1. India is passing through turbulent times. On the one hand we have a growing crisis of the neo-liberal policy regime and a desperate corporate/state offensive to transfer the burden of the crisis on the people; on the other hand we are witnessing massive outbursts of people’s anger. In the onslaught of pro-corporate, anti-people policies combined with severe state repression, we are witnessing a virtual war on the people waged by the State. However, whether we look at struggles against corporate land-grab, against corruption, against sexual violence or for workers’ rights, we can see an encouraging upswing in popular assertion. The historic upsurge of the youth in Delhi against the December 16 incident of gang-rape has triggered a countrywide awakening among women and in the society at large for women’s rights. We also witnessed a powerful assertion of the working class in an unprecedented two-day all-India strike on February 20-21. In spite of the economic hardship and repressive offensive of the state, the present juncture is pregnant with great possibilities for the democratic movement of the Indian people.
2. Two decades of uninterrupted pursuit of the economic policy regime of reckless liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have pushed India into a deep economic crisis. All these years the ruling classes sought to justify the policies by pointing to the increased rate of economic growth, but now the growth balloon has also been deflated with the growth rate hitting the lowest point in a decade. Agriculture and manufacturing sectors are in deep stagnation, and the much celebrated service sector has also begun to slow down.
3. Taking a cue from the US and other crisis-hit countries, the Indian ruling classes have also adopted the two-pronged approach of bailing out the crisis-hit corporations while inflicting greater hardship on the common people in the name of maintaining austerity and
checking fiscal deficit. Two decades ago, Manmohan Singh had introduced the neo-liberal policies in the name of rescuing the Indian economy. Now when the policy trajectory has led India to a deeper morass, Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister is trying to use the crisis as an opportunity for imposing the neo-liberal agenda of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation still more recklessly.
4. Instead of reducing India’s dependence on foreign capital and erecting safeguards to protect Indian economy from the aggression of global finance, the UPA government is desperately opening up every sphere of the economy to increasingly unrestricted operations of foreign capital. Defying widespread opposition, the government has decided to allow FDI in multi-brand retail sector and pension fund. In the 2012-13 budget, India had for the first time talked of introducing provisions (General Anti-Avoidance Rules) to plug the loopholes whereby foreign investors operating from tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman Islands lawfully avoid paying any tax. But the government soon deferred it, first for one year and then for three
years. And now this year’s budget has virtually been dedicated to foreign investors with the Finance Minister saying the country has no choice but to invite foreign investment.
5. The phenomenon of state-sponsored subsidisation of the corporate sector has been going on in multiple forms in India. Exemptions handed out to the corporate sector in annual budgets gives us one straightforward indication and the amount works out to more than Rs 5 trillion in the last eight budgets. It is also well known that the corporate sector is the biggest recipient and defaulter of loans extended by Indian public sector banks – and despite the global financial crisis banks are loaning out huge amounts to their corporate clients, the total volume of highly risky corporate debt running into Rs. 3.6 trillion.
6. Most of the recent mega scams like 2G, Coalgate, K-G Basin scam (the gas reserves in the Krishna-Godavari basin were discovered by the ONGC and then handed over to the Reliance Industries) etc. furnish examples of huge losses inflicted on the national exchequer in corporate interest. State patronage of the corporate sector or collusion and complicity in corporate plunder also takes the form of blatant pro-corporate