People's Democracy

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


No. 44

October 30, 2011






Cruel Disconnect with India’s Reality


People’s Democracy wishes its readers a `Happy Diwali’ and on the occasion of the forthcoming festive season of Eid and other festivals. 


These greetings also come with our sincere expression of solidarity in sharing the sufferings of the vast mass of our people who are groaning under the burdens of the continuous rise in the prices of all essential commodities. This not merely dampens the festive spirit but significantly erodes the levels of livelihood of our people.  The Delhi government has announced its ‘gift’ by threatening to further hike the electricity charges. The RBI on the other hand has announced an illusory sop for the middle classes by permitting banks to provide greater interest rate on personal savings. For a vast majority of people there is nothing personal to save!


There is, of course, a display of surreal disconnect with this reality by the Indian ruling classes and their neo-liberal patrons of international finance capital.  The Economist carries a cover story this week on India with a special 34 page report on `Business in India’.  It says: “It is a super power-in-waiting whose people vote, whose society is raucous, and whose firms are red-blooded and striding into the world stage.”  These reflect the desire of global capitalism to use India as one of its conduits to try and get out of the current double-dip recession that is growingly gripping it.  The Economist, of course, warns against being in a “delusion” on this score.  Its warning comes from the standpoint that enough reforms are not being undertaken by India that would provide greater maximisation of profits for international finance capital and domestic corporates.  The real `delusion’, however, of such a hype about India Inc lies in the non-recognition of the Indian reality – the creation of two Indias.  We have repeatedly described this process as the widening hiatus between the `shining’ and `suffering’ Indias over the years in these columns, amongst the people and in the parliament.  Unable to ignore this truth any longer, the Indian ruling classes have now started speaking in terms of `India and Bharat’. 


The hype exuded by The Economist finds reflection domestically. So does the delusion.  A day before the meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), (elsewhere in this issue we are carrying the speech of CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and chief minister of Tripura at this meeting) the Planning Commission released its Human Development Report.  India Inc has gone to town to interpret the findings as a confirmation of such hype.  A national daily has banner headlines, `Bharat catching up with India’. It says: “that `inclusive growth’ – the mantra of the entire political establishment – may not be just a mere slogan” (The Indian Express, October 22, 2011). The  reasons for such pompous conclusions is that the indices for SC/STs and Muslims have shown marginal improvement. This is projected as that these sections are “finally catching up with the rest of India”. Ironically, it is these very sections, along with the OBCs, that constitute the vast majority of India. The reality that  the conditions of these sections, notwithstanding national aggregate statistics, has not improved in any significant sense has been established in these columns repeatedly. This reality of the situation is there for all to see. 


Such hype about India’s `success story’ obfuscates the reality presented by the very same report of the Planning Commission.  This is where the real `delusion’ lies. 


The report shows that today (2004-2005, the last year for which data is available) nearly 31 crores of our people live under the officially defined poverty line. At the time of independence, we had a population of nearly 35 crores.  Since 1973-74 (when poverty was first measured in India) and 2004-05, the number of officially defined `poor’ has come down by a mere 1.9 crores.  This poverty line itself, as has been established, is woefully inadequate to measure quantitatively, leave alone the quality of life, the quantum of people who are barely surviving in our country. 


The report, in a sense, confirms what has been staring before our eyes on the basis of the findings of the National Sample Survey, National Survey of Family Health and others.  These columns had repeatedly reported on these. 


The Planning Commission’s report shows that the rural poor in our country were better fed two decades ago than today.  The overall per capita intake of calories and pulses (protein) has fallen by 8 per cent between 1983 and 2004-05 in the rural areas and by 3.3 per cent in the urban areas.  The alarming situation of hunger can be gauged by the fact that there is no state in our country where the hunger index is less than 10. 


Half of India’s children under the age of three are malnourished, which is worse than in the Sub-Saharan Africa.  Half of the children are not fully immunised and, thus, perish due to diseases that are fully and completely preventable.  As far as health for the people is concerned, our total expenditure (both public and private) is less than in the whole of Africa as the percentage of the GDP.  Even after sixty years of independence, our sanitation conditions are woeful, almost 50 per cent of households do not have toilets.


This is the reality check.  Yet, the very next day, after the release of this report, at the NDC meeting the government appeared completely oblivious of its own findings.  This is the `delusion’ it suffers from.


If India has to really emerge as a `super power-in-waiting’, this can only happen if the tremendous potential that we have is realized through the improvement of our immense human resources by concentrating on improving the quality of life of our people.  As we have repeatedly argued in these columns, we have the resources to do so.  It is not the lack of ‘political will’ but the deliberate policies of our ruling classes and their neo-liberal economic policies that use these resources for their profit maximisation at the expense of our people.  They, thus, deny India its capacity to realize its own potential and, on that basis, to emerge as a true economic superpower in the world. 


This real potential of India has to be realized. The single diya (lamp) that will surely light up the poorest of the poor on this occasion of Diwali reflects not only the hope for a better future but must reflect the urge to convert this desire into reality. 


We, “India, that is, Bharat”, as defined in the first clause of the first Article of our Constitution, have both the capabilities and the resources to covert this hope into reality.  This, of course, requires the further strengthening of popular struggles to force our ruling classes and government to adopt policies that can realize India’s true potential. 


Our greetings on this festive occasion, therefore, is a call to rise in struggle to realize our true potential. 


(October 26, 2011)