Ishfaq Ahmad Thaku
Democracy established under the umbrella of capitalism is political democracy, which provides a formal right to people for mere installation and extinguishing a government through electoral process. Douglas Dawod has stated in his book, “Capitalism and Its Economics: A Critique”, that this electoral process is predictably contaminated, when it coexists with capitalism’s essential stratification of income, wealth and power, and all three are characterised by increase in the inequality of wealth and power and to initiate the policies favouring them or effectively to veto those that do not. Consequent to this exploitation, Disraeli states that the “two tribes” in modern day capitalistic world crop up: one relatively small and very rich and another enormously large but very poor. Furthermore, in a capitalistic society, the interests of these two groups always collide with each other as the modern day economy is not based on justice but on the efficiency principle.
It is very difficult for the government to fulfil the needs of both groups simultaneously through reconciliation. As both Adam Smith and Karl Marx admitted, the profits of capitalists always depend on the exploitation of workers and the general public. The only difference between Adam Smith and Karl Marx was that of their audience, the former’s audience was capitalists and the latter’s workers. So, there is a direct clash of interests between these two groups. The guiding principle of modern day economics is based on self-interest that had been first pointed out by Adam Smith in his master piece , ‘The Wealth of Nations’. Douglas Dawod also has mentioned that before the great depression of 1930, capitalism was touted without irony as a society where “it’s each for himself and god for all”, but since then an older phrase has threatened to fit the social cruelty-show spreading and deepening “a war of all against all”.
The corporate sector, broadly, puts two categories of demands before governments in framing policies. Firstly, it is the demand of privatization of public sectors and essential services, more tax concessions and other incentives. Second is the demand of withdrawing minimum public support and subsidies on essential products (despite being the only hope of marginalised societies). Viewed in this light, it is flagrant to see the promptness of the present government to pass the land acquisition bill and allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail sector, provide Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) and other tax concessions to the corporate sector in the name of incentivizing investment. As is evident from statistics, the Union Budget 2014-15 proposed tax benefits of US$95 billion for companies and individuals but, to the contrary, subsidies have been trimmed by US$36 billion.
On the other hand, common citizens have been engaged non-issues and are being divided on the communal lines. Despite India being a multi-religious country, communalism has remained always at the heart of Indian politics. The pace of communalism has intensified way back with the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 (coincidently just one year after India adopted free market economy in 1991). Indian politics is now broadly based on vote for “Hindutva” ideology or vote against it. Development and other socio-economic issues are now of secondary or even tertiary significance.
Though the present government came into corridors of power in the name of prosperity, but it has recalibrated its policies directed towards whipping communalism aggressively. This apparently is a well crafted strategy to lead astray the attention of common people from the corporate centric and anti-people economic policies. In the same vein, non-issues like love jihad, and myth of Muslim population growth have become top public discourse topics.
Benefiting from the weapon of communalism, the present government sensibly formulated strategies to deviate the attention of common people from the core socio-economic issues. Ruling for now for almost for four years, it has done nothing so far what it pretended to do before the 2014 general elections. On the contrary, it followed the same policies in letter and spirit, which they otherwise opposed more rigorously when they were in opposition. In addition, communalisation has been inducted so as to maintain and gain public support on communal basis without doing any major developmental work.
The extreme approach of present government is not only threat to the social and secular fabric of India, but it could lead to emergence of new reactionary movements. As Karl Marx opined that the extreme policies and attitude of particular group or class against other leads to emergence of new reactionary forces in society that strives to overthrow the old one. The same prognosis is held for the present government.
—The author teaches at the Department of Commerce, University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: [email protected]