Neoliberal wishlist

NEOLIBERAL WISHLIST

The editorial in the CPM weekly People's Democracy talks about the pre-budget excitement and demands that the budget reverse the current policy trajectory of greater tax concessions for the rich.

Instead, it says, these "legitimate taxes" must be collected and this revenue must be used to "substantially increase the levels of public investment to build our much-needed infrastructure and simultaneously provide largescale fresh employment which, in turn, will lead to higher levels of domestic demand and, hence, a sustainable growth trajectory."

The editorial talks about wishlists of various sections and argues that the most influential are the demands of neo-liberalisation which seeks to "prise open our economy further for profit maximisation." The government too, it argues, is more than willing to bend over backwards to satisfy international finance capital and Indian big business.

"Already FDI in retail trade has been permitted despite widespread opposition. Banking reforms have been legislated which completely undo the gains of bank nationalisation and pave the way for foreign banks to take over private Indian banks. The FDI cap in the insurance sector is slated to be raised..." it notes. These moves signalled the strengthening of the neo-liberal reform trajectory, which is bound to increase the gap between the two Indias further. It will not be surprising to see the budget having more such proposals. The editorial claims that the UPA's argument that greater flow of foreign capital will increase funds for investment, which would lead to a higher growth rate and general prosperity, is misleading.

JINGOISTIC TUNE

The editorial in the CPI(ML)'s ML Update decries jingoistic debates in the media over the killing of two Indian army personnel along the LoC, saying a war-like situation is the last thing the peoples of India and Pakistan can afford: "The beginning of 2013 stood in a sudden stark contrast to the end of 2012. The same electronic media that resonated in December with cries of freedom and justice for women, and discussed with great urgency issues of much-awaited democratic reforms in our society, began whipping up competitive waves of jingoism over issues of violation of ceasefire along the India-Pakistan Line of Control. If democracy was the theme for December, jingoism became the dominant tune for January..."

Instead of exerting diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to seek a probe into the beheading of the solider,the editorial says the issue is being cynically exploited to whip up an emotional frenzy with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj calling for ten Pakistani heads for one Indian head. "The Congress has always seen great merit in the politics of jingoism. War clouds provide the best cover to legitimise unpalatable decisions in the name of national security. Following a steep hike in railway fares, the government has already taken this opportunity to deregulate diesel prices..."

HOAX MEAL

The editorial in CPI journal New Age focuses on malnutrition and links it with the food security bill, pending in Parliament. It says the government has turned down almost all the positive suggestions made by the the NAC and has continuously refused to opt for a universal PDS.

The categories enlisted for providing subsidised foodgrains are also faulty. It claims government departments continuously eliminate eligible people from the BPL list to show their efforts at eradicating poverty have succeeded.

"Food security is directly related with the malnutrition. The poorer sections of our society are not able to have even two meals a day. According to government's own findings, about 78 per cent of Indians are not able to spend Rs 20 a day. In such a situation, talking about providing nutritional meal to the children will be a hoax," the editorial concludes.

Compiled by Manoj C.G.

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