A storyline for economic right

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by anoop_mig25, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    A storyline for economic right

    Shekhar Gupta February 26, 2015 India today


    Reformers must speak to the poor, not corporate sycophants. Modi erred in letting them celebrate land law changes, now don't blame the poor for seeing these as pro-rich


    To the question he is often asked, whether or not the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is left-wing in its economics, Yogendra Yadav has a succinct formulation. The Right in India, he says, has no convincing economic programme or narrative, and the Left has no intelligent economics. He and I have debated this often, particularly when I said that even Lohiaites are beginning to accept reform now. Yogendra has the last word as always, accepting that is indeed the case and also the problem with India's Left. If its economics is essentially as neoliberal as that of the Congress/BJP, no wonder the voters keep on rejecting it. And therefore the Left needs to come with a new, intelligent alternative concept of economics. This will now be on test in Delhi, and much as I disagree with the idea of cheap power and free water, it is too early to arrive at a conclusion. It is better, therefore, to look at the first half of his argument, of the economic Right not having a convincing narrative. Particularly now, when India's first government of the Right presents a statement of economic intent in its first full budget.

    Until the rise of Narendra Modi, I would have simply said that there is no real economic Right in India, that many shades of pink colour our political landscape, and the little reform that comes about is by stealth or circumstance. Now that excuse is not available. Modi's arrival with his own majority, coinciding with the destruction of the Congress, signals a shifting of the Indian mind to the right. His Gujarat model is as neoliberal as is possible in India. He and his key aides are unapologetic about their corporate friendships, and flaunt them proudly. Yet, you get the sense now that his momentum is stalling.

    There seems insufficient popular conviction in his more radical reforms, the land acquisition amendments being a good example. In Delhi, which his party had swept in May 2014, the AAP has delivered him a defeat enormously more severe than that of the Congress nationally. And the AAP's agenda was enormously more left-populist than even the Congress's while Modi stuck to reform. He offered free or cheap LED bulbs to help families cut their power consumption. Kejriwal simply offered half-priced power with complex and clever qualifications that poorer voters were not able to decipher. He then joined Anna Hazare's cameo in Delhi, firmly placing himself on the povertarian side.

    The Delhi verdict, or rather the first successful challenge to the Modi-Amit Shah Ashwamedha Yagna, has given new energy to defeated opposition parties as well as to Modi's enemies in the BJP and RSS affiliates. Clearest evidence of the changed mood comes from the allies, all of whom have opposed the ordinance now "in its present form". There is no surprise that the Shiv Sena is the most vocal, as it was also the most severely humiliated. Or that the Akali Dal is most conciliatory still, given that it is vulnerable with AAP emerging as a real force in Punjab. When even Ram Vilas Paswan joins the "other" side, you know the winds have shifted.

    Chances are the law will pass, at least in the Lok Sabha for now, but there will be major concessions given. This law is not at all as anti-farmer as it's made out to be, and in fact the earlier UPA law was disastrous for farmers. But that doesn't matter. In a noisy democracy the truth is what popular opinion likes to believe and the image of the bechara, exploited, starving kisaan driven to suicide or dispossessed by marauding corporates on the back of rented political buddies is more convincing than the vision of smart cities, industrial townships, freight corridors, new highways and rail lines. So whose fault is this?

    Yogendra is probably right in saying that the economic Right has no convincing storyline.But that's not because its economics is more flawed than that of the Left. It is just that it has inadequate salesmen of their new ideas. These include Modi. In the euphoria of 281, they forget the limitations of a majority in Parliament when so much real politics is done on the street and in TV studios instead. This is complicated further by a very Indian trait of declaring victory too early. There is a delusion: that just because you are given a majority, voters have bought all your ideas unquestioningly and need no more convincing.

    In a democracy, persuasion, communication, explaining your ideas when you want to make radical change is a never-ending process. And you must do it with visible humility. Preening after a famous victory is fine for a week or two. But if you carry on celebrating, a new group of sycophants emerges and seems to speak for you, people get furious. They absolutely hate it when the drum-beating chamchas also happen to be the super-rich and big corporates. People trust you. But they view the rich hangers-on with the greatest suspicion, and they have seen too much of them with Modi lately, cheering him all the time. It is no surprise therefore that many people are suspicious of the land bill amendments, particularly as they had seen the BJP voting for the original UPA law spiritedly just the other day. They see it as being railroaded by bullying and deceit. And every time a fawning corporate rises to defend it, talks loosely of passing laws in joint sessions, the campaigners of the old, pink economics say to the people, see, do you need more proof? Corporates brought this government to power, and are being paid back now, with your land. Q.E.D.


    Taking the ordinance route on stalled bills was good and decisive action-the opposition can't be gifted stalling as a permanent tactic. But the land law had been passed less than two years ago and with great unanimity. If the new government now found so much wrong with it people are entitled to ask if BJP MPs had voted for it without reading it.

    It was a terrible law, and essentially anti-farmer as it condemned a farming family to remain frozen in the same low-yield business for ever.

    My friend Chandra Bhan Prasad, Dalit activist and intellectual, is a more effective spokesperson for Indian capitalism than anybody else I know. He points out how Brazil, which is often compared with India, has only 15 per cent of its people in farming, who contribute 5.5 per cent to the GDP. In India agriculture's share in the GDP has already fallen to 17, and will continue declining as services and manufacturing grow faster, but it consumes more than 60 per cent of our people. This has to change radically if India is to become a less unequal society.

    The only way that can be achieved is through urbanisation, industrialisation and creation of millions of more organised sector jobs, white as well as blue-collared. This will need land.

    The more progressive farmer leaders, Sharad Joshi in Maharashtra and Chengal Rao in Andhra, have the same view. No Indian should be forced to remain in the same vocation forever, even if it is farming. Farmers should therefore have the option of monetising their land and move on to other things. The notion that somehow we will then be short of land for farming and food-security will suffer is Luddite. Our yields are still very poor, but they are improving. With more modern practices, better seeds, yes, even biotech research, yields can increase greatly. But we never heard a BJP leader say this to us. While other ordinances were pushed through, the better course on land acquisition would have been to put out draft amendments in the public domain for wider debate and then come out to explain, defend and sell these. They simply produced this ordinance and the BJP's political leadership did not tell us why it was so urgent and why so important to change a law they had voted for so recently. The few who spoke out said it was because it had blocked industrialisation, and beaming corporates joined in. This is no way to sell a radical new idea to India's poor


    To some extent this unthinking breathlessness is comparable to the BJP's India Shining in 2004. It was rejected as too arrogant and premature. The early trouble on land acquisition is a warning. If you want to change the very nature of India's political economy after six decades, as you must, you need patience, a new phraseology that the poor find convincing. To show how much better reformed economics is than the old pinko povertarianism, you will need to learn from Yogendra, and come up with a more convincing story


    @Bangalorean and @Kay your comments
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
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  3. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Great article, and I probably agree with every word. Shocked that Sekhar Gupta has come up with such a wonderful piece. This is what I have been shouting all the time on DFI, from years.
     
  4. Kay

    Kay Regular Member

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    A very balanced article. In addition to salesmanship and patience, there is the need of building credibility, which the Indian Government (and state governments) lack.

    This is not about which party is in power, but about corruption, transparency, efficiency and in general the inability to plan effectively and deliver. Without these, privatization can only achieve only so much. Also, if the public confidence is low in government, they have every reason to be skeptical and second guess motives of the government even when the initiatives are well-intentioned. When these are improved, it would be easier for the public to accept government policies, especially the not-so-popular ones. People have to convinced that government initiatives are for their benefit.

    India ranks low in Corruption Perception Index and e-Governance initiatives.
     
  5. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    SG is mostly advocate of having left-of-center and right-of-center parties ruling India , but then we donot have one specially right-of-center..

    He is die-hard supporters of reform... and advocate of bjp moving right-of-center,,,,But BJP are stupids

    But he has been accused of as wheeler-dealer in politics.. by freinds and fow alike

    But i can`t understand this Journalist tribe On one hand they write article pro-bjp/congress/politicans

    But then on other bash same on tiwweter..

    Also i have been saying same that Modi gov should have communicated to farmers/common Indian using meida/power of adds radios and then should have placed law in parliament
     

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