India as a neoliberal state

The relationship between multinationals and national states is not so simple today. A multinational draws its strength from its “multiple” identities and states compete with one another to ‘home’ it. With financialisation this competition among the states have considerably increased with ‘capitals’ seeking to regiment the ‘arbitrary’ state behaviour with the everlooming threat of flight of capital. However it would be wrong to consider this relationship as totally one-sided, as the proponents of ‘footloose capital’ make us believe. With increasing monopolisation (but never monopoly) the competition among capitals has intensified too, they struggle to establish their production and circulation bases to surpass competitors. This forces them to rely on particular states for protection and representation in negotiations for the acquisition of these ‘bases’. Of course, financialisation has increasingly instrumentalised the state, but this has made capitals increasingly dependent on this instrument too.

A neo-neoliberal state like India in recent years has remarkably shown its efficacy as an ‘instrument’. If something has made the Indian state emerge as clearly neoliberal, it is its proactive reclaiming of Indian diasporic “non-resident” capitals. Unlike the Chinese, which tried to attract the Chinese diaspora to increase the production capacity within its territory, the Indian state has increasingly instrumentalised itself by facilitating Indian capital (NR and domestic) expansion beyond its territory. In fact, the Indian government was proactive in international acquisitions like Arcelor and Corus, and for its many pharmaceutical multinational companies. Many of these companies are not at all dependent on Indian earnings or don’t have any plans to re/patriate their NR earnings. However, they have found in the Indian state a tremendous agency for their bargainings, increasing their ‘political’ leverage in the competitive world market. A dual citizenship to Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origins (PIOs) was not to attract working class remittances or the grandchildren of indentured labourers, but to provide ‘Indian’ capital all over the world an ‘identity’. It is interesting to note that the initial proposal was to restrict “dual citizenship to PIOs from a select group of countries”, excluding especially the Third World PIOs. But this could have excluded a very fat lot that dominate wealth in many third world countries especially in Africa and Asia.

It would be interesting to see the Indian state’s response (taking into consideration that it has not shown any mercy to such resentment within its own territory) to recent Ugandan uprising against “a government proposal to allow the Mehta Group to clear a quarter of the Mabira forest reserve to grow sugar. The 30,000-hectare (7,400-acre) reserve, east of Kampala, contains some of the last patches of virgin forest in Uganda and serves as an important water catchment area.” (Guardian, April 13, 2007)


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