An Imperialist Agent in Pro-people Garb

Globalization and ‘Left’ Front Government — A Fact-sheet



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Here in West Bengal the peasants are forced to undergo distress sale. They are crushed under money-lenders due to loans at an exorbitant rate of interest. This has forced some peasants to resort to suicidal deaths. But how can a responsible government, ‘most committed’ for the peasant cause bear this tragedy? The CPM in their state daily organ, propagate these incidents as all bogus, mere propaganda of the newspapers!

The management of the big business house, Birla automobile industry, has become scared of the rising competition from other foreign and domestic business houses. They found refuge in a US-based consultancy firm McKinsey. It gave its valuable consultation, ie., to retrench a thousand of the workforce. The management eagerly planned to implement the same, hand in glove with a ‘left’ trade union, that has the full backing of the government in power.

The white collar employees, once the blue-eyed boys of the government, (the teachers or the doctors) are now hired on a contract basis. The government employees have no security of job. They are compelled to peacefully accept ‘VRS’ for a "greater interest"!

The hospitals are becoming another name for hell. The people are requested to bear the brunt due to the anti-people policies of the central government. The state government, as in childish simplicity, increased the fees of the hospital services. Subsequently, health welfare is going out of the reach of commoners.

The students are to face capitation fees, as fees are hiked in every aspect of their educational career. They are to buy education like any other commodity from the market of education. A sizeable section of students are forced to bid good bye to education due to ‘proper’ infrastructure! Numbers of illiterates are found in districts which were previously declared as 100% literate by the government.

Thus the peasants, the workers, the middle class, the students — all strata and sections of the people are in deep trouble. They are compelled to grope in the darkness, darker than the new moon! All this is happening in West Bengal, a State government of India, claimed as an ‘oasis’ by the ruling CPI(M) party and its partners.

In this CPI(M)-style ‘oasis’ the rhetoric of imperialism and anti-imperialism co-exist peacefully. The CPI(M) in their slogans, articles and discussions have been posing themselves as an ardent anti-imperialist force. But, in the same breath they implement IMF-World Bank dictated policies. They have attained unparallel expertise in befooling the people with their logic of ‘compulsions’, ‘interim relief’, and supposedly wield power to build up democratic movements etc. It is for this reason that the Bretton Woods family, led by imperialist forces, appreciates the CPI(M). It is used as a safety valve against the peoples’ struggles. Like the imperialist-launched NGOs, the CPI(M) has good credibility with the imperialists.

This small booklet deals with the role of the ‘left’ front government of West Bengal in implementing the programmes of globalisation utilising flimsy argument in the defence. In order to understand the dynamics of surrender to the programmes of imperialism, let us have a brief insight into the programmes pertaining to globalisation of this state government.

Globalisation and the CPI(M)

The world capitalist system has been facing a series of severe crises. Every time some temporary steps are taken to save the system. But, all those prescriptions ultimately lead to more and more severe crisis.

The crisis of the 1930’s was managed by a set of prescriptions better known as the Keynsian crisis management policies. The crux of the policies was to inject purchasing power in the economy through government autonomous spending. It was argued that it would further increase the purchasing power of the people. Hence effective demand would be increased. This increase in demand would be a further incentive to investment in the private sector. But these crisis management policies failed to solve the inherent problem of the world capitalist system. Consequently the very system was engulfed in more severe crisis in the late 60’s. All myths were shattered. Now, Freedman came forward to rescue the system with a set of policies. The most reactionary, anti-people economist prescribed to do away with the ‘bottlenecks of the economy’ to facilitate a free play of market forces. These steps includes — curbing increase in wages, reducing taxes on corporate profits and direct taxes, downsizing government expenditure on public needs and undermining the right of trade unions etc. Instead, he advocated to ensure the rights of the business houses to exploit and dismiss workers unhampered. This is the argument to make room for more competitiveness.

Imperialism, through its agencies like the Bretton Woods family (IMF, World Bank and its associates), implement the Freedman crisis management prescriptions. The IMF-World Bank put forward stringent measures to carry on its agenda of globalisation. Let us trace some of the conditionalaties of the World Bank that strangulate the economies of underdeveloped countries:

(a) In Article 1 of its Article of Agreements it was stated that the Bank would ‘co-ordinate’ the loans received by a particular country through other channels. It means the Bank would control the entire amount of loans received by a country from various channels. Moreover, instead of the country itself, the Bank would decide whether the loan was necessary or not, to the country.

(b) Before granting a loan to a developing country, the Bank investigates the various aspects of that particular country. After having detailed information, including even intelligence data, under pretence of advice for betterment, the Bank pressurizes the loan-taking country to follow its recommendations, such as the demand to give up pursuing an independent economic policy, to abandon implementation of progressive economic reforms, to stimulate private capitalist order, to encourage investment of foreign capital with privileges etc.

The Bank, through its conditionalities, is pushing through its liberalisation policies, and structural adjustment programmes. While the ruling class of a country is implementing the above said policies, then how far is it possible to oppose or regulate imperialist capital by a State government? The CPI(M), only in order to retain power in the state appeases and implements the imperialist designs. Still it wants us to be in a make-believe world and have faith in Mr. Buddhadeb’s (chief minister of West Bengal) statement. Buddha stated, he would oppose the ‘There is no Alternative’ (TINA) syndrome put forward by the reactionary British ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He further said that, "We have to find out our own path and it is a reality that it is an untraveled path. Nobody has walked through this path. We are to identify the path while travelling... But, would it be prudent if we look down upon the gravity of the situation? Is it to be termed be a surrender if we take the situation into consideration? No! We are not surrendering."1

In the coming chapters it will be clear how far the tall claims of the ‘left’ front government led by Buddha are true —

A book entitled Ajkar Bishwayan-Bharatbarsha Paschimbanga (Present Globalisation — India and West Bengal) has been published by the National Book Agency. There are three articles regarding globalisation which were in fact, speeches delivered during the 20th state conference of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), youth wing of the CPI(M). Mr. Anil Biswas, state secretary of the CPI(M) in the prelude of the book stated that, "There are some advantages in our state (West Bengal) due to globalisation. In the pre-liberalisation period the central government used the license system to halt industrialisation in West Bengal. In the liberalisation period the state government is surging ahead in the path of industrialisation due to the scraping of the license system. No sooner the system is abolished than the left front government in 1994 declared a new industrial policy. In the last seven or eight years West Bengal is able to advance much by following the said policy with regard to industrialisation." West Bengal industry and commerce minister, Mr. Nirupam Sen on one occasion2 pointed out that the government should be aware of the demands of the industrialists and act accordingly — a pro-poor government indeed! Mr Sen continued otherwise they will not be able to attract invest to West Bengal. He further pleaded for various incentives for the business houses.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the business house of the Indian big bourgeoisie has conducted a survey that may act as an eye-opener to all concerned. As part of the ICC 2003 business perception survey for Bengal, a questionnaire was sent to 60 corporate chieftains with business interest in the state.3 They gave their verdict on a host of issues. "Direct feedback from business and industry is critical and would help the West Bengal government to consider appropriate policy choices," said ICC president Vikram Thapar. The Chamber has decided to share the result with the government as a ‘positive policy supplement’. Though there was no direct question regarding labour relations, a handful of businessmen expressed satisfaction with the approach on the said issue of the CPI(M) top brass. They were concerned over frequent labour unrest at the grass-root level. The ICC findings further pointed that 88% of the respondents seek priority attention to roads and 69% demand suburban development. The survey indicated scope for improvement in the social sector.

53% demanded action in the health sector. 71% respondents said that the business barons prefer Bengal because of its low salaries and wages. They expressed concern over the quality of professional education. Over 48% advocated measures to raise the standard to reap the benefits of competitive human resource costs. A whopping 72 percent voted for knowledge-based industries followed by healthcare, tourism and biotechnology.

The preferences of business houses in real terms reflect the options of the imperialist powers’ dictum in various forms. The Government is reciprocating by enhancing its friendly gestures to them. It has rendered a red carpet welcome to them.

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