What was supposed to be an apolitical (though anti-politician) movement has suddenly taken on new dimensions....thanks to the relentless efforts of one of the members of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, Prashant Bhushan, to remain in the news. At a recent gathering of his activist friends, he has blamed the economic liberalization model that
adopted in 1991 for the corruption that exists in the country today. It appears that Prashant Bhushan would rather prefer the snail-paced growth that India had before liberalization (even though its apparent that that led to corruption as well) to what we have now..... India
This anti-liberalization direction is the direction all activist-led movements take once they get the media attention. Somehow, they all turn against the economic liberalization model. They all hate the capitalistic system of market development and prefer the state-controlled model. Of course, there are several problems associated with capitalism and we must work at developing something that’s appropriate for us rather than clone what’s available abroad. But they forget that almost nowhere in the world does that old socialistic system work any longer. The two biggest proponents of socialism,
Russia and , have both turned almost-totally capitalistic in nature. What growth they have seen does not even need to be mentioned here. What is Prashant Bhushan suggesting? That China was a better place prior to 1991 than today? Basically.....it appears as if his point is that if you have no development, there will be no corruption! And frankly, what is his locus standi in commenting on economic policies of the country? Is he now claiming that in addition to law, he is also an erudite economist? India
Giving him company in this anti-liberalization tirade is the omnipresent (make it omnipresent at media covered events) God of Small Things (just call her God), Arundhati Roy. Now I have no doubt she is an accomplished writer....winner of the Man Booker prize, no less.....but I have serious problems when she takes up issues that she may not even fully understand. She’s been in the news of late demanding that
Kashmir be made independent (does she know how international politics and diplomacy is conducted?). She has vitriolic views against the and US policies. Her economic view-point is anti-capitalism and anti-globalization (as opposed to what?). She is even against US India’s nuclear energy policies (and is ok that stays without power?). Her tirade against the Narmada Dam with Medha Patkar positions her squarely as being anti-development. And her penchant to amplify things beyond reason made eminent historian Ramachandra Guha comment about her advocacy as being “hyperbolic and self-indulgent”. Prashant Bhushan obviously found her to be a worthy ally in the fight against all that India has achieved in the last twenty years in the form of economic development. I think both would rather have the under-development that the Left Government has produced in WB.....and ignore the very distinct possibility that the government there is finally going to be ousted by the people. India
I have strong views on capitalism. Fundamentally, I think its best that market forces determine allocation of resources. It leads to efficiency and development. Take the case of our natural resources. We are a country rich in natural resources.....and yet, under state control, we have been unable to exploit them adequately. Under a globalized and privatized economic model, these undeveloped blocks are being offered to private companies for exploitation......for a fee determined by market bidding. Make no mistake.....these rights are just “development” rights.....the state retains “royalties” in most cases and the country benefits by greater production. Contracts for exploiting minerals and other resources are always given out through a transparent tendering system.....ensuring that the government gets to choose from a bunch of bids. None of these successful winners have made supernormal profits.....Even RIL, the biggest private sector company in the country, has announced only a 7% net profit margin in its latest quarterly results.
This anti-capitalism psychosis that activists suffer from is inexplicable. They have personally gained hugely from the boom that the new policies provided. Lawyers today make crores of rupees because of a vastly active private corporate sector......none of the lawyers of 1970s and 1980s made such a pile. Arundhati Roy herself is a product of the media that has emerged after liberalization.....not to forget that her claim to fame came out of an award which has been “sponsored” by a large investment asset management company, the Man Group. The Booker Prize became the Man Booker prize and the sponsors raised the prize money by more than double when they provide the sponsorship. Arundhati Roy is a beneficiary herself of this sponsorship (its a different story that she eventually donated the prize money.....). Apart from these examples, it is a well known fact that the children of several of the biggest Left party leaders have studied abroad and continue to work abroad in the private sector......showing that even their own children don’t support their views. The socialistic model has been abandoned the model around the world.....
The real truth is that Prashant Bhushan has no business to comment on economic policies. He has a huge gap in personal credibility with all the recent muck that has emerged around him, which he must try to plug. He got a reprieve when the government itself suggested that he be allowed to continue on the drafting committee (and he was accusing the government of indulging in a smear campaign against him!). He should stay focused on legal matters. And he must get out of media at the earliest possible. As far as Anna Hazare is concerned, he must look at where his movement is headed.....and the company he is keeping.