People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 07, 2012






My Dear Money Plant

G Mamatha


IT is only on September 21, that I had learnt all my investment – energy, time, money, etc had gone waste. If not for the ‘humble’, ‘honest’, ‘knowledgeable’ prime minister’s advice, how much more would I have invested, how much more would I have lost! If it is not for him, the person with the utmost ‘self integrity’, I would have considered such advice blasphemous.  His speech televised on the night of that day was indeed an eye-opener to many ‘self-seeking’, ‘selfish’ ‘fools’ like me. I can’t vouch for others, but, I really thought that, when the number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) increased in our country, in spite of the adverse growth rates, my investment is justified and what I was doing is correct.  Was  it not mentioned time and again so often, that our millionaire industrialists are rich because, they are ‘good’, ‘humane’, ‘honest’, ‘hardworking’, utilise all the opportunities intelligently, ‘well educated’ and most important of all, do not ‘exploit’.  So, when their wealth increased in these times of recession, I thought it was because they had in plenty what I had. Sorry, wondering what I had invested in? A Money Plant! Till the prime minister told, I thought all our corporates, multinationals are growing lots of Money Plants and declaring their quarterly results on the basis of their yields. I too invested in one. Thought it might be the mythical Kalpavruksh. How wrong I was? Thank you prime minister, for at least saving my future investment.


Oh, money does not grow on trees! Similarly, as our PM elucidated, our “poverty has declined much faster, agriculture has grown faster, and rural consumption per person has also grown faster!” (emphasis added). So, the 2.5 lakh peasants who had committed suicide is an illusion. The ‘national shame’ of malnourishment is an illusion. And the increasing number of poor too is an illusion. Are we all not taught midhyavada, the theory of illusion? Remember, the king is always right! So is our prime minister! 


Prime minister, in his speech also mentioned that all the recently announced measures like FDI in retail, FDI in aviation, increase of diesel prices, LPG cylinder, reduction in the number of subsidised cylinders, disinvestment of PSUs, are all good for the economy and hence, to the people of our country. If they are all good for the people and if the time has come for taking such decisions, I did not understand why he is calling them as       ‘hard decisions’? Surprisingly, for acting against corruption and enacting legislations like food security law, there were coalition compulsions but for these decisions, none at all!


The PM pleading for the support of the people advises them “not to be mislead by those who want to confuse you by spreading fear and false information.” Here indeed is the personification of truth, calling everybody liars. Let us compare. The PM says, “Prices paid to farmers will go up and prices paid by consumers will go down”.


Now, let us see what the US Congress commissioned studies on the linkage between farm gate and retail prices says. “The average value of farm share (the share of total retail price received by farmers) declined from 41 per cent in the 1950s to around 35 per cent in the 1970s, and then declined sharply after the 1980s to only 18.5 per cent in 2006. That is, for every dollar worth of food bought by the consumers, only 18.5 cents were received by farmers. The rest was accounted for by advertisements, marketing, profits and so on. This varied across food crops, with a slightly higher share to farmers for eggs and poultry to as low as 8 per cent for cereals and bakery products. For rice and wheat, the price received by farmers was only 19 cents for every dollar worth of these commodities sold in supermarkets”.


Another interesting finding from the study is on the nature of price stickiness of food items, which seems to depend on the extent of monopoly enjoyed by retail giants. In those markets, where the concentration of market power is very high among the retail giants, the markets also exhibit a trend of downward price stickiness (that is, prices adjust upwards, but do not come down even if farm prices come down). Data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation on food prices does not suggest any evidence that countries with higher penetration of retail giants did any better than those without it. Food prices rose in almost all countries, including the US and Europe.


On creation of employment opportunities the prime minister says: “the growth of organised retail will also create millions of good quality new jobs”. An ICRIER (Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations) study in 2008 estimated the Indian retail market to be close to $409 billion. The Wal-Mart’s revenue is $405 billion. The Indian retail sector for the same revenue employed close to 40 million workers. The Wal-Mart employed only 2.1 million workers. The total employment of the top five retail giants together was less than four million, close to 10 per cent of the total employment in the retail sector in India. So, it will certainly destroy livelihoods of millions of workers currently engaged in the sector.


These are all not our voices – the words of ‘liars’. These indeed came out from the very fountainhead – His Master’s Voice. If our PM is the king, isn’t US the God he worships?


The prime minister ignorantly states, “Much of diesel is used by big cars, SUVs owned by the rich”. My son’s school bus is run on diesel. The Road Transport Corporation bus I take is run on diesel. The train in which I travel is run on diesel. And my neighbourhood vegetable market gets its stock from the wholesale market which in turn gets its stock from a bigger market in vans run on diesel. Thanks to the government’s decision, all of us are thus benefited from the diesel price hike. It is indeed true – if only a person earning less than Rs 26 and 32 is poor, then everybody is rich in India!


Let us rewind a little bit into the history. Circa 2004. It is May 21. And the headlines in two of the ‘widest circulated English dailies’ who are not apologetic for their sympathies to the corporates, had screamed: “Gursharan, who spends most of her time reciting the Gurbani and cooking, hoped that the new PM wouldn’t hike the price of cooking gas”. Quoting her, they said: “I hope LPG prices don't go up further. We are already at Rs 240. I don't think the price should go up any further”. The reports went on, “Exuding confidence that her husband would do a ‘good job’ as prime minister, Kaur said: “Mujhe poora yakin hai ki woh zor laga ke har samasya ka hal karenge (I have full confidence, that he will do his best to solve all the problems)”, she said. Now, fast-forward to the present. Eight years have passed in our time travel. The price of cylinder, in spite of Madam Gursharan Kaur’s desires shot up to Rs 400 in Delhi where she lives. But her husband is not yet satisfied. He wants to further increase their price and reduce the number of cylinders. Kaur ji, Samasya hal nahin hora, lekin zor ka jhatka zaroor lag ra (Kaur Madam, the problems are not being resolved; instead we are hit by even larger burdens). Money doesn’t grow on trees!


For giving concessions to the corporates to the tune of over Rs 5 lakh crores, we have money growing as weeds. For taking decisions beneficial to the poor, we have deficit ‘taxfall’ and money drought. As people of this great country, who can take our country forward and build a better and more prosperous future for ourselves and for the generations to come, we need to blow out this government. We have full faith in the wisdom of the people of India. And we will succeed now.


Postscript: It seems the government’s hunger is not satiated. Unka dil mange more! (Their hearts cry for more!) Money and profits grow in insurance, banks and thus also in pension funds. Not on trees! It wants them now. They are trying to open up them too. Finance capital: I’m loving it. Jai Ho Manmohan Singh government! Lage raho. Hum bhi lage rahenge, dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e- qaatil mein hai.