September 07, 2014

PM’s Japan Visit: Yet Again Goebbelsian Methodology

THE RSS/BJP appears to have once again fallen back on their tested methodology that is based on a dictum advanced by Hitler’s fascist propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. During the period of the rise and consolidation of Nazi fascism, with all its consequent horrendous acts that eventually plunged the world into the bloody Second World War, Goebbels conducted the fascistic propaganda on the basis of his dictum: Tell a big enough lie frequently enough for it to be accepted as the truth by the people. This methodology of propaganda appears to have become the mainstay of this Modi government and the accompanying communally incendiary issues being raised by the RSS and its various tentacles. Recollect that in his first address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort, having won a majority in the Lok Sabha albeit with a 31 percent share of the polled vote, prime minister Modi consciously refrained from referring to any one of the main issues that constituted his election plank. There was no mention of the promise to tackle price rise and improve the livelihood conditions of the people; there was no mention of corruption or the steps his government shall take in order to, leave alone curb, at least combat it; there was no mention of `better governance’ etc. Of course, there was no reference to the slogan that constituted the backbone of his election campaign – achche din aanewale hain. As stated earlier, Red Fort speech was full of empty rhetoric bordering on rabble rousing. Now finally (having postponed the earlier enthusiastically announced schedule), in his visit to Japan as the head of the government, Modi thundered that in his first 100 days as the PM, he has virtually performed miracles. Stating that he was new to national politics, apprehensive of moving to Delhi, he had nevertheless within a span of 100 days reversed the `paralysis’ that had gripped India under the earlier government. Justifying this claim, he quoted the statistical data pompously announced by the finance minister a couple of days earlier. Going by the euphoria generated by India Inc. and the corporate media, who together continue to act as Modi’s team of cheer leaders, the country was sought to be led to believe that before this visit, no other Indian head of the State or government has ever visited a foreign country with so much success. This is like what a king of France, Charles XV, who famously thought that there was no history before him and remarked “after me the deluge”! Modi’s claim, on foreign soil, that he has effectively reversed India’s state of `paralysis’ is based on the fact that the first quarter of the fiscal year 2014-15, i.e., April-June 2014 saw an increase in the country’s GDP from a sub 5 per cent average during the last two years to 5.7 per cent. Remember that these are what are called quick estimates. When the final figures emerge subsequently, the actual real growth rate figure may be very different. Notwithstanding this, it must be noted that during this quarter, Modi, sworn-in as the prime minister on May 26 had only the month of June to perform this `miracle’. Instead of a `messiah’, India Inc. has, indeed, discovered a magician! In an accompanying article in this issue, Prabhat Patnaik dissects these claims and shows that in fact in June 2014, there is an overall decline in the growth rate in almost all sectors of our economy. Soon, corporate media, to its dismay, will surely discover that what they have found to be a magician is actually a modern day Goebbels. Since the first two months of the quarter under examination fall within the UPA-II government, the Economic Survey 2013-14 prepared by the earlier government but ironically tabled in the parliament by the current finance minister, should give us important indicators on the economic possibilities for the current year, 2014-15. This Economic Survey begins by stating, “In 2014-15, the Indian economy is poised to overcome the sub-5 percent growth of gross domestic product (GDP) witnessed over the last two years”. It continues to add, “Developments on the macro stabilisation front, particularly the dramatic improvement in the external economic situation with the current account deficit (CAD) declining to manageable levels after two years of worryingly high levels was the redeeming feature of 2013-14. The fiscal deficit of the centre as a proportion of GDP also declined….”. The opening section of the Survey ends by stating, “The economy can look forward to better growth prospects in 2014-15 and beyond”. Undoubtedly, the economic problems created by the neo-liberal policies of the UPA-II government which imposed unprecedented hardships on the aam admi vastly benefited the BJP in achieving its electoral victory. However, to thunder that the initial glimpses of some feeble recovery that are being seen is due to `Modi magic’ is simply preposterous. The initial signals given by this government and the consequent legislations on privatisation and further access being provided to foreign capital to maximise profits from Indian markets and resources indicates that this Modi government is carrying forward the neo-liberal economic reform trajectory with greater vigour. This essentially is the core of the assurances that the PM has given in Japan to entice greater investments. The country is being told that some Rs 20 lakh plus crores of Japanese investment is in the pipeline. Very often in the past, not merely such assurances but memoranda of understandings amounting to larger numbers have been signed but nothing substantial has come in tangibly. Further, it is yet to be seen if any such investments that will see the light of the day will add to the levels of productive capacities in our country, i.e., establish new factories; generate additional employment and introduce higher levels of technology so far not available to India. Any other type of investment that only uses our resources, raw material and cheap labour to maximise profits without anything tangible in return would do more harm than good to India. The latter can be a more likely scenario given the fact that Japan, after long years of economic slowdown and recession, has just begun to show some signs of a turn around. In order to consolidate this, Japan could well take recourse to the latter course of maximising profits from India. Thus, it is not the Modi government that can deliver acchhe din for the people. The people will have to realise this through relentless struggles against the emerging venomous cocktail of neo-liberal economic reforms and rising communalism. Through their united and strong popular mobilisations, they must force the government to change its policy direction on both these fronts. Otherwise this can result in much worse conditions in the quality of life of the vast mass of our people. (September 3, 2014)