02/03/2017 6:53 PM IST | Updated 06/03/2017 9:17 AM IST

How Globalisation Brought India To The Brink Of Fascism


For the past two decades the narrative built around globalisation is of integration of businesses, ideas and societies. That collaboration in various human endeavours can solve larger issues of poverty, disease, joblessness and abject living conditions for innumerable people is now hard-wired in our brains.

The institutionalisation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1991 was hailed as the beginning of an era that would alleviate problems in many million lives; jobs would trickle down in abundance and millions of India's young would fulfill their aspirations and live in an era with an unprecedented quality of life.

As the age of globalisation moves beyond its infancy, it is amply clear that many of its big promises were simply red herrings.

However, as the age of globalisation moves beyond its infancy, it is amply clear that many of these big promises were simply red herrings. Jobs came but only those could benefit who were already equipped with the necessary pre-requisite—education, which has been historically monopolised by the upper crust of India's caste hierarchy. Millions of people were pulled out of poverty yet many millions still continue to reel under wretched conditions. A new class of poor has emerged across the developing world, created as a direct result of globalisation— hawkers who could not compete with retail outlets, small businesses mowed down by international firms and many more in villages who were lured by the charms of globalisation towards cities to find themselves knee-deep in poverty and squalor.

For nearly two decades now, India has grown; it's the next big economic behemoth. A 300 million strong middle class that aspires and dreams big is a testament to the fact that globalisation has worked well for many people. Yet the existence of numerous Dharavis is a reminder that all is not as it seems. This is the root of all that's wrong with globalisation. The rightward tilt in the global polity across various nations— the US, India and Western Europe—is a direct product of disenchantment of the masses. The failure of the benefits of globalisation to trickle down in India; the eroding job security for the working class in the American interior and the influx of migrants across Europe even as the economy plunged into the Great Recession of 2008. All these factors have contributed to undermine globalisation and strengthen the isolationist world view that feeds on people's trepidations.

In India, this has manifested in the form of uber- nationalism, an exclusivist majoritarian narrative on everything from history lessons to eating habits. Political entities like the BJP (and its previous iteration the Jana Sangh) and others on the far- right like the Shiv Sena existed well before globalisation started working full swing, ostensibly disrupting ''Indian family values''. The scars of partition long fed the right of Indian polity with the necessary oxygen. The spectre of partition was revived in the 80s and early 90s; the demolition of Babri Mosque and the ensuing bloody riots across North and Western India culminated in the serial bomb blasts in Bombay (1993) and the rise of Islamist terror. All these events only set the stage for the imminent coronation of the BJP in 1999. The general elections of 2004 and 2009 where the Congress and its allies humbled the BJP did slow down the process of radicalisation of India's urban middle class. But it could not stall the inevitable ascent of the radical right-wing.

Enter the post-truth India, where the most draconian fiats can be passed under the guise of nationalism and majoritarian chauvinism and nobody bats an eyelid.

Consider this—the Congress party is a spent force. There's no credible opposition to the government in the Parliament. PM Modi has the gall to announce an unprecedented "currency culling" scheme without proper consultation with his Cabinet and the Reserve Bank. The world looks at us with horror as the PM pushes the nation into a self-inflicted recession. And to top that, he laughs at the miseries of the people while addressing an audience in Japan. People need to bear with the inconvenience, he has repeatedly said. Who in their right mind does that? Only someone who thinks his actions are infallible and that he alone can solve all the problems faced by the people. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? This sense of divine infallibility drove the Germans onto a path of destruction, the Italians towards their ruin and generations of Russians living under the abominable Iron Curtain of Soviet regime. In short, India today is the closest it has been to becoming a Fascist state.

Meanwhile, the winter session of Parliament was a complete washout simply because the vainglorious PM believes more in sloganeering than in parliamentary debates. Enter the post-truth India, where the most draconian fiats can be passed under the guise of nationalism and majoritarian chauvinism and nobody bats an eyelid.

Decades from now, 2014 will be remembered as a watershed moment just as important as 1977 when the Janata Coalition trounced the mighty Indira and her coterie. While the victory of the Janata Party halted the march of an authoritarian Indira, this time it'd be the voters, civil society, media and an array of other institutions surrendering themselves before an equally vile ideology of hatred and anger.

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