‘Government that cares for the poor, government that lives for the poor’ – this is how Narendra Modi had described his would-be government addressing newly elected party MPs in his first speech in the central hall of Parliament. That was on 20 May, 2014, six days before he was actually sworn in as Prime Minister. Six months later as Narendra Modi returns to India after completing yet another long foreign trip, the new regime has indisputably established itself as India’s most openly corporate-driven government till date, government that is completely dedicated to big business, government that exists for Adani-Ambani and their ilk.
A picture is worth a thousand words, goes the adage. Two images of Modi out of the thousands that we have seen in the last six months give us a clearer idea about his government than all the broom-wielding photo-ops showcasing Modi and other BJP leaders and ministers. The first picture was Modi climbing into an Adani jet to fly from Ahmedabad to Delhi before his May 26 swearing-in. The second was when Modi went to Mumbai to inaugurate the latest Ambani hospital to provide us with that rare photo of Mukesh Ambani patting Modi on his back. If it took the Radia tapes to testify to the UPA variety of crony capitalism, Modi is brazen in displaying his intimacy with Adani and Ambani.
Indeed, the rise of Gautam Adani as India’s tenth biggest dollar billionaire has been an integral part of the larger Narendra Modi saga. Adani’s financial muscle grew from 765 million USD in 2002 to 8.8 billion USD in 2013. Adani virtually grabbed Kutch after the disastrous 2001 earthquake, using the exemptions and incentives granted in the name of post-quake rebuilding of Kutch to build his own economic empire. And now the central government is on the job – it has granted environmental clearance for Adani’s massive SEZ project in Gujarat which was dubbed illegal by the Gujarat High Court and the SBI has sanctioned 1 billion USD (Rs 6000 crore) loan for Adani’s coal mining venture in Australia. It should be noted that between March 31, 2014 and September 30, 2014, Adani group’s outstanding bank loan has already shot up by Rs 7653.33 crore to reach an astronomical Rs 72,632.37 crore.
Ahead of the winter session of Parliament, the Modi government has clearly unveiled its reckless pro-corporate pro-FDI agenda. The notorious coal ordinance has already opened up the coal sector for private commercial mining, the shares of ONGC are up for sale, diesel price has been deregulated and gas pricing policy has been revised to raise domestic gas price by a third. Key sectors like defence, insurance and railways are being opened up big time for foreign investment, and the drug price control regime has been subverted to allow foreign pharmaceutical majors to make bigger profits from the Indian market. India’s intellectual property laws are being subjected to US monitoring and US pharma MNC representatives are being allowed to openly lobby with Indian patent officials and judiciary.
Add to this the ongoing subversion of welfare legislations and the new government’s economic agenda become as clear as daylight. Labour laws are being amended to free companies from any monitoring regarding compliance with factory laws and give them a free hand to hire and fire on their own terms without bothering about the laws of the land. The MNREGA is being sought to be restricted to select districts and degraded from its present status as an employment guarantee act to an employment generation scheme dependent on the whims of the government of the day. The land acquisition act is being sought to be amended to dilute provisions of consent and compensation for land-losing farmers and remove landless livelihood losers from the ambit of compensation and rehabilitation. The food security act is being subjected to endless dilly-dallying even as the process of capitulation to the pressure of rich countries on the issue of food subsidy has begun with the recent Indo-US deal on WTO’s Bali round.
Accompanying this anti-poor economic offensive is the new regime’s relentless campaign for deepening RSS control over the country’s system of education and research and information and broadcasting. So six months after the BJP’s ascent to power we are faced with this ominous Modimix of corporate plunder and communal venom. The new regime has accelerated the processes of concentration of wealth, centralisation of power and communalisation of society. The fighting contingents of the Indian people will have to summon all their strength to challenge and defeat this dangerous design.