An Attack on India's Sovereignty


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Social & Cultural Impact of Globalisation

               (i) Poverty

               (ii) Welfare Measures

                       (a) Health Care

                       (b) Education

               (iii) The Rich & Powerful

               (iv) Infusion of Imperialist and Feudal Culture


Globalisation has had a disastrous impact on the living conditions of the vast masses of the people. An already impoverished country is being pushed deeper and deeper into the abyss. The development strategy of globaslisation is geared to extend the market, by enhancing the purchasing power of the already rich at the expense of the vast masses of the people. In addition, foreign finance capital demands the maximum of profits, achieved only by a massive attack on the conditions of the working-class. In its present aggressive form, it demands all concessions and subsidies for itself, and an end to subsidies for the poor and even the totally impoverished, thereby resulting in huge cuts to even the limited welfare measures that existed. Finally, in its desperation to extend its market it seeks to enter every sphere of the economy, resulting in the privatization (and rise in costs) of even such basic amenities as water, health, transport, energy (electricity, kerosene, gas, etc.), and subsidized food and fertilizers.

So, for example, bottled water, that sells at the price of (toned) milk, has now an annual market of Rs 1,100 crores; water filtering devices sell at roughly 3 lakhs annually; and now the very water distribution systems are being handed over to TNCs. For those who cannot afford this expenditure, they must live with the increasingly unhygienic public water distribution sysyem (which is also becoming more costly), spending more on illness. Besides, nearly 1,75,000 villages do not have potable drinking water within a vicinity of 1.5 kms. 1

The sum total of the effect of globalisation on the lives of the vast majority of the workers, peasants and middle classes is, on the one hand, a drop in purchasing power due to increased unemployment, wage freezes and rural stagnation; on the other, there is increased expenditure on the very basic necessities of life. This double effect is pushing lakhs more into poverty each day. No wonder we have witnessed a massive leap in the number of suicides each year during the last decade, from amongst, not only the peasantry but even retrenched workers and bankrupt petty businessmen. What is more, the number of starvation deaths, particularly amongst tribals, has been sky-rocketing. Added to all this are the regular droughts and floods, caused by environmental (man-made) destruction, which takes lakhs more lives.

India (and in fact, South Asia as a whole) is one of the poorest regions of the world, comparable to that of Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Report on Human Development in South Asia (1997) by Dr.Mahbub ul Haq, the region has: 291 million illiterate adults; 235 million denied access to primary health care; 226 million without safe drinking water; 640 million without sanitation; 62 million malnourished children under the age of 5; 45 million children out of primary school; nearly one-third of all children below 16 forced into child labour; 88% of all pregnant women suffer from anemia; 57% of the population in the mega cities living in slums; and 44% of the population living in absolute poverty.

To the world at large, the extent of misery in India is not so apparent as in sub-Saharan Africa, as it gets hidden by the class of the top 1% (10 million) which is extremely rich, and is the only focus of the entire media. The IT sector, the NRIs and big business, the entertainment (film, TV, fashion & sports) world; and the esoteric world of Hindu spiritualism — is all that the world is allowed to look at. The acute suffering of millions and their worsening conditions are ignored by those that dominate the country and the media. In fact, to portray the reality — the seamy side of the country — is now looked upon by the rulers, as being "anti-national". But, for those millions in our country who live a life in semi-starvation and increasing insecurities, India has become a hell-hole in this era of globalisation. During the 1990s all human indicators are down, while the lives of the rich and powerful are up. Disparities in all spheres of the life of our people have increased disproportionately.

Let us now glimpse at the social reality of globalisation in India:

i) Poverty

The government spends much effort in distorting poverty and unemployment figures to ‘prove’ the so-called benefits of globalisation. We have already seen the reality of unemployment in the country. Regarding overall poverty the Planning Commission shows ridiculous figures — that the people living below the poverty line has dropped by half, from 36% in 1993/94 to 18% in 2001/02. The reality though is quite the opposite. In fact, marginalisation of vast sections of the population due to globalisation is an accepted fact.

According to S.P.Gupta 2, basing on National Sample Survey figures the number of people living below the poverty line in the rural areas increased from 35% of the population in 1990 to 45.3% in 1998. While in the urban areas the number remained roughly the same at 35% over the same period. In other words the number of people living below the poverty line has increased in the above 8 years from 300 million in 1990 to 410 million in 1998.

But, even these figures are gross underestimations, as the calorie intake basis for calculating the poverty line is understated. According to official NSS (National Sample Survey — GOI) data, if one takes 2,400 k calories {i.e. Rs 325 ($6.6) per capita income per month} in the rural areas and 2,100 k calories {i.e. Rs 381 ($7.8) per capita per month} in the urban areas, the poverty figures come to 75% of the population in the rural area and 54.4% of the population in the urban areas — i.e. a massive 700 million living below the poverty line today!! 3 This figure is roughly corroborated by a group of Oxford students who, using basic human needs and quality of life parameters, (like nutrition, shelter, health, drinking water, etc.) estimated that 70% live below the poverty line. 4 Even according to World Bank figures the population living on an income of below $1 per day is 52.3% of the total, while that below $2 per day is 88.8%.

Though these figures vary considerably, a few facts are clear. First, that the Planning Commission figures are an outright lie and that poverty has been increasing considerably during the period of golobalisation. The second is that the actual number living below the poverty line is nearer two-thirds of the population.

According to reports, the availability of foodgrains (cereals and pulses) in India in 1991 was 510 gms per capita daily. This dropped to 461 gms in 1999. This too does not give the real picture of foodgrain intake, as they are ‘availability’ figures and not ‘consumption’ figures. With the huge stockpile of 64 million tons of foodgrains today the actual consumption figures will be well below that mentioned here. Besides, average figures blur the discrepancies of consumption between the rich and the poor. The huge hike in the price of foodgrains has deprived vast sections of the population from their very basic needs — the average annual rise in prices during the 1980s for food articles was: rice 5.6%, wheat 5.7%, and pulses 11.2%. In the 1990s the equivalent figures were: rice 10.2%, wheat 9.5% and pulses 11.4%. 5 Such a steep increase in prices in the 1990s, affected peoples’ ability to purchase their basic food requirements and has resulted in the mountain of foodgrain stocks amidst mass hunger.

In India there are 100 million families without water at home; 150 million households without electricity; nearly half of all children below the age of 5 are malnourished; one-third of new-born are of low weight; less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school and a little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.

ii) Welfare Measures

While government expenditure on welfare measures have been stagnating, that on defence and the police have been sky-rocketing. Expenditure on the Social Sector (this includes social services like health, education, water supply, sanitation, etc.; rural development and food subsidy) of the Union and State Governments has in fact dropped from 8% of GDP in 1999/2000 to 7.3% of GDP in 2001/02. Over the last five years it has stagnated around the same figure.

On the other hand defence expenditure between 1995/96 and 2000/01 has increased by as much as 152%. But the official figures do not portray the actual defence expenditure as much of it is hidden under different heads. So, MoD (ministry of defence) expenditure, Defence Accounts, Canteen Stores, Defence Estate Organisation, Capital contributions to Defence PSUs, Defence Pensions, expenditures on Coast Guards, Border Road Organisation and Nuclear/Missile Porgramme, etc. are not shown in the defence budget. 6 All this, if included in the actual defence budget would come to at least 25% more than that shown — or take the defence budget to over 4% of GDP, from under 3% a few years earlier. Besides the GOI have huge plans for further expansion. While defence purchases have leapt from Rs 7,000 crores in 1994/95 to Rs 18,000 crores in 2000/01, the GOI has plans for further purchases of $95 billion (Rs 5 lakh crores) in the next 15 years. 7 Such massive expenditure can only be at further cost to expenditures on welfare measures. The Indian ruling-classes aggressive expansionist role in the region, its increasing involvement in counter-insurgency operations against the nationality and revolutionary movements, and its increasing involvement in the US’s geo-political plans in Asia, are the main reasons for this massive expansion. Besides, big expenditure means big deals with the international arm manufacturers and huge kick-backs.

In India, for every dollar spent on the social sector, India spends $170 on defence and debt servicing! 8

Since expenditure on the social sector is part of the developmental expenditure of the budget, a drop in the latter during the process of reforms indicates the falling importance of social welfare in the Central Government’s budget. From the Table XV.1 9 it is clear that during the ‘reform’ period, plan expenditures, developmental expenditures and capital expenditures have all relatively declined:

Table XV.1

Central Government Expenditure

Types of Expenditure

Pre-reform period 1985-90

Reform Period 1991-97

% to total exp.

% to total GDP

% to total exp.

% to total GDP

Plan Expenditure





Development Exp.





Capital Expenditure





From the above Table we see that ‘development expenditure’ has fallen by as much as 3% of GDP, the bulk of which comes from a drop in welfare expenditure.

As we have already seen the effects of winding up the PDS and the drop in expenditure on rural development, we shall here focus only on health care and education.

(a) Health Care

Government-provided medical care is abysmal, amounting to barely Rs 1.15 worth of health care spending annually for each of the country’s one billion population. India has one of the most privatized heath care systems in the world, inspite of the extreme poverty.

Health care (which includes family planning, water supply and sanitation) expenditure of the Union and State governments has stagnated at about 1.4% of GDP over the last five years. The WHO recommends that it should be 5% of GDP. Of the total of Rs 30,000 crores spent in 2000/01 the Centre’s share was about Rs 6,000 crores. Of this amount 60% goes to family planning and the amount actually spent on Health has been continuously declining. It was a mere 0.9% of central budgetary expenditure in 2000/01. Not only that, the total expenditure on communicable diseases has drastically decreased —from 16.5% of investment in Comprehensive Health Services in the First Plan to about 4% in the Eighth and Ninth plans during the 1990s. This has resulted in many diseases taking an epidemic form, causing enormous suffering to the masses, but windfall profits to the pharmaceutical companies.10 This dropping expenditure on health during the period of globalisation has led to the virtual collapse of rural health care.

So, for example, the expenditure on the Malaria eradication campaign dropped from 28% of the central health budget in 1990/91 to a mere 12% in 2000/01. That is why the total cases of malaria continue to be roughly 3 million ever since the mid-1980s. Malaria acquired epidemic status in a number of states in the 1990s. Instead of eradication, the World Bank has come out with its quixotic plan of providing biocides and pyrethrum impregnated mosquito nets. 11

Health care is huge business. Involved are some of the most powerful TNCs in the world. The health care industry, with a turnover of Rs 1 lakh crores, includes the Rs 20,000 crores pharmaceutical segment, the Rs 400 crore health insurance and the Rs 10,000 crore hospitalization sector. The pharmaceutical industry is growing at 14% annually and expected to reach a turnover of Rs 38,000 crores by 2005, and health insurance is expected to grow to Rs 13,000 by the same year. Health care expenditure is the only non-food commodity purchased by every family in the country, providing a potentially huge markets for the manufactures, even in tines of economic crisis.

Privatization of health care, which is an important aspect of ‘economic reforms’ under globalisation, has particularly increased the common man’s budget on illness. The attack has been all-sided.

First, increasing unhygienic conditions of life coupled with deteriorating dietary have made people more prone to disease. This, combined with the increasing attacks of infections due to the defacto winding up of most disease eradication campaigns (like malaria) of the government, has resulted in epidemic like conditions of many diseases. Even those that had disappeared, like Kala Azar are taking their toll. High profile WHO campaigns like the pulse polio is nothing but a high-cost stunt to dump useless polio drops in India at huge cost to the country. In fact, there has in fact been an increase in the number of polio cases in places like Delhi (in 2000), a veritable surge in polio cases this year in UP and in MP, both of which have recorded roughly 300 cases of polio in the first seven months of 2002.

Second, privatisation of health has, on the one hand, led to a deterioration in the health services in the public hospitals, while on the other it has resulted in the entry of super-speciality corporate hospitals, pushing the costs of medical care sky-high. In addition, public hospitals are themselves being privatized by the introduction of ‘user-charges’ for most of the facilities that were earlier provided free.

An example of this is the horror tale that has come to light in West Bengal government’s only speciality center for children — the B.C.Roy hospital at Calcutta. On Monday Sept.1, 2002 nine children died at this hospital; during that week 31 had died; in the month of August 2002, 200 died; and on an average 5 children die every day in just this one hospital. In this so-called Marxist run State due to lack of funds there is always a shortage of oxygen, saline, and medicine. There is a shortage of doctors; there is one nurse for 40 patients and the hospital is so crowded that there are often 3 children (together with their mothers) to one bed. In the face of militant demonstrations the CPM says that the deaths were natural!! The Chif Minister, instead of remedying matters, in Hitlerian style orders a ban on demonstrations outside the hospital, and issues orders to prevent any media from entering it. It is nothing but butchery of children by the CPM government in West Bengal, which like all other state governments, is cutting expenditure on health care at the behest of the World Bank.

Thirdly, there has been a spurt in the prices of nearly all drugs with the liberalization of the drug-pricing regime. Compared to the 378 drugs under price control in 1978, only 73 drugs remained under control in 1994. With the passage of the second amendment to the Patent Bill 1999 recently (June 2002) in parliament, the TNCs are all set to takeover this sector by Jan.1, 2005, wiping out 20,000 domestic pharmaceutical companies and demanding monopoly prices for their products. In that year, as per the dictates of the WTO, guided by companies like Pfizer, a product patent regime will supplant the process patent regime that at present exists in India. With this, drug prices, which have already shot up, will completely pass out of the reach of the common man.

Already in India 84% of medical expenditure is borne by the household, and the bottom quintile has the highest financial burden. With continuous privatization of health care, increased sickness due to worsening living standards, and the rise in drug prices, the household expense on health would already have increased significantly.

(b) Education

Privatization of education has meant that in the years from 1993/94 to 1998/99 the private final consumption expenditure on education has increased by over 50% from Rs 10,002 crores to Rs 15,196 crore. 12 Big business houses and TNCs have entered the fray in a big way to capture this lucrative market.

The budgetary allocation for education of both Union and State governments is a meager 2.8% of GDP in the year 2001/02 13 instead of the prescribed minimum of 6%. What is more it has been continuously falling since the last five years from 3.6% in 1992. While the government is cutting its expenses on education, it is handing over primary education to foreign institutions and higher/technical education to collaborations with TNCs.

If we first look at primary education, though the latest census figures show a big increase in literacy rates the actual enrollment rates have dropped drastically during the 1990s. The gross enrollment ratio at the primary level dropped from 62.1% in 1990/91 to 56.8% in 1998/99. In other words the number of out-of-school children continues to remain high. In addition the gross enrollment ratio in upper primary education dropped from 100.1% in 1991/92 to 92.1% in 1998/99. 14 Besides cutting expenditure on elementary education the government has been handing over primary education to the imperialists. In the 1999/2000 Union budget more than half the increase in expenditure on primary education came from foreign-funded projects. Among the several foreign aided projects, the District Primary Education Programme(DPEP) is the most important one, as it was allocated a huge Rs 970 crores in the 2000/01 budget. Other foreign aided projects include the Mahila Samakhya (funded by the Dutch government) and the Shiksha Karmi and the Lok Jumbish (both funded by SIDA). Cummulatively foreign aided projects amounted to Rs 1,076 crores in 2000/01. It formed 30% of the total central plan outlay on primary education. On the other hand the government has drastically cut the noon meal scheme for children by a huge Rs 400 crores, reducing it from Rs 1,500 crores in 1999/2000 to Rs 1,090 crores in 2000/01. 15

As already seen, for higher education the policy framework has been set by the notorious Ambani-Birla report prepared for the Prime Minister’s Office by these top two industrialists. The ‘Policy Framework for Reforms in Education’ focuses on increasing computer literacy. It calls for removing all subsidies for higher education and making all institutions self-financing through: escalating user fees, providing tax-breaks to industry for investments in education, and encouraging closer links with foreign (Western) universities. In fact already the entire edifice of higher education — 214 universities, 16 central universities, 28 deemed universities, thousands of graduate and post-graduate colleges and technical institutions — is cracking up, due to the lack of funds. They are being forced to turn to private sources. In fact, the share of recurring expenditure on higher education is today lower than in the 1950s. Already the country’s extensive network of agricultural universities have been directed to tie-up with agri-business consortiums; the IITs and IIMs have been tying up with NRIs and TNCs; and even prestigious institutions like the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, have the entire department of bio-genetic research funded by TNCs like Monsanto, influencing even the selection of research and researchers. 16

In other words, the government has been handing over our entire education system, from the primary level to the highest level, to the imperialists. In addition, foreign educational institutions have been also allowed to open branches here to increase their market spread. After all, education in India is also a vast market to be tapped by the leeches of foreign capital.

iii) The Rich & Powerful

Globalisation has taken the gaps between the rich and the poor to such extremes, unheard of in hitherto existing societies. For example, just a handful of American billionaires have more wealth than all the LDCs (least developed countries) put together. The gap between the rich and the poor countries, which was 31 times in the sixties, is now 74 times. In 1960 the poorest billion people earned 2.4% of world income; today they earn 1.1%. 17 The gap between the rich and the poor within each country has also increased phenomenally.

In India too it is the same. While extreme inequalities always existed, during the period of globalisation, even this has increased ten-fold. Not only that, in the present consumerist culture, this wealth is vulgarly flaunted.

Imagine, in our rural areas over eight crore families cannot afford two meals a day; cannot afford medicine for their sick children; have no proper hygiene, drinking water or fuel; their shelter comprises of small broken-down dark huts; living a life of a destitute.

In our urban areas, on the one side we have the vulgar wealth of the rich and powerful while on the other we have the masses (in Mumbai over 60% of the population) living under the worst possible conditions in sprawling slums. These over-crowded ghettos comprise tiny 8ft by 10ft rooms in which a family of 8 to 10 live; roofs are of asbestos or tin, making each hut a furnace in summer; there are no proper toilets; little air; water is available for a few minutes a day at communal taps; and this sub-human life continues amidst the open gutters and the muck and filth all around. It is a living nightmare. Here, most work as casual labourers or on petty jobs, earning for barely 15 days in the week while the rest of the family toil at the home in household chores and piece-rated jobs {making aggarbatti (incense), trinkets, toys, etc.} at slave-labour rates giving the entire family (children, old, women) barely 15 to 20 rupees a day. Most live a life of semi-starvation.

In contrast there is the very, very rich, whose children’s daily pocket-money would be more than the monthly salary of a slum-family. Globalisation has consciously promoted the massive profits of big business, gigantic salary hikes of top executives in both private and public sectors; enhanced the salaries and perks of top bureaucrats and politicians five to ten-fold; and promoted a carpetbagger-type economy where crores are made overnight in wheeling-dealing, etc. What till yesterday was treated as illegal, is today seen with respectability.

So, a Reliance company and their owner, made an unbelievable net profit last year (2001-02) of Rs 4,600 crores — i.e. equivalent to the annual income of 2.5 million families (25 lakh) in rural India. The Ambanis, a total product of the globalisation era, and a master at mafia-style business, increased their wealth by over 30 times in the past fiteen years from a mere Rs 2,000 crores in 1986 to Rs 65,000 crores today.

Globalisation has also produced those upstart business houses in the InfoTech sector that have become multi-billionaires within a few years, like Wipro, Infosys, Satyam, etc. It has also produced the scamsters by the hundreds of which the two biggest, Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh, siphoned off crores of middle-class earnings to make thousands of crores for themselves and their accomplices. In the same category come the Bharat Shahs, the diamond magnate and film financier, with underworld links, who soon after coming out of a one-year stint in jail spends Rs 70 crores on the wedding (in Belgium) of his nephew and niece on Sept.1, 2002 — in attendance were the entire NRI community, top politicians, bureaucrats, et al. This one-night extravaganza, where a team of cooks was flown down from India, could have fed over 3 lakh starving families, in the drought-stricken areas, for four months.

If we turn to the politicians, not only have they been looting the treasury left and right, through thousands and thousands of illicit and illegal deals, but they have hiked their own salaries and perks again and again in the past decade. So, MPs doubled their yearly fund for their electoral areas from Rs 1 crore annually to Rs 2 crore annually, and are now trying to double it further to Rs 4 crore. The MPs and MLAs have also given themselves massive hikes in their daily perks and salaries. In 1997 the Gujaral government passed an ordinance to raise judge’s salaries by 250% and their pensions three-fold. In 1999 the BJP-led government passed a hike for PSU officers, which more than doubled their salaries (retrospective from Jan.1, 1997) amounting to a huge Rs 2,000 crores extra annual payment for the exchequer. The list could go on and on, but suffice it to say, that where the government and their imperialist backers are forcing lakhs out of their jobs, are refusing to pay salaries for years, are cutting their bonus, DA, etc., complaining of lack of funds, they face no problem in giving crores to themselves not only by the above methods but also by massive expansions of their ministries and the paraphernalia associated with it.

While they shout themselves horse against the so-called illegal activities of the revolutionaries, in this globalised world of business the line between legal and illegal is thin, between ‘gentlemanly’ business dealings and mafia business deals is blurred, and between ‘legitimate’ earnings and ‘illegitimate’ earnings has ceased to exist. In the name of ‘free trade’ it is a free for all, the devil takes the hindmost, the big crush the small and weak, and gangsters, posing as ‘gentlemen’ have become the pillars of this society. So, Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs 1,000 arab) of Black Money is generated every year, but a blind eye is turned towards it. The IMF has estimated that wealthy Indians have stashed $100 billion abroad in secret accounts, draining the country of its vast wealth, but it is these who yell most about the "National Interest", "Defence of the Motherland", etc. etc.

But this is not all. The list of frauds, etc. can go on and on. Indian FIs have now been defrauded of Rs 6,500 crores by the TNC Enron in its Dhabol plant, by investing in it or providing guarantees. With the Enron bankrupt, the plant closed, and the ridiculous agreement signed by the then State and Central governments lying in tatters, not a single person is arrested or even touched, though those involved in this huge scam were the likes of Sharad Pawar, Bal Thackery and Atal Bihari Vajpayee!! For over a decade a massive Rs 1.25 lakh crores are owed to banks and are not being paid back. In this list of creditors are most of the top businessmen of the country. While a small farmer is harassed by these banks to recover tiny loans, even in times of hardship, these huge amounts lie unrecovered and have even been nicely dressed up to be called ‘non-performing assets’ (NPAs).

Added to all this is the huge bail out planned for India’s two leading FIs amounting to a massive Rs 21,000 crores — also due to so-called NPAs involving fraud and favour at the highest level. If one takes also UTI fraud, Rs 36,000 crores of tax-payer’s money will be used to pay for money defrauded by crooks and scroundels in these three major financial institutions of the country.

In Delhi non-payment of electricity bills by 1,580 former and present MPs amounts to crores, but for an ordinary middle-class home a month’s delay will lead to the cutting off of the line.

Though much of all this has always existed in the capitalist system, in this period of globalisation, it has got a legitimacy that never existed earlier. Thereby there has been a quantum leap in the level of this loot enormously increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.

And as this gap continues to rise the level of people’s tolerance will reach breaking point. Today lakhs of starving rural people see mountains of foodgrains before them. Slum dwellers see every day the pomp and circumstance of the rich all around them. How can they keep quiet for much longer? There will, no doubt, erupt an explosion in the sub-continent that will wash away, once and for all, the grandeur and arrogance of the elite, bloated by the power of big money.

iv) Infusion of Imperialist and Feudal Culture

It appears an incongruity — how could imperialist culture, linked with modernity, be simultaneously promoted with feudal culture, which is linked with all that is backward? But, the reality stares us in the face. On the one hand we see the massive promotion of pop, consumerist and hi-tech culture promoted by the TV, Internet and even the magazines and newspapers; while on the other we see a massive wave of Hindu chauvinism, and as a reaction to it, Muslim fundamentalism and even increasing Christian and Sikh religiosity. Genuine secular opinion has dwindled.

So, then how do these two seemingly opposite tendencies co-exist in this new globalised atmosphere? There is no real problem as the imperialists/colonialists have always propped up the most reactionary elements throughout the world to keep the masses in a state of passivity. The US alliance with the most Islamic fundamentalist states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the Middle-east, or its present close alliance with the Hindu chauvinist BJP (including turning a blind eye to the recent Gujarat holocaust) is an indication how the two go hand-in-glove. In British India too the British primarily aligned with the Maharajas and promoted all feudal culture, from caste to patriarchy and to all other forms of religious mumbo jumbo. To crush the freedom struggle they found no problem in aligning with the fanatical Muslim League of Jinnah or the RSS/Jan Sangh combine. The same policy continues today in India.

The reasons for this are clear. The imperialists want the vast majority of the masses to be absorbed in backward feudal thinking, so that they do not wake up to fight injustice to them. The horrors perpetrated by the colonialists of the past and the neo-colonialists of the present should be tolerated and accepted submissively. This is only possible as long as the people remain unaware of their rights and the ability to fight for it. So the imperialists hate any form of democratic awakening in the backward countries of the world, fearful that it could turn into an avalanche against them.

In this period of globalisation, which has truly seen gigantic leaps in technology, particularly in the information and communication sectors, the modernity associated with it, is being used to promote the worst forms on consumerist and depraved culture. In India it has also been used to promote feudal culture by promoting Hindu religious serials on the TV and astrology on the Internet.

Roughly coinciding with the period of globalisation we have seen a massive growth in TV, which has not only spread its tentacles in the urban areas, but has also been promoted by the government in the rural areas. And with the spread of cable networks western culture is brought into every home — at least of the middle classes and large sections of the urban working classes. It is said that in India there are more cable lines than telephone lines. Besides, we have already seen that even the Indian TV scenario is totally controlled by the imperialists, not only through channels like Star TV, but also by the fact that it is the TNCs that dominate the sponsoring of programmes and their control over advertising. So, we find all the ‘popular’ soap operas, films, etc. only deal with the lives of the very rich with a strong westernized tilt to them. We also find that simultaneously, besides the exceptional programme, they also promote feudal values built around traditional family life. Vulgarity, frivolity, cheap unimaginative stories, superstition and horror stories, and blatant government political propaganda (through news items, puerile talk shows and even serials) are the standard stock-in-trade drilled into millions of minds, day-in and day-out. Added to all this is the regular hammering of TV advertisements, which pushes the culture of consumerism deep into the subconscious of not only adults, but more particularly the children.

If we turn to the Internet, though vast information is available on it, its major mass use in India has been for frivolous ‘chatting’ by the youth and viewing of the thousands of pornographic sites. This becomes even more depraved than the TV.

So, the culture linked with modernity has no democratic content to it, to make a clean break with already existing (and now reinforced) feudal values. In fact, in India it acts to divert that section of the population that has the possibility to awaken to democratic thinking due to their greater knowledge (like students, youth, urban workers, etc.), into a depraved, decadent and sterile culture. It seeks to kill creativity, create fake icons through the promotion of sports and films, and diverts their attention from the real life around them. It acts as an ideological drug that numbs sensitivity, kills serious thought, distorts reality, and takes one into a fantasy world of make-believe. What could have been an invaluable instrument for gaining knowledge, education and thoughtful entertainment, has been turned into one of the important tools of imperialism to keep the masses in a state of passivity. It is only when real life teaches people the truth and they begin to challenge the imperialists, that all the glamour and pomp of TV gives way to the brutality of state terror — no longer is it pop, dance, sports and film; it is now guns, bullets, torture and massacre.

And as for the vast masses of the country, 70% of whom live in the countryside, not only has there been a resurgence in the promotion of Hindu Brahminical culture by politicians of all hues, particularly the BJP; but also the increasing insecurities in life and the want of a proper democratic or communist alternative have pushed people to clutch on to religion as their only solace from increased sufferings. Added to all this, there have been a sudden influx in the number of ‘babas’, cults, sadhus, etc., for the masses; and numerous new-wave ‘modern’ ones for the middle-classes. The combined effect has been a resurgence of backward thinking (except for those areas with strong people’s movements). Also, in reaction to the Hindutva attacks, vast sections of the Muslim population, which has anyhow not had much democratic awakening amongst it, is being pushed further backwards into fundamentalist thinking. Even the Sikhs, with their history of reform, have been affected by the back-lash.

So, we find that Globilasation in India has accentuated the worst of both worlds — imperialist and feudal culture — thereby undermining genuine democratic opinion and values. Both act as the twin swords with which to kill an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic awakening in the country. Therefore, there is no incongruity between the two, for both draw sustenance from globalisation, and, in turn, help save it from attacks.

But, of course, such impact can only be temporary, as real life will soon dispel the illusions instilled through the electronic (and other) media. After all, reality is far more potent than illusion. These monsters of globalisation cannot hide forever behind the smokescreen created by their psychologically programmed mind-benders. Already in the West, where this media is even more powerful as it affects the entire population, there has been a massive upsurge against globalisation. It has been so powerful that these criminals of big business and their governments have not been able to find a safe place to meet, in the face of this new awakening. Ironically, many of these actions have been coordinated by their own new creation — the Internet. In India too, it is only a matter of time before the masses rise up in revolt, with far more potency than was seen during the anti-British uprisings.



1. The Hindu; Apr. 7, 1998

2. Alternative Economic Survey 2000-01

3. Alternate Economic Survey 1998-2000

4. Seminar 507; Nov. 2001

5. Seminar507; Nov. 2001

6. Update 3; May 2000

7. Defence News; 2001

8. Business India; March 20, 2000

9. EPW; March 4, 2000

10. Alternative Economic Survey 1998-2000

11. Alternative Economic Survey 1998-2000

12. Economic Times; Oct. 24, 2000

13. Tata Year Book; 2001-02

14. Alternative Economic Survey 1998-2000

15. Alternative Economic Survey 1998-2000

16. Alternative Economic Survey 2000-01

17. The Economist; Jan. 22, 2000



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