Being a common man, I’m always on the lookout for bread and butter related news items in the newspapers. If you have closely been following the newspapers for some time, the most important items that pertain to the bread and butter issues of the common man are – ease of doing business index, global hunger index, Care Ratings report on employment generation, and the paradise papers. The politicians and big business tycoons are euphoric on the improvement in India’s ease of doing business ranking. At the same time, the global hunger index released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which placed India at 100th position among the 119 countries, had thoroughly exposed the shallowness of the so-called development and had placed India even behind North Korea and Iraq. Worse still, a starvation death of a child in Jharkhand had put the entire nation to a discomfiture. These two incidents are a slap in the face of the rulers who are trying to hard sell the neo liberal agenda by diverting the attention of the people from the pressing bread and butter and societal problems onto the useless issues such as cows, temples, statues and patriotism just to garner some votes.
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The eggheaded economists, through their esoteric and jargon-laden talks and statements, make us believe that the ease of doing business attracts more investment that leads to more growth, which in turn results in trickle-down effect that will ultimately drive away poverty. They also say that economic growth, invariably generates more employment opportunities to the aspiring youth. As if to debunk all their myth-laden talk, a domestic rating agency called Care Ratings has brought out a report, in which it stated that employment growth has not kept pace with the GDP growth, junking the claim that there is a positive correlation between growth and employment. So the hunger index and Care Ratings report have not only conclusively invalidated the false claims that investment and growth generate opportunities and lead to a trickle-down. They also firmly established the truth that capitalist greed does not allow anything to trickle down. Trickle-down does not work because a rich man’s cup, instead of overflowing, keeps ever growing in size negating any possibility of the said effect. Therefore, growth led employment is a pure myth. Our politicians are very well aware of the fact that in a land that is full of mythology peddling myths is very easy.
Then came the explosive leak of tax documents: the paradise papers, which revealed that India is in 19th position in terms of the number of names appeared in the papers. Nineteenth rank is a very good rank indeed in a seemingly rank obsessed country, but unfortunately there is nothing great to feel proud of. Most of the people who featured in these papers are politicians, business tycoons and other celebrities, including Neira Radia, the notorious corporate lobbyist who came into the limelight with the infamous ‘Radia tapes’, which exposed the unholy corporate-media-politician nexus. The Paradise and Panama papers are significant as they unearth some vital information, which the crony-capitalism infested governments are highly reluctant to unveil in the apprehension that they may lose corporate funding to their political campaigns. They throw stoplight on the magnitude of tax evasion that is prevalent in our society and the propensity of the rich to stash their wealth in offshore tax havens.
The enormous wealth that is being created by using the societal resources is being stashed away abroad to avoid taxes. When the wealth gets stashed away abroad how will the much touted ‘trickle down’ become a reality?
All these indexes and revelations point to something ominous. During the demonetization drive the commoners had gone through the untold misery standing in serpentine queues, where some even breathed their last, even while the rich continued to bask in their aura unmindful of the cash crunch. Many opinion makers expected large scale violence and chaos all over the country. But nothing of that sort happened just because the commoners were optimistic that the black money would be unearthed and their lives would be better off. Things, however did not happen as expected. If we assume that the demonetization is a kind of trial by fire (Agnipareeksha) for the tax evaders, they all emerged pure out of it. All the politicians, business tycoons, bureaucrats and celebs got the gold standard ratings and nothing came out of the gargantuan exercise. In the end the only beneficiaries of this exercise appear to be the Visa, MasterCard, and Amex, which are the offspring of the Uncle Sam, with whom our rulers are trying to forge a strong ‘strategic’ alliance. Of course, our own Paytm also derived benefit.
When netas do something for the sake of self-promotion with an intention to garner votes thereby win one more term, this is what exactly happens. Their real intention is only to create an impression that they are fighting against black money thereby play to the gallery of the poor and the lower middle class. They revealed their true colors when they relaxed conditions to facilitate unlimited and anonymous corporate funding to the political parties, which will surely provide mind and muscle to the Corporate Hindutva. In the end, all the black money talk proved to be a mere rhetoric and it took an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to unearth the subterranean dealings of the ultra-rich tax evaders.
Now what? No one speaks out now. They only constitute probes which are a mere eye wash. In an essence this is an effort to hijack democracy and replace it with an oligarchy constituting corporates and Hindutva leaders in an insidious manner. And the worst sufferers or all these misdeeds are the commoners, who, oblivious to the devious deals that are happening around them, stand in queues in front of the polling booths to cast their votes in the expectation that their lives will improve for good.