Thursday, February 17, 2005

INDIA: What does the Left want?

+ This seems to be a typically south Asian phenomenon. Why is it that even the tiny nations of this sub-region, unlike their counterparts in other parts of Asia, are so embroiled fighting internal political wars when they should be directing their energies to bolstering their slender economies? Can Nepal, for example, whose economic base is so fragile and so dependent on tourism, afford the chaos, instability and turbulence that the royal takeover of the reigns of government is bound to set in motion? Is there any reason why Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, should be engaging in political terrorism and infighting? Wouldn't Pakistan have been better off to leave its politics behind and concentrate on its economics? Wouldn't Myanmar? +

What does the Left want?
Barun Roy


18/02/2005

Jyoti Basu could have been West Bengal's Deng Xiao-ping. Instead, he remains just the grand old man of the Indian Left, growing yearly in age and happily anchored in the revolutionary wisdom he had acquired when young.

That wisdom had taught him and his fellow travellers that everything foreign was bad because everything foreign was imperialist.

His and his party's strong opposition to giving any leeway to foreign direct investments (FDIs) in India's industry only reveals that the limits of their wisdom haven?t expanded in all these years even though global politics and economy have changed beyond recognition.

What do the Leftists want? Welfare of the poor? Then why are they so opposed to economic policies that have the potential to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number in the quickest possible time?

You can't have jobs for the unemployed without fast-tracking the industrial drive; and you can't have rapid industrialisation without a massive infusion of FDIs. China understands that.

Vietnam understands that. Japan understood that long ago, as did South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. These countries aren?t selling out to the imperialists.

They are only seeking to develop their economies in a way that will allow people to enjoy the benefits of growth here and now, without having to wait for an ever-receding future.

Or do they want the populace to remain in a permanent state of penury so that they always have something to agitate for, something that will allow them to exercise their leadership and be counted?

That may be their only way to stay alive as workers parties, but that may in the end turn out to be their undoing, because even ordinary people, of whom these parties pretend to be leaders, are sick of listening to their clenched-fisted proclamations, of always remaining at the receiver?s end of life.

Unfortunately, the Leftists aren't the only ones unable to think in terms of good economics. The Right and the Middle are no different.

Politics, mixed with religion, corruption and crime, has turned the entire country into a political kurukshetra, where every cause is a holy war, every step is a strategy, every fighter is a leader, and every leader has an axe to grind.

Even after more than half a century of independence, we still haven't realised that there comes a time in the life of a nation when politics must allow economics to function without let or hindrance, not to implement ideologies but to ensure for the people the minimum common well-being to which they are entitled.

This seems to be a typically south Asian phenomenon. Why is it that even the tiny nations of this sub-region, unlike their counterparts in other parts of Asia, are so embroiled fighting internal political wars when they should be directing their energies to bolstering their slender economies?

Can Nepal, for example, whose economic base is so fragile and so dependent on tourism, afford the chaos, instability and turbulence that the royal takeover of the reigns of government is bound to set in motion?

Is there any reason why Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, should be engaging in political terrorism and infighting?

Wouldn't Pakistan have been better off to leave its politics behind and concentrate on its economics? Wouldn't Myanmar?

It's only in south Asia that economics remains hostage to politics. Everywhere else in Asia, politics has been made to play second fiddle to economics and common sense.

Let's not discuss Korea or China or Singapore. Even the smaller nations of the Mekong basin (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam), once the scene of so much political bloodshed, have decided to participate in a common economic adventure.

Jyoti Basu is by no means a greater anti-imperialist leader than was Ho Chi Minh. But even Ho's Vietnam hasn?t hesitated twice in inviting the French and the Americans to be part of its economic reconstruction.

Its aggressive development policy, fed by direct foreign investments, has led to the creation of no fewer than 6 million jobs in the past four years.

For the first time in its history as an independent nation, India has a chance to step quickly into line with the rest of Asia and the world.

It has a band of leaders, under Manmohan Singh, who have the right intentions and the right policies.

Yet, instead of jumping at the chance to bring about quick economic change for the poor, whose cause they champion, the Leftists spare no opportunity to obstruct the process.

It's a pity. It's even more pitiful that countries like Nepal and Bangladesh don?t realise the folly of their politics. At a crunch, India will still survive because it's a huge country with a broad economic base.

Bangladesh and Nepal will simply collapse because they stand on very fragile foundations.