The Communal Path to Neoliberalism
Samuel Philip Mathew
THE BJP and the RSS are not only whipping up a frenzy of communalism and nationalism, but also using such sentiments to aid neoliberalism. With all the hue and cry over the central government’s jolting decisions in the recent past, what comes to fore is the discussion on communalism and nationalism, while its direct correlation to neoliberalism is being sidelined, which is precisely what the primary focus should be on.
If we look at what has happened to agriculture over the last few years, it is a telling tale of government apathy and disinterest. Distressed farmers from Tamil Nadu even went to the extent of stripping themselves naked and drinking their own urine over their two weeks long protest stay in Delhi, that too in front of the prime minister himself and yet, there was no answer to their cries. What is happening is that farming and agriculture are purposefully being made non profitable so that the majority of our farmers leave farming for whatever other jobs they can find, if at all they can find any. This will enable big corporations to take up farming on large tracks which will be supported in the name of national interest. Undoubtedly, the argument that we need food to live and if the farmers can’t do it then let those who are capable of doing it be allowed to farm, will be the common chorus then. Similarly as their counterparts in IT and real estate have been getting subsidies, these large companies will also get subsidies, the same subsidies that have been denied to our small farmers year after year, the absence of which has made agriculture non-profitable in the first place. Farmers who are being made jobless will be occupied in these large farms by big corporations as their employees. A new kind of feudalism is set to emerge.
Alongside big corporations engaging in agriculture, we will see them entering into animal husbandry and agro processing as well. If we have the likes of Patanjali finding the central government's undue favour now, more such firms are going to spring up, especially in animal husbandry as our ordinary farmers are going to face several difficulties with the recently introduced restrictions on cattle trade. Have no doubt that in the guise of religious sentiment, which is the first step to create communal hostility, what is happening behind the stage is the preparation of the means for large corporations to enter into such spaces that are being left vacant for them by the average Indian farmer and trader, who is being forced to do so by the present central government's calculated moves. Once again those who have been rendered jobless by this government's onslaught on their livelihoods, will be employed in such big business ventures making more and more Indians directly linked to the international finance capital for their income and livelihoods. If the Sangh Parivar supported the British colonisers during our freedom struggle, now they are supporters of big corporates. Nationalism will be misused to support their entry into our agriculture and allied industries.
FORCEFUL LINKING TO THE BANKING SYSTEM
The financial background for all this has already been prepared with the likes of Aadhaar and demonetisation. In a single stroke the vast majority of Indians have been forcefully linked to the banking system, to provide not only an impetus for the struggling Indian banks, but also to enable private service providers to fleece Indians in the guise of providing cashless services. It is clear that no amount of fresh impetus can revive Indian banking as is being evidenced by the cut-throat charges being levied by the State Bank of India for its services. One needs to remember that the Indian banking giant was brought to its knees by forcing it to infuse money into ventures headed by private players, and successive central governments not taking adequate measures to secure those loans back, making them non-performing assets. One need not add that our public sector banks are being destroyed so that private banks, which are part and parcel of the international finance capital, can have sway over our country's banking system. Aadhaar is being mandated for availing services one after the other, though it is still technically not mandatory. Arun Jaitley himself has said in the parliament that the government is using force to impose Aadhaar. Aadhaar details of citizens have been leaked several times with no regard for their privacy and security, and by linking bank accounts to Aadhaar, even our personal finances are exposed to the vagaries of international finance capital.
Now we have a banking system, agriculture and industry that is ready for the complete integration of our country's economy with neoliberalism and capitalism that is powered by the international finance capital. One should not overlook the fact that such moves are being made acceptable to those who oppose it by veiling it as globalisation, and further stating that globalisation is only connecting the entire world together and that there is no exploitation in it. But still there are some who oppose it, particularly in our colleges and universities, because those institutions facilitate thinking and criticality. Their voices are stifled by cutting down their funding, intake etc and by altering their syllabi and courses to suit the needs of the global market created by neoliberalism. To ensure that public support is garnered in favour of such measurers, students, teachers and institutions that resist it are painted as anti-nationals, anti-army and so on. This is exactly how communalism and nationalism is being used to suit the interests of neoliberalism. This is the true face of the RSS and the BJP that we need to identify and expose.
INTOLERANCE TO CRITICISM
The same tactic is employed against the Left as well. Criticism to any agreement that is harmful to our national interests, is brushed aside as anti-national sentiments. Questioning war mongering becomes anti-nationalism and demanding the recall of AFSPA becomes anti-army, and the fact that the Left is fighting for adequate pay and benefits for our soldiers is conveniently overlooked. The Left’s opposition to demonetisation is portrayed as support to terrorism, so that the benefit it does for private service providers does not become part of the public consciousness. When the Left talks of the farmers’ rights being scuttled through the restrictions on cattle trade, it is hurting religious sentiment and in that public sentiment where the Left is being reduced to merely beef eaters, the discourse on resisting neoliberalism should not be allowed to be sidelined.
Take the instance of war mongering; by whipping up jingoism in the name of patriotism, a clear effort is being made to aid the multibillion dollar arms industry. Media houses owned by those with investments in defence companies are turning out to be nothing but mere propaganda machines to legitimise war. What can be more barbarous than killing for money? Religious sentiments are also used to legitimise war. On one hand, animals are worshipped and hence cannot be killed; on the other the killing of human beings are encouraged.
Masqueraded as social and cultural organisation, while the RSS prepares the ground for ensuring wide acceptance to communal and nationalist frenzy, even resorting to violence to make the opposers adhere to their line, the BJP goes about implementing policies that will further strengthen neoliberalism in this country. Alongside, they go soft on the wayward and unlawful excesses of the Sangh Parivar not only so that the ground work is done well, but also so that the BJP led central government gains public acceptance in an acutely charged atmosphere where communal and nationalist sentiments are running high. While the beef ban and demonetisation and the surgical strikes and the attack on educational institutions may come across to the public as sudden and unrelated, clearly they are all linked to the neoliberal agenda of the BJP which is planned and executed riding on the communal agenda of the RSS. Both feed each other and benefit from each other.
Therefore we cannot fight either of them in isolation; both of them need to be fought simultaneously, as two sides of the same coin.