Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How Crony Capitalism Is Destroying RBI

Ask the Hindu right-wing ‘Parivar’: who is responsible for all the maladies that afflict the nation? They would undoubtedly name Nehru. They say that he is the origin of all the ‘problems’ the country faces – whether it is the inclusive secular society or socialism or even democracy with strong institutions. Because these are the very things they dislike the most. They prefer Hindutva to secularism, namesake democracy to genuine democracy and neoliberalism to socialism. And they loathe Nehru precisely because their ideas are anaethemic to the high ideals Nehru stood for throughout his life.

So, every word they speak and every deed they carry out contains anti-Nehruvianism as an essential ingredient. Whether it is the dismantling of the planning commission and replacing it with Niti Aayog or even the construction of the world’s tallest statue, the underlying reason is clearly the anti-Nehruvianism. Their main aim is to erase Nehru’s legacy from the face of India and bring those leaders to the fore, who had seeming ideological proximity to the Sangh Parivar.

However, the Parivar men take cover behind the very Nehru when they want to prove their point. Take the example of the just concluded tussle between the Modi dispensation and the central bank, which ended with the resignation of Urjit Patel and the installation of a yes-man called Shaktikanta Das. As per the media reports, the Modi dispensation cited a letter written by Nehru stating that irrespective of the fact that RBI is an autonomous body its monetary policies should be in sync with the policies of the central government. But did Nehru say it to undermine the RBI with an intention to facilitate the ‘ease of doing business’ to his tycoon cronies?

Nehru, who was a socialist to the core, always thought about the welfare of the poor and the downtrodden. He had a genuine public interest in his mind. The term ‘public interest’ has developed an altogether different connotation under the current dispensation. The moment people hear the word public interest, they easily conclude that it is none other than ‘the interest of the tycoons’. So, the Hindu right-wing should understand the fact that Nehru’s ideas and ideals are too tall for them to reach and they should not try to hide behind him.

The government is so eager to serve their tycoon cronies that they pressurized the RBI to deregulate by easing the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework so that the tycoons can resume their ‘borrow and default’ program with ease. And they even started coercing the central bank to transfer more reserves with an intention to write off the corporate debt in the name of ‘bank recapitalization’. Unable to compromise with the autonomy of the RBI and his self-respect Dr. Urjit Patel resigned.

These days the politicians and the corporate-owned media don’t even use the terms such as ‘deregulation’ and ‘bailout’. Because they know that these are the most hated words among the commoners, which resulted in a backlash in the form of “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the post-2008 financial crisis. So, they replaced them with euphemistic expressions such as ‘regulatory forbearance’, ‘bank recapitalization’ and ‘capital infusion’. The aim of all these actions is favoring their tycoon cronies as part of their “ease of doing business” program. Now the tycoons will repay these favors by unleashing a propaganda tsunami to create a delusion that the famed ‘Achche Din’ are indeed here.

The elections, once again, are around the corner. In a few months from now, the nation will head to the polling booths to perform its supposedly sacred duty with an unending hope. It, however, will stay oblivious to the fact that the rich and the elite who constitute the top 1% of the population, have already preordained some individuals by nominating them to the high seats of power, and whatever that is going to happen in the name of election is only a trivial thing with mere ritualistic significance.

Even as the nation is gearing itself up for the impending election year the objective realities and rational enquiry will go into a deep hiatus and the public relations industry, with its corporate sophistication, will take over. Because for the tycoons it is the big time to repay. And the people, as usual, will remain under the impression that the ease of doing business will lead to their ease of living and the growth-led big business development will facilitate human development. 

After all, what the World Bank’s ease of doing business index and Moody’s sovereign credit rating do? They both upgraded India’s ranking. People, anyhow, feel that in a nation where steep climbs are rare, at least in two things they progressed with a lightning pace. And the ‘industry’, through its media and public relations, will make people believe that these are the “Achche Din’ which they have long been waiting for. People, satisfied, will perform the ritual of putting their stamp on the names of those who have already been nominated by the tycoon brigade to the high offices. This is what in all likelihood will happen. Indian democracy will emerge triumphant only if it happens the other way about. 

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