Saturday, February 25, 2006

Socialism India

Most discussion about India in the West these days focuses on IT outsourcing. Few are aware of the fierce debate within India about the future of socialism in that country. Fewer still are aware that the very constitution of India was constructed upon socialist principles. The very constitution of India states the national goals as being "Democracy, Socialism, Secularism and National Integration."

In fact, India is an incredibly diverse nation made up of many national identities, religions and cultures. Also, India has been fighting a battle against the dual legacies of the caste system and colonialism. Nevertheless, despite recent trends towards market capitalism and globalization, socialism and communism have played a very important part in the sovereign political development of the Indian people.

A recent editorial by Sitiram Yechury CPI(M) in the Indian Express states clearly:

India empowered, thus, means the true economic emancipation and empowerment of all its people. To achieve this, we require a system—politico-legal; socio-economic; cultural-linguistic—which actually makes people the masters of the country’s resources and hence of the country’s future. India empowered, thus, means a country where there shall be no exploitation of man by man. This is no wild dream of an idealist. This vision is perfectly tangible both in today’s world and today’s India. India empowered means the socialist republic of India.

Socialism in the constitution of India is described by Wikipedia as follows (my emphasis):

The word socialist was added to the Preamble by the 42nd amendment act of 1976. It implies social and economic equality. Social equality in this context means the absence of discrimination on the grounds of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, language, etc. Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities. Economic equality in this context means that the government will endeavour to make the distribution of wealth more equal and provide a decent standard of living for all. This is in effect emphasizing a commitment towards the formation of a Welfare state.

What about the current economic "boom" in India and what it means for the prospects of Socialism in that country?

India's economic boom is causing unsustainable environmental damage and is blinding people to the misery of hundreds of millions of poor. [...] Even if you know what is going on, you can't help thinking India is this cool place now, Bollywood is 'in' and all of us have mobile phones. [...] India's economic boom is driven by policies which are causing unsustainable environmental damage. [...] There is no understanding whatsoever of what price is being paid by the rivers and mountains and irrigation and ground water. Mass destruction of urban squats and poor neighborhoods are another effect.


There is a "deadly cocktail" of factors at play that drives farmers to despair, [when] their crop has failed. [Indian farmers] have been reeling under drought with crop failure having become common. Official figures have 250 farmers having committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh between 1995 and 1998. The government says nearly 3,000 farmers in that state alone have committed suicide over the past six years.

So we can see what liberal economic reform has brought to India over the past 20 years. An expanding middle class with all that entails, to be sure, but also massive primitive accumulation and what amounts to mass murder of the urban and rural working-class and poor, and the appropriation of their land, livelihood and self-sufficiency.

Only a return to the socialist values nobly enshrined in the Indian constitution will bring sufficiency and peace to the hundreds of millions of proletarians in India who are very much worse off due to the current trends which have been sweeping this beautiful country.


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