Those eyes were as gloomy as ever, for this day too was no different. This poor soul, with his life entangled in an elaborate scheme is just another victim of the sea of changes that has swept the nation for past two decades. Life was monotonous, plodding each day through every lane, he could never comprehend that each morrow India’s ‘underclass’ were being robbed of their just share. Poverty, they said would be eliminated, the misery of common man shall extinguish, yet he knew these were but, an utopian dream which had morphed into an obnoxious platitude. Some fine day, a rich guy would toss a coin or two with a vicious smile as if mocking his very existence. The shimmering night, would always be a filthy battle with his empty belly. The irony of life could never be so stark, with India steering itself to an unprecedented zenith, the ‘conquest’ of Mars is just one amongst the many incredible achievements of past few years, yet the majority yearns for two square meals.
Seven decades of liberty, a vibrant democracy & a calculated amalgam of socialism & capitalism has steered ‘growth’, although the bitter truth has been the fact that this development was never inclusive rather brutally selective. The underclass of India continues to long for a better life, whereas its dreams are violated each day, with its last drop of energy being sapped by a new breed of elites that spawned, post liberalization of economy. Those sitting in the upper echelons of the governance had often heralded the reforms introduced in 1990’s as the new dawn that shall usher in prosperity for all. The very nature of reforms introduced substantiates the theory that these changes were implemented in haste without taking into account the mammoth stakes involved. The NEW INDUSTRIAL POLICIY(NIP) was propounded as the ultimate panacea that would eventually help India compete in this globalised world, bring equality between classes. Contrary to this, the gulf became an unfathomable abyss over years, the sordid tentacles of elitist culture has virtually dislodged the pro-poor nature of government, one of the finest examples being the fact that Nehru’s legacy is today demonized as an utter failure . Often the advocates of NIP passionately quote that, India’s manufacturing sector grew to 7% p.a. between 1991 to 1997, a feat that could never be achieved without liberalization. However, this is again a very dangerous proposition, a blatant perversion of facts which has unfortunately become quite rampant. It is well known that the abrupt changes in form of NIP severely imperiled local small scale industries of East India, thousands of workers were left to fend for themselves. The result is that the divide between East & West India today mirrors the abyss of classes. This ‘liberalizing shock’(pun intended) has made Eastern half of India a pathetic laggard across every field.
This under preparedness at the opportune time has today began to boomerang, on one hand meticulous planning before liberalization in East Asia transformed S. Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore & Taiwan into ‘Asian Tigers’ eliminating extreme poverty altogether within a generation , India shall continue its desperate crusade against poverty with little success in near future. Liberalization has come at an exorbitant price for the underclass. They continue to toil in fields & factories often exploited beyond measure, yet the elites continue to balk away as if this nation was their trampling ground.
When the very nature of a nation-state becomes a case of ‘ lynch-debate’( here the socialist credentials of India), then it is quite evident that elitist culture has trumped. The unceremonious fall of Congress party has led to a rapid paradigm shift in the polity of the nation with many prophesying the end of ‘Nehruvian-Socialism’ & rise of a ‘vibrant’ corporate culture. This has even emboldened the present government to propose egregious bills like the LAND ACQUISITION ACT which is a blatant attack on the nation’s hapless underclass.
It is a pity that a nation build on the ideals of economic-inclusiveness is today being devoid of its fundamental character.
This must become the cri de cuer for the underclass to rally all its forces & vociferously protect itself else face impending extermination.
© Haris Ahmed