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Home > 2022 > Diamond Jubilee or Rusted Freedom? (Part I) | Kobad Ghandy

Mainstream, VOL LX No 35 New Delhi, August 20, 2022

Diamond Jubilee or Rusted Freedom? (Part I) | Kobad Ghandy

Friday 19 August 2022, by Kobad Ghandy

Due to the length of this 5-Part article, we have divided it into two sections. The first appears in this issue of the magazine and will comprise three parts on the state of the country as it exists today; the impact of British Rule and & thirdly trace the process of Globalisation worldwide.

The second section of this article which will appear in the next issue will basically deal with the impact of globalisation (economic reforms) on India and the Swadeshi Alternative together with a call for action.

Diamond Jubilee or Rusted Freedom?

PART I

A: State of the Country

(a) Condition of the Masses
(b) State of our Habitat/Environment
(c) Corporate houses & the massive levels of inequality.
(d)) Strangulation of the MSMEs & Digitalisation of the Economy
(e) State of Agriculture

B: The Devastation & Tragedy of British Rule
C: Three Phases of Globalisation & India

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PART II

D: Globalisation: Impact on India

(i) Globalization; Phase I: 1990 to 2004
(ii) Globalisation Today

E: Towards a Swadeshi Alternative

I

We are now in the midst of commemorating the 75th anniversary of our independence. Time for celebration, or time to take stock of the trajectory of our progress? Celebration, no doubt, of the heroic sacrifices of the thousands of martyrs who gave their lives for our freedom from the colonial yoke. Celebration of the great intellectuals who triggered the freedom struggle through their ‘drain theory’ and ignited the economic roots for an understanding of the backwardness of our country. Celebration, not only for the past, but to vow to take this great history forward against all forms of foreign domination — economic, social, cultural — so that these sacrifices do not go in vain.

But while commemorating the event it is also the right time to take stock of the trajectory of our progress. First, as to what it has achieved for the people of our country. Second, to see the extent that we have been able to break free of the imperialist/foreign controls that earlier crippled our country during the two centuries of colonial robbery. Merely waving flags from our houses is meaningless unless we try and understand what our freedom fighters sought and whether we have achieved it. It’s all very well for a Naveen Jindal, of the Flag Foundation of India, to promote flag-waving as he has amassed $ 14 billion in wealth and is around 350th on the Forbes billionaire list — wealth accumulated during these 75 years of independence. He has much to celebrate. But for most of our people who cannot earn two decent meals a day...... it is quite another matter. It is only through a truthful assessment on both these fronts (i.e. social indicators & freedom from foreign controls) would we be able to do a true assessment of our freedoms and thereby chart out a better path for the people of our country. Where exactly have we reached and in which direction are we moving?

The two aspects are, no doubt, interlinked because if the wealth generated remained in the country there would be far more industrial growth, development and employment. (This of course is assuming the country is being run by patriots and not corrupt politicians and officials who tend to siphon off the wealth into private coffers, that too mostly abroad). Here we shall assess both factors — the level of our progress and the extent of our real freedom from imperial strings.

But first, before we go into an analysis of our history, let us pay tribute to the thousands of freedom fighters who gave their lives to free our nation from the colonial yoke, in particular some of their heroic leaders like Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and all the thousands of heroic fighters forgotten by our historians and politicians, particularly from the daIit, tribal, advasi, OBC and mahilla background. Here we mention a few of the heroic fighters and their revolts in the notes below [1] but leave the details to an article that follows. In addition, we pay tribute to the millions of those who suffered imprisonment, torture, lathis of the rulers in order to free our country. What lessons can we take from their heroic sacrifices?

But, while remembering the heroes of the past we should never forget the role of the collaborators as without their assistance such a small country as Britain would never have been able to control and rob such a large county as India - that too, so ruthlessly and for over two centuries. While commemorating this diamond jubilee we must not only uphold the swadeshi tradition of our great freedom fighters, but also learn lessons from the Jagat Seth type collaborators and traitors who facilitated the colonial plunder for a few extra crumbs. [2] Normally this factor is conveniently pushed to the background, but it is about time to strip them naked, as without that we will never know where to discover the real enemies of our progress to a brighter future and how best to fight them.

Unfortunately, this article is not the place for such an assessment, but elsewhere it needs to be clearly demarcated as to who shall be our friends and who the traitors in forthcoming struggles and where to target our efforts. Here we shall merely take stock of the present situation and what this freedom has given us. Have the sacrifices of our great freedom fighters been usurped by greedy vultures or has it paved a path to a bright future?

This article I will divide into five basic sections: first, in Part A I shall look at the State of our Country as it exists today; next, in Part B I shall trace the history of the devastation caused by British Rule; in part C I will look at the process of Globalisation in its different phases; in Part D I shall assess the impact of this Globalisation on our country (1990 to today). Finally, in Part E I will try and show how a true Swadeshi Alternative may be more conducive for a model of development built on the true dreams of our freedom fighters.

So, first, what is the state of our country?

A: State of the Country

It is rather tragic that after so many years of independence we still could not come out of the backwardness that had devastated our country due to centuries of colonial rule. One just has to look at the state of our cities and countryside to understand how far we are from any humane existence. What is worse things seem to be going from bad to worse. Though statistical information tends to be hard to come by these days, even what is available indicates the pathetic state of affairs in our country.

It is not only the state of our people that is disappointing, the nature of development and the greed of the real-estate/mining/bureaucratic/political mafia is such that even our habitat has been destroyed irrevocably — our earth, forests, water (surface and underground), the air we breathe and even our sea coasts. The devastation of our environment is even more rapacious than that of the colonial period.

According to UNDP’s Human Development Index, which ranks countries on health, education and income, India ranks an embarrassing 129 out of the 189 countries considered; and in the inequality adjusted HDI India ranked below Bangladesh. [3]

In the 2021 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 101st out of the 116 countries, while even Bangladesh is much ahead at 75. A 2020 study from the World Economic Forum estimated that 220 million (22 crores) people in India sustained on an expenditure level of less than Rs 32 (40 US cents) per day. Beside that, millions still are roofless, 80 million (8 crore) people lack access to safe water, and 229 million (about 23 crore) have no proper sanitation. [4] As has been pointed out it is difficult to impose the slogan ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ when a large percentage do not have a Ghar of their own.

What is worse, conditions deteriorated drastically due to the unproven method of controlling the virus through lockdown rather than through building immunity and increasing public expenditure on health care (which is the lowest in the world).

According to the Investment Firm Regulatory Framework (August 29 2020): At no time in the last three decades has India been in worse shape than it is now. The contraction in the economy has been so severe that we can kiss goodbye to all those hopes and dreams about the Indian growth success story. Around 21 million salaried jobs have disappeared. According to the government’s own estimates, around 10 million migrant labourers made the painful and difficult journey home once the lockdown was imposed. And as severe and sudden as the lockdown was, it seems to have had no lasting beneficial impact. [5]

And for the entire year, Goldman - Fitch slashed India’s FY21 GDP growth estimate to the worst in history.

It is not that only the lockdown sent the economy many years back. The level of backwardness is also indicted by the low levels of industrial development and the lethargic pace of its growth. So, we see that in 2019 the percentage of GDP in industry was a mere 25%, agriculture was 16% while service was 50%. In fact this indicated a sizable and continuous decline in industry since 2009 when it was 31.5% of GDP (agriculture 16.7% and service 46%). Not only that the nature of the warped development is such that about 60% of the population lived on agriculture and allied activities while it contributed to a mere 16% of GDP, indicating low levels of earning.

That means with nearly 78 crore people dependent on agriculture and allied small industries like brick-kilns, quarries etc. their share in the entire economic cake is miniscule indicating very low standards of living. As per the 2011 census, of these, there are 49.5 crore landless individuals in villages, who are directly or indirectly dependent on cultivation for their livelihood. So such a small component of the GDP (16%) has to support more than half the population. This is unsustainable. What is worse due to the lack of industrial development most of those displaced from the land are not able to find suitable employment and comprise the huge migrant/floating labour in the cities.

According to the latest 2011 Census, the number of internal migrants stand at 45 crores, a 45% surge from the 2001 census. Of these, short-term and circular migration could itself amount to 6-6.5 crore migrants, which, including family members, could approach 10 crores. [6] And even those employed are primarily in the informal sector where wage rates are exceedingly low. Given that this informal sector employment is responsible for an estimated 11 crore jobs (at an average of 4 to a family - about 50 crore people) and accounting for 30 percent of the GDP; though it comprises the bedrock of the economy, it is a poor source of livelihood with most youth seeking govt jobs (where hefty bribes have to be paid).

Any country that has gone through an industrial revolution will see a decline in GDP from agriculture with industry absorbing those displaced. But in India not only is agriculture stagnant but those displaced become a floating mass of ’vagabonds’ in towns and cities - living a near-animal like existence in crowded hovels. Let alone growth there has been an actual decline in manufacturing.

This is then the huge underbelly of the country whose horrific unconcern by the rulers came out cruelly at the time of the declaration of the first lockdown. Such callousness is possible only in a country like India towards its own people, where the bulk of the migrants are Dalits, tribals or Muslims, as in the Brahminical mindset they are considered dispensable and feel no remorse at their horrifying death. Cows are given more respect.

Around 90% of our population works in the non-formal sector, and as much as 40% of the population lives in informal settlements. Indian cities contain some 1 crore street vendors, making up approximately 15% of the urban workforce. If we were to add the circuits of interdependence, street vending is second only to agriculture as a source of livelihood. [7] Even more than these are the chowkidars of the country whose numbers are rising exponentially. As many as 8.9 million people are employed by the private security agencies and their number is expected to go up to 12 million (1.2 crores) by the end of this year. Interestingly the number of people employed as chowkidars is five times that of police personnel (1.9 million in 2016). They are paid a pittance as contract labour with no benefits. The top security agencies hiring chowkidars in the organised sector pay Rs.7,000 -Rs.9000 per month; and the enormous numbers in the unorganised sector are paid roughly Rs.4,000 per month. Besides it is one of the most demeaning jobs where all are trained to salute any resident and not just their employer. [8] The pathetic nature of our employment potential is best seen that in the urban areas, street vendors and chowkidars comprise over 2 crore — i.e. with family around 8-10 crore people all living a hand-to-mouth existence.

Besides, not only are the conditions of the people of our country bad, they are getting worse with each passing day. So also is the situation of our environment. In this section we shall first deal with the (a) condition of the masses then (b) the state of our habitat, (c) then the growth of corporate houses & the massive levels of inequality (d) then the strangulation of the MSMEs and Digitisation of the Economy, and finally (e) the state of our Agriculture

(a) Condition of the Masses

The Global Food Policy Report 2022 released by the International Food Policy Research Institute paints an alarming picture, warning that the number of Indians at risk from hunger is one of the worst in the world, leaving aside two or three countries like Niger and Yemen. India has the highest proportion of underweight children in the world: a full 36% according to the NHFS-4 (National Family Health Survey in 2015-16). The corresponding proportion is much lower in other South Asian countries: Bangladesh 22%; Nepal 27%. If we focus on child stunting India’s rank improves a little, but it still stands as one of the most undernourished countries, in the company of a dozen other countries like Ethiopia, Congo, Afghanistan. [9]

Conditions only worsened in the next few years. Data on the NHFS-5 (2019-20), released by the health minister, reveals another alarming fact: Child nutrition indicators have not improved between 2015-16 and 2019-20. In fact, in 7 out of 10 major states for which data has been released, the proportion of underweight children increased in that period. In six of these 10 states stunting increased. The proportion of undernourished children in these 10 states combined (about half the country’s population) comes to 36% for stunting and 34% for underweight — the same in both cases as the corresponding weighted average for 2015-16. This indicates that the progress of child nutrition has come to a standstill. [10]

And over and above this expenditure on welfare by the NDA government has actually reduced. In fact, the NDA, in its very first budget in 2015-16, resorted to massive cuts in financial allocations for mid-day meals and the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme). Till today the central budget for mid-day meals (Rs.11,000 crores) is less than what it was in 2014-15 (Rs.13,000 crores). In real terms the allocation of ICDS is also less than what it was six years ago. Poshan Abhiyan, the NDA flagship programme for child nutrition, has a miniscule budget of Rs.3,700 crores. [11]

SOFI (State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World) and Hunger Watch Reports have shown rising food insecurity in India. SOFI showed that insecurity increased by 3.8% between 2014 and 2019 - i.e. 6. crore more people were living with food insecurity in 2019 than in 2014. The proportion increased from 28% of the population to 31.6% in that period from 42.7 crores to 49 crores.

In addition, a leak of some NSSO data showed that consumption expenditure actually fell by 3.7% between 2011-12 and 2017-18. Malnutrition among women and children in the country has particularly seen a big increase.

More than half of Indian children and women are anemic, as per the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released in November 2021 but conducted in 2019. The prevalence of anemia among children below the age of 5 has risen from 58.6% in NFHS-4 to 67% in NFHS-5 and that among women in the 15-49 years age group has risen from 53% in NFHS-4 to 57% in NFHS-5. At least 17 states and Union Territories have witnessed a significant increase in severe wasting among children under the age of 5 including Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Telangana, Nagaland, and Mizoram, where the numbers have nearly doubled since the last round of NFHS.

Note NHFS-5 data was just before the Covid crisis. One year later the chances are that the situation has deteriorated even more. Indeed, numerous household surveys point to severe food insecurity across India in 2020. In a survey, Hunger Watch, says two-thirds of the respondents said that they were eating less nutritious food today than before the lockdown. Children have also suffered from a massive disruption of routine health services during the lockdown evident from the official Health Management Information System. India has a network of 14 lakh anganwadis... managed by local women; imagine the plight of the women employed there and the children deprived of both education and meals due to the lockdown. [12] As a result malnutrition and stunting levels would have increased drastically post-lockdown, particularly as no substantial amounts allocated.

After the lockdown and the pandemic, the conditions of the masses became frightening. The bottom 25% of poorest households had a debt burden worth almost four times their monthly household income, found the COVID-19 Livelihoods Survey of vulnerable households, conducted by Azim Premji University. An average Indian household lost approximately Rs 25,000 of their income in the first six months of the pandemic, it found. The earnings in the months of April and May 2020 fell by 40-50%, the survey noted. One can imagine the plight of the people of our country — which had already dropped to one of its lowest levels pre-pandemic.

And on this low base government expenditure on social welfare has been dropping drastically, notwithstanding the sharp decline in living standards due to lockdown.

So, for example, while in the financial year 2020-21 the government allocated Rs1.4 lakh crores to defence pensions its allocation to MGNREGA was Rs.61,000 crores, to health care Rs.69,000 crores and to education Rs. 99,300 crores. [13] Also, in the same FY most social welfare expenditure budgeted was not spent. In the case of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Rs.2,927 crores was allotted for post matric scholarship to SCs but only 59% was spent. Similarly for women’s welfare schemes... A total of Rs. 201 crore was allocated to the Ministry of Women’s and Child Development for schemes funded from the Nirbhaya fund. But no amount was spent as per data available till Dec 24. Beti Bachao, Beti Padao, one of the most publicized schemes of the NDA govt. has an allocation of Rs.280 crore but only 44 crore was spent till the year end...... only 16%. Rs.1,3330 crores was allocated for various schemes to protect and empower women, but the ministry was able to spend only Rs.205 crore........ only 15%. .... Another Big Ticket Programme is the National Nutrition Mission, for which several paid consultants have been hired. This was allocated Rs.3,400 crores but only Rs.1,103 crore has been spent ... 32%. Even for the promotion of handloom and powerloom only about 50% has been spent. By the ministry of minority affairs, of the Rs.3,289 crores only 30% has been spent. [14]

Yet inspite of this neglect of women and children the PM grandiosely made women’s vikas a central aspect of his Red Fort speech. And on the occasion, in tune with this approach, Indian Express in its Aug 15 edition, got three top women to write lead articles — waxing eloquent of how much progress women have made, ignoring their real plight at the ground level and their neglect in govt funding. Kiran Majumdar-Shaw (chairperson of Biocon and one of the richest women in the country), pushed the same digital agenda as Bill Gates saying “by 2047 India must create a digitally empowered society......” adding that “the India pharma industry will be able to grow from the current $ 50 bn to $ 500 bn”. In other word she hopes to drive an even larger number of our population to disease and death so that pharmas can reap revenues 10 time of what they are getting today. Only vampires could think like this or vaccine producers/promoters. Another lead article is by her accomplice at the WHO, Soumya Swaminathan (net worth $ 5 million at the age of 32) who is one of the chief architects of the covid/lockdown policy that sent lakhs to their death and destroyed millions of lives. The third writer is billionaire Rohini Nilekani also with close association to the Bill Gates of the world. No doubt the newspaper could not find ordinary women for their Independence Day issue — but all excessively close to the government and making fortunes. Not one word by these 5-star women on the plight of ordinary women and that of the girl child.

The Oxfam India 2022 Davos briefing shows the trend that indirect tax as a share of the Union government revenue have been increasing at a time when there is a decline in the proportion of corporate tax for the same in the last four years. Wealth tax for the super-rich was abolished in 2016. Corporate taxes were lowered from 30 percent to 22 last year (2021) which has resulted in a loss of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore to the exchequer. The additional tax imposed on fuel has risen 33 percent in the first six months of 2020-21 as compared to last year and is 79 percent more than pre-Covid levels. That is only one example but the govt has been raising the rates of all essentials from cooking gas, gas/petrol/diesel (effecting transport costs), food items, even lately increase GST on atta and other eatables but not on diamonds. According to auto drivers the price of CNG used in most public transport these days has doubled in just the past four months. Even in lockdown period there was no increase in welfare measures only the freebies to promote votes. While big corporates were allowed to amass fortunes with no further tax, even an emergency one for tax victims. Even the PM care Fund was not transparent and no one knows where the thousands of crores went.

In addition, according to the 2022 Oxfam Report ‘Inequality Kills’: expenditure on social security schemes for workers (under the Ministry of Labour and Employment) and the centrally sponsored scheme of National Social Assistance Programme is abysmally low at 0.6 percent of total expenditure in 2021-22, a decline from 1.5 percent of total expenditure from the previous year. With 93 percent of the nation’s workforce comprising of informal employment, there has been little success in bringing them under the ambit of formal employment, which would give them various benefits like paid leaves, health insurance, paid maternity leaves and pension.

In addition, allocation towards health in 2021-22 saw a decline of 10 percent from the previous year in the Union government’s budget, while the allocation towards education in 2021-22 saw a slight increase from the previous year. Health spending as a percentage of GDP has remained abysmally low at 1.2 to 1.6 percent and increased only 0.09 percent over the last 22 years. Similarly, Education spending as a percentage of GDP has remained low at 3 percent and increased only 0.07 percent over the last 18 years. In fact, Oxfam India’s briefing shows the high cost of private healthcare continues to affect marginalised communities especially due to its high costs and further widens inequalities. Data from the National Sample Survey (NSS) (2017-18) shows that Out-Of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) in private hospitals is almost six times of that in public hospitals for inpatient care, and two or three times higher for outpatient care.

The average OOPE in India is at 62.67 percent while the global average is at 18.12 percent. This gives a bonanza to the entire pharma industry, while pushing the masses (including middle classes) into poverty. Given the high levels of pollution of everything, adulteration of most food items, use of hormones and other boosters for meats and vegetables, etc, diseases of all types proliferate. One major disease is sufficient to eat up all the savings even of a middle class and pushing most into debt or death.

Such is the plight of our people, let us now turn to the state of our land forests, water, air, etc.

(b) State of our Habitat/Environment

There has been a systematic destruction of all aspects of our habitat/environment to a degree not seen in any other country of the world. All this is done in the name of ‘development’ but is actually the result of rapacious corporate greed. The destruction can be seen in our very earth/soil, forests, water (underground and surface) and even in the quality of our air. It has been a ruthless rape of nature a recent example of which is the permission given recently to construction in the Array Forests by the new govt immediately on taking power — the only green life lung left in Mumbai city.

Environmental issues are not only linked to our climate and rainfall, but is also one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long-term livelihood impact for India. So, its preservation is a key factor to the health of our nation.

Now let us take an over view of the rabid destruction going on in our country:

First our earth/soil. About one millimeter of top soil is being lost each year with a total loss of 5,334 million tonnes annually due to soil erosion, said the Minister of State for Agriculture K. V. Thomas in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. The rate of loss is 16.4 tonnes per hectare every year, the minister said while quoting from a study conducted by Central Soil Water Conservation Research and Training Institute (CSWCRTI), Dehradun. [15] Currently, 97.85 million hectares (mha) of land — an area 2.5 times the size of India’s largest state Rajasthan— has already been degraded.

Nutrient depletion is fairly widespread in the cultivated areas of the subtropical region. Estimates of loss of nutrients, using the annual soil specific erosion rates provided by the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, ICAR, show that nearly 74 million tons of major nutrients is lost due to erosion annually in India. On an average, every year, the country loses 0.8 million tons of nitrogen, 1.8 million tons of phosphorus, and 26.3 million tons of potassium. [16]

So, we see the extensive destruction of our top soil resulting in desertification and salination of large tracts of land. Primarily this is the result of deforestation and poor tree coverage which restricts water retention and makes the land more prone to floods which washes away the top soil. Another major reason is the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, not to mention hybrid (HYV) and GM seeds, not suitable to our environment. All primarily to promote sales of the agricultural inputs industry, primarily owned by foreign TNCs like Monsanto, resulting in devastation of our soil/earth.

If we turn to our forests in India, 63 football fields worth of forest land fell prey to development activities every day between 2014 and 2017. The official figure of forest cover in India is 21% compared to what is needed at 33% to maintain a proper balance of the ecology. But even this 21% figure is a big exaggeration as it includes: any land one hectare in size having a canopy density of at least 10 percent as ’forest land’, as also plantations, orchards, etc, are included under the term ‘forest cover’, which by no stretch of the imagination are forests. So the real forest cover is camouflaged to impress the international climate change sponsors, while the ground reality would be a coverage somewhere around 10-15%.

Notwithstanding the misleading nature of the figures put forward by the government, one cannot ignore the fact that the loss of forests in India has been steadily increasing. In the 2005-07 period, the country lost 2,206 sq km of dense forests, which increased to 6,407 sq km in the 2015-17 period. Meanwhile, in the present scenario (pre-covid), it has been estimated that 250 sq km of forest land is being given out or diverted for ’non-forest’ projects every year. [17]

Inspite of this, the destruction of forests continues apace with new laws and govt rulings allowing further destruction of our forests. So, for example, just two months back the Karnataka Government denotified 2/3 of all the forests in the state, giving a bonanza to the land sharks. At the central level, in a meeting held on August 2021, the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, chaired by the Union environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, took a decision to levy 2 per cent of the proportionate cost of projects falling inside protected areas and eco-sensitive zones on user agencies, thereby legitimizing infrastructure and development inside national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. [18] There is hardly a single open space, mangroves and water body in the urban areas of the country that has not been encroached upon by the land sharks.

Such massive destruction of our already miniscule forests has a disastrous impact on our weather conditions and is the main cause for rain scarcity as also flooding. Yet governments at the state and central level continue with policies of forests destruction to satiate their personal greed and that of the real-estate and mining mafia.

If we now turn to our water sources. Let us first see the surface water and then turn to the underground water. India has one of the largest river systems in the world with annually 1, 86,900 crore cubic metre (cubic km) water flowing through them. With nearly 80% of all surface water being polluted in India, it comes as no surprise that it’s important rivers, and not just the Ganga, poses a severe threat to the health of humans and animals, including all the marine life. India is placed 120th amongst 122 countries in the water quality index. About 75% of households do not have drinking water at home, 84% rural households do not have piped water access.

All the major river systems in the country are heavily polluted with sewage and industrial waste. Including the Ganga/Yamuna in the north and the Cauvery in the south. To clean the Ganga the govt launched the Namami Ganga Project with a final date of 2022, but till now even after this huge expense it is as polluted as ever. One can imagine the state of other rivers which have been defacto turned into sewers filled with human and industrial waste.

If we now turn to our underground water as India has spent a pittance on irrigation and polluted our rivers and encroached other water bodies, much of the country is dependent on ground water for both agriculture and home consumption. 65% of the irrigation in India is from groundwater, mostly done at private expense, spending heavily on pumps and recurring costs of diesel (whose prices have shot through the roof recently) and maintenance.

 Besides destroying our river systems, even worse the governments have destroyed our ground water as well. Groundwater is supporting livelihoods of over 26 crore farmers and agricultural labourers given the poor level of tapping surface water. Groundwater is one of the most important water sources in India accounting for 63% of all irrigation water and over 80% of rural and urban domestic water supplies. Why is this the case when we have the largest river systems in the world. 21 major cities of India are expected to run out of groundwater as soon as 2020, affecting around 100 million people according to an earlier report. We are already in 2022 and there is no further assessment. By annually drawing 251 bcm (billion cubic meters) of groundwater, India tops the list of the top 10 groundwater-extracting countries and is the largest user of the precious liquid from the bowels of the earth. India is one of 17 countries facing extremely high-water stress, according to a report by the World Resources Institute. According to the Fifth Minor Irrigation Census, the groundwater level in India has declined by 61 per cent between 2007 and 2017. It further observed that more than 1,000 blocks in India have become water-stressed. As per CWMI (Composite Water Management Index), 2018 by NITI Aayog, the water demand will exceed the supply by 2050.Around 29 per cent of ground water blocks in the country are semi-critical, critical or overexploited and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. By 2025, an estimated 60 per cent of ground water blocks will be in a critical condition. [19]

As a result of this neglect the per capita storage capacity of India is 190 cubic meters, which is very less compared to countries like USA, Australia, Brazil & China, which is around 5,961, 4,717, 3,388 and 2,486 cubic meters, respectively. According to a Niti Aayog report, A Composite Water Management Index, published in June 2018, more than 600 million people in India face high to extreme water crisis in the country. About three-fourth of the households in the country do not have drinking water on their premises. Not surprisingly bottled water is a R.s 9,000 crore industry (2017) rising at the rate of over 20% per year. It is expected to reach Rs.40,300 by 2023 with a volume of 35 billion litres. The major bottled water brands operating in India are Bislery, Kinley, and Aquafina — all foreign. So filthy water in our country gives a bonanza to these companies as also the numerous water purifying units like Aquaguard (also foreign). Bottled water sells at over Rs. 20 per litre while the cost would be barely a couple of rupees. Imagine the moolah raked in while pushing those who cannot afford it to death. Also the quality of the water is a major source of disease which fattens the pharma industry and kills lakhs of children each year.

Finally, if we turn to our air, India tops in air pollution deaths in the world. Air pollution was responsible for 16.7 lakh deaths in India in 2019. Globally the figure was 66.7 lakhs. [20] Air pollution in India is one of the most serious causes of health issues that most people are suffering from. In the year 2019, in the list of highly populated cities in the world, 21 out of thirty was in India. According to a study based on data in 2016, a minimum of 140 million Indian people breathe intoxicated air that is ten times more polluted than the safe limit by WHO. In rural areas, pollution originates due to the use of biomass used in cooking. [21]

So, the destruction of our country’s environment is not only devastating but proceeding apace with the present policies of the government only acting to worsen the situation even further. There is no attempt to restrict the usage of chemical inputs and hybrid/GM seeds as these give huge profits to the companies (mostly foreign); there is no attempt to harness the surface water of the country and stop the pollution of our water bodies, nor at developing our ground water through water harvesting and tree plantation; nor are there any attempts at afforestation, except some tokenism, more there are systemic plans of further deforestation; and finally with the lack of water treatment plants and mountains of garbage piled up in every major city there is no hope for hygiene or clean water and air. Yet the PM declares from the Red Fort that we are moving to be a developed country by 2047.

( c ) Corporate houses & the massive levels of inequality.

Never before has the divisions between the richest handful and the rest of the people been so acute as it is today. Not only that just the gap between the top two corporate houses and the rest is mindboggling, especially for a poor country like ours. Basically, the billionaire club of just 215 families controls the bulk of the wealth of our country in association with foreign corporates and the collusion of top politicians and bureaucrats.

So, the nation’s 100 richest have never been richer; they are collectively worth a record $775 billion (Rs.62; lakh crores) after adding $257 billion (Rs. 20 lakh crores) —a 50% gain—in the past 12 months from Oct 2020 to 2021. While crores of people were losing their source of livelihood this handful was sucking the blood of the masses in collaboration with the government earning Rs. 5,500 crores every single day. India’s GDP for 2020 was $ 2668 bn. In other words, just 100 families had a wealth equivalent to a whopping 29% of India’s GDP.

In the last ten years, Indian billionaires have added $700 billion to their cumulative wealth. As many as 215 billionaires reside in India — 249 if Indian origin billionaires are counted (i.e. including NRIs) — and with 58 new additions, India is the third largest billionaire producing nation in the world, adding to the gigantic rich-poor divide in the country. [22] The latest ranking of 10 richest persons in India in 2022 as per ‘The World’s Real Time Billionaires 2022’ published by Forbes is as follows:

In the list of India’s richest persons, Gautam Adani & family has a staggering net worth of $112.6 billion or Rs.9 lakh crores (as of August 2022), putting him at fourth place in the world ahead of even Bill Gates. Adani Group has its interests spread across sectors like power generation and transmission, real estate, commodities, energy, ports and logistics, mining and resources, gas, aviation, defense, aerospace and infrastructure. In September 2020, Adani acquired a 74% stake in the second busiest airport of India, the Mumbai International Airport. Adani also owns a coal mining project in Australia known as Abbot Point. Adani added almost $24 billion this year, becoming the world’s biggest gainer. His wealth increased by around ₹3,550 crore every week over the last year. The wealth of Adani has increased astronomically over the past couple of years. He was listed as having a net worth of $90 billion in the Forbes India Rich List that was released in early April 2022. In a little more than three months, it has increased by almost $25 billion. The Covid-19 pandemic was at its worst in 2021, when Adani was also rapidly expanding. Forbes estimated his value at $74.8 billion in April 2021, compared to a relatively low $25 billion a year earlier. And his value in 2018 was only $11.9 billion. Adani, as we shall see later, like all the big corporates, have their interests — collaborations, loans, investments, etc. - totally tied to international capital and not India. They act as vehicles to exploit India’s huge market to extract fortunes for themselves and their foreign collaborators/creditors.

Scoring tenth place among the richest persons in the world in Aug. 2022, Mukesh Ambani had $100.0 billion (Rs 8 lakh crores) in net worth. The founder and chairman of Reliance Industries has his interests across petrochemicals, oil and gas, retail and telecom. Mukesh Ambani’s wealth increased a whopping 24 per cent in the year-on-year last year. Even more than Adani Reliance is deeply entangled with US corporates which hold a vice like grip over the conglomerate. He has purchased a gigantic property in the UK and is said to be living there - a 300-acre London property in Buckinghamshire, Stoke Park, which the Ambanis purchased at a whopping Rs 592 crore in mid-2021. The Stoke Park property has 49 bedrooms, a state-of-the-art medical facility, a shrine which replicates the one in their Mumbai house, ‘Antilia’, among other luxurious things.

It is virtually these two conglomerates that run our country and neither have their interests here but abroad. Some of the others in the big billionaire club who also wield enormous political clout in the country are:

Shiv Nadar, the cofounder of HCL ranks in the third place among India’s richest billionaires with his wealth estimated at $28.7 billion in 2022. HCL started in 1976 manufacturing calculators and microprocessors and today it is among the largest providers of software services in the country with a $102 billion revenue.

One of the biggest families to rise has been that of the vaccine maker who has made a fortune during covid when crores were pushed to poverty. Cyrus Poonawalla’s net worth stands at $25.8 billion making him the fourth richest person in India in 2022. He founded Serum Institute of India in 1966 from being a stud farm owner. His unproven vaccine, prepared by the Hinduja’s Astra Zeneca at Oxford, made his fortune by charging a huge amount for something that cost little over a rupee to make. By the government making it mandatory and allowing even private distribution (Rs.800 per dose as compared to the govt at around Rs.200 per dose) the Poonawallas were given a windfall on a platter and due to no effort of his (the R&D was done in UK and the market was forced by the govt). Meanwhile Adar Poonawalla rented a place in London in March 2021 for Rs 50 lakh per week - $69,000 - the biggest property at Mayfair of 24,000 sq ft. Where does an ordinary vaccine maker get such huge wealth?? He has, ofcourse, got huge grants from Bill Gates.

Both the Ambani’s and the Poonawallas have fled the country and set up home in London in the midst of the second wave. They were probably not only fearful of the virus but the reactions of the people who were dying like fleas then. So much for their great patriotism!!!

Radhakishan Damani’s $20.2 billion net worth places him in the fifth place among India’s richest persons. The champion of Avenue Supermarket, he became the retail king of the country after the supermarket chain completed the IPO in March 2017. He started retailing in India with just one supermarket in the suburb of Mumbai. Now the retail chain has over 221 DMart stores across the country. Damani has his stakes in other businesses like the tobacco firm VST and India Cements. He owns the 156-room Radisson Blu Resort in Alibag, which is a famous beachfront getaway near Mumbai.

Other top billionaires are Savitri Jindal and family and Lakshmi Mittal both steel magnates who have diversified. Then Kumar Birla, Dilip Saghvi and the Sunil Mittal family, Anil Agarwal (Vedanta group).....

Some like the Tata empire have their money hidden in trusts and stashed away abroad so do not find their name in the list though they are one of the biggest after the two. Also even the amounts mentioned here are the official figures while the real wealth will include vast sums stashed away in tax havens and invested through vast networks of shell companies difficult for the layman to trace (not of course for the tax authorities, if they so desire). Many are based abroad, have their close relatives in Dubai, Singapore and London, and some have even their registered offices incorporated abroad. London, Singapore and Dubai are the favoured places for these tycoons. Of course the NRIs like the two Gupta clans of South Africa, or an Akshay Kumar, are not even Indian citizens, though they wear their patriotism on their sleeves.

The warped nature of growth in India and the unbelievable levels of inequality is further displayed by the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the top elite. So, between 2018 -19, in just that single year, the share of ownership of the country’s assets by the top 1% grew from 58% to 73%. [23] It widened even further with the lockdown. [24] During the pandemic (since March 2020, through to November 30th, 2021) the wealth of billionaires increased from Rs. 23.14 lakh crore ($ 313 billion) to Rs. 53.16 lakh crore ($ 719 billion).

On the other hand, crores have been pushed to poverty. In fact, Azim Premji University’s “State of Working India” Report, 2020, estimated that almost 230 million (23 crores) Indians had fallen back into poverty during the first year of covid. A new Pew Research Centre Report, published before the second wave lockdown, says that the Indian middle class has shrunk by about 3.2 crore people in 2020 to around 6 crores. [25] That is a massive shrinking by about one-third of the middle-class population, which would have increased even further during the second wave.
Meanwhile even the Oxfam Report ’Inequality Kills’ has indicated the growing divide between the rich and the poor in our country.

The Oxfam Report states: [26] when 84 percent of households in the country suffered a decline in their income in a year marked by tremendous loss of life and livelihoods, the number of Indian billionaires grew by 40%. The briefing was published, ahead of the of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda.

It added that:Oxfam’s global briefing points to the stark reality of inequality contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds. The pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to now 135 years. Women collectively lost Rs. 59.11 lakh crore ($ 800 billion) in earnings in 2020, with 1.3 crore fewer women in work now than in 2019.

More than 4.6 crore Indians meanwhile are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 (nearly half of the global new poor according to the United Nations.) Even Oxfam comments that: the stark wealth inequality in India is a result of an economic system rigged in favour of the super-rich over the poor and marginalised.

The report further states: One-third of food gets lost or wasted. According to the Indian Food Bank, 40 percent of vegetables and 30 percent of cereals produced are lost due to inefficiencies in the supply chain. This is a further scandalous state of the affairs when the bulk of the population can no longer afford decent food. After 75 years of independence, let alone provide food to the majority, we cannot even preserve and distribute properly what is produced.

In the feudal/Brahminical atmosphere naturally women are particularly at the receiving end. Women account for 60 percent of India’s hungry population. 3,000 children die every day from hunger, mostly the girl child. Those that survive have a high chance of living with hardships in the future and deformities due to lack of nourishment. Around 30 percent of newborns die from lack of nutrition. 21 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 per day. $1.90 is not nearly enough to live on sustainably. India ranks 97th in addressing hunger. The country’s condition is worse than many believe, despite being a supposed economic powerhouse.

Is this the type of progress we seek on our diamond jubilee? For most in the country mere living is a nightmare. And if this is the condition of the masses the plight of the MSMEs, who provide the bulk of the employment in the country is not much better, living in a continuous state of uncertainty, squeezed of their surplus by big corporates and TNCs and in perpetual debt.

 (d) Strangulation of the MSMEs &Digitalisation of the Economy

As we have seen it is the MSME sector that is the biggest source of industrial employment in the country. MSME is the acronym for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. As per the Government of India website (March 2019), the MSME sector has contributed to around 45% of the country’s total industrial employment, 50% of India’s total exports and 95% across all industrial units, with over 6000 diverse products being manufactured by MSME industries. MSME applies only to manufacturing and service industries with trading companies being excluded from the scheme.

Besides the inbuilt bias against the MSMEs the government has lately adopted measures to strangulate them further and hand them over to the big corporates in the name of formalisation of the economy. Forced digitalisation is the major weapon used. First it was demonetisation, next GST, and finally the lockdown was the last nail in the MSME coffin. Besides, the govt itself has resorted to numerous digitialisation policies pushing them further to the wall.

Not only these the government has sought to change the classification of MSMEs making the new characterisation irrelevant for benefits of the real Micro units. Earlier the classification of MSMEs was Micro investment of Rs. 25 lakhs; Small category of Rs.5 crore investment in manufacturing an Rs. 2 crore in services; for Medium it was Rs.10 crore in manufacturing and Rs. 5 crore in services. But in March 2021 the Central Government changed the classification of MSMEs to: Micro industries were now those with an investment upto Rs.1 crore and/or turnover of upto Rs.5 crore. Small are those that have an investment upto 10 crores and a turnover upto Rs.50 crore. And Medium enterprises were those with an investment up to Rs.50 crores and a turnover upto Rs.250 crores. This thereby pushes the smaller industries out of the MSMEs ambit, and allows the bigger ones to monopolise the benefits. No wonder this policy change was lauded to the heavens by the various industrial bodies dominated by the big corporates.

As it is 97% of the employment in the MSMEs came from the micro sector. So, out of the total 11 crore employed in the MSME sector (2016 figures),10.8 crore of these workers were in the micro sector (4.9 crore in rural and 5.9 crore in urban); 0.3 crore in the small-scale sector and 0.03 crore in the Medium sector. Defacto the bulk of the MSMEs belong to the exceedingly small which the government is trying to push out to the advantage of Amazon, Walmart/Flipkart, Reliance Retail, Adani-Wilmer, etc. By changing the categorisation the bulk of government benefits will be cornered by larger industries which now come within the Micro category.

In addition to this, the push to digitization is taking place in every sphere, even in agriculture most of it controlled by foreign corporates and/or in collaboration with the big Indian corporates. Just some examples are:

The CSC Common Services Centre programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is a strategic cornerstone of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), approved by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a massive scale. It matters little which government is in power, all bow to the dictates of the international cabal dominated by the US financial and digital conglomerates through their agents operating here.

 A highlight of the CSCs is that it will offer web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills. This is primarily used to penetrate the rural markets in the interests of the big corporates. The PPP model of the CSC scheme envisages a 3-tier structure consisting of the CSC operator (called Village Level Entrepreneur or VLE); the Service Centre Agency (SCA), that will be responsible for a division of 500-1000 CSCs; and a State Designated Agency (SDA) identified by the State Government responsible for managing the implementation in the entire State. It is a well-oiled scheme that, serpent like, sill strangulate local markets and draw them into the corporate/international grip. In a crisis ridden state of the world economy further destroyed by lockdown, the shrinking market even I remote rural areas is sought to be captured by big corporates through such an aggressive economic push in the interests of the big players.

The four key applications developed and currently implemented which form part of the CSC monitoring solution include: CSC SMART Solution; CSC Online Monitoring Solution: CSC Online Dashboard; and the CSC Connect.

In line with this the government has introduced new protocols in nearly all spheres of the economy: So, in agriculture they have introduced IDEA (India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture). This is intertwined with IDEAS91 (incorporated in Dubai) and interwoven with 91 Streets Media (incorporated in Nov 2014), Ascents Health and Wellness Solutions. In 2020, 91 Street Media was taken over by MacRichte (a PE firm incorporated in Singapore) which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings Pvt Ltd (owned by the govt of Singapore). Tameasek has in turn large shareholdings of Blackrock, InnovaFeed (French bio-tech company), Haldor Topsoe (Dutch Engineering Co), Amber Firm (A cryptocurrency company), and DotPe (Indian start up controlled by Google). The entire network is in the hands of foreign conglomerates.

In addition, Reliance Retail took control of Netmeds in Aug 2020 and all its subsidiaries - Tresara Health, Netmeds Market Place and Dadha Pharma Distributions. Reliance Retail is itself controlled as we shall see by top digital companies and US financial conglomerates.

Between 2014 to 2019, out of the total $2 Bn invested in Indian health-techstartups, 22.4% ($ 462 Mn out of $2 Bn) was poured into online pharmacy startups such as Medlife, 1Mg, Pharmeasy and Netmeds, who are also the top players in the sector, according to ‘India’s Healthtech Landscape In A Post-Covid-19 World’ report.

Added to all this it was reported on July 23 2021 [27] that The Central Government recently set up an advisory council for Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to digitise e-commerce value chains, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, and derive efficiency of logistics. This is another effort of the government to facilitate the creation of shared digital infrastructure, as it has previously done for identity (Aadhar) and payments (UPI). It plans to have three layers — tech, governance and community .... Imperialist countries are exploring the concept of ‘interoperability’, that is, mandating that private digital platforms like e-commerce firms enable their users and suppliers to seamlessly solicit business on other platforms.

Then digitalisation has also entered the food sector in a big way. Just one example is the Everstone Group (now controlled by Brookfield Asset Management, one of the largest global investors, but with Indian promoters) which has the sole franchise for Burger King and 244 eateries including popular chains like Copper Chimney, Bombay Blues and Noodle Bar. Everstone Group is a Singapore-based, India-focused private equity firm. The group’s primary focus is in the business service, financial service, healthcare, information technology service, and manufacturing sectors. It was founded by Sameer Sain and Atul Kapoor in 2006. The firm has offices in London, New York City, and Mauritius, besides India and Singapore. The origin of the group can be traced back to Future Capital, a financial services firm that was established by Sameer Sain in partnership with India’s Future Group in 2006. Sain took over Future Capital’s private equity business in 2009. Eventually, he teamed up with Atul Kapur, a former Goldman Sachs colleague, and formed Everstone Capital

Everstone has a massive network in India and abroad. Everstone Capital partnered with the American real estate investment firm, Realterm Group to create IndoSpace Logistic Parks. In 2017, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and IndoSpace, formed a joint venture called IndoSpace Core to develop modern logistic facilities in India. In 2018, the Singapore based logistics facilities provider, GLP partnered with IndoSpace to enter the Indian market. In a joint venture with the global solar project developer, Lightsource BP, Everstone has formed EverSource Capital. The venture manages funds to focus on renewable energy, distribution infrastructure and green energy services in the country. In 2014 itself , Everstone acquired Excelity Global, the Asia Pacific payroll business of AON Hewitt; Modern, Hindustan Unilever’s bread and bakery business; and also provided an additional investment in the New Delhi-based education publisher S Chand Group.

At every turn one sees that even with Indian names ownership or control is somewhere abroad. So what is left of this independence? Such massive digitisation will leave the MSMEs lingering on their last legs, and their entire markets will be captured by the foreign conglomerates and big Indian corporates.

Besides this massive push for digitization set to wipe out the bulk of the MSMEs, even minor policies of the government disfavour the small sector and encourage foreign and Indian big corporate companies. Here we present just one such example of the many:

MSMEs often purchase imported raw materials like plastic and sell the finished goods such as dolls made by them. They can do this only if they get cheap plastic and protection from cheap imported dolls. However, the policy of the Government has been exactly in the opposite direction. Heavy import duties have been imposed on certain raw materials while low import duties have been imposed on certain finished goods. Thus, Mr. Anil Bharadwaj, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has said India’s increased import duties on raw materials have made the MSMEs highly uncompetitive. [28]

Besides to defang the strength of the MSMEs their Board whic had large numbers of representatives of their associations in the past, now has reduced representation and instead the government has appointed MLAs and the like to the Board who have no grasp of the problems of MSMEs. The funds provided to the MSME associations have also dried up.

And what remains of them is sort to be also tied up with foreign capital with the US and EU government offering numerous schemes to tap their cheap produce and squeezing the last drop of profit out of them. Later we will also witness the huge penetration of the types of Reliance, Adani etc into agriculture and marketing not to mention the giant US conglomerates like Amazon and Walmart which pushes out the mom & Pop local shops or makes them unviable.

Call of the day seems to be: Death to the MSMEs; Long live big corporates & foreign capital.

(e) State of Agriculture

Already TNCs like Cargill, Nestles, ITC. Pepsi etc had entered agriculture in a big way. Now to these are added Reliance Retail, Adani-Wilmar and the new carpetbaggers in India.

Adani Wilmar has entered direct procurement from farmers and ITC is looking to build robust and future-ready value-added agri products portfolio catering to both B2B and B2C channels. Wilmar International Limited is a Singaporean food processing and investment holding company with more than 300 subsidiary companies. It has over 500 manufacturing plants and an extensive distribution network covering China, Indonesia, India and some 50 other countries. It is a Fortune 500 company ranked 211 in 2021. The CEO of Adani Wilmar has said “we want to be known as the big agri-infrastructure player and Adani Wilmar to be a big food company in India”. Adani Agri Logistics has invested in grain storage-handling-transportation network while the Adani-Wilmar joint venture is also looking to expand in food commodities.

One can understand the urgency of the present government to bulldoze through the three farm laws given these agri-conglomerate giants breathing down their neck. Institutional investors and so-called private companies hold the bulk of the stock of Wilmar. But who these are is a mystery? It is one of the most dubious and notorious companies in the world and have their base in Singapore and Indonesia. More on this later.

Mukesh Ambani declared his interest in agriculture way back in 2017. It is virtually bulldozing the agricultural markets. Reliance Retail has more than 150 million customers buying across all its formats. It recorded more than 640 million footfalls across all its stores in FY20, a scale unmatched by any other retailer in India. With over 100,000 transactions per hour, Reliance Retail operates at a scale unparalleled in the Indian retail industry including not only agriculture but all consumer items from electronics to footwear. Reliance Retail reported a turnover of Rs. 1,57,629 crore (US$ 21.6 billion) for the financial year 2020-21. As on 31st Mar 2021, Reliance Retail operated 12,711 stores across 7,000+ cities with a retail area of over 33.8 million sqft. In addition, it has made a huge entry into digital retail and so also gained during the lockdown as seen from its massive revenue in 2020-21. No wonder some farmer’s groups in Punjab forced the closure of Reliance retail stores.

With or without the farm laws the government seeks to hand over this huge sector to these big corporates who can then be fleeced. After all what bargaining power does an agriculturist have against these giants. Besides the bulk of the holdings are small, all of whom will be at the mercy of the corporates if and when deals are struck. And with most commodities being perishable their staying power diminishes further.

 According to provisional numbers by the 10th Agricultural Census in 2015-16 small holders and marginal farmers account for 82.6% of all cultivators. They will not be able to stand up to agri-business and if displaced there are no jobs in industry. As seen earlier the secondary sector has been stagnant at 26% of GDP (as against 41% for agriculture) and its share of GDP is declining. [29] About 60% (78 crores) of our population is engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Since 1991 about 15 million farmers moved out of agriculture and 60 million people have been physically displaced by dams, mining, expressways, ports, statues, industries with mostly poor or no rehabilitation. [30] Most do not find any secure employment. 

What is astounding is that modern industry is not modernising agriculture and is in fact using the backwardness (rather than productivity and technology) instead for surplus extraction. And what little ‘modernisation’ that took place with the Green Revolution (HYV seeds) and introduction of GM seeds benefited mostly the input companies controlled by foreign corporates by enhancing their markets and giving them super profits. Through such means they are able to extort super profits not easily available through productivity enhancement, particularly in agriculture. We find that foreign penetration in agriculture is gigantic with most inputs of agriculture - seeds, fertilisers, pesticides - controlled by TNCs right from the times of the Green Revolution. With the entry of Monsanto’s GM seeds in the late 1990s, particularly in cotton, began the era of farmer suicides due to their spiralling debt. The bulk of the farmers have been squeezed between the rising cost of inputs (giving gains to big corporates and the government) and static/fluctuating prices of output. Added to this is the negligible amount governments have spent on surface irrigation, forcing farmers to dig bore wells at huge cost depleting the ground water table and incurring recurring charges for electricity/diesel. The recent farm laws and the entry of big corporates - foreign, local, collaborated - in retail, contract farming and food processing - is only the last straw in the destruction of our farming community, which has been going on for decades.

Added to this, the million displaced from agriculture find no proper employment and so this huge mass of cheap labour in the urban areas depress labour rates in industry as well to thus facilitate the s extract massive super profits there too. So, in other words the big corporates and foreign motivational have a vested interest in keeping India backward even if thereby the home market is restricted. This, of course is made up for by the top 1% who have vast amounts to spend including the huge black money at their disposal.

o o o

Let us now summarise this section and take a look as to how out 140 crore population is divided — who are those that have gained from these 75 years of independence, and who are those who have lost out. Who will be celebrating and who will be assessing what has gone wrong and how to go forward in a better way.

At the top of the pyramid of 140 crore are then the top 215 families of which the top 100 have wealth of a gigantic Rs.62 lakh crores. The entire 215(counting NRIs about 245) would have nearer to Rs.100 lakh crores. Next comes the millionaires of the country whose numbers are increasing exponentially - The number of millionaires in the country has shot up from 170,000 in 2010 to nearly 700,000 in 2020, according to Credit Suisse. But this would be a conservative estimate as with black money the numbers would be huge comparatively. Next come the top 1% of the population (5.6 crore inclusive of families). Their wealth grew phenomenally whose share of ownership of the country’s assets grew from 58% to 73 % in the just the one year 2018-2019. Further down the pyramid are the 9 crore middle class families reduced to 6 crore by the lockdown. This would include the bulk of the 2 crore government employees and their families. But even of these two crores the bulk -89% or 1.8 crores - comprise class C employees. So, it is only the 20 lakh top families in govt jobs who are basically reeking in the moolha — legal and illegal — with a small spin off down the line. Of the balance 4 crore families, these too would be differentiated into upper, middle and lower classes. Much of the upper will find themselves close to the top 1% category. Then at the base of the pyramid one gets the 50 crore landless, 45 crore migrant labour and 11 coral informal workers — the 106 crore mass of people. In between are the 10 crore odd farmers organised labour and others. So, of the 140 crore inhabitants roughly 76% live a hand to mouth existence. And this is pre-covid; post covid the disparities have widened astronomically and poverty exponentially. The country is heading for a bleak future.

So then the main gainers are the billionaires and their 245 families — i.e. a mere one thousand people; next come the millionaires whose official figure is 7 lakh, assuming with their huge black money there are 1 crore in category giving a population about 4 crores; then we get the balance of the top 1% which would be roughly another 2 crore; and finally the upper strata of the 6 crore middle classes and some 1 crore others (big farmers, traders, etc — most politicians and bureaucrats would be in the millionaire category). Those that have gained would be roughly 11 crore people or a mere 3 crore families. They, no doubt have much to celebrate. But what of the rest — the 129 crore people or the 32 crore families? Their condition has either remained static, while the bulk would have been pushed down even further. They have little to celebrate from these 75 years of independence. And from reports, with lockdown and after, these divisions are getting even more skewed in favour of the super-rich.

Such then is the plight of the masses of our country where the bulk of our people - the peasants and workers, and now even a section of the vast middle classes and self-employed are, with the lockdown, being pushed to penury. The destruction of the environment is further enhancing these disparities as it is resulting in an epidemic of sickness most of which is met by out-of-pocket-expenses. One major sickness (curable) means death or debt!

Now to understand the process of what has led to this tragic state of affairs one has to delve into the history of the country and policies adopted. Once we trace the process it is easier to find solutions.

First, we take a look at the British colonial period; next the post-independence period, particularly that of globalisation from 1990 till today. Finally we shall look for the true path of growth and genuine independence building a nation standing proudly on our own feet in the community of nations.

B:  The Devastation & Tragedy of British Rule

Here we shall first witness the devastation of British Rule in India and then turn to the fact how the new ‘Indian’ rulers, to a large extent, were unable to pull back the robbery in its entirety and so India continued to languish while a country like China, which was probably more backward than India, and got its independence two years after India’s, is today the largest economy in the world (in PPP parity). China’s infrastructure surpasses that even of Europe and has said to have pulled over 40 crore people out of poverty, creating, besides other things, a gigantic home market eyed by all developed economies. Relative to that, India stands nowhere, more on power with sub-Saharan countries. Only its size with a 11 crore consumer population gives it some international importance for a market perspective.

Let us now briefly witness the unimaginable devastation of British rule:

The India that the British East India company conquered was no primitive or barren land, but the glittering jewel in the medieval world. Its accomplishments’ and prosperity were succinctly described by an American minister, J.T. Sunderland:

Nearly every kind of manufacture and product to the civilized world — nearly every kind of creation of man’s brain and hand, existing anywhere, and prized either for its utility or beauty — had long been produced in India. India was a far greater Industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe or any other in Asia. Her textile goods - the fine products of her looms, in cotton, wool, linen, and silk — were famous over the civilized world; so were her exquisite jewellery and her precious stones cut in every lovely form: so were her pottery, porceains, ceramics of every kind, quality, colour and beautiful shape; so were her fine works of metal — iron, steel silver and gold.

She had great architecture — equal in beauty to any in the world. She had great engineering works. She had great merchants, great businessmen, great bankers and financers. Not only was she the greatest shipbuilding nation, but she had great commerce and trade extended to all known civilized countries. Such was the India which the British found when they came. In other words even Mogul rule did not diminish India’s prestige — primarily because -except for some raiders — the wealth of the Mogul rulers remained here while with British rule the bulk was extracted to build the British Empire and fight British wars abroad.

As Shashi Kapoor says in his book ‘Ere Of Darkness’ “ at the beginning of the eighteenth century, as the British economic historian Agnus Maddison has demonstrated, India’s share of the world economy was 23%, as large as all Europe put together. It had been 27% in 1700, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s treasury raked in £100 million in tax revenues alone. By the time the British departed from India, it had dropped to just over 3%. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by depredations in India”. At the time the British left, barely 16% of our people were literate.

The British Industrial Revolution was built on the destruction of India’s thriving manufacturing industries. Textiles for example: the British systematically set about destroying India’s textile manufacturing and exports, substituting Indian textiles for British ones manufactured in England. Ironically the British used Indian raw material and exported the finished product back to India and the rest of the world.

J.T. Sunderland adds “It is striking how brazenly funds were siphoned off from India. Even accounting tables were subject completely euphemistic entries to mask extraction:

thus, while trade figures showed a significant surplus, the subtraction of vast amounts under the heading ‘Home Charges’ and ‘Other Invisibles’ gave India a huge deficit. Paul Baran calculated that 8% of India’s GNP was transferred to Britain each year. No wonder the 19th century Indian nationalist Dadabhai Naoroji found evidence even in the published accounts of the British Empire to evolve his “drain theory” of extraction and indict the colonialists for creating poverty in India through what he diplomatically termed their ‘un-British’ practices. Naoroji argued that India had exported an average of £ 13,000,000 worth of goods to Britain each year between 1835 to 1837 with no corresponding return of money; in fact, payments to people residing in Britain, whether, profits to company shareholders, dividends to railway investors or pensions to retired officials, made up a loss of £ 30 million a year. What little investment came from Britain served only imperial interests. India was ‘depleted’, ‘exhausted’, and ‘bled’ by this drain of resources, which made it vulnerable to famine, poverty and suffering. The extensive and detailed calculations of William Digby, the British writer, pointed to the diminishing prosperity of the Indian people and the systematic expropriation of India’s wealth by Britain — including the telling fact that the salary of the secretary of state for India in 1901, paid for by Indian taxes, was equivalent to the average annual income of 90,000 Indians.”

Angus Maddison concluded clearly : “ There can be no doubt that there was a substantial outflow which lasted for 190 years. If these funds had been invested in India they could have made a significant contribution to raising income levels. Official transfers and private remittances to the UK from Indian earnings were compounded by excessively high salaries for British Officials. It did not help that the British Raj as a regime of expatriates, whose financial interests lay in England......in most societies, the income of the overlords is an important source of economic development since it puts purchasing power into the hands of people who can spend it for the local good and indirectly promote local industry. But the lavish salaries and allowances of the Government of India were being paid to people with commitments in England and a taste for foreign goods in India. The increase imports of British consumer items had deeply damaged the local industries that had previously catered to the Indian aristocracy — luxury good makers, handicraftsmen, fine silk and muslin weavers found no taste for these goods amongst the British elite

IN 1901, William Digby calculated the net amount extracted by the economic drain in the 19th century at £ 4,187,922,732 (£4.2 billion). Other calculations are even higher. Worse was to follow in the 20th century.

In addition to this, Indian soldier were used to further British conquests all over the world. And all this was accomplished by funds raised in India. A list of Indian Army deployments by the British in the nineteenth century and the first decade of the 20th century is instructive : China (1860, 1900-01), Ethiopia (1867-68), Malaya (1875), Egypt (1882) Sudan (1885-82, 1896), Burma (1885), East Africa (1896,1897, 1898), Somaliland (1890, 1903-04) South Africa and Tibet.

The British had a standing army of 3,25,000 men by the late 19th century, two thirds of which was paid by Indian taxes. Every British soldier posted in India had to be paid, equipped, and fed and eventually pensioned by the Government of India, not of Britain. In World War I, 75,000 Indian soldiers were killed and an equal number were wounded. The number of soldiers and support staff sent on overseas service from India during WWI was huge: among them 5,66,717 went to Mesopotamia (7 lakh Indian soldiers fought against the Ottomon Empire, a German allay), 1,16,159 to Egypt, 1,31,496 to France, 46,936 to East Africa, 20,243 to Aden, and 29,457 to the Persian Gulf. Of these 33,000 were killed. Of the total of 1,215,318 soldiers sent abroad there were 1,01,439 casualties.

The British raised men and money from India, as well as large supplies of food, cash and ammunition, collected both by taxation and from the princely states. In addition, £3.5 million was paid by India as the ‘war gratuities’ of British officers and men of the normal garrison of India. A further sum of £13.1 million was paid from Indian revenues towards the war effort. It was estimated at that time that India’s contribution to the war effort amounted to a minimum of £146.2 million, worth some £ 50 billion today.

Not only that, roughly 15 million Indians (6% of the population) died of the Spanish flu in 1918-19, contracted by soldiers in the trenches during the last phase of the WWI. As these soldiers returned to their villages they took with them death and devastation with no attempt by the British to isolate them at the ports on return. There is no documentation of how many perished in the ships.

Finally, over and above all this, over 3 million Indians were transported across the globe as indentured labour to work on British plantations and infrastructure work. The over-crowding in the ships were so horrific that thousands died during transportation, mostly children and women.

As if this was not at all — first, all our wealth rapaciously looted; second Indian taxpayers money was used to pay the exorbitant salaries of British officials and their retinue of staff and servants as also to finance the British conquests throughout the world; thousands of Indian soldiers were used as cannon fodder to fight British colonial conquests and world wars; and millions of Indians were used as slave labour to work British plantations throughout the world - as a result of British policy roughly 30 million Indians died of starvation (in addition to those killed in battle for British conquests) in the 19th century alone. If we take the 20th century the figure would be nearer to 40 million. In the Bengal famine alone 4 million people starved to death in 1943.

And in return for this the British gifted us repression which was probably worse than the Nazis. So, for example, in retaliation for the 1857 revolt the British brutally butchered over 1 lakh citizens, including women and children, subjecting many to inhuman torture. As already mentioned, the tribals faced the brunt of the British, due to their continuous revolts.

And to imagine that all this terror was accomplished with the collaboration of a hand full of Indian traitors. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for this class of servile boot-lickers as the British themselves had a tiny force here at the top while all ground level dirty work were done by ‘Indians’ — be it the administration, the army, police, traders etc. This is class of people are far more dangerous than a foreign ruler as they betrayed their own people for their personal growth. The Jagat Seths of the country were to be found mostly amongst the moneylending and landlord classes who hired mercenaries to serve their joint interests. Afterall at Jallianwala Bagh General Dyer only gave the order the bulk of the firing was done by Indian soldiers.

These collaborators were, to some extent, documented in the book ‘The Anarchy’ by William Dalrymple. Also it is well-known that the IAS, ICS, IFS, IPS and other civil servants as also top army generals were specifically nursed to rule our country in return for big payments, with Knighthoods to the more loyal, and other titles bestowed on them.

What is never mentioned is that the bulk of our industrial class who could have been the main force for ushering in an industrial revolution in the course of the freedom struggle (as happened in China), and destroying the feudal/Brahminical grip on the economy and social structure, was compromised from the start. Details of this are best found in Suniti Kumar Ghosh’s book ‘The Indian Big Bourgeoisie’. Here I will present a brief essence of the research done as far back as 1985 yet conveniently ignored by most academic writing on British colonial rule, like that of Shashi Tharoor and even many left historians.

So, for example the two biggest industrial houses then -Tata and Birla — both initially made their seed capital in the opium trade carried on by the British. Therefore, they were direct products of the British, making their initial millions through the most immoral means possible serving the British while destroying millions of lives. They then went on to become the biggest industrialists also with British collaboration.

Here we present just a few examples taken from Suniti Kumar’s book of who these collaborators were. For the details the book itself could be referred to.

Take the Tatas first. During and after world war-II.... Sir Ardeisher Dalal, managing director of Tata Iron and Steel company, and one of the authors of the Bombay Plan, was a member of the viceroy’s executive council placed in charge of planning and development. Also, with the permission of the Tatas, Sir Homi Mody, a director of Tata Sons Ltd, became, in May 1941, a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and was a party to all the brutal measures that were adopted to quell the August rebellion In July 1944.

The Birlas were among the leading opium speculators before World War-I. Together with Harduttrai Chamaria (who was a bania to the British firms and whose sons, like him, founded two jute mills in the early 1930s), set up a syndicate which organized the entire opium trade. G D Birla, who contributed most to the building of the Birla empire, had begun his life as a broker to British firms. It was Englishmen, who, as Birla himself said, were his patrons and clients. On 3 November 1951, during his business tour of the United States, G. D. Birla went so far as to propose "the formation of an Indo-American development corporation" consisting of businessmen and officials of both countries similar to the United States-Brazil organisation.

It was through their direct contact with British capitalists that, Indian big business first saw the profits and promises of modern industry and set up modern industrial enterprises relying greatly on British capital. The first industrial entrepreneurs like Dwarkanath Tagore and Rustomji Cowasji in Calcutta in the 1830s and 1840s; Nanabhai Davar, Manakjj Nassarvanji Petit, Jamsetji Tata , Morarji Goculdu. Sir Monmohandaa Ramji and many other Bombay and Ahmedabad millowners, were also initially traders linked to the British.

 Some others were : Cowasjee Nanabhai Davar, initially a broker to British firm S-Brown King and Co. and W and T Edmund and Company; Hormasji Bamanji Wadia, initially a broker to Forbes and Co., a leading British firm in Bombay; Ramdutt Goenka, the founder of this house, was initially a cloth broker to Kettlewell Bullen; Ramnarain Ruia, the founder of the house, began in 1883 as a broker to the opium department of Sassoon J. David; the Bangurs initially came to be closely associated with Bird Heilgers and Kettlewell Bullen, two leading British managing agency houses; and finally, Sir Purushottamdas Thakurdas, one of the top most representatives of Indian commerce and Industry, was a member of the Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Bombay, from its inception in 1907 to the early thirties and one of the founders of FICCI, who represented it at Round Table conference in London. Thakurdas was very closely associated with the leading British managing agency firm of Bombay, Kilick Nixon and Co.

The list could go on and on and we see that the entire gamut of Marwari, Gujarati and Parsi industrial houses were products of an illegitimate marriage of British capital and Indian trading capital derived from service to the British. It is these same industrial houses that continued into independent India riding now not only on the back of British capital but also American — the new powerhouse in the world. These have today spawned new industrial houses built in the earlier image. While many of the old have declined or found better pastures abroad the new upstarts, Ambani, Adani, etc. are even worse than the old houses as they more resemble modern-day carpetbaggers with no ethics, no care for our people, and no bother about the country. Immersed in corruption, black money and hawala funds abroad they care not an iota for anyone except themselves and their cronies.

Such is the tragic fate of our country where our own people have stabbed us in the back to serve the foreign marauders. Without their collaboration the British could not have lasted in the country even for a day, let alone two centuries. While commemorating our heroic freedom fighters on this diamond jubilee one should never forget the role of these traitors and their modern day avtars.

C: Three Phases of Globalisation & India

One can basically trace four phases in the economic development of our country post-independence — the first being the Keynesian model but with the 1982 international crisis, the monetarist school of thought ( a la globalisation) began to take roots in the world and imposed in India.

 First was the pre-globalisation phase from 1947 to 1991 where basically the western companies were allowed to continue as they did as in colonial times sucking away their profits/surplus to the mother country though drain through rack-renting the peasantry was stopped. Most of the old colonial structures continued untouched, to which were added the public sector at the behest of the then Soviet Union. Though this gave secure employment to large numbers, the actual economic framework of the PSUs was part of the Bombay Plan, better known as the Tata-Birla Plan. The public sector was necessary for these big corporates to grow more freely with public funds/loans derived from these public sector outfits. Besides, the fallout of the freedom struggle prevented blatant loot for some time, yet maintaining much of the old colonial structures.

After this we get the three stages of globalisation:

The second phase of the economy in India or the first phase of monetarisation (as opposed to Keynesianism) was that marked by so-called globalization of the economy when the capitalist system was hit by its worst post-war crisis and needed the extra loot from the third world to cushion their fall.

It started in 1973 when the gold standard (for the $) was removed, followed by the oil shock and then the severe depression of 1982. Reagenite and Thatcherite economic reforms were aggressively pushed through, first in some countries, then all around the world. ‘Economic Reforms’ became the new buzz word and the earlier Keynesian model (now branded as outdated socialist) gradually gave way to the neo-liberal/monetarist or Chicago School of Thought whose chief spokesman was Milton Friedman. In the name of ‘free market’ it was a tool to basically squeeze the maximum surplus from labour and restore the falling rate of profit. It was accompanied by smashing trade-unionism, exporting production from the developed countries to the backward countries on a huge scale, contractualising labour and importing cheap labour and services from backward countries as also financialization of the economies, earing huge gains through speculation. It was also accompanied by fascist and ruthless measures including assassination of progressive leaders in Africa and Latin America. In fact, the assassination of Chilean president, Allende, and the massacre that followed was authored by Milton Friedman in person. But while this cushioned the severe depression faced by the corporate rulers of the West it did not solve their problems. By the end of the 1990s there was the dot.com bust, followed by high mortgage defaults in the US leading finally to the sub-prime crisis and the crash of top US banks in 2008 and the Great Recession — the worst since the 1930s.

The third phase can be characterised as Phase II of Globalisation — its most rapacious and ruthless form culminating in the horrors of lockdown, as just the first step towards the fascist Great Reset. Post Great Recession and the continued decade long stagnation in the major economies of the world (except China) - notwithstanding the aggressive measures of Quantitative Easing (printing notes) and excessively low interest rates to reduce the servicing charges on the spiralling public debt - resulted in the debt reaching just under $ 200 trillion on the eve of the pandemic. The economic crash that ensued in the lockdown resulted in the largest one-year debt surge since WWII. The global public debt rose by a massive 28 percentage points to reach $ 226 trillion in 2020 — 256% of world GDP. Interest rates were now brought to zero and even sub-zero levels.

And with this lockdown we can say we have entered the third phase of post WWII capitalism’s crisis — that of the GREAT RESET. This third phase of globalisation (i.e post the Keynesian period which saw initial growth, but later went into decline post 1973 and finally crashed in 1982) is characterised by the most severe crisis and its horrific repercussions on the world people, particularly in countries like India — already witnessed during the lockdowns.

That the lockdown was only the first phase of this new round of severe crisis that may outdo the Great Depression by far, is clear from the so-called post covid ‘recovery’ taking place in the West. In an article on July 4th 2022 the famous US economist Nouriel Roubini (he is professor emeritus of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of the forthcoming book ‘Mega Threats: Ten Dangerous Trends That Imperil Our Future, and How to Survive Them’), stated:

The global economic outlook for the year ahead has soured rapidly in recent months, with policymakers, investors, and households now asking how much they should revise their expectations, and for how long. That depends on the answers to six questions.

First, will the rise in inflation in most advanced economies be temporary or more persistent? This debate has raged for the past year, but now is largely settled: Team Persistent won and Team Transitory, which had included most central banks and fiscal authorities, must admit to having been mistaken.

The second question is whether high inflation was driven more by excessive aggregate demand (loose monetary and fiscal policies) or by stagflationary aggregate supply shocks (including covid lockdowns, supply-chain bottlenecks, reduced US labour supply, the impact of the Ukraine war on commodity prices, and China’s zero-covid policy). While both demand and supply factors were in the mix, it is now widely recognized that supply factors have played an increasingly decisive role. This matters because supply-driven inflation is more stagflationary and raises the risk of a hard landing when monetary policy is tightened.

That leads directly to the third question: Will monetary-policy tightening by the US Federal Reserve (i.e. raising interest rates) and other major central banks cause a hard or soft landing? Until recently, most central banks and most of Wall Street were part of Team Soft Landing. But the consensus has rapidly shifted, with even Fed Chair Jerome Powell recognizing that a recession is possible and that a soft landing will now be “very challenging.” Moreover, a model used by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows a high probability of a hard landing. The Bank of England has expressed similar views. Several Wall Street institutions have now decided that a recession is their baseline scenario (the most likely outcome if all other variables are held constant). In both the US and Europe, forward-looking indicators of economic activity and business and consumer confidence are heading sharply south.

The fourth question is whether a hard landing would weaken central banks’ hawkish resolve on inflation. If they stop their policy tightening once a hard landing gets likely, we can expect a persistent rise in inflation and either economic overheating (above-target inflation and above potential growth) or stagflation (above-target inflation and a recession), depending on whether demand shocks or supply shocks are dominant.

Most market analysts seem to think that central banks will remain hawkish, but I am not so sure. I have argued that they will eventually wimp out and accept higher inflation, followed by stagflation, once a hard landing looks imminent, because they will be worried about the damage of a recession and a debt trap, owing to a huge build-up of private and public liabilities after years of low interest rates.

Now that a hard landing is becoming a baseline for more analysts, a fifth question is emerging: Will the coming recession be mild and short-lived, or will it be severe? Most of those who have come late and grudgingly to the hard-landing baseline still contend that any recession will be shallow and brief. They argue that today’s financial imbalances are not as severe as those in the run-up to the 2008 crisis, and that the risk of a recession with a severe debt and financial crisis is thus low. But this view is naive.

There is ample reason to believe that the next recession will be marked by a severe stagflationary debt crisis. As a share of global output, private and public debt levels are much higher today than in the past, having risen from 200% in 1999 to 350% today (with a particularly sharp increase since the start of the pandemic). Under these conditions, rapid normalization of monetary policy and interest rates will drive highly leveraged zombie households, companies, financial institutions and governments into bankruptcy and default.

The next crisis will not be like its predecessors. In the 1970s, we had stagflation but no massive debt crises, because debt levels were low. 

After 2008, we had a debt crisis followed by low inflation or deflation, because the credit crunch had generated a negative demand shock. Today, we face supply shocks in a context of much higher debt levels, implying that we are heading for a combination of 1970s-style stagflation and 2008-style debt crises — that is, a stagflationary debt crisis.

In confronting stagflationary shocks, a central bank must tighten its policy stance even as the economy heads toward a recession. The situation today is thus fundamentally different from the global financial crisis or the early months of the pandemic, when central banks could ease monetary policy aggressively in response to falling aggregate demand and deflationary pressure. 

The space for fiscal expansion will also be more limited this time. Most of the fiscal ammunition has been used up and public debts are becoming unsustainable.

Moreover, because today’s higher inflation is a global phenomenon, most central banks are tightening at the same time, thereby increasing the probability of a synchronized global recession. This tightening is already having an effect: bubbles are deflating everywhere, including in public and private equity, real estate, housing, meme stocks, crypto, SPACs (or special-purpose acquisition companies), bonds, and credit instruments. Real and financial wealth is falling, and debts and debt-servicing ratios are rising.

That brings us to the final question: Will equity markets rebound from the current bear market (a decline of at least 20% from the last peak), or will they plunge even lower? Most likely, they will plunge lower. After all, in typical vanilla recessions, US and global equities tend to fall by about 35%. But, because the next recession will be both stagflationary and accompanied by a financial crisis, the crash in equity markets could be closer to 50%.

Regardless of whether the recession ahead is mild or severe, history suggests the equity market has much more room to fall before it bottoms out. In the current context, any rebound (like the one recent weeks) should be regarded as a dead-cat bounce, rather than a buy-the-dip opportunity.

Though the current global situation confronts us with many questions, there is really no real riddle to solve. Things will get much worse before they can get better. 

As he writes in true academic gibberish style which few can understand, I will try and summarise his essence. He says that to control the present historically high inflation rates (highest in 40 yrs in the US and 27 years in UK) central banks have to resort to monetary tightening (layman word is raising interest rates). Incidentally this has already begun. But with debt figures so high (he says that public+private debt has grown from 200% in 2000 to presently 350%) high interest rates are not sustainable for the cost of servicing on the debt will bring economies crashing down. Therefore the western economies, he says, are caught between the devil and the deep sea — i.e. if they take interest rates up, economies will crash due to the high cost of servicing the debt; if they don’t take them up (loosen monetary controls as the economists say) inflation will go up and result in recession. He says the better of two evils will be the latter, but high inflation will result in stagflation (like the 1970s) and so recession. But unlike the 1970s this will be combined with high debt and lead to a crash like happened in 2008 with the collapse of the mortgage and financial markets. He warns that with such twin problems occurring simultaneously (which has never happened before) one can expect the worst, at least in the near future.

This is the essence what he is saying and things are already beginning to play out in the direction he has indicated. This statement was made in the wake of a Bloomberg report at end July 2022 stating that the US economy had contracted for the second quarter in succession. GDP declined 0.9% in Q2 against a decline of 1.6% in the first three months. The US FED also raised the interest rates by 75 bps to 2.5% while it was near zero throughout the covid period. [31]

Also, on August 3 2022 the Bank of England while raising interest rates by a historic 50bps — the highest in 27 years — to counter surging inflation at over 13%, warned that a long recession is coming. Its interest rate at present is 1.75%; its highest since 2008. The value of the pound fell as the Governor said that “economic uncertainty is exceptionally large and all options are open.” Sterling fell as the BoE said Britain would enter recession at the end of 2022 and not emerge until 2024. [32] That is a long haul.

As can be seen they have no solution and world war is not an option as the two main contending economies (US & China) are deeply intertwined. They may play hot and cold due to their contention, even resort to local conflicts, but unlikely to have a world war. If that is not an option as was the situation after 10 years of the Great Depression, what recourse do they have today?

Are we heading for a new lockdown type scenario where they will squeeze the last drop of blood out of the people of the third world? Maybe !! The last lockdown afterall was precipitated when the US, EU & Japan economies contracted from 4-7% in Q1 of 2020. During the first lockdown period one saw a particularly aggressive face of it in India, when the imperialists, dictated by the cabal (western financial magnates and digital moguls), imposed their fiat with callous ruthlessness in India, willingly adopted by their Indian cohorts and promoted by our sold-out media.

Generally, the sell-out of the Indian and other backward economies to the international corporate mafia and their local agents is directly proportional to the extent of the crises the western countries face. This has reached epic levels in this last phase, and the GREAT RESET is a formula through which we can expect an even greater onslaught on India in future. All the post-Keynesian three phases come within the general category of the neo-liberal phase of capitalism; but this last phase will be the most pernicious and could have catastrophic results on the worlds people. Unfortunately, most of the liberal and left sections worldwide are oblivious to what is coming ala Klaus Schwab.

In the next section we shall see to what extent the country has been taken over by the imperialists and to what levels our local Jagat Seths went to promote their interests, which took on extreme forms during lockdown. We shall also see a possible path to a real alternative that not only gives the people of our country well-being but also breaks the chains of imperialism that tie us to their chariot, crippling our freedom and independence.

August 16, 2021

 To be continued 


[1There were tribal leaders like Birsa Munda and the Santhli brothers Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav and their two sisters Phulo and Jhano. Also, to the thousands of tribals who rose up in revolt and were brutally massacred by the British and their local collaborators, upper caste zamindars and moneylenders. The Hul Revolt of 1855, led by the four brothers and two sisters, saw the massacre of over 15,000 tribals at the hands of the three (British, Zamindars and Moneylenders). In fact long before this there was the major tribal revolt by Tilka Manjhi who was publicly humiliated and hanged. Iin the early 1770s the first ‘pahadiya revolt’ took place under the leadership of one Raman Ullhardi. He too was shot dead. the next revolt took place in 1779 which was led by Rani Shiromani of ‘Bagdor Chuar. She was arrested and killed. the Kol revolt in the 1820s was spearheaded by Uraon, Munda and Ho Adivasis. its main leaders were Buddhu Bhagat, Singra Manki and Bindrai Manki all killed by the British and their Indian agents. After the 1855 uprising in 1856 there was the ‘Bhavan’ revolt of the santhalis led by Lubiya Manjhi and Bairai Manjhi which spread to neighbouring Purulia district. During the 1857 revolt the entire Chota Nagpur and Santhal Parganas were burning in which the Gunju brothers were also involved — Nilamber—Pitamber. Others to be hanged in 1858 were the leaders thakur Vishwanath sahadev and Pandey Ganpat rai from zamindar families. rai’s father was made the divan of Palkot in Chotta Nagpur. Finally, there was the revolt by Birsa Munda who was arrested in 1900 and brought to Ranchi jail. he died under suspicious circumstances in June and the British disposed of his body secretively.

But not only the tribes we find many Muslims, Dalits and women who gave their lives in heroic battles for India’s freedom. Some of them wereBengal witnessed the Hindu sanyasis and musilim Fakiris revolts. The man who led this fight was, Majnu Shah, a Muslim sufi from Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh). The first major mutiny by the Indian sepoys of the English East India Company Army in 1806 at Vellore, which is said to be the inspiration behind 1857, was planned by Holkars, sons of Tipu Sultan and brother of Nizam of Hyderabad with the help of Fakirs. Within a few years, the British faced another challenge in the form of three distinct movements led by Syed Ahmad Barelvi, Haji Shariatullah and Titu Mir respectively. Haji Shariatullah and his son Dudu Miyan took up arms in Bengal to resist the tyranny of rich landlords through the Faraizi movement. Meanwhile, the Movement started by Syed Ahmad in the mid 19th century, remained a grave danger to British rule in India. Enayat Ali, Wilayat Ali, Karamat Ali, Zainuddin, Farhat Husain, and others led an armed struggle against the British. In Maharashtra, Ibrahim Khan, a Rohilla leader, and Balwant Phadke launched a guerrilla war against the British. They provided a tough resistance through the 1860s and 70s, and threatened the British in south India. There were hundred more muslims who gave their lives for India’s freedom but ignored.

The history of revolutionary fighters like Uda Devi, Jhalkari Bai, Rani Gaidinliu, and Kuyili remains blurred as they come from the Scheduled Castes and were also women. Then there was Pingali Venkayya, a forgotten Name Behind India’s National Flag Who Died In Poverty.

[2See ’The Anarchy by William Darymple

[3Jean Dreze, ‘New evidence on child nutrition calls for radical expansion of child development services’, Indian Express, Dec 17, 2022 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/new-evidence-on-child-nutrition-calls-for-radical-expansion-of-child-development-services-7107810/

[4Sarosh Bana, ‘Reflections on patriotism for the poor on this Independence Day’, National Herald; August 15 2022

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/reflections-on-patriotism-for-the-poor-on-this-independence-day

[5Mint Sept 9 2020

[6Teesta Setalvad, ‘The migrant’s right to vote: EC must ensure optimal conditions for exercise of this freedom’ Indian Express July 18 2020 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/election-comission-right-to-vote-migrant-workers-6511095/

[7Sanjay Srivastava , ‘India’s anti-COVID strategy is premised on a mistaken idea and a pretence’, Indian Express April 1st 2020 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/coronavirus-india-covid-19-migrants-walking-6341071/

[8Times of India March 29 2019

[9Indian Express March 19 2020

[10Jean Dreze, ‘New evidence on child nutrition calls for radical expansion of child development services‘, Indian Express Dec 17, 2020 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/new-evidence-on-child-nutrition-calls-for-radical-expansion-of-child-development-services-7107810/

[11Frontline, Nov 8 2019

[12ibid

[13Indian Express Feb 6 2021

[14Indian Express Jan 29 2021

[15The Hindu, Nov 26 2010

[16Geographic Information System 2016

[17Indian Express, March 21 2018

[18Prerna Singh Bindra in Indian Express, 23 September 2021

[20Indian Express May 18 2022

[21Air Pollution in India 2022 - July 12, 2022 by Apollo Edoc https://www.apolloedoc.co.in/author/mirganshi-gupta/

[22Hindustan Times, June 30 2022

[23IE Feb 11 2021

[24Business Standard April 19 2021

[25IE June 2 2021 Pratap Bhanu Mehta

[26Indian Express;17 Jan, 2022; Abhirr VP

[27Indian Express

[28Bharat Jhunjhunwalla 2020

[29IE Dec 3 2020

[30Are we listening to the lessons taught in the first year of Covid-19? by Ashish Kothari Indian Express, April 23, 2021 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/cornavirus-pandemic-india-informal-sector-economy-7285193/

[31Bloomberg July 28 2022

[32Indian Express August 4 2022

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