Mainstream, VOL LIX No 36, New Delhi, August 21, 2021
Coronacapitalism: Reverse the Reset | Kobad Ghandy (Part A)
Friday 20 August 2021, by#socialtags
This article seeks to give a reply to the World Economic Forum’s CEO, Klaus Schwab’s recent book : Covid -19: The Great Reset and his dystopian agenda. The article is divided into five parts:
Here we are publishing the first three parts the last two will come in the next issue
Coronacapitalism: Reverse the Reset
(1) The Great Recession & The rise of China
(i) Post WWII: Cycles of Crises
(ii) Enter the Dragon
(iii) Contention & Collusion
(2) Pandemic and Lockdown
(i) Eve of lockdown
(ii) Impact of Lockdown - International
(iii) Impact of Lockdown – India
(3) A Dystopian World
(i) The Future
(ii) The Present
(iii) The Crisis & The Great Reset
(4) India a Key Link in the Imperial Chain
(5) Reverse the Great Reset
(a) The Digitisation Mania
(b) The Cabal’s web of control in India
(c) Discard Fear – Fight both Covid and Lockdown
Coronacapitalism: Reverse the Reset - (Part A)
“The Risk of a new Great Depression, worse than the original, is rising by the day”.
So said one of the leading establishment economists — Dr. Doom, who successfully predicted the 2008 crash as early as 2006. In Feb. 2017 he warned of financial vulnerabilities that "could trigger severe economic, financial, political, and geopolitical disturbances unlike anything since the 2008 crisis."1  And sure enough, within exactly three years, came the pandemic and lockdowns unlike anything seen earlier. The corona lockdowns have only aggravated ten-fold the world economic crisis that was already brewing since the first quarter (Jan — March) of 2020.
In fact, way back in 2017 in an article from jail I had analysed the continuing stagnation in the major economies of the world since the sub-prime crisis of 2008 and the likelihood of yet another crash even more severe. In that article2  I had warned: “With all indicators down, the Economist warns that Sod’s Law decrees that sooner or later, policy-makers will face another downturn. And, it adds, the danger is that this time, having used up their arsenal (that is, of monetary manipulations of QE and low interest rates) governments and central banks will not have any ammunition left to fight the next recession”.
Sure enough, a massive downturn returned in Jan 2020 which was threatening to be worse not only than the Great Recession following 2008 but even worse than the Great Depression post 1929. As I mentioned in an earlier article, in the first Quarter (Jan-March) of 2020 (i.e. just before the pandemic/lockdowns): The US economy contracted by 4.8%, Japan by 7.1% and the EU by 3.5%. In fact, in the US and Japan the contraction started in the last Quarter of 2019 itself. Recent data released has shown that the US economy contracted19.2% over the three quarters from Q4 20193 . The European Union economy in the first quarter of 2020 saw the worst quarterly drop since the bloc began collecting data in 1995. Not only that, commodity prices throughout the world began crashing by end February itself. US oil prices lost half its value in less than two weeks in the latter half of February having plunged to $24.5 a barrel, lowest since 2003.
All this, before the lockdown was initiated and the pandemic came on the scene. There is generally an economic aspect to any major phenomena in the world, be it wars, world wars and possibly also this lockdown. The governments themselves have been saying that this pandemic is no less than a war scenario; and what is unprecedented, except for a few countries, the entire world has been in lockdown mode since the last one-and-a-half years. The situation is so serious that governments and media have been insinuating this will be the “new normal” and people like Klaus Schwab (chief of the World Economic Forum) is talking of a Great Reset that can have horrifying implications for the poor and middle classes; the masses of the world in general. What is even more worrying, the media, the top leaders and bureaucrats and even international bodies like the WHO, IMF etc have been repeating the WEF agenda, not to mention the big business magnates of the world. It defacto appears that the pandemic is being utilised by these magnates to fast-forward the Great Reset that they had in mind. That is why it is essential to see what actually led to the present economic crisis during lockdown and whether or not was it only the virus that caused it or was it systemic.
Coming back to the economy, unlike what the Economist said, these governments resorted to the same formula, but on an unprecedented scale, to keep the economies afloat after the Q1 2020 crash. They resorted to QE (Quantitative Easing) in trillions of dollars and slashed interest rates to even below zero. The US, Europe and Japan pumped in trillions of dollars and interest rates were slashed — the US dropped interest rates from 2% to just above zero. Even before Q1 of 2020, with renewed signs of economic weakness, the ECB (Europe) had already pushed its benchmark interest rate further below zero in September 2019 itself, to minus 0.5 percent. Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark have also stuck with rates in the negative, as has Japan.
And just as this economic crisis began reaching gargantuan proportions the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic and all countries began implementing the unprecedented lockdowns. Given the economic factors that existed in the first Quarter of 2020 even if there had not been a lockdown, the economic crisis would have likely reached levels of the Great Depression; now it was worse. Yet the media says not a word on the state of the world economy prior to lockdown, and that the pandemic came coincidentally at the same time as the economic crash. The blame is now conveniently put on the pandemic. This distorts the full reality and presents only a half truth. The lockdown did not initiate the economic crisis as portrayed, it aggravated it.
India too followed the lockdown agenda blindly and in a most inhuman way, more stringent than any other country, destroying thousands of lives of the migrants, and pushing crores into poverty, including from the middle classes, by imposing a drastic lockdown with a mere four hours’ notice. And instead of banning immediate entry of anyone from abroad, and raising public expenditure on health (particularly to boost immunity), it introduced the Tuglakian social distancing norms which may have been possible in the developed countries but impossible here, where the bulk of our people live in one-room tenements in crowded clusters.
In this article I hope to deal with the scenario looking at the economy in historical perspective. I will try look into the future in the light of the economic crisis that existed. We already have the dystopian views being put forward by people like Klaus Schwab in books like Covid-19: The Great Reset and on the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution and taken up aggressively by most governments and media, particularly using the lockdown to further their agenda. I will try and see if there is a possible alternative agenda for India.
I will divide this article into five sections to give an indepth view of the situation. My apologies for it being so lengthy but I needed to dig out and present details that are not available in mainstream media and even ignored by big-time left economists for reasons best known to them. Without those details we will not be able to see what is happening behind the curtain and who the real puppeteers are, controlling the strings. There is no point producing yet another ‘left’ analysis along the lines of Bob Wallace (Frontline), Michael Roberts (TISS lecture and blogs), Jayati Ghosh and others which appear to me to be superficial, missing both the wood and the trees.
In the first section I will trace the history leading up to the pre-lockdown economic crisis, with particular focus on the Great Recession of 2008 onwards. Also, I will try and view this in the context of growing contention with China - a post WWII situation never seen before, as earlier contenders to US domination (first the USSR, then the EU and finally Japan) could not sustain. Next, I will turn to the impact of the pandemic/lockdown on the economies — both international and in India. In the third section I will view the state of the world — the future, as seen by Schwab and company; the present, as it really is (behind the enemy lines, as it were); and how the lockdown steps were essential to save the economy in the interests of the billionaire club and reset it along lines that serve their interests. Fourthly, I will try and analyse the economics and politics of the Indian pandemic/lockdown and whose interests they serve. Finally, I will look at the process unfolding in India and where one needs to start in order to REVERSE THE RESET.
- The Great Recession & The rise of China
Earlier in that 2017 article4  I had warned that “Despite such desperate measures, massive QE and near-zero and even negative interest rates revival seems far off, and economic decline continues. In the five years to end-2016, the profits of the MNCs have fallen by 25 per cent. Returns on investments declined to their lowest in two decades. The majority of the giants have recorded sluggish growth. According to an UNCTAD report, growth rates of Europe and Japan continue to stagnate at near-zero levels while in the US it would slow to 1.6 per cent in 2016 (in fact, in the US, Quarter One of 2017 growth was the lowest in three years at 0.7 per cent). It reported that global trade growth has slowed even more dramatically to just 1.6 per cent in 2016, a full percentage point lower than the world output”.
It was clear from this, that after the Great Recession of 2008-09 a severe crisis was in the making as they were not able to recover; and in spite of desperate measures could just manage to keep their economies afloat. Though there have been continuous cycles of crisis since World War II in the US economy and the world [1957, 1960, 1973, 1980, and 2001 Dot Com crash], none was as severe as that in 2008-09, which almost took the form of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The GDP of the US shrank 4.3% in the 18-month recession post-2008 while unemployment peaked at 10%, which is minor compared to what we saw at the time of the first lockdown.
But first let us look at the background which culminated in the Great Recession finally resulting in the crisis of early 2020 and then the pandemic/lockdown.
- Post WWII: Cycles of Crises
If one looks at the economy historically post World War II the economic model adopted initially was Keynesian (not socialist as the media tries to portray) with extensive state intervention. This period saw rapid growth recovering from a war-shattered economy. But in the capitalist system crises are inevitable due to the falling rate of profit. The 1973 oil crisis, coupled with the rising costs of maintenance of the welfare state in most countries led to a recession between 1973 and 1975, followed by a period of almost minimal growth and rising inflation and unemployment — stagflation. The 1980-82 recession marked the end of the Keynesian period.
The profitability of productive capital had reached a new low in most major capitalist economies. In the 1970s, rates of profit on capital in the all the major economies plummeted, leading to a severe slump in 1980-2. This forced governments to abandon Keynesian ‘demand management’. It had failed to save capitalism and governments turned to ‘neoliberal’ policies based on crushing trade union power, decimating manufacturing industry in the advanced capitalist economies and taking capital and productive capacity into the cheap labour areas of the global south (and eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union). Now Milton Friedman of the ‘Chicago School’ became the rage and monetarism was, and still is, their new mantra. Friedman was notorious for his support of ‘free markets’, small government and dictatorships (he gave advice to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s).
The deep slump of 1980-2 decimated manufacturing sectors in the global north and weakened labour unions for a generation. The basis was set for so-called neoliberal policies to try and raise the profitability of capital through a rise in the rate of exploitation. And it was the basis for a switch of capital out of productive sectors in the ’global north’ to the ’global south’ and into ‘fictitious’ capital of the financial sector. Ploughing profits and borrowed money into bonds and equities drove down interest rates and drove up capital gains and stock prices. Companies launched a never-ending programme of buying back their own shares to boost stock prices and even borrowing to do so.
Several Latin American countries also had severe downturns in the 1980s: by the Kehoe and Prescott definition of a great depression (at least one year with output 20% below trend), Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico experienced great depressions in the 1980s, and Argentina experienced another in 1998—2002. South American countries fell once again into this pit in the early-to-mid 2010s. Over the period 1980—2000, Sub-Saharan Africa broadly suffered a fall in absolute income levels
The neo-liberal policies of intensive exploitation of labour brought in some recovery in the profitability in companies in the developed countries. But not for long. The savings & loans and the leveraged buyout crises led, once again, to a severe crisis in mid-to-late 1989, causing a recession in 1990-91 (also fuelled by the oil price crisis), whose effects lasted as late as 1994. This downturn is more remembered for its political effects: British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had to resign in November 1990 as a result of the socio-economic debacle caused by her policies; and while his approval ratings were above 60%, U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton because of the domestic malady marked by the depression and increasing urban decay. India had to mortgage its gold to save it from a default on its foreign debt.
It is true that in this period the Japanese economy shot ahead and was portrayed as the new paradise of capital, until ofcourse the bubble burst. The stagnation that followed continues till this date — three decades later. During the second half of the 1980s, rising stock and real estate prices created an economic bubble. The economic bubble came to an abrupt end as the Tokyo Stock Exchange crashed in 1990—92 and real estate prices peaked in 1991. Growth in Japan throughout the 1990s at 1.5% was slower than global growth, giving rise to the term Lost Decade. After another decade of low growth rate, the term became the lost 20 Years. From 1995 to 2007, GDP fell from $5.33 trillion to $4.36 trillion in nominal terms. Japan also built up the highest ratio of public debt to GDP of any developed nation, with national debt at 236% relative to GDP as of 2017. Even today the Japanese economy faces considerable challenges posed by an ageing and declining population, which peaked at 128 million in 2010 and has fallen to 125.9 million as of 2020
In other countries of the world the situation was even worse. The economic crisis in the 1990s that struck former members of the Soviet Union was almost twice as intense as the Great Depression in the 1930s. Average standards of living registered a catastrophic fall in the early 1990s in many parts of the former Eastern Bloc, most notably in post-Soviet states. Even before Russia’s financial crisis of 1998, Russia’s GDP was half of what it had been in the early 1990s. Some populations are still poorer today than they were in 1989 (e.g. Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Central Asia, Caucasus). The collapse of the Soviet planned economy and the transition to market economy resulted in catastrophic declines in GDP of about 45% during the 1990—1996 period and poverty in the region had increased more than tenfold.
In the West by 2005, the persistent oil price rises and economic overheating caused by deregulation led to a gradual deterioration of the world economy with inflation and unemployment rising as growth slowed down: The housing bubble in the U.S. burst in 2007, and the American economy slipped into recession. This, in turn, provoked the failure of many prominent financial institutions throughout 2008 leading to the loss of millions of jobs.
Interest rates were at 5.25 percent in September 2007. By the end of 2008, the Fed had reduced the target interest rate to zero percent for the first time in history in hopes of once again encouraging borrowing and, by extension, capital investment.
However, even with these interventions, the country’s economic troubles were far from over. In March 2008, investment banking giant Bear Stearns collapsed after attributing its financial troubles to investments in subprime mortgages, and its assets were acquired by JP Morgan Chase at a cut-rate price.
A few months later, financial behemoth Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy for similar reasons, creating the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. Within days of the Lehman Brothers’ announcement, the Fed agreed to lend insurance and investment company AIG some $85 billion so that it could remain afloat.
Within a few weeks, the government spent $125 billion in acquiring assets from nine U.S. banks. In early 2009, government funds were also used to bail out automakers General Motors and Chrysler (a combined $80 billion) and banking giant Bank of America ($125 billion).
January 2009 also brought with it a new administration in the White House, that of President Barack Obama. However, many of the old financial problems remained for the new president to tackle.
Indeed, from 2010 through 2014, multiple European countries—including Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus—defaulted on their national debts, forcing the European Union to provide them with “bailout” loans and other cash investments. Over the course of the Great Recession, the net worth of American households declined by more than 20 percent from a high of $69 trillion in the fall of 2007 to $55 trillion in the spring of 2009—a loss of some $14 trillion. The stagnation in the economy continued till the current crisis of 2020, but was kept afloat by huge amounts of borrowings (Quantitative Easing — printing notes). This, in turn, has resulted in a huge global debt and increasing fragility in the economies.
The Institute of International Finance, a trade body, estimated that global debt, both public and private, topped $255tn at the end of 2019. That is $87tn higher than at the onset of the 2008 crisis and it is undoubtedly going to be very much higher as a result of the pandemic/lockdown.
One has to view the economic crisis of 2020 — both before and after the lockdown - in this background. Yet another aspect to take cognisance of is the rise of China in the midst of the mess in the western economies, which would further their problems with China swallowing up western markets worldwide.
- Enter the Dragon
So, before turning to the pandemic/lockdown situation this fact too has the be factored in. If seen on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) China’s economy was $22.5 trillion in 2019 while the United States was second at $20.5 trillion and the European Union third at $19.9 trillion. 5  Though, in nominal terms, the US was still the largest economy for the present.
In growth of GDP (at PPP) as a percentage of world GDP the US dropped from 22% in 1981 to 15% in 2020. In comparison China’s rose from 1.7% in 1981 to 19.4% in 2020. Even in the sphere of technology China is shooting ahead of the US and its commodities dominate international markets. Not only in commodities also in the export of capital in infrastructure building throughout the world, China’s BRI (Belt & Road Initiative) has gripped the world on a scale never seen before. Just since 2013 China’s BRI tentacles have enveloped over 100 countries. Lets take a brief look at the gigantic scale of operations.
In volume terms the FDI outflows from China increased to an annual average of $ 140 billion during 2016-19 from an annual average of $ 25 bn in the 2001-10 period. China’s share of world FDI outflows increased from 2.3% during 2001-10 to 10.7% during 2016-19.
Since the onset of BRI China has signed diverse projects worth $ 546.4 bn with numerous countries. So, since 2013 to mid-2020 China has a vast exposure of contracts worth $ 123 billion to the Sub-Saharan Africa region mainly with Nigeria, Zambia, Ethiopia, Angola, Tanzania and Kenya focusing mostly on hydro and oil energy, shipping and rail transport. China has strategically made Kenya the African hub. Central, South and West Asia is China’s second preferred region under the BRI as contracts worth $ 110 bn are under way, and 80% contracts are concentrated in Pak, Bangladesh, Russia, Iran and Kazakhstan. China has also signed construction contracts worth around $ 90 bn under BRI, with Middle-East countries, largely focusing on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt.
Since the launch of the BRI China has signed contracts worth $ 90 bn with the East Asian region. The biggest contracts have been with Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos, worth $ 18.5 bn, $ 17 bn and $ 11 bn respectively, mostly focusing on transportation, railways, roadways and waterways for better integration between China and ASEAN countries. Since the launch of the BRI the total exposure with Europe stood at around $ 23 bn by mid-2020. Major projects include a freight train project with Ukraine to Kazakhstan through Georgia and Azerbaijan and finally to China covering a distance of 5,475 kms. The Greek port Pireus, the China-Belarus Industrial Park and the Green Silk Road Investment Fund are the other project.
At no time in the history of the world have infrastructure projects taken place on such a mammoth scale, that too promoted by a single country. Not even by the US which dominated the world for seven decades post WWII. Their huge expenditure focussed primarily on its military, war machine and maintaining about 150 foreign basses.
- Contention & Collusion
The West (G-7) is disturbed by the rising economic clout of China, but on the other hand they cannot ignore the huge Chinese market, their cheap labour which produces most of their goods and also their vast cash reserves. Unlike earlier contentions, China is not flexing its military muscle but focusing on economic gains worldwide, and developing their military to just that extent in order to ward off a possible attack from the US or their allies. But with the US on a military retreat in many parts of the world as in Afghanistan, West Asia, etc and the China-Russia axis scoring diplomatic points in area after area, even a military threat seems unlikely.
Though the G-7 countries in its latest meeting sought to come out with a counter to the BRI with its B3W (Build Back Better World) it is incoherent and can in no way match China’s 2,600 projects in 100+ countries under its BRI.
Never since WWII has the US faced such a challenge to its worldwide hegemony and it must be remembered that similar changing big power equations resulted in the earlier two world wars. But there is one difference here: the US and Chinese economies are deeply interlinked, so much so that even the research on the coronavirus at Wuhan was done jointly with US funds and a top US virologist training the Chinese scientist, nicknamed the ‘bat lady’. Yet the contention is there between what are the current two superpowers but it is blunted by their economic links.
In fact, if it had not been for the overlapping economic interests, the US would certainly have provoked some clashes on China’s periphery, maybe in the South China Sea. In fact, Trump, who appeared to have the military backing was moving in that direction, first by attempting to build bridges with China’s closest allies — Russia and North Korea — before flexing his military muscle. He also imposed a 25% tariff on Chinese exports of industrial products. But Trump did not seem to have the support of the industrial complex that has deep ties with China and preferred the softer Biden approach to China, though he is yet to withdraw those tariffs.
Now it is in this scenario/background of severe and persistent economic crisis together with a US-China contention/collaboration that one has to view the pandemic and lockdowns that followed.
- Pandemic and Lockdown
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. —Thomas Paine
In the run up to the current coronacrisis, the slump was accompanied by high global debt, both public, corporate and household. Here I shall look at the impact of the lockdown both internationally and in India; but first a brief overview of the economic situation prior to the lockdown.
- Eve of lockdown
After the Great Recession of 2008-2009 when nearly every capitalist economy contracted for up to 18 months, though the ‘recovery’ has been the longest for over 100 years it was the weakest. With growth in real GDP, investment, wages, and productivity well below the average trend of the last 50 years this period has been characterised as “The Long Depression”. And well before the onset of the pandemic, the world capitalist economy was slowing fast. Real GDP growth had dropped to under 2 percent a year in most major economies; in the case of Japan and the Eurozone, it was below 1 percent. And many key emerging economies, like Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa were already in recession. Global corporate profits were stagnating at best. Productive investment was contracting. International trade was falling, partly driven by the intensifying trade war between the US and China. We have already commented at the beginning of this article the massive contraction of the economies of the US, EU and Japan in the Quarter prior to the pandemic.
If we turn to India, GDP has been subdued well before the pandemic, declining from 6.12% in 2018-19 to 4.18% for 2019-20, the lowest since the 2008-09 crisis. Manufacturing growth at 2% was the lowest in the last 13 years; the growth in investments was at less than 1%, the lowest in 15 years. The leaked National Sample Survey consumer expenditure data - a report that was withheld and later officially withdrawn - shows that real monthly capital expenditure has in fact fallen in absolute terms between 2011-12 and 2017-18. The Report added that, if one turns to consumption expenditure in the rural areas it decreased by 8.8%, while in urban areas it increased by 2%, leading to an all-India decline of 3.7%. This is a striking fact as there has never been a decrease in the average level ---- a contraction rather than growth ------ in all the NSS consumer expenditure surveys since liberalisation. This means a major shrinkage of peoples’ purchasing power. The actual consumption decline would, in fact, be much higher if one took inflation into account.
In addition, well before the pandemic both public sector banks and financial institutions have been collapsing like nine pins due to NPAs and have had to be bailed out by the government with tax-payers’ money (which should have gone for the welfare of the poverty stricken). Since FY 2015 banks wrote off Rs.6.66 lakh crores...... over twice the amount infused by the govt. in PSBs.... Rs.3.3crores6 . That means a massive Rs.10 lakh crore defrauded from the banks, made up by peoples’ money. Not only were PSU banks defrauded but also private banks, leading to the collapse of GTB and Yes Bank. Even the huge infrastructure finance conglomerate IL&FS crashed resulting in a loss of nearly Rs.1 lakh crore as also Cooperative banks like Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank. Not only that even the Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund had to shut six of its funds in April 2020. This has never happened in India in the past. The investors’ money stuck in these funds was around Rs. 25,000crore. 7  Since the last two decades never has the Indian economy been in such a bad state.
So, whether at the international level or in India, the economies were in decline prior to the lockdown. Now, for viewing the actual impact of the lockdown.
- Impact of Lockdown - International
- First the impact of the lockdown on the economies of the world: Having seen that the world economies were already in severe decline well before the lockdown and pandemic, if we now turn to the first quarter after the lockdown (Apr — Jun 2020) we see an enormous impact on the major economies of the world. The US GDP declined by an unprecedented 32.9% in Q2 (April-June 2020) making it the sharpest GDP decline in US history. 8  The economic shock in April, May and June was more than three times as sharp as the previous record — 10% in 1958 — and nearly four times the worst quarter during the Great Recession. The UK’s economy slumped 20.4% in Q2. 9  This is the largest quarterly contraction in the UK economy since quarterly records began in 1955. The dire figures are the worst since 1709. The Bank of England forecast that the recession would be the worst in 300 years. Spain contracted 18.5% and France 13.8%. in the quarter ending June. 10  Saudi economy shrank 7% in Q2 with joblessness at a record high. 11 
If we look at comparative figures, during the Great Depression the global GDP declined by 26.7% in the 43 months of its existence between 1929 and 1933 - i.e. roughly a contraction of 6.5% each year. In the Great Recession of 2008-09 the GDP in the US fell by 4.3% and did not recover till 2011.
If we look at the world as a whole 12 economies grew between 1-2% and 10 economies between 0-1% in 2020. Out of 193 economies, 167 economies saw a negative growth rate in 2020. These 167 economies accounted for almost 79% of the world economy, with an aggregate total of $ 66 trillion.
Though some of these economies have reportedly pulled themselves out of the recession by the end of 2020 they have piled on huge debt to do so. So, the US piled on a massive $ 4.5 trillion in debt during 2020 taking the figure to $ 28 trillion which was over 120% of GDP. So also with other developed countries. This is only sustainable as long as interest rates are kept at near zero levels (in US 0.1%). But if hit by inflation they will be forced to raise interest rates creating another set of defaults. Inflation rates have already reached 5% in the US when 2% is considered reasonable by the FED!!!
But the crash in the economies have surprisingly not been reflected in the wealth of the billionaires nor the value of the stock exchanges. Certainly, the poor and even middle classes have been hit on a scale never seen before. In fact, the way the pandemic has been dealt with throughout the world could not have been more overtly class biased — hitting the poor and middle classes and giving gigantic profits to the big corporations and particularly the digital moguls, pharma companies, hospitals and financial conglomerates.
According to a report published by the think tank Institute of Policy Studies 12 : In just the first quarter (April to June 2020) after the lockdown/pandemic was declared the US billionaires have become richer to the tune of $565 billion since March 18 — up 19% from the beginning of the pandemic. All this happened even as job-loss figures in the US rose to 28.5 million — three times the jobs lost during the 2008 crisis. Those linked to the digital or pharma world, like Zoom and SII’s Cyrus Poonawalla saw their wealth rise the fastest during the pandemic.
In addition, all the stock markets the world over have seen a huge jump during this lockdown period, pushed up by a handful of the major stocks. The reason is ample liquidity through infusion of govt funds. Following the dip in economic activity and fall in the markets in Feb. and March 2020 the US Fed announced a liquidity injection and bond-buying programme of more than $3 trillion, with a promise to do more. This Quantitative Easing was resorted to by all the major developed countries. 13 
The pandemic and particularly the lockdown has given a bonanza particularly to the digital and health sectors. A report by Accenture entitled Covid Impact said: $ 856.6 billion worth of transactions to move to digital mode by 2023 in India. Worldwide 420 billion global transactions worth $ 7 trillion are expected to shift from cash to digital payments by 2023 and increase to $ 48 trillion by 2030. 14  For the pharma companies just the covid-19 vaccine could generate sales of $6 billion in India over the next three years, international brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein said in a report15 . What the pharma companies, top doctors and hospital conglomerates have earned is another matter.
In addition, small and medium businesses are being pushed to the wall and swallowed up by the big corporates. This is indicated by the surge of mergers and acquisitions throughout the year. Globally quarterly M & As surpassed $ 1 trillion for the fourth consecutive quarter (ending June 2021), making it the strongest y-o-y percentage growth on record. 16  With many businesses pushed to bankruptcy, the big corporates, flush with funds/profits are buying them up for a song.
On the other hand, in the first nine months of the pandemic/lockdown the number of people living in poverty has doubled. The world’s poorest could take a decade to regain their financial footing. Meanwhile, America’s richest people have seen their wealth soar during the pandemic by more than $1 trillion. Oxfam describes the pandemic’s impact as ’the greatest rise in inequality since records began’. 17  ILO says Covid created an unparalleled job crisis: The total share of working hours lost was 8.8% during 2020 — the equivalent of 255 million full time workers; with a further loss of 140 million full-time jobs lost in the first quarter of 2021, and a further 127 million full time jobs lost in Quarter 2 of 2021.18  In other words a total loss of 522 million full time jobs during the course of the pandemic/lockdown.
This is not all. The poor and middle classes have not only been hit by job losses and loss of self-employment but also a rise in prices of essential commodities on a scale rarely seen before. In May 2021 global food prices rose highest in 10 years 4.85% higher than April and 39.7% higher than May 2020. 19  The UN’s FAO (Food & Agricultural Organisation) said the world food price index touched 127 in May this year the highest since Sept 2011 i.e. y-o-y increase of 40%. Wheat rose 31%, Corn 100%, Soyabeans 53%, Palm oil 40%, Raw Sugar 43%, Coffee 64%, Milk powder 29%, cotton 41% and rubber 46%. Even Crude Oil prices crossed $ 75 per barrel; the highest since Oct 2018. Brent was trading at $ 41 /barrel a year ago.20 
Oxfam has recently released troubling new data on world hunger21 : At least 11 people die of hunger each minute. In addition, famine like conditions across the globe have increased 6 times over last year. The report they have released is titled “The Hunger Virus Multiplies” and it states that the number of deaths due to hunger per minute is more than the number of deaths due to Covid-19 per minute. Oxfam has also stated that 155 million people around the world now live at crisis levels of food insecurity. This is around 20 million more than last year’s levels.
So, the pandemic and lockdown while it effected the masses of the people as also pushing many a small and medium businesses to bankruptcy it has given a bonanza to the billionaire club, particularly the digital moguls and pharma companies. So while there have been galloping CEO pay-outs in the US the workers’ minimum wage has been stuck at $7.3 per hour for the last 10 years. Heading the list is Google’s CEO Pichai whose $281 million compensation put him on the top of the ‘100 most Overpaid CEOs’. Satya Nadela is 24th with $42 million. Pichai earns 1085 times the salary of the average Google staffer. Not surprisingly the biggest increase took place during the pandemic.
If such was the situation worldwide it was even worse in India where the same class bias was even more evident — a country that implemented the lockdown with ruthless stringency, yet could not control a devastating second wave.
- Impact of Lockdown — India
With just four hours’ notice the Central Govt in India locked down the entire country from midnight March 23 2020. At that time the confirmed cases of coronavirus affected people stood at approximately 500 with just a handful of deaths.
India received worldwide condemnation in the way it treated its migrant workers with the overnight lockdown making no facility for food or travel. No other country was reported to have treated their own people so callously. Though there are few reports of the deaths and acute suffering by these poor the agony could well be above that caused by covid.
As Suanada Dutta-Ray22  reported soon after the lockdown:
The tragic death of 16 migrant workers near Aurangabad may have been an accident but it also highlights the utter callousness with which potentially some 139 million Indians whom poverty forces to seek a livelihood outside their home states are treated. They will remain like dumb, driven cattle without entitlements in the eyes of the authorities until they organise to speak up for themselves.
A survey claims that 89 per cent of workers polled had not been paid during the pandemic, 96 per cent have received no food from the government, and 74 per cent had less than half their salaries left after three weeks of the lockdown.
Instead, one injustice followed another. (Home Minister) Amit Shah boasted there was enough food for everyone but nothing was distributed to the starving labourers. Modi did not insist on wages being paid. Then, after five weeks of inaction, he passed the buck to the state regimes who were as callous in dealing with the poor. Confusion over who would pay for travel meant labourers were fleeced. Pictures of queues for trains demonstrated that all pretence of social distancing had been abandoned. It was infact private individuals who came forward in their thousands to help feed these destitute people; no government central or state.
According to a report of a survey conducted by Azim Premji University in collaboration with10 civil society organisations about two-thirds, or 67 per cent, of workers lost employment during the ongoing lockdown to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, with urban India posting a loss in employment for 8 in 10 workers and almost 6 in10 workers in rural areas.
A study by Flourish Ventures showed that Gig workers in the ride-hailing, delivery and cleaning segments had been hit the hardest by the lockdown with 81% of them facing large declines in income. Drivers and taxi aggregators were the hardest hit, followed by food delivery companies and cleaning staff. Women were even more sharply hit. 20% said they won’t be able to last for a week if they lost their primary source of income; 45% said they reduced consumption, and 44% said they were forced to borrow money to meet daily expenses and 22% had to sell assets. 23  The plight of the lakhs and lakhs of lawyers all over the country was as bad, as the bulk has had no source of income for over a year-and-a-half now.
CMIE said24  90% of families witnessed reduction on their incomes in the last 13 months. In May 2021 Azim Premji University also reported that an additional 23 crore people had been pushed below the poverty threshold of Rs.375 per day.
Even Raghuram Rajan, in an interview on the impact of the second wave, said to Karan Thapar for WIRE25 : the collapse in consumer sentiment of 15% since the last week of March, as indicated by the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, and the fact that 97% of Indian households have suffered a fall in real income is “very worrying”. He said “it’s a tragic occurrence” and an impact of the second wave. In fact little has been recorded of the impact of the second wave, most data was of the earlier period. But, the second wave was even more devastating than the first.
The latest edition of the State of Food Security & Nutrition in the World (SOFI)26  “the number of people facing moderate to severe food insecurity has increased by about 9.7 crore during Covid”. The report was released jointly by five UN organisations in July 2021. It added “the country with the largest stock of grains - 120 million tonnes as of July 1 — accounts for a quarter of the world’s food insecure population”. In fact, an even more detailed study is done by the Prevalence of Moderate and Sever Food Insecurity (on which SOFI based its estimates) “show that there were about 43 crore moderate to severe food-insecure people in 2019. As a result of the pandemic-related disruptions this increased to 52 crore in one year (i.e. not including the second wave). In terms of prevalence rates, moderate to severe food-insecurity increased from 31.6% in 2019 to 38.4% in 2021.”
Not only have the poor and middles classes lost their jobs and source of income but they have been additionally hit by a huge hike in prices of basic commodities — primarily food. In the one year from Oct 31 2019 to Oct 31 2020 potato prices have increased by 43%, Onion by 65%, Urad dal by 26%, Arhar dal by 23%, Masoor dal by 22%.27 Rises in prices of All-India packed edible oils between May 28,2020 and May 28, 2021: Groundnut Oil 20%; Mustard Oil 44.3%; Vanaspati 45.2%; Soya Oil 52.7%; Sunflower Oil 56.3%; Palm Oil 54.5%28 .
While the masses have been so badly hit by the lockdown Corporate Profits touched an all-time high in the Quarter ended September 2020.
According to the Outlook29  while GDP shrunk in the April-Sept Quarter, corporate profits zoomed, and were the highest ever in history.
In the July-Sept Quarter of 2020 the combined profits of 4,076 companies which are listed on the stock exchange were the highest made by all listed companies in any Quarter (Q). According to the CMIE the total PAT (Profit after Tax) of the firms in the Q was 31% higher than the previous best record which was witnessed in Q4 2013-14. According to the CMIE, in the July-Sept Q this year their combined profits were a colossal 171% higher than the same Q of 2019. This, even though in the Q under scrutiny the GDP contracted by 7.5%, after a contraction of 24% in the previous Q of Apr — Jun. This record profit in the Jul-Sept Q of 2020 was inspite of the fact that total sales of the 4,076 companies fell by 5-7%. The reason for profit growth was a huge dip in costs.
India’s largest company saw its profits skyrocket even amidst the second wave. 30  RIL’s net profit of Rs.12,273 crore for the Quarter ended June 30 2021 a 48.4% gain in PAT over last year’s Rs.8,276 crore — i.e an unbelievable earning of Rs.135 crore per day. 31 
They even saw a massive increase in earnings/sales. RIL’s revenue from operations rose 58.2% to Rs.1,44,267 crore compared to Rs.91,238 crore in the same Q a year ago. Jio platform’s value of services for the Q was Rs.22,267 crore, higher by 9.8%. Jio’s net profit for the Q was Rs.3,651 crore registering a growth of 44.9%. Reliance Retail delivered gross revenue of Rs.38,547 crore a growth rate of 22% as against a year ago. No wonder Ambani-type big corporates are one of the main promoters of lockdown. 32 
Sackings, salary cuts and part-closures reduced the outgo on workers/employees. In some cases the wage bill declined drastically. Since March firms slashed salaries and reduced the variable pay-outs. “There were lower overheads and operational costs due to WFH (work-from-home), travel curbs, and lesser maintenance” adds a senior manager in an IT firm, which saved $4 million merely on account of its air-conditioning in its offices. In fact, we have learnt from employees that most digital companies plan to make WFH the “new normal” and have already begun selling their office spaces.
And this boom continued into the second wave. Though the Central government on Monday, 31 May 2021 declared the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the financial year 2020-21 at -7.3% as compared to 4.0% in 2019-20, inspite of this the Sensex jumped 68% in the year 2020-21. The stock market boom was aided by surplus liquidity provided by the RBI, high profits of the big caps, and a record FPI investment of Rs.2,74,503 crores — nearly double the previous record of 2012-13.33 
On the other hand, it was reported that 7.5 crore people were pushed back into poverty in 2020 earning less that Rs.145 per day. Meanwhile Adar Poonawalla — the vaccine king of India, nay the world - rented a place in London for Rs 50 lakh per week --- $69,000 at Mayfair. It was the biggest property there of 24,000 sq ft.34 
But it is not only labour even a large section of the middle classes have been badly hit as they have lost their source of earning eating heavily into their savings — gold, silver, bank deposits, etc. Just in their bank deposits the sucking up of their wealth was unbelievable as the following RBI report indicates: 35 
The RBI’S preliminary estimate of household financial savings is at 8.2% of GDP in the third quarter (i.e. Sept — Dec 2020) of 2020-21. Household financial savings were 10.4% in Q2 (i.e. Sept) of 2020-21 and 21% in the June quarter. In absolute terms the net financial assets of households fell Rs.444,583 crore in the dec quarter of 2020-21 from Rs.815,886 crore in the June quarter. Of these total financial assets merely bank deposits were hardest hit. The ratio of household (bank) deposits to GDP declined to 3% in the Dec Q of 2020-21 from 7.7% in the previous Q. In absolute numbers, household deposits fell from Rs.367,264 crore to Rs.173,042 in Dec 2020. Obviously a large section of the middle-classes were using up much of their savings merely to survive, having encashed bank deposits to the tune of roughly Rs.2 lakh crores in these few months merely to survive.
And even amidst the second wave that took thousands of lives and peoples’ livelihood, while small banks and mini financial institutions were under heavy pressure36  ICICI’s first Quarter’s (April to Jun 2021) net profit jumped a massive 78% to Rs.4,616.crores. (as against Rs. 2,599 crores in the same quarter last year). 37 
As per the Oxfam report38 , rich Indians prospered immensely during the pandemic while the workers, the unorganized and the salaried employees suffered job losses. A report released by Oxfam for the year 2020 revealed that the Indian poor were the most distressed in the world among the developing countries in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic as also imposition of the strictest lockdown without any requisite planning to take care of the vulnerable sections. While as per the findings of Oxfam, 1,70,000 people lost their jobs every hour in April 2020, the wealth of Indian billionaires increased by a massive 35% in the 10 months of lockdown during that year. It adds that inequality has increased dramatically in spread and intensity, with Oxfam calling Covid an “inequality virus”. It further adds that there is an existing provision to expand MGNREGA relief to 150 days in case of a “natural disaster”. However, despite the dire need, with many households completing their 100 days of work, this provision had not been activated. It would also require higher financial allocation. The report added that “despite COVID-19 being an unprecedented national disaster, and letters from many quarters to the central government asking them to provide an additional 50 days of work and additional funds, the government of India has steadfastly refused to pass the requisite orders. Why also did the government not release the huge stock of 77 million tons of food grains from the public distribution system when India ranks even lower than some of the poorest Sub-Saharan countries.”
Such has been the class divide of the government dealing with the virus and the way it has conducted the lockdown. What then is the future? What is in store for mankind and the people of our country.
- A Dystopian World
The object of government is not to change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but to enable them to develop their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled; neither showing hatred, anger, deceit, nor watched with the eyes of jealousy and injustice. In fact, the true aim of government is liberty. —Benedict Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (1670)
Exactly the opposite is being suggested by the imperial overlords of the world in their Great Reset; and infact, we are already witnessing first steps in that direction in India.
The Oxfam Report entitled The Hunger Virus Multiplies released in end July 2021 says that a year-and-a-half into the coronavirus pandemic, "deaths from hunger are outpacing" those from the virus. The report shows that 11 people are dying of hunger every minute — i.e. about 16,000 per day. And this would be a gross understatement as those dying of curable diseases would not be recorded. The same report also added that "Meanwhile, the rich continued to get richer during the pandemic,and that the wealth of the 10 richest people increased by $413 billion last year”
Earlier, on Jan 25 2021, in the Oxfam’s World Inequality Report released ahead of the WEF in Davos, it established that the richest 1% in the world have more than double the wealth of 6.9 billion people combined. Within this 1%, the world’s billionaires, just 2,135 people39 , have more wealth than that of the bottom 4.6 billion combined. In India nine of India’s billionaires own as much as the bottom 50% of the country.
There are but two alternatives facing us: One the agenda set by the Imperial Moguls and their Cohorts all over the world; two that set by the historic struggle of the famers of our country as also the mass action of millions of others in India and many other parts of the world.
In this section we shall first picture the future that the imperial establishment seeks to impose, utilising the lockdown conditions; then we shall try and see the present as it really is devoid of all the subterfuge that hides the reality; and finally we shall analyse the economic steps they are seeking to fast-forward by means of the lockdown, in the interests of the corporate billionaires, for their New World Order.
- The Future
“It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.” ― Thomas Paine
In fact, long back, many a writer had foretold that the rulers could seek to introduce ‘reforms’ and policies in their interests utilising crisis situations to aggressively push through their economic and dictatorial agenda.
To understand the present events it would be good to first and foremost, refer to a book written way back in 2007 by Naomi Klein40  entitled “THE SHOCK DOCTRINE : THE RISE OF DISASTER CAPITALISM”.
Practically what is said by her about the godfather of present-day neoliberalism, Milton Friedman, is playing out to a T in India today during the pandemic. Friedman said “Only a crisis — actual of perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions depend on the ideas that are lying around”. In her book Naomi Klein shows how the Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Thought was initially ignored but as the Keynesian model came into crisis in the early 1970s this monetarist model was pushed through by means of crisis/coups and ruthless dictatorships first in Chile then Argentina, then other Latin American countries finally bringing in the monetarist policies to the mainstream of US, EU and the rest of the world through the Reaganite and Thatcherite regimes. This was further facilitated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the rise of Yeltsin who too sold all govt assets to the Russian oligarchy for a song in true Friedman style. In all places — from Chile to Argentina to US to UK to even Russia — it was the Chicago School of Thought economists who were placed at key posts either in the ministry or as top advisors. All were ruthless dictators and butchers like Pinochet, Ronald Rumsfeld, etc. Top economists from these countries would be trained in Chicago under Friedman and sent back as hachetmen of the US financiers. While supposedly linking his neoliberal concepts with freedom, Friedman openly supported the unimaginable brutalities of the Chilean and Argentinian dictatorships and went on to become advisor to Regan and Thatcher. Is it then not surprising while the neoliberal policies are being played out in India over the last three decades most of the top economic/finance ministries and/or advisors are either trained or linked to US institutions as also bodies like IMF, WTO, WHO, etc. no matter whether it is BJP or Congress rule.
It was in 2016 itself that Klaus Schwab (WEF Chief) set out the agenda for the future in his book ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ which was further elaborated in the July 2020 book Covid 19: The Great Reset. In these books while assuming a progressive peoples’ agenda it sets out the horrendous future with Friedmanism taken to its extreme. Couched in language which is purportedly people and environment friendly it says not a word on the billionaires and financiers who rule the world and whose income and wealth are multiplying at the cost of the people. In fact, the basis of this agenda was to promote their interest by advancing the so-called fourth industrial revolution. This then is the scenario that they present of the future. He says:
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another (exactly what they are attempting with the pandemic and lockdown though this was written in 2016) In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society. .... . It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” (Even biological spheres ??? Do they intend to turn man into defacto robots, using the technologies of digitisation, artificial intelligence etc???)
He adds: The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms (viruses?), our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit. Wow a veritable digital utopia? But what about the impoverisation going on; not a word?
And then we have it; the Brave New World: The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships. It is already changing our health and leading to a “quantified” self, and sooner than we think it may lead to human augmentation. The list is endless because it is bound only by our imagination.
It is the veritable realisation of the Brave New World, novel by Aldous Huxley, published in 1932, at the start of the Great Depression, which presents a nightmarish vision of a future society. That was fiction now it is being presented as a reality of the future.
And we see the Brave New World in concrete plan in the WEF Covid Action Platform, which says: The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines. While these capabilities are reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the Third Industrial Revolution, the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies.
Examples include genome editing, new forms of machine intelligence, breakthrough materials and approaches to governance that rely on cryptographic methods such as the blockchain.
Emerging technologies, particularly in the biological realm, are also raising new questions about what it means to be human
. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the first where the tools of technology can become literally embedded within us and even purposefully change who we are at the level of our genetic makeup. So now not just GE crops but also GE human beings “RAISING NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN”!!!!
Ironically this Platform was launched on March 11 2020 in coordination with the WHO soon after the pandemic had been declared and even before the lockdowns began. Like vampires they seemed to be salivating with the prospect of a pandemic to implement their schemes for the Brave New World. This was followed up by Klaus Schwab’s Book Covid-19:The Great Reset where he outlines at length the dystopian world that will result from the crisis. Finally in Dec 2020 he puts forward his formula for 2030, where, in a short video showcased on social media, the WEF/Schwab predicts that by 2030,
“You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.”
The Great Reset entails a transformation of society resulting in permanent restrictions on fundamental liberties and mass surveillance as entire sectors are sacrificed to boost the monopoly and hegemony of pharmaceuticals corporations, high-tech/big data giants, Amazon, Google, major global chains, the digital payments sector, biotech concerns, etc.
Using COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions to push through this transformation, the Great Reset is being rolled out under the guise of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ in which older enterprises are to be driven to bankruptcy or absorbed into monopolies, effectively shutting down huge sections of the pre-COVID economy. Economies are being ‘restructured’ and many jobs will be carried out by AI-driven machines.
The jobless (and there will be many) could be placed on some kind of Universal Basic Income and have their debts (indebtedness and bankruptcy on a massive scale is the deliberate result of lockdowns and restrictions) written off in return for handing their assets to the state or more precisely the financial institutions helping to drive this Great Reset.
The WEF says the public will ‘rent’ everything they require: stripping the right of ownership under the guise of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘saving the planet’. Of course, the tiny elite who rolled out this Great Reset will own everything — on this they are silent.
Hundreds of millions around the world deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ are to be robbed (are currently being robbed) of their livelihoods. Our every movement and purchase are to be monitored and our main dealings will be online.
The plan for individual citizens could reflect the strategy to be applied to nation states. For instance, World Bank Group President David Malpass has stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet after the various lockdowns have been implemented. This ‘help’ will be on condition that neoliberal reforms and the undermining of public services are implemented and become further embedded.
On 20 April 2020, the Wall Street Journal ran the headline ‘IMF, World Bank Face Deluge of Aid Requests From Developing World’. Scores of countries are asking for bailouts and loans from financial institutions with $1.2 trillion to lend. An ideal recipe for fuelling dependency.
In return for debt relief or ‘support’, global conglomerates along with the likes of Bill Gates will be able to further dictate national policies and hollow out the remnants of nation state sovereignty.
This then is the picture of the ‘new normal’ that these international vampires seek to RESET. But they say not a word about what is the actual state of the present. And without understanding that any talk of a New Agenda is rubbish — it will be mere old wine in a dirty new bottle.
- The Present
Who rules the world today? Who calls the shots internationally? What is the nature of imperialism and how does it concretely work in the present context? On this all seem silent, including much of the left. Unless we read between the lines we will not get at the truth; in any project for change we will not know whom to target. For this it is important to see who gains and who loses by the set of economic and other policies. This will give an idea what the lockdown is all about.
In this lockdown it is very clear; it is only the handful of billionaires that seem to have benefited enormously and most others have lost out. Obviously, policies are then being geared in their favour.
Let us take a look at the top of the pyramid. We have already seen the massive gains made by the billionaires during the pandemic/lockdown that has continued despite the big contraction in the economies. The Forbes billionaire list explains it all. Presented in April 2021 it stated: The total number of billionaires was 2,775 worth $ 13.1 trillion. In the year of the Pandemic/lockdown the number of billionaires increased a phenomenal 660 in numbers and their total wealth surged a record $ 5 trillion — i.e a massive 63% - in just one year; that too the lockdown year. Out of the top 10, six are digital while Mukesh Ambani at number 10 and Elon Musk at number 2 are partially digital. Warren Buffet at number six is finance and investment. Europe’s billionaires are also $ 1 trillion richer than a year ago. As already recounted, it is the digitalisation of the economies that have gained the most, and the figures forecast for the future are mind-boggling. But then, not just during the lockdown, in India, digitisation was aggressively pushed first with demonetisation of currency and later with the role out of GST tax.
As far as the growth of billionaires the picture in India was not too different than internationally. India added 38 new billionaires during the pandemic year. The number of Indian billionaires has risen to 140 during the COVID-19 pandemic from 102 last year, with their combined wealth nearly doubling to $596 billion (i.e. Rs. 1.5 lakh crores) and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani retaining the tag of Asia’s most prosperous at $ 84.5 billion. Of this, Gautam Adani alone made whopping $42 billion last year, making him India’s second wealthiest and number 24 in the world list at $ 50.5 billion. In other words, Adani earned Rs. 86 crore per day or Rs.3.5 crores every hour, that too during the lockdown when others could barely survive.
Tenth most wealthy was Cyrus Poonawalla at $ 13.8 billion. Two days before the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in India, his net worth stood at $7.47 billion on March 23. Since then his net worth has risen dramatically, thanks to SII’s emergence as the world’s leading vaccine maker, and partnerships with global pharma majors and Bill Gates (who gave over Rs.2,000 crores for covid) for the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the 5 months after the lockdown, Poonawalla’s net worth had risen 84.7 per cent to $13.8 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.41  And this was well before the role-out of the vaccine where his wealth increased by $ 6.3 bn in just 5 months (ie. Roughly Rs.3,000 crores each month, or Rs.100 crore per day). What it must be since then can well be imagined given that both the Indian manufacturers have been charging exorbitant prices for their vaccines The lion’s share of his wealth is his crown jewel, the Serum Institute of India, which is worth $12.8 billion. Along with it, the Poonawalla family also owns real estate worth $522 million and another $500 million in cash. He also owns stud farms, about 250 acres of land and properties and residences in Mumbai and Pune. At present the entire Poonawalla family have fled the country to UK when in fact they were most needed here for the huge vaccine production and their quality control. Probably it is more convenient there to hob-nob with his godfather, Bill Gates. But we will deal with the Indian situation later. Let us go more into the international ramifications of the crisis and the lockdown.
Today to get to the roots for the causes of all the ills of society it is important to know who actually pulls the strings internationally. Who really call the shots? One needs to dig deep to find the source as they lie hidden under layers of muck. Once we know the truth it may be a bit easier, to bring them to the fore, naked before all to see.
It would appear that it is these 2000+ billionaires who are the culprits. That is true, but they are not alone. In fact, there are even bigger fish. Post the 2008 crisis it is the Asset Management Groups that have evolved into gigantic monoliths. It is not just these billionaires who are dictating policies but these Asset Management Groups that control most of them. Just three of the top ASMs dominate the scene. They are rarely heard off and never mentioned. Talking of conspiracies — a conspiracy of silence! Together, BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street have nearly US$11 trillion in assets under management. The Big Three, taken together, have become the largest shareholder in 40% of all publicly listed firms in the United States. In the S&P 500 — the benchmark index of America’s largest corporations — the situation is even more extreme. Together, the Big Three are the largest single shareholder in almost 90% of S&P 500 firms, including Apple, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, General Electric and Coca-Cola. In 2015, these 1,600 American firms [the 40%] had combined revenues of about US$ 9.1 trillion, a market capitalisation of more than US$17 trillion, and employed more than 23.5 million people. They also manage about one-third of global investment capital.
Then do the CEOs of these AMGs defacto control corporate America, and for that matter, the world. Yes and No! They are Larry Fink, Joseph Hooley, and Mortimer Buckley respectively. Also rarely mentioned in the media. But they themselves are controlled by their shareholders and those whose funds are invested. Ironically the largest shareholders in both Blackrock and State Street are those of Vanguard. And Vanguard itself is not publicly listed. It is an incestuous circle. The Big 3 have a major holding in every sector of the US economy from Digital, to Oil, to Banks, to Retail, to Media to Medicine and Pharma, to even consumer items like Pepsi and Coke. They dictate policies and others are forced to fall in line. So, if we turn to the present pandemic, we find that the Big Three bosses are heavily wired into the US medical complex... Buckley is a board member of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. From 2011 to 2017, he was chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees; Hooley serves on the president’s council of Massachusetts General Hospital; Fink is the co-chair of the NYU Langone Medical Centre board of trustees. Incidentally Google owns 22% of the shares of AstraZeneca. It is these three AMGs that are also the main shareholders of all the big pharmaceutical companies so defacto control them.
Though they wield enormous power, yet these three are the frontmen for the investors in the AMGs who are the top billionaires and financiers together with HNWIs. It is these top investors who finally control the strings. Though we have no access to who owns Vanguard they are primarily the Digital Moguls, the top financiers like Rothschild, Rockefeller, Warren Buffet and the other 11 of the traditional wealthy bloodlines — Astor, Bundy, Collins, DuPont, Freeman, Kennedy, Li, Onassis and Reynold — together with their hatchet men all over the world. It is this cabal who basically call the shots through their web of organisations and links worldwide.
And it is this cabal who ever since the Great Recession, while continuing building up their empires into mammoth conglomerates now seek to push ahead with the Great Reset to reorganise the world in the face of a devastating crisis. The cabal operates through a massive network of so-called philanthropic foundations who act to push to further their agenda in the name of poverty alleviation, sustainable development, green energy and environment protection — but in effect do exactly the opposite. They use their vast funds to bribe and subvert governments in backward countries and spread their tentacles into varied fields like health care, education, poverty programmes, women’s issues, and the big new fad ‘climate change’. In this the Gates Foundation is in the forefront particularly in health care and vaccines in which Bill Gates has invested heavily. In 2002 itself the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had purchased shares in nine big pharmaceutical companies. He is also the biggest funder to the WHO. It was not surprising that while pretending public health care he is the biggest promoter of patents in vaccines, GMOs, and drugs. Other notorious ‘philanthropic’ organisations are the Rockefeller Foundation, Open Society Foundation of George Soros and the Clinton Foundation — to name just a few.
Besides these so-called philanthropic organisations and their counterpart NGOs and even official govt bodies throughout the world they have numerous other bodies to dictate and implement their agenda. Of these media and health care are important — media to control and mould public opinion (already social media is in the hands of the Digital Moguls themselves) and pharma due to the huge returns available there and now to use health care as the vehicle to push their RESET Agenda. Take media first:
The cabal exert a stranglehold over the media through institutions like Project Syndicate.Project Syndicate includes nearly 500 media outlets in more than 150 countries. Their website states “Media partners in over 150 countries rely on Project Syndicate to complement their editorial offerings with the most prescient analyses of the changing world around them. Project Syndicate provides exclusive, customized content packages based on their editorial needs. Our wide range of global voices brings partner publications essential international perspectives, a richer reader experience, and increased credibility.” It further adds: “featuring exclusive contributions by prominent political leaders, policymakers, scholars, business leaders, and civic activists from around the world, we provide news media and their readers’ cutting-edge analysis and insight, regardless of ability to pay.” “Our contributors include 50 Nobel laureates and 120 heads of state”. One wonders how many of the expert opinions we see on the centre pages of our Indian newspapers are funded by Project Syndicate.
And then there are numerous other bodies to promote the cabal agenda, like the cloak-and-dagger Trilateral Commission where its former members include George Bush and Jimmy Carter. This semi-secret body said to work for a New World Order has top heads of state, bureaucrats’ corporate honchos on its body. As of last April, top executives of AT&T, ITT, Xerox, Mobil, Exxon, the Chase Manhattan Bank, First Chicago Corp., General Electric, TRW, Archer Daniels Midland, PepsiCo, RJR Nabisco and Goldman Sachs (not to mention Nissan, Toshiba and Fuji Bank). And such former foreign-policy ultracrats as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert S. McNamara and George Shultz. And five U.S. senators, including John D. Rockefeller IV, and House Speaker Tom Foley.Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Rockefeller advisor who was a specialist on international affairs (and later President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981), left Columbia University to organize the group. Other founding members included Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, both later heads of the Federal Reserve System. The organization’s records are stored at the Rockefeller Archive Centre in New York. Social critic and academic Noam Chomsky has criticized the Commission as undemocratic, pointing to its publication The Crisis of Democracy, which describes the strong popular interest in politics during the 1970s as an "excess of democracy” and talked about how the public needs to be reduced to its proper state of apathy and obedience. Are they not achieving this through the pandemic amidst a psychosis of fear — by isolation and defacto house arrest of entire populations. Many top bureaucrats, corporate honchos and politicians from India and all over the world have their links to the Trilateral Commission and attend their meetings.
And even more sinister is the Bilderberg Group established in 1954 formed for bolstering a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe. Participants include political leaders, experts from industry, finance, academia, and the media, numbering between 120 and 150. Formed in the Netherlands it involved the head of Unilever, many former European heads of state (ex) as also a former chief of NATO and the CIA are linked to it. In August 2010, the then Cuban president Fidel Castro wrote an article for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma in which he cited Daniel Estulin’s 2006 book The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club, which, as quoted by Castro, describes "sinister cliques and the Bilderberg lobbyists" manipulating the public "to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self."
A big focus of the cabal has been health care with the Gates Foundation in the lead. Besides the numerous bodies he has set up for vaccine, nutrition, fertility there is the notorious IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) - a research institute working in the area of global health statistics and impact evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. IHME was launched in June 2007 based on a core grant of $105 million primarily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The other medical/vaccine international bodies I will discuss later as they play a major role in orchestrating reaction to the pandemic worldwide and in India.
The list could go on and on but what one sees is a revolving door of the top personnel between the corporates, the philanthropic bodies, financial conglomerates and the international centres like the IMF, WB, WHO, WTO and, ofcourse, now the World Economic Forum. These, together with their secret/semi-secret societies have but one goal — world domination by a handful of powerful imperial elites.
Unless this cabal and their network throughout the world is dismantled nothing will change and we will be heading towards the horrors of the Great Reset.
(iii ) The Crisis & The Great Reset
Reason obeys itself, and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it ― Thomas Paine
As mentioned earlier there was both a demand and supply crisis. The reason for recurring crises in capitalist/imperialist economies are basically due to the result of the law of falling rate of profits, as also the inherent contradiction within the system between the capitalist goal to maximise profits and the need for a market for their products. By reducing wage rates to the minimum they maximise profits, but thereby also reduces the purchasing power of the people which in turn affects their ability to purchase commodities produced by the factory owners.
Keynesian economics tried to resolve both the demand crunch and the investment desert by state intervention and welfare expenditure — pump-priming the economy by reducing taxes and/or increasing govt expenditure. But as we saw earlier this was not sustainable as the fiscal deficit skyrocketed and the cost of labour impacted return on profit leading to an investment shock.
The switch to monetarism saw a rise in profits through a big attack on unionism and workers wages and rights. Monetarism of the late 1980s was also accompanied by a massive financialization of the economy with speculative (fictitious) capital taking on a major role. Stock market trading, derivative and bond trading, real estate investments, etc created wealth through appreciation of capital without much labour involved. The nature of consumer expenditure now shifted with emphasis on the leisure sector entailing upmarket products, entertainment, service sector, etc with a trickle down to a section of the middle classes. Financialization of the economy increased its fragility and the pace of the boom-bust cycle increase until the big crash of 2008-09. The contention with China for world markets added to the fragility of western economies. Now, to save the economy no longer pump-priming but Quantitative Easing was resorted to. This is an extreme monetary policy, where the government buys financial assets directly from banks and other institutions. The government does this when all else fails. Though this was supposed to be an emergency formula during crisis the situation was so bad in the post-2009 decade that it became the ‘new normal’ throughout that period as we have already noted. The US and other western govts resorted to record levels of QE to keep their economies afloat. But even that did not succeed and the crash came finally in end 2019.
This background is key to the understanding of the need for desperate measures to save the capitalist system and remould it in the interests of the billionaire club. To save their economies through QE they have piled on huge debt which is unsustainable if inflation returns and interest rates are forced up from their present sub-zero levels. There was no road ahead and they needed desperate measures. Enter the GREAT RESET.
Knowing that the policy makers were at the end of their tether and had no further tools for revival they have put forward the drastic step of the Great Reset which is a complete overturning of society as we know it and the lockdown has come in handy to get it fast-tracked. In essence the cabal seeks to reorganise the world economy through the measures taken during the lockdown. HOW?
First massive doses of funds by governments to cushion the crash and increase liquidity in stock markets pushing up wealth of investors; aggressive digitisation which will increase the rate of profit by enhancing productivity of labour and reducing costs drastically; and third wiping our small businesses thereby taking over their assets (for a song) as also their markets. These are the desperate measures even if it means destruction of the lives of millions, with a particular focus on the unproductive — old pensioneers and the destitute; rest could survive on govt doles (Universal Basic Income) after winding up the numerous welfare measures. This is Herr Klaus Schwab dream of 2030 where “you will own nothing but you will be happy”.
Schwab waxes eloquent on the 4th Industrial Revolution as he says it will largely be driven by four specific technological developments: high-speed mobile Internet, AI and automation, the use of big data analytics, and cloud technology. Of these four technologies, AI and automation are expected to have the most significant impact on employment figures within the global workforce. A recent study released by McKinsey Global Institute and quoted by Schwab in his 2016 book says that roughly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted by the adoption of AI and automation, with the most significant impact in developed nations like the UK, German and US. By 2022, 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff and by 2030, robots will replace 800 million workers across the world. A utopia or a nightmare? Depends on which side of the fence you are.
He is totally silent on the billionaires of the world the Digital Moguls and the giant Asset Management Groups like Blackrock, Vanguard and Street City. He doesn’t say his proposals are in their interests. But neither do the other economists, even the left. Do we ever hear even a murmur about these Big Three and the trillions of funds they wield for the billionaire club? What will happen to them Mr. Schwab by 2030? Not a word! And why their obsession with agriculture and health care ...... because in their future scheme of things for the basic masses this will be all they could afford so an important market to control. Forget repealing the farm laws the Centre has brought in a host of other legislation to control fisheries, forests and ofcourse health care. They can force you to take vaccines and drugs putting the fear of hell into you. But they cannot do that with other commodities. And G-7, with Bill Gates in the lead, vehemently opposed removal of patents on them. Profit, profit and more profit - that’s all they see.
With the speed at which the central government in India is bringing in new legislation and digitisation, and the viciousness with which state govts are imposing lockdowns, it appears that India is being made the major scapegoat for their new experiment. After all they have the most malleable politicians and bureaucracy here, with the big corporate houses deeply entangled in their network.
The continuing lockdown, whether necessary or not, is being forced for these economic reasons as well. The aim is to impoverish the maximum and then introduce a Universal Basic Income; wipe out small and medium business so that only the big corporates can survive with greater and great digitalisation of life and commerce. The Great Reset is being fast-tracked and most of the big media houses are playing to the gallery. Goal is to bring in the changes gradually, but systematically, so that we have a 1984-type scenario by 2030.
[The remaining part of this essay will appear in the next issue — August 28, 2021]
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 The numbers of billionaires differ slightly in the varied reports and their timing. But the differences are not significant.
 Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, author and film maker. Her first book, the international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies was translated into 28 languages and called “a movement bible” by the New York Times. She writes an internationally syndicated column for The Nation and The Guardian and reported from Iraq for the Harper’s magazine.
 BusinessToday.In/Mudit Kapoor Aug 26, 2020