People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 26, 2004
Neo-Liberals & Their Anti-Left Canards
SYSTEMATIC effort is being mounted by a section of the media to falsify the
CPI(M)’s and the Left’s position concerning the issue of foreign agency
nominees being asked to serve on the Planning Commission’s consultative
groups. The neo-liberal drumbeaters and the cheer leaders of globalisation are
spreading canards regarding the CPI(M)’s so-called “double standards,”
“hypocrisy,” etc. There is a need to examine the facts.
Before doing so, however, another issue needs to be addressed --- sections of the media with screaming headlines categorised this issue as “Left created controversy.” Neither this nor all others like the ones concerning FDI, airport privatisation etc are the creations of the Left. The Left merely reacted publicly to the unilateral public pronouncements by the UPA government.
the outset, it must be cleared that the controversy originated from the
unilateral decision of the Planning Commission to induct representatives of the
World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the McKinsey and other foreign agencies.
Naturally, many an Indian patriot found this disconcerting and disturbing. The
Planning Commission is an organ of the sovereign Indian state vested with the
power and authority to oversee India’s planned economic development.
Naturally, association of foreign organisations in the process of a mid-term
appraisal of the tenth Five Year Plan constitutes an affront. It is the business
of India and the Indian state to conduct such a review or an appraisal. This
affront gets magnified manifold by the inclusion of foreign agencies who have an
avowedly anti-plan process perspective.
These votaries of globalisation, whose omnipotent god is the
“market,” have consistently stood against any effort of planned economic
interests and sections of the media seek to meet this point by stating that
these consultative groups are merely for consultation and hence what is the harm
in having representatives of these agencies. However, the terms of reference of
the consultative group defined in an order
of the Planning Commission dated August 26, 2004 states that the group would
“provide guidance in selection of the key issues and emerging problems” and
amongst others to “review the draft material to be prepared by the Planning
Commission on the subject and to give critical advice and directional inputs for
further improvement.” Further, amongst other rights, the group will have the
“powers to co-opt/associate professionals/domain experts into the group. The
group will also have the powers to set up subgroups/steering committees of officials
both from central and state governments as well as non-officials to finalise
its views on specific issues.”
other words, the members of the group will not only have access to governmental
records and proceedings but can also summon officials. These are activities
hardly of a consultative nature. It is these rights that are being bestowed on
the representatives of the foreign agencies that are rightly being questioned.
CPI(M) is accused that the Left Front government in West Bengal does business
with all the three agencies mentioned and hence it is “double standards” to
oppose the inclusion of their representatives in these groups. First, doing
business with these agencies and engaging in consultations with them is not
tantamount to putting them on official bodies of the Indian state and granting
them a right to intervene in our sovereign matters. By all means, discuss with
them, consult them but do not accord them the status of being a part of the
functioning of a sovereign state. This is all the more so because all these
agencies, as is known and accepted, have their own agendas. More often than not,
these agendas, far from converging with India’s interests, are contrary to our
more naïve amongst the media have another argument: since some of these
agencies lend money for specific projects, what is the harm in asking them to
participate in our sovereign decision making process? This is a strange
is like saying that if one borrows from a moneylender for the marriage of his
daughter, then the moneylender must be consulted on the choice of the groom!
Merely borrowing from some agencies does not entail the grant to them of a role
in the decision-making process on sovereign economic matters.
the whole exercise has shown the utter contempt that sections of the Planning
Commission and the cheer leaders of globalisation have shown to the Indian civil
servants. Using the deriding term “babus,” judgements have been passed that
they are incapable of making any reviews or appraisals. There are shortcomings,
weaknesses, etc, that is there for all to see in the Indian civil service.
But we cannot escape the fact that for over half a century, it is this
civil service that has nurtured the system which has produced the presidents,
the prime ministers, the deputy chairmen of the Planning Commission and the vast
Indian intelligentsia. It is a reflection of a lack of self-esteem in our own
country and its human resources which seeks require the services of external
agencies to oversee the work and evaluate the performance of our planning body.
is required is not to fall prey to a premeditated and prejudiced mindset of
expressing servility to the powers of external agencies such as the World Bank.
The Left’s opposition to this decision of the government is, thus, based on
sound reasoning. It is only those who have other agendas to serve who can call