Tags

, , , ,

Three Years of BJP Government

Double Whammy for the Indian People

Sitaram Yechury

The BJP government is celebrating the completion of three years in office
with their trademark grandiose and fanfare.  Seen from the perspective of
the vast majority of the Indian people, there is no occasion for any
celebration.  The livelihood conditions of the Indian people have sharply
deteriorated during the course of these three years.

The BJP government, under Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has unveiled the
true character of the BJP functioning as the political arm of the RSS.
The RSS continues to pursue its ideological project of converting the
secular democratic Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant
fascistic `Hindu Rashtra?.

In the process,  the government has unleashed a quadruple attack on India
and the people.  At one level, there is a sharp rise of communal
polarization with growing murderous attacks on dalits and the Muslim
minority community; secondly, neo-liberal economic reforms are being
pursued more  aggressively by this government than ever before; thirdly,
growing authoritarian trends are undermining the democratic and
parliamentary institutions; and lastly, India has been reduced to the
status of a junior strategic partner of US imperialism.

Deteriorating People?s Livelihood Conditions

This BJP government assumed office promising acche din for the people. It
had promised to create two crores of jobs every year.  As against this,
the job creation in eight major industrial sectors in the country was
lowest in the last eight years.  1.35 lakh jobs were created in these
sectors in 2015. In 2016, the Labour Bureau reports that 2.31 lakh jobs
were created.  Over and above the backlog of huge unemployment in the
country, 1.5 crore youth join the job market every year.   Even amongst
those who are working, the ILO reports that 35 per cent of India?s working
people are `under employed?.

The much tom-tomed IT sector has reported a dismal picture regarding job
creation.  International agency, McKinsey has estimated that amongst the
40 lakh workers in the IT sector today, nearly 50 to 60 per cent would be
rendered redundant.  Three major IT companies ? Infosys, Wipro and
Cognizant ? have reported considering retrenching 56,000 workers.  The
IITs, across the country, have reported a sharp fall in corporates hiring
students passing out from the campuses.

Rural employment has been severely curtailed with the refusal of this BJP
government to release funds for the legal commitments made under the
MGNREGA. The government, on an average, has reportedly informed that
during the course of these three years, more than 20,000 people under this
scheme were denied payment of wages each year.  Take the case of Tripura,
a state which ranks number one in providing the maximum mandays under this
scheme, averaging around 94, the funds released by the Central government
are so meagre that Tripura can now only offer 42 mandays, i.e., less than
half of what was there during the past three years.

The scenario for the future looks bleak on both the employment as well as
industrial/manufacturing front. The growth rate of industrial output has
dropped from 5.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent last year.  Credit growth from
the banking sector has dipped to its lowest level in 63 years.  Clearly,
manufacturing activity has declined considerably reflected in this fall of
banking credit growth.

The demonetization had crippled the informal sector of our economy which
contributes over 40 per cent of our GDP and accounts for nearly
three-fourths of our employment.

The conditions in rural India have worsened during these last three years.
The Central government has informed the apex court that, on an average,
12,000 farmers have been committing distress suicides in every one of
these three years.  The major reason for this distress suicides is the
debt burden under which the majority of the Indian farmers are groaning.
Three years ago, this BJP government promised to increase the minimum
support price for our farmers to the level of one and a half times the
input costs required for agricultural operations.  The government has
betrayed the peasantry on this account as well.

On top of this, the import duty on wheat has been eliminated resulting in
wheat coming into the market at a price lower than the MSP declared by the
government.  The farmers are being forced to undertake distress sales
which further worsen the debt burden.  Even the existing MSP is not being
paid to the farmers for many crops, including cotton. This is the state of
our annadatas during the course of these three years.

While this government is considering proposals for restructuring (read
`writing off?) the massive loans taken by Indian corporates from our
nationalized banks, it is not prepared to consider the restructuring of
loans taken by our farmers.  The outstanding NPAs against corporates,
including interest, would amount to a humongous Rs. 11 lakh crores.  While
the poor farmers are harassed with the properties and cattle being
attached by the bank, pushing them towards distress suicides, no punitive
action against any defaulting corporates is even being considered.  This
is the true character of this government that has been exposed during the
course of these three years.

Growing Inequalities

Naturally, under these conditions, the Human Development Indicators for
the vast majority of the Indian people has sharply declined.  The reputed
international medical journal, The Lancet, has shown that India ranks at a
low position of 154 out of 195 countries on the global index of `burden of
disease?.   India has fallen eleven places on this index during the last
one year.  Indian people today face a `burden of disease? which is worse
than our sub-continent neighbours like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and
Bangladesh.

Such anti-people policies of enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor
has resulted in a huge growth  of economic inequalities. Between 2014 and
2016, the richest one percent of Indians increased their share of nation?s
wealth from 49 per cent to 58.4 per cent. This figure stood at 36.8 per
cent in 2000. The same Credit Suisse report that gives this information
also shows a more alarming feature that the share of the bottom 70 per
cent of Indians together is today just 7 per cent of the nation?s wealth.
This figure was double at 14 per cent that this 70 percent owned in 2010.

The latest National Sample Survey report on household expenditure in India
shows the huge gulf between the rich and poor that is widening in a rapid
manner. The top 10 per cent of Indian households today have an average
asset holding of Rs. 1.5 crore. This is 50,034 times the average value of
assets held by an urban household of the bottom 10 per cent of our
country.

The expenditures of India?s poor are so meagre that this does not figure
in any compilation of statistics of macro entities of GDP or tax
collections. In fact the lower half of India?s population spends virtually
nothing on any item other than what is required for their survival. Given
these disparities the devastation that the demonetization has struck on
India?s poor had made little difference to the overall spending patterns
in the country because it is only the rich and to a certain extent the
upper section of the middle class that spends. This explains why the
figures for the GDP or that for the tax collections or for that matter the
sensex do not show a decline following demonetization. In other words, it
is not that demonetization was not inconsequential to people?s livelihood,
it devastated India?s other half while statistically this does not get
reflected.

Sharpening Communal Polarisation

In almost all BJP ruled states, private armies in the name of cow
protection have surfaced that are mounting  murderous attacks on dalits
and minorities.  Squads for `moral policing? like the anti-Romeo squad in
Uttar Pradesh or Sri Ram Sena in Karnataka continuously harass our youth
prescribing what to wear, what to eat, whom to  befriend etc. Unless such
private armies are banned, the protection of the rights of the dalits and
minorities cannot be ensured.

The situation in the state of Jammu & Kashmir continues to worsen.  This
BJP government?s Kashmir policy has proved to be a complete failure.  The
government has reneged on its promises of implementing some confidence
building measures in Jammu & Kashmir and starting the political process of
a dialogue  with all stakeholders in the state.

There is a systematic and intensive effort to change the country?s
education policy. Syllabus to be taught in schools and colleges is being
rapidly communalized.  To control the institutions of research and higher
education central universities like JNU and HCU are under attack to
destroy the progressive and secular content of these institutions.

All these put together amount to the advancing of the RSS agenda to
convert the secular democratic Republic into their version of a rabidly
intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra?.

Undermining Institutions

Parliamentary institutions are being undermined.  This government is
taking frequent recourse of declaring various legislations as `money
bills? in order to avoid the Rajya Sabha where it does not have a
majority.  Most of the legislative business is passed without discussions
in the Lok Sabha where the BJP exercises its tyranny of majority.

Recently, the laws governing the donations made to political parties by
the corporates have been amended in such a manner that they will now
legalise political corruption.  The existing limits on the amounts the
corporates can donate to political parties have been removed.  The
transparency of such donations are also being adversely affected with the
introduction of electoral bonds. It is no longer necessary to know who has
bought the electoral bonds and given it to which political parties.  Thus,
there is no transparency any longer for political funding and, therefore,
no accountability.  This government refuses to amend the existing laws to
impose a ceiling on the expenditures of political parties during
elections, nor, ban corporate funding of political parties.  Consequently,
the role of money power distorting the democratic choices of the people
has sharply increased.

India has now opened up almost all areas of its economy for the in-flow of
foreign funds.  This includes crucial sensitive sectors like defence
production.  This largely facilitates the profit maximization of
multinational corporations at the expense of the Indian economy and the
people.  A massive drive of privatization of the public sector has been
launched.

With the signing of Indo-US treaties, India has entered into a logistics
sharing arrangement with the USA and has been accorded the status of a `US
defence partner?.  This is not in the interests of India?s independent
foreign policy status and position in the world.

These three years, hence, have seen an all-round attack on the vast
majority of the Indian people.  The people?s discontent is being sought to
be diverted away from protests against the BJP government and its policies
through the rousing of jingoistic nationalism of the Hindutva variety.
All patriotic Indian people have to uphold the banner of Indian patriotism
as opposed to the whipping up of Hindutva nationalism.  These three years
have shown that it is only the power of popular united struggles that can
put the pressure on this government to change its policy direction in
favour of improving people?s livelihood and to safeguard the Republican
character of our country.

Advertisements