There is a very interesting video interview at the Realnews site. Paul Jay interviews Dr. Jayati Ghosh who is Professor of Economics and currently also Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Educated at Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Cambridge you can watch the video at link. The first point the interview turns to is the alleged ‘Indian miracle’ the answer from Ghosh is succinct and directed to that issue when she observes,” No, it’s not actually a miracle. In fact, I think—first of all, let me clarify. India and China are very, very different. We really can’t compare them. And all this talk about Chindia and so on, it’s nonsense, because China is a fundamentally different country. It’s not just that it has had much more rapid growth for a longer period and been more successful in poverty reduction, but it’s a whole different institutional system. It still has much more substantial state control, especially over finance. (George Ikners ikners.com Joomla)
There have been comparisons between India and China on what pleases all top down systems most, that is the rate of growth that can be attained in a system and just how that can be kept happening. Put simply all this happens by exploitation of several if not all the key elements of any society.
The first is the people themselves. Dr. Ghosh points out the inequality in India that allows what percentage wise is a ‘small group’ to reap benefits all the way to a staggering accumulation of personal wealth. Remember that 10% of the population of India means something like 100- 150 million people. This is the group that benefits and represents the ‘market’ as well. This is the same market that we are told has to be ‘free’ to work in some mysterious way in the interests of all.
What really happens is that whatever the free market does it does that for those who own the profit and privilege system and it acts against all the interests of those who are left. As a result particularly in India many people work for less than a subsistence wage and thereby provide the infrastructure and support corrupt capitalist systems need and live off parasitically to keep the wealth and power in the hands of the elite.
That support comes from the cheap wages to people who are so important to keeping the system going. Dr. Ghosh points to the IT industry as a prime example. The glittering illusion of the cheap products is thereby created, what is not seen is the virtual slavery of so many in that industry that allows all this to happen. It is in this way that while ‘growth’ in the local economy has remained at 8-10% for many years real wages and the like have fallen and living standards are little short of very bad for the vast majority of the country. That argument also applies to banking and finance later.
Ghosh provides an interesting summary when she goes on to say,” If you look at the pattern of Indian growth, it’s really more like a Latin American story. We are now this big success story of globalization, but it’s a peculiar success story, because it’s really one which has been dependent on foreign—you know, we don’t run trade surpluses. We don’t even run current account surpluses, even though a lot of our workers go abroad to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, to California, as IT workers. We still don’t really run current account surpluses. So we’ve been getting capital inflow because we are discovered as this hot destination. You know, we are on Euromoney covers. We are seen as this place to go. Some of our top businessmen are the richest men in the world.
The comparison to Latin America is very interesting. In both areas there are sections of the population who ruthlessly maintain an economic dominance. Perhaps the despotic regimes almost always either put there by the US or completely supported by the US or both may seem to be able to produce more dead bodies in the quest for the same domination.
But it does not take long for the real situation of the privileged groups to become apparent, when you look at profit systems because, as Ghosh sees the position in India” Banks have been lending more to this upper group, the top 10 percent of the population, let’s say. It’s a small part of the population, but it’s a lot of people, it’s about 110 million people, which is a pretty large market for most places. So that has fuelled this growth, because otherwise you cannot explain how we’ve had 8 to 10 percent growth now for a decade. Real wages are falling, nutrition indicators are down there with sub-Saharan Africa, a whole range of basic human development is still abysmal, and per capita incomes in the countryside are not growing at all.
The position of the left in India is also dealt with in a very thoughtful way, Ghosh sees the position as,”Well, I wish I could say it’s intact. I think the left also, in India, it’s still, I think, a very vibrant and very important political force, but it is under attack and it’s under attack from both the right and left. It’s under attack from imperialist forces who want to suppress a genuine left movement in India. And it’s been queried by a lot of confusion by all kinds of conflicting, you know, political groups that are based on caste or on religion or on other kinds of identity politics. I do believe, though, that the future of the left is integral to the future of India as we know it, which is to say a secular democracy. So it’s absolutely critical to keep that left voice not just alive but expanding in India.
It is in the situation when the system becomes so big or at least seems that way that the general population are left in despair. In the 70s there were riots etc but these days what should be directed to the basis of the system of exploitation and corruption has developed into fighting between the smaller factions.
Ghosh sees this as a process where,” What you do find is the increase in all kinds of unpleasant social and political forces, where people turn against other linguistic groups, they turn against other caste groups, they turn against other religions, you know, because you can’t hit at the system—it’s too big. So you pick on somebody your own size, or preferably smaller than you so you can actually bash them up.
That really means that the prisoners have become so completely institutionalized (brain washed if you prefer) that the ‘fight’ becomes a battle between themselves. While the real enemy is as Dylan would say, “free to drink Martinis and to watch the sunrise.”
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