People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

May 29, 2011




Forewarning Should Serve As Forearming


Sitaram Yechury


THE second anniversary of this UPA-II government was observed in the by now familiar manner at a dinner hosted by the prime minister for the ruling alliance partners and the release of a `Report to the People’ accompanied by an address by the prime minister. 


The usual photo opportunity on such an occasion showed the striking contrast with the UPA-I on a similar occasion.  Missing on this occasion were the leaders of the Left parties which constituted the single largest supporter for the UPA government from the outside.  Missing from within the UPA alliance was Laloo Prasad Yadav’s RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP. All the DMK ministers in the UPA-II governments were missing with A Raja lodged in the Tihar Jail alongwith the DMK supremo’s daughter and Rajya Sabha member, Kanimozhi.  T R Baalu was the sole DMK representative at the dinner, reflecting the latter’s ambivalence. Similarly, parties like the TRS, DMK and MDMK who were originally part of the UPA-I alliance are no longer there.  It is only the NCP, from the original UPA-I constituents, that continues to be present. 


Clearly, the UPA-II government has been surviving through some sordid bargaining and deal-making with various parties and groups in parliament, like what the country had seen during the vote on confidence motion moved by UPA-I government after its unilateral finalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal that led to the Left’s withdrawal of support.


The UPA-I government was formed in response to the needs of the country and the people at that time to protect the secular fabric of our country and secular democratic content of our public institutions that were being seriously eroded and undermined by the BJP-led NDA alliance, then in power for six continuous years.  The UPA-I adopted a pledge which stated: “The United Progressive Alliance pledges to provide a corruption free, transparent and accountable government and a responsible and responsive administration.”  It adopted a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which formed the basis for the outside support by the Left parties. 


The UPA-II is, thus, systematically demolishing the spirit and the declared content of the UPA-I.  It is abandoning even the pretext of the concern for the aam admi in order to facilitate the unbridled implementation of neo-liberal economic reforms and to convert India into a subordinate ally of US imperialism.


During the course of the UPA-I government itself, it became clear that both the pledge and the Common Minimum Programme, designed to improve the welfare of the aam admi were being systematically undermined.  The UPA-I went beyond the CMP by unilaterally entering into the Indo-US nuclear deal and advancing a new strategic alliance with US imperialism designed to make India the latter’s subordinate ally.  This breach of the CMP negated the basis on which the Left parties extended their support, leaving them with no option but to withdraw this support.  Likewise, the negation of the content of the pledge is there for all to see. 


During the course of these two years, the two important issues that plagued our people and the country have been the relentless rise in the prices of all essential commodities and the mega corruption scams that are eating into our very vitals.  The prime minister’s speech, on this occasion, does not even make a customary reference to the burdens being imposed on the people through this price rise.   On the contrary, there appears to be a justification that this is due to global rise in the price of oil and food articles.  Though there is a mention on the need to increase both production and productivity in agriculture, there are no specific tangible proposals to achieve this.  Till date, the government refuses to ban speculative futures trading in all essential commodities, which significantly contributes to price rise. 


Though there is a cursory reference to corruption – 2G spectrum allocation and Commonwealth Games – the prime minister’s tone and content suggests a smug satisfaction that all that needs to be done is being done.  “The due processes of law are already in motion.  We are taking steps to prevent such developments in future and reduce discretionary and arbitrary use of power by public officials.” The moot point, however, is that the several lakhs of crores of rupees that have been looted through these scams must be brought back to be used for providing better livelihood and quality of life to our people.  The PM chooses to remain silent on this issue.


The prime minister, expectedly, highlighted the economic achievements of the last two years – annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent – terming it as a “historic performance”. “We have pursued a strategy of seeking `inclusive growth’ at home and `inclusive globalisation’ internationally that benefits the have-nots and reduces disparities of income and wealth.” 


There could not have been a more cruel joke.  During the course of last two years, the number of US dollar billionaires in India has increased from 26 to 52 now standing at 69.  Their combined asset worth is equivalent of a third of India’s GDP.  On the other hand, 77 per cent or more than 80 crores of our people survive on less than Rs 20 a day.  The vulgar disparities of income and wealth are widening rather than reducing as the PM wants us to believe. 


The PM’s blueprint for the future is more worrisome.  He says: “Our most immediate challenge is to sustain the growth process, while keeping inflation under check.” In order to do this, the PM speaks of various dimensions to sustainable economic growth. The most important that he highlights, however, is the “fiscal challenge”. Stating that the massive fiscal stimulus programmes that his government undertook during the last two years have helped maintain reasonable economic growth, the PM now speaks of the urgency to reduce “fiscal and revenue deficits”. Simply put, this means that the government must reduce its expenditures while increasing its revenues.  The former means that whatever little that is being spent in the social sectors for improving people’s welfare will now see a sharp reduction.  The latter means that greater burdens would be put on the vast majority of our people through higher prices.


This is, clearly, a replication of how global capitalism is seeking to emerge from the global economic crisis and recession.  The huge stimulus packages have succeeded in bailing out those very financial corporates who caused the current crisis in the first place.  The governments of various countries have heavily borrowed to finance these stimulus packages.  Now, in order to meet the costs of such borrowings, they are sharply reducing governmental expenditures, by imposing unprecedented burdens on the working people.  Capitalism’s logic for emerging from the crisis is by converting corporate insolvencies into sovereign insolvency.  The net result is sharp rise in the burdens on the people against which widespread popular protests are erupting all over Europe. 


The prime minister is reminding us in India that we shall have to go through a similar process. This second anniversary of the UPA-II government is, thus, not an occasion for celebration but serves as an occasion for forewarning our people of the greater burdens that are going to befall them soon. 


Clearly, forewarning should serve as forearming for the people.  The strength of the popular resistance against such measures that will surely follow shall determine to a large extent, how the Indian people will defend their existing rights and strengthen the struggles for a better quality of life.