It’s a rich man’s world

Amit Sengupta

There is a slow, seething upheaval growing like a suppressed volcano across the country and the advisers of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, as well as the esteemed members of the National Advisory Council, both seem to be missing the simmering stream of consciousness. Not much is expected from the prime minister, the Union home minister, the deputy chairman of Planning Commission and the coterie of hardened, fanatic, extremist market fundamentalists who have led UPAII down the drain. These powerful ones have so much unlimited power, and they are so entrenched in the discourse and stereotypes of absolute power, that they seem to have completely lost a sense of history, and the political and social pulse of the people. They have little imagination, compassion or vision, and whatever long-term market solutions they profess to have, or want to push down the people's throats, smack of a corporate totalitarianism, witnessed in countries like China or Burma. Anyway, they have no connect with the masses, or the twilight zones that stalk the country. The prime minister has not even contested an election during his two terms. His best friend in the Planning Commission seems happily clueless about the bitter realism stalking the Indian landscape - even while inflation and poverty has hit the people so hard, relentlessly and continuously - that this tragedy has numbed the social consciousness. His only prescription is PPP (Public-Private Partnership) - a ruse to promote private business and the rich.

In any case, most economists and scientists of all varieties, including Marxists, like militarists, have a stunning lack of a sense of history and politics. They also miss the timing of great historical actions. They are not trained in sociology, philosophy, literature or aesthetics. Their worldview is terribly myopic and limited, they think through the black hole of an artificial political economy construct. Consequently, their minds are prejudiced and militarised, like in an antiseptic sciences lab. Their hearts do not really beat for the poor, or travel through the complex trajectory of emotions which move in the tangential terrain of our tragic landscape, constantly changing, sensing, feeling, touching the multiple chords of reality. Indeed, most students of economics grow up into zombies obsessed with market economics, sensex and stock market, basically incapable of transcending or wanting to transcend the injustices of history. Witness Anil Kakodkar actually defending the Jaitapur nuclear plant inside the Maharashtra assembly when Fukushima was exploding - its long-term damage on the human body, and on ecology, still beyond imagination - though the nuclear establishment is out to bury the truth. Witness the go-ahead to the plant, days after they shot dead a man in cold blood! Witness the government's contrarian stand on resistance which comes out of people's movements, with the regime refusing to even argue for a democratic space to the subalterns? Why should governments in a democracy always seem to be against the people, and in support of big corporates, who are being subsidised and pampered despite stories of corruption? Why should governments in a democracy be so rigid and dogmatic towards people's aspirations? So what is the difference between a vindictive, vicious, fascist regime of the BJP in the past (and now in Chhattisgarh) and 'secular' aam admi's UPAII?

Surely, there is a bloody method in this totalitarian streak camouflaged in a democracy. Surely, there is a hidden disgust for the constitutional principles of democracy in all ruling establishments. Surely, people really don't matter. They can rot, slowly die, go to hell, disappear, while an empire of corruption celebrates its two per cent Indian premier league of slimy sensex.

They are now trying to fudge even the 'below poverty line' figures, hitching it on archaic paradigms of hunger and malnourishment, while half of India bleeds inside its emaciated intestines, and most Indians survive on just about Rs 20 a day. Real wages are so low in both urban and rural areas - with social security networks, all but absent - that people have been left to cold-blooded and parasitical vultures. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide but the Union agriculture minister is shamelessly chasing the milch cow of cash-rich cricket - pray how much richer can the cricketers and their patrons become, and why should people's money be showered on these players who are sitting of mountains of unlimited wealth? 

That's why there are many slow, suffocated Tahrir Squares, seething suppressed rage moving inside the angst and anger of a betrayed nation. This is the tangible truth of the modern political unconscious. The magic realism of the bitter realism. But most economists can't sense it or see it. Their limited minds are too focussed.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: