The electricity shutdown that immersed almost half of India into darkness and brought life to a standstill exposed the stark realities of “shining India” and the fragile nature of its so-called economic miracle that has been portrayed to the world. This also lays bare the contrast between the high growth rates of the market economy in the former colonial countries and the debilitated conditions of the social and physical infrastructures in these societies.
In fact India’s high GDP growth rates were inversely proportional to its poverty alleviation. In the last decade while the Indian economy grew by about 9 percent on average, the number of people living below the poverty line of less than a dollar a day went up from 770 million to about 860 million.
After the economic collapse of world capitalism in 2008 most bourgeois experts were propagating the idea that the so called “emerging” economies, especially the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries would revive the world economy. But more than four years after the crash all these economies are in crisis themselves.
>Brazil’s growth rate has reached a new low of 1.8 percent. Dilma Rosseuf’s government is in jeopardy, while violence and social unrest in the country is escalating. The Russian winter showed the brittle nature of the Mafia oligarchic capitalism that was installed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. India’s growth rate has halved and the rupee is depreciating in a downward spiral.
China’s economic slowdown has triggered open conflicts between different factions of the ruling elite with the expulsion of Bo Xi Lai and other leaders of the faction who were striving for a more softened social impact of the economic growth. There have been more than five hundred major strikes and occupations in China most of which have remained unreported. The social and the economic turmoil in South Africa has exasperated in the recent months.
With the world economy having little or no prospect of seeing a recovery in the next few years, the future of the Indian economy is bleak to say the least. With the contraction of consumer consumption in the advanced countries, Indian exports will inevitably shrivel. Although Indian domestic consumption is based on a relatively large middle class with varying socio-economic layers, of about three to four hundred million, with the economic decline this class is being squeezed and their purchasing capacity is visibly shrinking. This will have a boomerang effect on the economy, thus further aggravating the crisis. The depreciation of the rupee will increase spending on imports.
This will be reflected in the political plane where we are witnessing perhaps the most turbulent swings ever in Indian politics since partition. All the political parties that dominate the horizon are in crisis and are splitting with the raging conflicts of different business interests who use state power to boost their plunder.
Corruption is one of the important symptoms that elucidate the diseased condition of Indian capitalism. According to a recent report by a government commission of India there is more that 500 billion dollars of capital stashed away just in Swiss banks by some of the Indian capitalists. The commission called it ‘black money’. But these very capitalists dominate all the major political parties. They indulge not only in horse trading in the central and state parliaments, but most ministries are up for bidding at the formation of a new government and during the cabinet reshuffles.
Although India now has more billionaires than Japan, it has one of the worst ratios of social disparity. Almost half of the population has been pushed out of the economic cycle and are forced to live in subhuman conditions. Health, education and other social sectors are in tatters. An Al Jazeera report last week revealed that more than half of India’s population are without toilets and large swathes of the country are open air lavatories with severe unhygienic conditions. Filth and garbage are not just piling up in the swarming shanty towns of the Indian cities, but the rural areas are also suffering from unprecedented pollution and undergoing an environmental catastrophe.
After sixty five years of Independence, the Indian ruling class has failed to develop a modern industrialized society. The pattern of social and economic growth has been of an extremely uneven and combined nature. Alongside the most advanced technological enterprises and palatial villas there is excruciating poverty and misery. There are islands of modernity in a vast ocean of primitiveness.
In fact India is a living museum of historical materialism. The social and political culture is riven with prejudices of caste, colour, race and religion. Black magic, superstition and mythological concepts are prevalent even amongst the modern Indian bourgeoisie. Some of the biggest business houses have astrologers and charlatans on their boards of directors. National chauvinism, cricket, Bollywood soaps and the facade of democracy have been used by the media elite as opium for the masses.
Tribal and nationalist movements are raging in most provinces of India and have been described by the Indian Prime Minister as the single largest security challenge in India. Brutal state repression is a daily occurrence from Kashmir to Assam. Religious hatred and bloodshed are unravelling the social fabric of the country. The pressures of imperialism on the politicians in power to carry out even more ‘reforms’ means a further worsening of the plight of the masses. With the aggravating economic, social and infrastructural crisis these venal vices will conflagrate in the period ahead.
The only hope for India lies is the proletariat and the youth. The strategists of the ruling classes have used deceptive and corrupt tactics to vent the raging lava swirling amongst the oppressed masses. Anna Hazare and the so-called civil society movement is no alternative to the present system. This right-wing demagogue with neo-fascist tendencies is being propped up to divert and disrupt the class struggle.
The CPI(M) and the mainstream left parties were defeated due to their capitulation to capitalism in the name of democracy and abandoning the path of revolutionary socialism. On 28th February this year India witnessed the largest strike of the proletariat in world history. A hundred million people took to the streets and struck on a class basis. The Indian working class has glorious traditions of class struggle to remove the exploitation and suffering imposed by a cruel and a redundant system. With a revolutionary Marxist leadership they could change the course of history and emancipate South Asia.