India is among “big brothers” of WTO: Pascal Lamy

The WTO Chief seems to know perfectly well what phrases would attract his audience in India today. This way they feel themselves to be in the company of global abusers.

    “Among the big brothers (in WTO) are the big developing countries. China, India and Brazil (are the) three big brothers,” Lamy told reporters.

    He said the three countries, along with key players like Australia, EU and the US constitute the world of today.

Krugman’s “great illusion”

Economist Paul Krugman in his latest column in NY Times (Aug 15, 2008) entitled “The Great Illusion” expresses his concern at the possibility that “the second great age of globalization may share the fate of the first”. And it is the recent Russia-Georgia conflict that makes him say so. To be more explicit he goes on to explain that “our grandfathers lived in a world of largely self-sufficient, inward-looking national economies — but our great-great grandfathers lived, as we do, in a world of large-scale international trade and investment, a world destroyed by nationalism.”

Krugman’s above statement clearly shows his lack of any historical sense. When was that “world of large-scale international trade and investment” free of (militarist) nationalism – a mechanism to protect that “large-scaleness”? And much of the “nationalism” which destroyed that world was in fact a revolt against that “large-scale” militarism. Yes, it destroyed the Pax Britannica – it was a war against the war monopoly.

On the one hand, Krugman seems to tell that national self-sufficiency at least with regard to “the current food crisis” is at last clearly shown to be not “an outmoded concept”. But he is in fact accusing nationalism of “many governments” for “leaving food-importing countries in dire straits”. He further finds that there is a rise of “militarism and imperialism” as “it does mark the end of the Pax Americana — the era in which the United States more or less maintained a monopoly on the use of military force. And that raises some real questions about the future of globalization”. Obviously, for him, “Russian energy” and Chinese big economy are the real threats as they have the capacity to manipulate world polities and economies to submission.

Then what is the Pax Americana? Is it not militarism, imperialism and manipulation, that we witnessed throughout the 1990s and afterwards? When did war-mongering and militarist build-up end during the “Pax Americana”? Increasing manipulative capacities of other countries and their political economy at the most demonstrate a globalization of “militarism and imperialism”.

Krugman rightly questions those analysts who “tell us not to worry: global economic integration itself protects us against war, they argue, because successful trading economies won’t risk their prosperity by engaging in military adventurism”. He thinks “the foundations of the second global economy” are solid than those of the first only “in some ways”, “[f]or example, war among the nations of Western Europe really does seem inconceivable now, not so much because of economic ties as because of shared democratic values”. So euro-centric Krugman, like Stiglitz, ultimately thinks the West not to be adventurist because of its democracy, but ah! “much of the world, however, including nations that play a key role in the global economy, doesn’t share those values”. So does he think the Pax Americana to which the West has submitted is about peace and democracy, which is now being threatened by the despotic Orient?

Krugman rightly concludes that “the belief that economic rationality always prevents war is an equally great illusion”. But like any other ordinary bourgeois he thinks economic rationality can prevent war when coupled with “democratic” values of the West. Obviously he can’t see the fact that economic rationality is about competition, representative democracy is about competition, and a war is competition par excellence. They are all ultimately the same – diverse moments in the life of “social capital”(1). Krugman refuses to recognize that capital whether protected by democratic regimes or not is at constant war against labour – which needs to be divided and controlled if it is to be exploited – and Western xenophobic megalomaniac nationalisms have always been nurtured for this reason. Where is the country in the West free from state-sponsored Ku-klux-klanesque policies and activism against migrants and “the other”? The neo-capitalist regimes have learned their lessons properly – obviously at the cost of threatening the established monopolies. It is not an end of globalization, as Krugman prognosticates, but a new stage – and a more barbaric stage – of capitalist globalization.


(1) “Here social capital is not just the total capital of society: it is not the simple sum of individual capitals. It is the whole process of socialization of capitalist production: it is capital itself that becomes uncovered, at a certain level of its development, as social power”. (Mario Tronti (1971), Social Capital)

Has “the ghost of an incipient Indian imperialism” grown up?

Writing in 1949 N.V. Sovani in his ECONOMIC RELATIONS OF INDIA WITH SOUTH-EAST ASIA AND THE FAR EAST (OUP and Indian Council of World Affairs) talked about the “ghost of an incipient Indian imperialism”:

Indian migration to Ceylon, Burma and Malaya, as explained above, was largely under the aegis of the British. It could take the form it did only under the circumstances that British imperialism created. The withdrawal of British imperialism from these areas – though only half way through in Malaya – has changed the entire background. Indians abroad are likely to encounter increasing opposition. The Indian trading and commercial interests in these countries have evoked stronger and more bitter resentment, and it is likely that more and more restrictions will be placed on their activities. This is not an isolated phenomenon. Foreign elements all over South-East Asia are experiencing a similar fate. The reaction against the Chinese in Siam and lately in the Philippines are cases in point. Such a development is but natural during the transition from a colonial to a national economy. Realizing the new set-up of things the problem of Indians will have to be continuously handled in such a manner as to lay the ghost of an incipient Indian imperialism./page 68/

Now sixty years after, the Indian neoliberalisers and their western promoters are unabashedly boasting about “reverse imperialism”.

Gainers gain, losers lose

Today (Aug 06) Mint carried an article written by one of its columnists which shows how neoliberalism in India has made the rich richer and the poor poorer at the geo-structural level.

The article concludes on the basis of recently released data on “outstanding loans sanctioned in a particular state/region and utilized in that place” – much has changed since India officially took steps towards liberalisation (according to the author, the economy has overall gained), however, “there are winners and losers…, there are some regions that have gained more than others”. What is most significant in the data (which the author does not explicitly recognise) is that it remarkably demonstrates that the geographical hierarchy that prevailed prior to the 1991 counter-revolution persists with hardly any reshuffling, while the vertical gap has tremendously increased. The data is significant since neoliberalism is mainly about financialisation and capital investment through the instruments of usury, debt and the credit system, which seemingly are, what the data perhaps substantiates, “radical means of accumulation by dispossession”, as David Harvey would put.


1. “Comparing the data for end-March 1991 with the recently released numbers for end-March 2007, the northern and western regions have been the biggest gainers in terms of credit growth. In March 1991, the northern region accounted for 18.3% of the total credit outstanding—that percentage rose to 21.9% in March 2007. The western region, which accounted for 27.5% of total credit outstanding in the country in 1991, saw its share rising to 31.5%. The southern region’s share increased modestly from 28.1% to 28.5%. The losers were: the east, with the region’s share down from 12.3% to 8.9%, the central region (which includes Uttar Pradesh), whose share fell from 12% in 1991 to 8.1% in 2007, and the North-East, for which it declined from 1.7% to 1%”.

2. However, the gain in the northern region is virtually sham as “it’s Delhi that gained the most, with its share of credit going up from 7.1% in 1991 to 12% in 2007. The shares of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir all declined over the period, while that of Rajasthan was flat”.

3. “In the east, West Bengal’s share fell from 7.7% in 1991 to 5.3% in 2007, Bihar’s share (including Jharkhand) decreased from 3% to 2% while Orissa’s share remained flat at 1.6%. In the central region, the share of Uttar Pradesh, or UP (including Uttarakhand) fell from 7.9% to 5.2%, while that of Madhya Pradesh, or MP (including Chhattisgarh) declined from 4.2% to 2.9%”.

4. “In the south, the big beneficiary has been Karnataka—its share went up from 6.4% to 8.8%. Kerala’s share went down from 3.7% to 3.1%, Andhra Pradesh’s from 7.2% to 6.6% and Tamil Nadu’s from 10.6% to 9.9%.

5. “The data also corresponds to the increasing metropolitan focus of credit delivery. The numbers show that 66.1% of credit was utilized in the metropolitan centres in 2007, compared with 46% in 1991. Naturally, this will mean more credit growth in places such as Delhi and Mumbai. That’s probably the result both of the decay of rural India as well as the more rapid growth of these centres”.

6. Comparing the recent data with the distribution of national credit pie during 1981-91, Delhi’s share actually fell “from 10.2% in December 1981 to 7.2% in March 1991. Growth in that period was more uniform, with all the southern states except Kerala gaining modestly during the decade, as did MP, UP, Orissa and Assam”.

7. As for the political conclusion of the above economic phenomenon, the author shivers at the prospect of increasing “demands for redistribution” along with migration. “These will create immense political strains between Indian states and the potential for serious differences.”


    “They have exemplified the saying: To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not the little that he hath shall be taken away — The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the state is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism. Such are the effects which must ever flow from an unmitigated exercise of the calculating faculty”. (Shelley, ‘The Defence of Poetry’)

Gandhian subversion and parliamentary deviation

Gandhi advised his colleagues and subordinates on 7 August 1937 when the then Congress contested the elections and were ready to accept office under the Government of India Act 1935:

These offices have to be held lightly, not tightly. They are or should be crowns of thorns, never of renown. Offices have been taken in order to see if they enable us to quicken the pace at which we are moving towards our goal.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 99-100)

Again on 21 August 1937, Gandhi said,

Indeed the triumph of the congress will be measured by the success it achieves in rendering the police and the military practically idle. And it will fail utterly if it has to face crises that render the use of the police and the military inevitable. The best and the only effective way to wreck the existing Constitution is for the Congress to prove conclusively that it can rule without the aid of the military and with the least possible assistance of the police.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 148-49)

On 17 July, 1937:

The Government of India Act is universally regarded as wholly unsatisfactory for achieving India’s freedom. But it is possible to construe it as an attempt, however limited and feeble, to replace the rule of the sword by the rule of the majority. The creation of the big electorate of three crores of men and women and the placing of wide powers in their hands cannot be described by any other name. Underlying it is the hope that what has been imposed upon us we shall get to like, i.e., we shall really regard our exploitation as a blessing in the end. The hope may be frustrated if the representatives of the thirty million voters have a faith of their own and are intelligent enough to use the powers (including the holding of offices) placed in their hands for the purpose of thwarting the assumed intention of the framers of the Act. And this can be easily done by lawfully using the Act in a manner not expected by them and by refraining from using it in the way intended by them.

(The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.72, pp 35)

It is known that Marx’s and Lenin’s words (against officialdom) don’t attract the offici-al revolutionaries in India today, except when they could be used to justify their “two steps backward”. Hope they could learn something from Gandhi. Our leaders do recognise exactly 70 years later,

[T]he Constitution we have adopted reflects some of the ambiguities of the ruling classes. The Constitution declares India as a socialist republic. In reality, the State power rests with the bourgeois-landlord class led by the big bourgeoisie.

(Jyoti Basu, “60 Years Of Our Independence And The Left: Some Thoughts”, People’s Democracy, August 19, 2007)

But then have they tried to judge if their act of “accepting and running office” stands at least the Gandhian test of subversion? Have they devised “the best and … effective way to wreck the existing Constitution”? What happened recently in West Bengal – SEZ, Singur, Nandigram…- at least shows that they will definitely not succeed in passing the Gandhian test as defined here.

Ambedkar’s view on organisation

Some days back I was in Nagpur for a seminar on the Dalit question. A dalit leader told me an interesting fact (which needs to be verified) that Ambedkar’s slogan for the movement raised during the formation of Bahishkrit Hitakarani Sabha, (Association for the Welfare of the Ostracised) in 1924 was not shika, sanghatit vha va sangharsh kara (“EDUCATE, ORGANISE AND AGITATE”). It was actually shika, sangharsh kara, sanghatit vha (“EDUCATE, AGITATE AND ORGANISE”). And the change, according to him and I agree, was significant since the original slogan perceives an organisation as produced and reproduced (made, unmade and remade) within the process of movement. The change in the slogan leads to the status-quoisation of the movement, as within this changed framework the institutionalised structure of an organisation manipulates the movement for its own reproduction.