[Marxism] Re: neoliberalism suffers setback in India

Marla Vijaya kumar marlavk at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 17 10:14:33 MDT 2005

The abandonemnt of off-loading shares in profit making
government owned Indian Companies by the Congress
Party's Finance minister P Chidambaram had not come
about due to any realization about the responsibility
of sticking to the Common Minimum Programme of the
ruling United Progressive Aliance, of which the
Congress Party and the Left Parties are partners, but
by the relentless hammering down of their opposition
to such a privatisation move by the Left and the
Congress leadership's animal fear of losing power. The
move to off-load 10% stake in the government owned
Bharat Haevy Electricals Limited (BHEL), a profit
making power equipment manufacturing company had been
sternly opposed by the Left Parties as well somne
other members of the UPA alliance. I am proud of the
fact that I had my share of effort in organising
workers' protests in BHEL. I am employed in BHEL.
Finally we were able to halt the privatisation move,
but this had brought about a realisation that only
organised and united opposition can halt the
neo-liberal tendencies of those in power. The finance
minister was so adament and he had even resorted to
lies when he said that he had taken the clearence from
the Left Parties before anouncing his intention to
off-load government's stake in BHEL.
I completely disagree with the statement by Sarita Rai
that in her article "India Abandons Plan to Sell
Stakes in State-Owned  Companies" that "The decision
to discard the privatization agenda is expected to
slow economic overhaul efforts and efect the flow of
foreign investment into India. The government has a
budget deficit close to 5 percent of the country's
gross domestic product. The government needs money to
fulfill its electoral promise to upgrade rural
infrastructure like roads and electricity projects,
and provide jobs".
 India is a huge country with a population of a
billion and more. The FDI that comes into India is
mainly used for non-productive investments such as
luxury cars, fashion accessories and retail marketing
chains. FDI inflows into core sectors is virtually
insignificant and wherever such investments are made,
the technology is completely out of reach of Indians.
And moreover, the employment potential generated by
the FDI is very meagre and helps only the upper middle
class. Whatever  jobs are created in the IT sectors
are mainly used for low level coolie jobs in the IT
field such as call centres, medical transcription etc.
Corruption and tax evasion are rampant in India and it
is estimated that black money in circulation easily
outweighs the legal money in circulation. There is no
dearth of money in India, but the only problem is that
it is stacked in the wrong places and not used for
building up the core and critical sectors of the
Foriegn multinationals such as Honda have virtually
ignored Indian Labour Laws and result was the bloody
police atrocities on the striking workers of Honda
Plant at Gurgaon near Delhi. The Previous BJP
government and the present Congress party governments
have fallen head over heels to invite FDI and they
have given untramelled freedom to violate workers'
rights. Unions are banned and employment is on the
basis of contract work and no limitation on working
hours. The situation is no different in the IT sector.
India's own IT needs are so gigantic that if properly
organised and wise investments are made, a majority of
the IT professional can be gainfully employed to meet
India's own internal developmental needs. We do not
need multinationals to do that for us.
The Rightist press cries foul at any attempts to fight
neo-liberalism and protect workers' rights. What India
needs is not mindless FDI but proper utilisation of
its resources in needed areas. Ofcourse FDI can be
invited into India, but only on a selective basis
where new technology inputs are required. FDI should
be allowed to enter India on its own terms. Here we
should not foget the fact that India economy is so
huge, it can be called a continental economy and
Multinationals badly need access to the huge Indian
market much more than India's need to attract FDI. So
multinationals can be disciplined and given controlled
access to Indian market on India'a terms. Hence all
such talk of scaring away FDI is highly questionable.
Vijaya Kumar Marla

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