For the past two decades the narrative built around globalisation is of: integration of businesses, ideas & societies. That collaboration in various human endeavours can solve larger issues of poverty, diseases, joblessness & abject living conditions for innumerable people is now hard-wired in our brains.
The institutionalization of New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1991 was hailed as the beginning of an era that would alleviate many million lives; jobs would trickle down in abundance & millions of India’s young people teeming up with aspirations would live in an era with a never before seen quality of life.
As the age of globalization moves beyond its infancy; it is amply clear that many of these big promises were simply red- herring. Jobs came but, only those could benefit who were already equipped with the necessary pre- requisite: education; historically monopolized by a small fraction of people who constitute the upper crust of India’s caste hierarchy. Millions of people were pulled out of poverty yet many millions still continue to reel under wretched conditions. A new class of poor has emerged across the developing world, created as a direct result of globalization; hawkers who could no more compete with retail outlets, small businesses mowed down by international firms & many more who were lured by the charms of globalization towards cities to find themselves stuck in knee- deep poverty & squalor.
For nearly two decades now, India grew like the next big economic behemoth. A 300 million strong middle class that aspires & dreams big is a testament to the fact that globalization has worked well for many people.
Yet the existence of numerous Dharavis means India is actually a sea of Sub- Saharan Africa with only a few bright spots. This is the root of all that’s wrong with globalization. The right-ward tilt in the global polity across various nations: the US, India & Western Europe is a direct product of disenchantment of the masses. The failure of benefits of globalization to trickle down in India; the eroding job security for the working class in the American interior & the influx of migrants across Europe even as the economy plunged into the Great Recession of 2008. All these factors have contributed to undermine globalization & strengthen isolationist world view that feeds on people’s trepidations.
In India, this has manifested in the form of uber- nationalism; exclusivist majoritarian narrative on everything, from history lessons to virtual diktat on eating habits. Political entities like the BJP (& its previous iteration; the Jana Sangh) & others on the far- right like Shiv- Sena existed well before globalization started working full swing ostensibly disrupting ‘’Indian family values’’. The scars of partition long fed the Right of Indian polity with the necessary oxygen. The specter of partition was revived in the 80’s & early 90’s; the demolition of Babri Mosque & the ensuing bloody riots across North & Western India culminated in the serial bomb blasts in Bombay (1993) & the rise of Islamic terror. All these events only set the stage for the imminent coronation of BJP in 1999. The general elections of 2004 & 2009 where the Congress & its allies humbled BJP did slow down the process of radicalization of India’s urban middle class. But, it could never vanquish the inevitable ascent of the radical right-wing.
Consider this; the Congress Party is a spent force. There’s no credible opposition to the government in the Parliament. PM Modi has the gall to announce an unprecedented ‘currency culling’ scheme without proper consultation with his Cabinet & the Reserve Bank. The world looks at us with horror as the PM pushes the nation into a self-inflicted recession. And to top that, like a sociopath he laughs at the miseries of people in Japan addressing his typical NRI fans & lets loose his histrionics in Goa the other day while asking the people to bear with the pain.
Who in their right mind does that? Only someone who has a conflated sense of destiny that his actions are infallible & he alone can solve all the problems. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? This sense of divine infallibility drove the Germans onto a path of destruction, the Italians towards their ruin & generations of Russians living under the abominable Iron- curtain of Soviet regime. It couldn’t ring more true; India today is the closest it has been to becoming a Fascist state driven by the hate- machine that is the Sangh Parivar.
Amidst all these, the winter session of the Parliament turns a complete washout simply because the vainglorious PM believes more in sloganeering than in parliamentary debates. Enter the Post-truth India; where the most draconian fiats can be passed under the guise of nationalism & majoritarian chauvinism & nobody bats an eyelid.
Decades from now; 26th May, 2014 would be remembered as a red-letter day just as important as 1977 when the Janata Coalition trounced the mighty Indira Gandhi & her coteries. While the victory of Janata Party halted the march of an authoritarian Indira Gandhi this time it’d be the voters, civil society, media & an array of other institutions surrendering themselves to another megalomaniac; Narendra Modi.
(This post also appeared on HuffPost India)