By Kavita Krishnan
[Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.WorldAtACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]
February 25, 2009 -- The people of the United States (through their vote for US President Barack Obama and ``change'') and Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi alike may have given George W. Bush (and all he stood for) the boot – but India's Congress Party wants to give Bush the Bharat Ratna! Congress Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, addressing the annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), declared, “Give Bharat Ratna to Bush. I don't know what the rules are but I will officially do something.”
The ruling Congress Party and its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government’s continued servility to Bush and the disastrous neoliberal economic model is entirely against the people’s mood – not just in India but even across the world.
It is not just radicals in the world who are recognising this mood – the imperialist establishment is taking note too. Take the recent warnings issued to the US Senate by the USA’s new director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair. In a briefing to the Senate Committee on Intelligence, he declared that the greatest threat to US security and hegemony is not the al Qaeda but the world capitalist crisis and resulting protests.
He pointed out that the "widely held perception that excesses in US financial markets and inadequate regulation were responsible has increased criticism about free-market policies, which may make it difficult to achieve long-time US objectives". The collapse of Wall Street, he added, "has increased questioning of US stewardship of the global economy and the international financial structure".
`New generation of activists'
In France, too, recent intelligence reports talk about a "new generation of activists" coming up in the wake of the global crisis, and possibly a "rebirth of the violent extreme left".
When even the US Intelligence establishment is recognising the “increased questioning of US stewardship of the global economy and the international financial structure” and the “increased criticism about free-market policies” across the globe, why is India’s ruling class stubbornly intent on taking India along the path of disaster?
All over the world, there is anger at the corporate greed and US imperialism that caused the recession – and at the governments that are making people pay for the crisis with ``austerity measures'’, job cuts and wage cuts while bailing out the corporates with billions of dollars. Governments have fallen in Iceland and Latvia, following weeks of militant protests on the streets. There are powerful ongoing mass protests in Greece, Ireland and Italy, a successful general strike in France, and student occupations of campuses like New York University and several campuses in Britain on the issue of the genocide in Gaza.
Meanwhile, in Bolivia, a referendum moved by President Evo Morales for a new constitution won 60% of the vote. The new constitution expands autonomy of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, strengthens their rights over land, water and natural resources, and introduces some land reforms. These policies are totally against the grain of the neoliberal policy thrust by the ruling class in countries like India: policies of state-sponsored grab of land and water, if necessary killing indigenous people and agrarian poor people who stand in the way; privatisation of resources like water; and reversal of poorly implemented land reforms!
In Venezuela too, a referendum moved by President Hugo Chavez won 55% of the vote. The referendum was on a proposal of the Venezuelan National Assembly to allow Venezuelans the right to elect Chavez to a third six-year term after his second term ends in 2012. Its victory can be said to be a vote for the vision of socialism espoused by Chavez and his party, the UNited Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
The Indian government’s policy in the wake of the economic crisis has been identical with that of all those governments in the world that are getting the boot from their people – ``austerity'' and wage and job cuts for the people, and bailouts for banks and corporations. India's finance minister Pranab Mukherjee at the recently held Indian Labour Conference, recommended ``austerity measures'' and wage cuts as an alternative to job cuts. The Indian government is doing all it can to bring the US-manufactured global crisis to Indian soil.
Forces of struggle against these neoliberal policies in India must do all they can to bring the global wave of resistance to Indian shores. The spectre of “rebirth of the left” and of capitalism’s severely eroded credibility fuelling struggles for revolutionary change haunts the ruling classes of the US and Europe, and India too.
That spectre reflects a very real fear. The history that was declared to have ``ended'' nearly two decades ago is coming alive – in the spirit of people all over the world who are not only hitting the streets but also picking up their copies of Marx, Engels and Lenin!
[Kavita Krishnan is an editorial board member of Liberation, central organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) -- CPI (ML) Liberation.]
1. The Bharat Ratna is India's highest civilian award for national service, including artistic, literary and scientific achievements, as well as "recognition of public service of the highest order".