PUCL Bulletin, June 2004

Will globalisation relieve poverty?

-- By K.G. Kannabiran, 27 February 2004

Even globalization cannot give up populism. Our Chandra Babu Naidu who swore and his party resolved to make PW violence an issue was forced to mouth populist slogans to appear sincere to the lakhs he brought to the city to start his election campaign. His party and the large number cadres he recruited for the occasion were not tutored well in the art of hawking even populism head-lines of language papers screamed about the mega or shall we call it Maha rally and meeting he and his colleagues held on 22 Feb. He tried to coax the PW to let up on their violence during elections and so announced that if he is returned to power he will hold talks with PW.

This display of grandeur is in fact a celebration of the second installment of the huge loan sanctioned by the World Bank to the State. It is not because of the prospering economy. Neither he nor the proponents of globalization believe in politics; they believe in producing stunning spectacles. Tourism is the only productive investment to provide comfort for multinational executives who tire of managing the country’s economy. They need venues for amusements like yoga centers, health clinics, restaurants offering ethnic food, oriental dances as also making provision for guided tours for western and Japanese tourists who are here for examining investment possibilities; building tourist resort for these travelers who come to savor and enjoy the historical remnants of the grandeur that was India. In this process they also see the poverty that has been stalking this ancient land continuously over the ages. Would their investment help relieve poverty they would wonder! Is globalization about relieving the world of poverty?

That, I believe, at the present stage we are in is, million-dollar question. The guide surely will tell the tourists that it is this poverty, as a back drop, that illuminated lives of Hindu Kings and their princesses, the Moslem rulers and their princesses, their love lives, their wars, their victories and defeats. They will explain to them the aesthetic content of their architecture. The guide would not have even heard of Sri and the poetry he wrote about the persons who by their labour created this grandeur. In fact such knowledge is subversive as it overawes globalization and therefore is terrorism.
The only asset this state holds as on today is the credit card given by the World Bank on which the state can draw, but even as Chandra Babu make history as he wishes so also he cannot use the credit card as he wishes. In fact all state governments’ and the union government have been provided with the World Bank credit cards and all the full and half page gifts announced to the people in the newspaper advertisements are the euphoria produced by these World Bank credit cards.

The AP State Vision of “Swarna AP” or the visions of India Shining of the Prime Minister and his men appear to be the optical illusions produced by these credit cards. The present competition in the elections is not for attaining the objectives in our Constitution. It is not about various competing methods to secure the constitutional objectives. It is not about proceeding towards social transformation. It is not about equitable access to material resources of the community; nor is it about regulating the economic system with view to prevent concentration of wealth and instruments of production to the detriment of the community. All the institutions in the society have joined together to promote concentration of wealth and for monopolizing access to instruments of production. The election fight as between the non-left parties is about getting at the World Bank Credit Card. for that is the route to Development and their prosperity. That is why Advani said that the election is not about politics but Development.

Our Creditor, the World Bank, tried to re-write our Constitution and our government by an executive order appointed a Review Committee. But that was not successful. The next best thing is to train our politics to ignore the Constitution and that is what is happening. Instead of the Constitution being the lodestar the major articulate premise of all governance is the guidelines stipulated by the World Bank Credit Cards. As always courts are with them and against the people. This election is about priorities fixed by the World Bank. This may be Formula-1 Race track evicting the poor living in the area, or huge theatres for viewing films about prehistoric animals, which can be as violent as the present day world or huge towers to talk to our neighboring flat owners through cell phones. The increased efficiency will use minimum of input. The small percentage of jobs now available on account outsourcing will soon disappear because of the protest of Americans against this act of deprivation which globalization has brought about. The only income generating self employment will be begging and this is visible for all to see; and the profession of hangers on who would haunt these tourist joints to run moral and immoral errands for this tourist crowd. This is the prospect the credit card offers. The people whose voting right is a fundamental right will they choose the politics of the Constitution or the politics of the Credit card appears to be the only election issue.


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