Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same.
But Gush-Up certainly has. That’s why in a nation of 1.2 billion, India’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP.
RIL is one of a handful of corporations that run India. Some of the others are the Tatas, Jindals, Vedanta, Mittals, Infosys, Essar and the other Reliance (ADAG), owned by Mukesh’s brother Anil.
According to the rules of the Gush-Up Gospel, the more you have, the more you can have.
The noisier the carnival around elections,the less sure we are that democracy really exists.
After three years of “low-intensity conflict” that has not managed to “flush” the rebels out of the forest, the central government has declared that it will deploy the Indian army and air force. In India, we don’t call this war. We call it “creating a good investment climate”.
Going by the tens of thousands of unmarked graves and anonymous cremation pyres in Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland, it has shown itself to be a very suspicious army indeed.
Hundreds of people have been jailed, charged for being Maoists under draconian, undemocratic laws. Prisons are crowded with adivasi people, many of whom have no idea what their crime is.Recently, Soni Sori, an adivasi school-teacher from Bastar, was arrested and tortured in police custody. Stones were pushed up her vagina to get her to “confess” that she was a Maoist courier.The stones were removed from her body at a hospital in Calcutta, where, after a public outcry, she was sent for a medical check-up. At a recent Supreme Court hearing, activists presented the judges with the stones in a plastic bag. The only outcome of their efforts has been that Soni Sori remains in jail while Ankit Garg, the Superintendent of Police who conducted the interrogation, was conferred with the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry on Republic Day.
The army is experienced enough to know that coercive force alone cannot carry out or manage social engineering on the scale that is envisaged by India’s planners. War against the poor is one thing. But for the rest of us ~ the middle class, white-collar workers, intellectuals, “opinion-makers” ~ it has to be “perception management”.
Essar was the principal sponsor of the Tehelka Newsweek Think Fest that promised “high-octane debates” by the foremost thinkers from around the world, which included major writers, activists and even the architect Frank Gehry. (All this in Goa, where activists and journalists were uncovering massive illegal mining scandals, and Essar’s part in the war unfolding in Bastar was emerging.) Tata Steel and Rio Tinto (which has a sordid track record of its own) were among the chief sponsors of the Jaipur Literary Festival (Latin name: Darshan Singh Construction Jaipur Literary Festival) that is advertised by the cognoscenti as ‘The Greatest Literary Show on Earth’. Counselage, the Tatas’ “strategic brand manager”, sponsored the festival’s press tent.
(We are witness to how helpless the Indian government and the police can be when it comes to Muslims.)
Or about the mandatory public hearing for the Tata Steel plant in Lohandiguda which local people complained actually took place hundreds of miles away in Jagdalpur, in the collector’s office compound, with a hired audience of fifty people, under armed guard.
Their obese emperors from New YorkThey buy countries, people, seas, police, county councils,
are suave smiling assassins
who buy silk, nylon, cigars
petty tyrants and dictators.
distant regions where the poor hoard their corn
like misers their gold:
Standard Oil awakens them,
clothes them in uniforms, designates
which brother is the enemy.
the Paraguayan fights its war,
and the Bolivian wastes away
in the jungle with its machine gun.
A President assassinated for a drop of petroleum,
a million-acre mortgage,
a swift execution on a morning mortal with light, petrified,
a new prison camp for subversives,
in Patagonia, a betrayal, scattered shots
beneath a petro-liferous moon,
a subtle change of ministers
in the capital, a whisper
like an oil tide,
and zap, you’ll see
how Standard Oil’s letters shine above the clouds,
above the seas, in your home,
illuminating their dominions.
Two of the most opaque, unaccountable organizations in the world go about demanding transparency and accountability from the governments of poorer countries.
The Ford Foundation’s declared “goals for the future of mankind” include interventions in grassroots political movements locally and internationally.In the US, it provided millions in grants and loans to support the Credit Union Movement that was pioneered by the department store owner, Edward Filene, in 1919.Filene believed in creating a mass consumption society of consumer goods by giving workers affordable access to credit ~ a radical idea at the time. Actually, only half of a radical idea, because the other half of what Filene believed in was the more equitable distribution of national income.Capitalists seized on the first half of Filene’s suggestion, and by disbursing “affordable” loans of tens of millions of dollars to working people, turned the US working class into people who are permanently in debt, running to catch up with their lifestyles.
There’s a lot of money in poverty, and a few Nobel Prizes too.
Unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US, the Hazare movement did not breathe a word against privatization, corporate power or economic “reforms”.
The gathering of information to control people they rule is fundamental to any ruling power.As resistance to land acquisition and the new economic policies spreads across India, in the shadow of outright war in Central India, as a containment technique, the government has embarked on a massive biometrics programme, perhaps one of the most ambitious and expensive information-gathering projects in the world ~ the Unique Identification Number (UID).
People don’t have clean drinking water, or toilets, or food, or money, but they will have election cards and UID numbers.
To “digitize” a country with such a large population of the largely illegitimate and “illegible” ~ people who are for the most part slum-dwellers, hawkers, adivasis without land records ~ will criminalize them, turning them from illegitimate to illegal.
As though it is a lack of information that is the cause of world hunger, and not colonialism, debt and skewed profit-oriented, corporate policy.
Gradually, one particular imagination ~ a brittle, superficial pretence of tolerance and multiculturalism (that morphs into racism, rabid nationalism, ethnic chauvinism or war-mongering Islamophobia at a moment’s notice) under the roof of a single, overarching, very unplural economic ideology ~ began to dominate the discourse.It did so to such an extent that it ceased to be perceived as an ideology at all.It became the default position, the natural way to be.It infiltrated normality, colonized ordinariness, and challenging it began to seem as absurd or as esoteric as challenging reality itself.From here it was a quick easy step to ‘There is No Alternative’.
The Privatization of Everythinghas also meantthe NGO-ization of Everything.
Of the millions of NGOs, some do remarkable, radical work and it would be a travesty to tar all NGOs with the same brush.
However, the corporate or Foundation-endowed NGOs are global finance’s way of buying into resistance movements, literally like shareholders buy shares in companies, and then try to control them from within.
The more troubled an area, the greater the numbers of NGOs in it.
Armed with their billions,these NGOs have waded into the world,turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists,funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers,gently luring them away from radical confrontation,ushering them in the direction of multi-culturalism,gender, community development ~the discourse couched in the languageof identity politics and human rights.
This is not to suggest that human rights don’t matter.They do, but they are not a good enough prism through which to view or remotely understand the great injustices in the world we live in.
Why do most “official” feminists and women’s organizations in India keep a safe distance between themselves and organizations like say the 90,000-member Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Association) fighting patriarchy in their own communities and displacement by mining corporations in the Dandakaranya forest?Why is it that the dispossession and eviction of millions of women from land which they owned and worked is not seen as a feminist problem?
Most radical, anti-capitalist movements were located in the countryside where, for the most part, patriarchy continued to rule the lives of most women. Urban women activists who joined these movements (like the Naxalite movement) had been influenced and inspired by the western feminist movement and their own journeys towards liberation were often at odds with what their male leaders considered to be their duty: to fit in with ‘the masses’.
As a result, by the late ’80s, around the time Indian markets were opened up, the liberal feminist movement in a country like India has become inordinately NGO-ized. Many of these NGOs have done seminal work on queer rights, domestic violence, AIDS and the rights of sex workers.
But significantly, the liberal feminist movements have not been at the forefront of challenging the new economic policies, even though women have been the greatest sufferers.
(And then there are those who suffer the double whammy, Botox and the Burqa.)
In the NGO universe, which has evolved a strange anodyne language of its own, everything has become a “subject”, a separate, professionalized, special-interest issue.Community development, leadership development, human rights, health, education, reproductive rights, AIDS, orphans with AIDS ~ have all been hermetically sealed into their own silos with their own elaborate and precise funding brief.
How do you domesticate it?How do you turn protesters into pets?How do you vacuum up people’s fury
and redirect it into blind alleys?
Martin Luther King Jr. made the forbidden connections between Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism and the Vietnam War. As a result, after he was assassinated, even his memory became a toxic threat to public order. Foundations and Corporations worked hard to remodel his legacy to fit a market-friendly format. The Martin Luther King Junior Centre for Non-Violent Social Change, with an operational grant of $2 million, was set up by, among others, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mobil, Western Electric, Procter & Gamble, US Steel and Monsanto.
Do we need weapons to fight wars?Or do we need wars to create a market for weapons?
Many of those columnists and “strategic analysts” who are playing up the hostilities between India and China, you’ll see, can be traced back directly or indirectly to the Indo-American think-tanks and foundations.
It means sharing intelligence, altering agriculture and energy policies, opening up the health and education sectors to global investment. It means opening up retail. It means an unequal partnership in which India is being held close in a bear hug and waltzed around the floor by a partner who will incinerate her the moment she refuses to dance.
“What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”
The proletariat has, over the years, been pitted against each other in every possible way.In India, it has been Hindu against Muslim, Hindu against Christian, Dalit against Adivasi, caste against caste, and region against region.And yet, all over the world, it is fighting back.In China, there are countless strikes and uprisings.In India, the poorest people in the world have fought back to stop some of the richest corporations in their tracks.
Arundhati Roy is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Arundhati Roy