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Note on the Development- a CPI(MAOIST) analysis

Note on the Development- a CPI(MAOIST) analysis

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Published by Ananyo Mukherjee

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Published by: Ananyo Mukherjee on Jan 02, 2012
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08/18/2014

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A note on the question of developmentI
In the context of the policy initiatives of Liberalisation Privatisation and Globalisation undertaken by theIndian state—the present phase being euphemistically called the second generation reforms—the debateon the model of development that this country has embarked on has once again taken the central stage.The media is abuzz with news and views that make a case for a shift of focus from agriculture as the mainsource of employment generation to the service sector of the economy as the main guarantor of employment. Thus there are learned as well as official views (as in the often cited recent NSSO survey)that the farmers themselves are desirous of the fact to leave agriculture as their main source of income.Thus the peasantry has to give way for development. Since the peasantry cannot provide labour opportunities through agriculture anymore for the bulk of the masses as required by the circumstancescoupled with the diminishing returns from agriculture with a high input cost and low market price /support price for the output, there is no more incentive for them to continue in the same productiveactivity.The argument further progresses, towards projections, as to how these small and middle peasants not tosay the landless agricultural labourer are going to benefit from new opportunities that may abound as a projected boom that is sooner than later going to embrace the vast and diverse countryside with the setting p of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). SEZs have become the solution for the all round agrarianstagnation cutting across states right from the much show cased ‘Green Revolution’ pockets to other regions which is still untouched by the capital intensive ‘HYV-Fertiliser-Pesticide’ policy. It has becomethe panacea for the looming spectre of unemployment that has gripped the countryside. We are also beingtold that the only way to prevent the increasing instances of suicide deaths of the peasantry is byestablishing SEZs in these regions which can provide employment and growth.But all these claims fall flat when the farmers are refusing to part with their land for the proposeddevelopment of SEZs. Most of them insist, contrary to the claims of the policy pundits, that they don’tknow anything other than agriculture. Some of them say that it has been their way of life and to think of leaving that forebode for them a bleak future. The direct outcome of such uncertainties are tell taleinstances of violence and repression like Kashipur, Kalinganagar, Nandigram, Raigada, Jagatsinghpur andSingur.Close to the heels of protests of the peasantry is the growing discontent of small scale entrepreneurs in themofussils and urban centres. As part of the beautification of urban spaces to cater to ‘world standards’ assuggested by global policy agencies such as Mckinsey small and medium industries in cities like Delhi,Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore are being forcefully vacated. These areas that they have vacated have become prime plots of speculation for the real estate market reserving these spaces for monopolies. Thestate claims that the opening up of the market would make the industries in India more competitive so asto come up with cutting edge technologies. The small and medium producers believe that with the dutyfree, tax free, subsidised provisions for investors in SEZs would finish off any little possibility that theyhad for producing goods that they would be able to sell at a cost effective price.Away from all this, is the plight of the tribal, being forcefully removed from their habitat, with the help of the paramilitary forces, moving with the collector, industrialist, contractor for facilitating building of hugedams for power generation and irrigation. Thus the Polavaram dam in Bhadrachalam, Andra Pradeshwould displace more than 2 lakh tribals, the largest in Asia. There are numerous Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) worth lakhs of crores of rupees signed by the government with various Multi National Corporations (MNCs) and the domestic comprador capital for mining, oil exploration and settingup of industries such as coal and steel in states such as Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh. These states are
 
the richest in terms of mineral and forest wealth while housing the poorest of people who find it hard tohave a square meal a day. The policy experts are busy formulating the best possible rehabilitation packages which is nothing but give these people some money and also the promise of settling them insome other place. And it is often claimed that in the long run all these will help these people as well.Yet in the maze of this publicity blitzkrieg by the proponents of LPG, what is carefully ignored is thequestion of development itself. The question as usual is deliberately posed in a manner where the pertinent aspects on the ramifications of a development model—that is totally reliant on foreign capital /dependent on imperialism—for the vast sections of the masses of this country hardly gets any mention.
II
Is displacement due to development or the development of displacement an inevitable thing like ones ownshadow, a necessary evil that has to be lived with when one thinks about development? To put itdifferently, does the collective labour of the people and its outcome that is the transformation of materialworld into a new reality be at the cost of a vast majority of people while benefiting only a few? Or is therea possibility of a development which is free of any form of displacement; any form of violence on the people? Any attempt to theorise the history and nature of development in post-47 India cannot escape thelarger structural and causal elements within and without the Indian sub-continent which contributed andsustained the Indian state. In essence, from the days of the much touted Community DevelopmentProgramme of the early 1950s to its present day variant of SEZs, it is the mapping of the trajectory of interests that have contributed towards the forging and implementation of a model of development that isessentially an expression of the interest of the dominant classes of that state.A concrete understanding of the present phase of Liberalisation Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG) of the Indian economy and its implications in the South Asian sub-continent, calls for the need of anapproach toward development from the point of view of the vast sections of the masses. It then becomes pertinent to disentangle the maze that has deliberately been created on the question of developmentthrough a dialectical approach the politico-economic rationale of the path of development which India has been / is embarking. Any attempt to talk about the future of the path of development that India shouldembrace should flow from a perspective informed by the past and an understanding of the present rootedin the past enlightened by a theory that is in the interest of the vast sections of the masses.In their critique of displacement due to development, many of the activists, academics and socialcommentators consider the present phase of development (initiated through the second generation reformsof LPG) as the main cause of ruin of gains of the Nehruvian era. The main lacuna of this approach amongother things is the obfuscation of the real nature of the politics of development that was unveiled soonafter the transfer of power in India from the British. In this perception of development it becomes naturalthat despite the best efforts of the planned economy in the Nehruvian period certain people, certaincommunities, still remain out of the loop of the ‘fruits’ of development. Neither development could reachthese people nor do people embrace development. Development thus becomes a neutral category. Nomatter which class or state is promoting it, development needs to take place. It also flows from the sameargument that development, it does not matter who is getting benefited from it, should be promoted as itwill ultimately make the country prosper, stable and secure for everyone. At the end of the day,commonsense has it that the ‘fruits’ of development will reach—trickle down to—everyone, irrespectiveof caste, class, nationality, religion and region.Close on the heels of the above notion of development is the contention made by many that all was welltill the mid-80s of the last century and things started deteriorating ever since then. Central to thisargument is the nostalgia of the good old days of Nehruvian planned economy with Public SectoUndertakings (PSUs), Five Year Plans and Nationalisation being the hallmark of development planning
 
during this period. This perception, which is shared by the whole spectrum of the parliamentary parties,albeit with minor reservations here and there, again exalts development to the status of a neutral category,shorn off the real class interests it represents in space, time and structure.For this dominant opinion, development is thus possible in the urban centres because there is availabilityof capital, market, and also income so as to consume the products that are available in the market.Conversely there is no or little development in the rural, tribal areas as in these social realities there islittle income generation to match the parity of the products available, besides low income / low capitalformation has resulted in a skewed or total absence of the market in these social formations. Thusdevelopment gets reduced to presence or absence of capital, market, income. People become lessimportant in this model.A deeper investigation into the period of Nehruvian planned economy would prove beyond doubt thatwhat is being implemented today by the likes of Manmohan Singh in the form of LPG is yet another unfolding dimension of the politics of development in the present and continuing phase of imperialistexploitation of the world economy. It becomes pertinent then to look into the articulation of the plannedeconomy of the Nehruvian era, how it was befitting the post-47 arrangement, the re-division of the worldmarket after the World War II that emerged as a consensus among the erstwhile colonial powers and theemerging ruling classes in the erstwhile colonies, most of whom emerged in the anti-colonial resistance.Given the subservient class nature of the Indian big bourgeoisie-feudal landlord alliance, an independent,self expanding capitalist development that could successfully address the above mentioned impedimentswas totally ruled out as that would threaten the very class basis of the emerging post -47 India. But at thesame time they had to negotiate with the growing internal pressures from the domestic economy failingwhich would have been a grave danger to their expansionist dreams.This low industrial base and a relatively low rate of accumulation forced the comprador bourgeoisie-landlord alliance to agree for an economy with the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) as one of the principle sources of capital mobilization. The technology for the core industries such as steel, heavyengineering, mining etc. was obtained through foreign collaboration. Whatever efforts that were made toreduce dependence on foreign exchange (as the continual lack of foreign exchange was perceived as themain source of dependence) to the minimum proved counterproductive. Despite all the nationalist pretensions of the likes of Nehru—thus the coinage of the term Nehruvian socialism—the logic of imperialism prevailed over in a strategy conceived as Import-substitution Industrialisation. All the effortto reduce the import of manufactured goods to minimise the burden on foreign exchange by replacing thesame through enhanced domestic production had faded into oblivion overwhelmed by the real image of imperialist development’s future in the sub-continent as it started reproducing itself in the multiple localspecificities (multiple modes of production) of the less developed Indian economy. As the mass of theIndian population remained poor tied to the land for survival, incapable of providing a market for goods,the efforts to produce domestic manufactured goods did not translate into production of massconsumption goods. Thus there was hardly any correspondence—neither forward nor backward—  between the agrarian and the industrial realities that unfolded in post-47 India. Quite evidently, thedynamic of development that was set in motion was externally induced propelled fundamentally by theneeds of imperialist capital rather than an internally induced self expanding dynamic which would have primarily responded to the needs of vast sections of the masses that being the main source of its strength.Thus it becomes natural in this model of development to come up with programmes like povertyalleviation / amelioration, Food for work, Rozgar Yojana, National Rural Employment GuaranteeSchemes, etc. as externally induced initiatives to reach those sections who are out of the loop of the abovementioned model as if these schemes or concepts are in itself external to the notion of development.

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