Thursday, May 22, 2014

India: Modi's victory: More of the same?

Narendra Damodardas Modi
We share these comments on the Indian elections from Roger Silverman in London.

In a society graphically polarised between a narrow plutocracy and the destitute masses, a class so manifestly parasitic as the Indian capitalist class has somehow to whip up an artificial mass base. Like every ruling class in its epoch of decay, ultimately its survival depends upon the magical power of myth.  
In the early period of independence, it suited the indigenous capitalist class, which had already begun to take root under the patronage of the British raj, to shelter behind a political elite posing as defender of the minorities, champion of the poor; secular, democratic and even “socialist”. The flimsy pretext for this was its dependence on nationalisation, protection and state subsidies, and its need to secure a home market safe from the risk of communal and national disintegration. It was always a cynical and hollow facade, though, long abandoned in practice even by Congress, as can be seen in its true record: the institutionalising of caste rivalries; the dictatorial Emergency regime; the regular subordination of opposition state governments; suppression of national revolts; tolerance of caste atrocities; periodic fostering of communal riots; brutal military repression in Kashmir; successive wars with Pakistan; explicit endorsement of the massacre of Sikhs in 1984, etc…
Today the ruling class resorts more explicitly to such crude devices; and what more effective device than outright Hindu high-caste bigotry? True, riots and massacres are messy affairs that tend to get in the way of business. But such passions have a momentum of their own; they can’t be simply switched on and off. It is unfortunate that random eruptions of communal violence may sometimes destabilise order and discipline, but these are the political price paid by the ruling class to stay afloat.
There is a difference in the rhetoric of the two rival parties; but hardly nowadays a trace of difference in policy. The process of wholesale privatisation gained momentum under the Congress governments of Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh and the BJP government of Vajpayee alike. Similarly, the storming of the mosque at Ayodhya, the worst communal riots since 1947, and the horrific pogrom of 3,000+ Muslims in Mumbai, all took place under the Congress government of Narasimha Rao.  Under the crude bigot Narendra Modi, the gulf between rich and poor will widen still further (with perhaps a limited further growth of the narrow urban middle class), and there will be more communal riots.


Sean said...

Along with the analysis in Roger S's very good article I would like to add one comment. That is the brutal oppression of women in India. This is a means of dividing and ruling and also keeping a whole section of that huge working class as low paid labor. The special oppression of women in India is a monstrous crime. Sean.

Richard Mellor said...

Thank you to Sean for again reminding us about the special oppression of women. The struggle for more open and honest dialogue within the socialist and workers movement is what will help us all take a step back and see the bigger picture, the complex nature of society and what capitalism means to all. If it were not for Sean's comment I would have not likely mentioned it had I wrote a piece on the election of Modi either. But his comment brought to mind an equally oppressive aspect of capitalist society and in particular in India and the poorest economies and that is the horrors that children face. They are the most helpless of us dependent as they are on the adults. We can't raise every special oppression every time we discuss an event of course, but the main thing is that a conscious struggle for an honest and open approach to politics and dialogue will help us all develop a fully rounded out view of the world in which we live.