Corporate-media-government nexus using intolerance to hide corporatisation

The debate on religious intolerance in India is not just what it appears on the surface. It is not without reason that everyday almost unfailingly by the time the afternoon arrives in India, media discovers a statement of one leader or the other, related to Hindu-Muslim question, and then till late at night, one channel after the other keeps debating it. And if a statement from any prominent Muslim happens to come, it takes the media by rage. Interestingly, Aamirs and Shahrukhs are criticised for their talk about intolerance, and the rabid reactions that follow prove by themselves how intolerant the country has become. Otherwise, what would explain such reactions, which are not as sharp when even harsher statements about intolerance are made by Hindu personalities?

 What however is being ignored in the midst of the whole debate is the fact that corporate, government and the media are working in tandem to keep the nation’s attention focussed on communal intolerance while the corporatisation agenda is in full swing. The government announced big FDI measures last month, and there was silence all around. Congress may very well be on the side of the government on the issues. The same may be the case of other political parties. But, what about leftists? They made a historical blunder in the late 1980s and 1990s when privatisation was introduced in India under the cover of Ayodhya-Babri Masjid movement. Instead of countering the rapid privatisation they got busy countering the communal agenda.

Every single step that the BJP government is taking on the economic front is aimed at helping the corporate. While some of the “reforms” may also be good for the masses, which should be supported, most of the so-called reforms are nothing but licence to the corporate to monopolise wealth.

The key areas which are being described as reforms by the industry -- remembering that reforms almost always mean the ways by which big industrial giants can monopolise the wealth of the country - are: FDI in Insurance; Land Purchase Rules; Labour Reforms; Goods And Service Tax; Asset Sales; Subsidy Reforms; Coal (plans to allow commercial coal mining for the first time, and to invite in foreign miners); sale of Mobile, Radio Spectrum and many more.

The tile of a report, “Govt goes on reforms overdrive; okays FDI in 15 sectors” itself suggests how keen the government is to embark upon its “reform” agenda, most of which will of course be against the interests of the masses. It says:

 “The Central government on the eve of Diwali went on a reforms overdrive and announced foreign direct investment (FDI) and liberalisation in 15 sectors. .. i. Limited liability partnerships, downstream investment and approval conditions. ii. Investment by companies owned and controlled by non-resident Indians (NRIs) iii. Establishment and transfer of ownership and control of Indian companies iv. Agriculture and animal husbandry v. plantation vi. mining and mineral separation of titanium bearing minerals and ores, its value addition and integrated activities vii. Defence viii. Broadcasting sector ix. Civil aviation x. Increase of sectoral cap xi. Construction development sector xii. Cash and carry wholesale trading / wholesale trading (including sourcing from MSEs) xiii. Single brand retail trading and duty-free shops xiv. Banking-private sector; and xv. Manufacturing sector The development comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom (UK). The government has also proposed to increase FIPB limit to Rs 5,000 crore from current Rs 3,000 crore. Sources in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) further said minimum area and investment conditions in construction have been removed and each FDI-funded real estate project will be separate. The government has also decided to permit FDI in completed projects. …Sources also said foreign direct investors (FDI) can now invest up to 49 percent in defence and 100 percent in non-news channels through the auto route. 49 percent FDI has also been allowed in broadcast through the FIPB route. Sources also added that full fungibility of FDI has also been allowed for private banks. Additionally, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) can invest up to 74 percent in private banking and 49 percent in defence. The DIPP has also been advised to consolidate all FDI-related instructions contained in various notifications and press notes and prepare a booklet so that the investors don’t have to refer to several documents of different timeframes, the release said. As far as single-brand retail is concerned, DIPP sources said 30 percent of the sourcing will be considered only from the date of first store. However, the sourcing clause has been dropped with FIPB nod for state of art and cutting edge tech, sources said. DIPP sources also said the same entity can now carry out business in wholesale and single-brand retail. Also, in a major fillip to the e-commerce sector, the government has given the go-ahead to these companies to do e-commerce retail, sources added.”

The problem is that while the wealthy are being allowed to multiply their wealth, the masses continue to suffer. Instead of increasing tax on wealth and reducing tax on consumption, which will decrease economic inequality, exactly opposite is being done. Whatever wealth tax was there earlier has been got way with by the BJP, and there are now preparations on to reduce the corporate tax also. GST bill, especially with the kind of the interest rates that are being pushed, will further increase the prices of all commodities.  The net result is that people have not only to buy products giving huge profits to the companies; they have also to pay to the government for the same. The result is that a product which should have been available to the people for not more than Rs 10 is available for at least Rs 50. The disparity in the country will not decrease unless the process is reversed. We have to evolve a tax policy where people are made to pay more tax on the wealth amassed than for procuring consumer items.

Rahul Gandhi is doing good to keep the focus on socioeconomic issues. Responding too much to the communal card of Hindutva will only help their cause. If instead, there is more focus on economic issues, the communal agenda will fail to divide the people. The game plan of the corporate-media-Government nexus has to be exposed if the intolerance is to be defeated. The way to it is not through a quid-pro-quid approach on communalism but a counterattack on economic intolerance of the nexus.

The author is Delhi-based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society (First Vol: Health). He may be contacted at 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2015 on page no. 11

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