalisation can be seen in the field of education where every single body of research and administration is being taken over by communal elements and their agendas are accordingly redefined. As stated in these columns earlier, the BJP victories in the recent elections to the state assemblies have also been, amongst other reasons, on the basis of a systematic communal polarisation that it has undertaken in these areas.
in the run up to the elections both to some state assemblies like Andhra Pradesh
and to the parliament, the RSS/BJP will leave no stone unturned and will employ
every weapon in their arsenal to try and win the vote. This is a challenge that
has to be met.
For, another victory will only push deeper the seeds of discord threatening the
unity and integrity of India and seek to convert the secular democratic republic
into the RSS vision of a rabidly intolerant “Hindu rashtra”.
the hype and orchestrated euphoria being mounted by the Vajpayee government
concerning India’s economic progress, in a campaign titled “Shining India”
the miseries of the people continue to mount. Through a clever statistical
manipulation, the government is claiming many an achievement to its credit. Let
us examine the reality.
the final data for the year arrives, it may well be that the growth rate could
be close to 7 per cent, which is good compared to last year where it was,
according to the Central Statistical Organisation, 4.3 per cent. But then, what
explains the higher growth rate this year?
The single important factor has been the good monsoon which has come
after a disastrous drought last year. Last
year, the index of agricultural production fell by as much as 12 per cent.
Foodgrain output registered a colossal drop of 14 per cent. Under normal times,
this alone should have been a cause for alarm. Given the excellent monsoon this
year, it is estimated that agricultural growth rate would be around 9 per cent.
But remember, this is on the low base of a large negative growth last year.
Meaning, that such a rate of growth is simply unsustainable in the coming years
unless investments are made in agricultural sector.
Apart from this is the fact that the growth this year has not wiped out
fully the decline last year.
the good monsoon and the consequent agricultural growth rate alone is
responsible for the upward revision of the GDP growth rate becomes obvious from
the sectoral data projections made by all the agencies referred to above.
The industrial growth rate is estimated to be 5.8 per cent, i.e., below
the 6.1 per cent registered last year.
The services sector which contributes nearly 50 per cent of India's GDP
is slated to grow at 6.7 per cent, down from 7.1 per cent last year. In
1999-2000, this sector grew at 10.1 per cent.
In other words, the only sector of the economy where there is a massive
leap in the growth rate has been in agriculture. The others are on the decline
or at best stagnating. This only confirms that Vajpayee's "shining
India" is still predominantly dependent on the rain
gods. The policies of this government, far from contributing to any growth
acceleration only seem to consolidate the recessionary tendency in the Indian
worst feature of the economy this year has been the universally admitted fact of
stagnant, if not declining, employment growth. The demographic composition of
India shows that over 40 per cent of our population is in the working age group,
i.e., over 40 crore youth. The privatisation of the public sector has already
resulted in rendering jobless lakhs of earlier employed. Add to this the latest
NSS consumer expenditure data that shows widespread hunger stalking large
sections of our population. The 57th round of the NSS has frighteningly shown
that only 43 per cent of the rural population and only 36 per cent of the urban
population is gainfully employed. If the jobs are declining, where is this
"feel good factor"? For the majority of Indians facing starvation,
unemployment, insecurity leading to distress suicides, where is the
"shining India"? An
illusion at best!
one thing that is not an illusion however is the scandalous institutionalisation
of corruption that we have seen during this year. The series of scams
accompanied by complete inaction on the Tehelka exposures comes as the icing on
the cake the Judev and Jogi episodes and the Telgi scam. Apart from the partisan
manner in which this government deals with people who are caught red-handed
accepting bribes belonging to its flock and those from the opposition, all these
scams and exposures clearly show the rot that has set in our system whose
presiding deity is Atal Behari Vajpayee. While the vast majority of the people
struggle to eke out a miserable existence, the high and the mighty
unscrupulously loot the country and its resources.
such loot is the institutionalised loot of our country’s resources and
people’s property through the privatisation of the public sector. As we go to
press a whopping over Rs 12,000 crore worth of assets of blue chip public sector
companies is being sold by the government to meet its fiscal deficit. We have
repeatedly stated in these columns that the privatisation of the public sector
is like a farmer selling his productive land to meet his daily expenditures only
to realise that he faces absolute ruination. Similar will be the fate of the
country if this mindless privatisation is not halted.
are the challenges that confront us as we move in to the new year. Daunting as
they seem the year also offers us the opportunities to arrest if not reverse
many of the policies that are responsible for the current state of affairs.
These opportunities must be utilised to ensure that the communal forces do not
remain at the helm of affairs by controlling the reins of state power. More
importantly, both communalism and the economic policies of liberalisation will
have to be fought through bitter battles and struggles. The past few years have
seen big struggles by various sections of our people against their deteriorating
livelihood. Big struggles of the working people are in the offing. Just recently
the workers of the oil sector had gone on an unprecedented successful strike.
Various other sectors like the coal industry, state and central government
employees etc. have given calls for massive strike actions. The peasantry on the
other hand is also bracing itself for wider struggles while the youth, in
despair with mounting unemployment are bracing themselves for mightier
struggles. The opportunities in 2004 for converging these various struggles into
a mighty people’s movement in the defence of our country and for improving the
lot of our people must be effectively utilised if we are to “ring out the old
and ring in the new”.