Posted on 06/09/2022
i. Where does India stand today: the broader perspective
The year’s 2022. The world as it stands today faces a plethora of conflicts, feuds and other such similar dissociating, disintegrating processes. On the one hand, the Russian aggression on Ukraine coupled with NATO’s determinedly neo-imperialistic role is taking its full toll on innocent people’s lives. On the other hand, the pre-designed pandemic is far from over. However, the South East Asian Subcontinent, especially India, has its own share of socio-political and economic issues.
Population explosion, sky rocketing inflation, unimaginable petrol and gas prices, farmers’ agitations over the legislation of draconian anti-farmer laws, communal (communalist, as in religious fundamentalist/religious extremist)-casteist disharmony—all these divisive processes are taking place simultaneously in a manner that threatens the very foundations upon which the Indian republic was founded initially. The current ruling party of India, led by the Modi-Amit Shah duo, is trampling underfoot every scope for unhindered democratic interaction. All of this is undoubtedly putting a question mark beside the survival of the “other 98%”.
This entire scenario may seem nothing new to the reader. This has been continuing since 2014, the time when the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government was voted to power. What has changed? Well, when I asked myself this question… I was much more concerned about the fact: what has not been changed? From the Railways, Banks, the education sector, the Airways– all of these spheres are being unhesitatingly privatized in order to appease the ruling party’s favourite business tycoons: Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani as well as their friends cum relatives.
Officially, being a born citizen of this country, jus sanguinis or jus soli……hold on a second! Am I an Indian citizen indeed? Or do I have to prove the validity of my supposed citizenship through the tiresome process of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Bill)-NRC (National Register of Citizens)-NPR (National Population Register)-DPB (Data Protection/Privacy Bill), which aims to expel certain communities living in this country and turn it into an Indian Afghanistan under the dictums of Talibanized Hindutva, a form of militant Hindu nationalism powered by the polemic of hatred and intolerance. The DPB, in particular, attempts to bring the corporeal of the “subject” (treated in quantifiable, numerical terms) under the watch of the statist eye, which is, in the end, nothing but corporate control.
Let’s get back to where we were previously. Being a citizen, I have to ask:
· Where lies the political accountability of our present “rulers”? Why call them rulers? Why aren’t they tolerating any sort of constructive criticism? Is India turning towards the Presidential form of governance with one man-one party-one election? Is it not part of the larger Hindutva project to establish a nation-state with one language, one religion, merely one ideological motivation?
· Where does the Indian economy stand today? Is privatization the answer to the growing financial distress? Or is the financial distress being amplified due to the unchecked concentration of wealth in fewer hands?
· Is the Indian society (not a homogenous whole, but for the sake of argument, let us hypothetically assume an entity like that), consisting of many heterogeneous sects, cults, communities, languages etc., being forced to become an exclusivist, mono-religious nation-state under the ever-increasing might of Talibanized Hindutva? Instead of complimenting the differences, is it conjuring up the genealogical imagery of a so-called “akhanda” bharat, i.e., an undivided India, based on the legislative code of the ‘Hindu religion’ (as per the BJP’s perception)? Is the BJP, i.e., the present ruling party, trying to foreground religious fundamentalism in order to foreclose its market fundamentalist motives?
Let us go through some statistical data at this juncture in consonance to the questions raised above. It is worth noticing what India has been ranked at a worrying position across various statistical enumerations or indexes in the last few years:
1. Hunger Index: rank 102 out of 117 qualifying countries (2019)
2. Unemployment rate: 8.74% of the population (2020)
3. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate: 1.9% post-lockdown (2020), following global recession. GDP per capita rank 42nd (nominal; 2020) 124th (PPP; 2020)
4. According to The Economist (2016), India occupied the ninth position in global Crony-Capitalist Index, having crony sector wealth that accounts for 3.4% of the total GDP.
According to reports from various sources, the ruling party’s assets are increasing by leaps and bounds:
The catchword of a free and fair Democracy has been reduced to a mere commodity, which the BJP trades in the Indian Parliament by dint of money-power. The “horse-trading” techniques deployed by the BJP to win over MPs and MLAs belonging to other political factions further substantiate the claim of its rising money-power by hook or crook.
5. Happiness Index: Rank 140 out of 156 countries (2019)
6. Corruption Index: Rank 80 out of 180 countries (2020)
7. Informal sector workers: 93% of the total workforce (2019)
8. Availability of Hospital beds: 0.055 per 1,000 populations (2020)
9. Defense Budget: The union government allocated Rs 3.37 lakh crore as the defense budget for the financial year 2020-21. (When compared to point 8, it can be observed that the death industry is being proliferated by the state machinery itself)
10. Malnourished population: 195.9 million malnourished people (2015-17); one-third of the world’s malnourished children belong to India.
11. Carbon Footprints: Emission of 2,299 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (2018). No visible step is observed to save the planet from the consequences of anthropogenic global heating by the Indian Government. Even there is no anticipatory policy regarding the rehabilitation of climate refugees. Instead, the government is justifiably busy with ostentatious display of statues, temples, anti-green bullet trains etc., along with planned deforestation for mining and other “developmental” (at the cost of what?) projects.
12. Poverty index: rank 49. Two-thirds of people in India live in poverty: 68.8% of the Indian population lives on less than $2 a day. Over 30% even have less than $1.25 per day. More than 36 crore Indians still cannot afford three square meals a day. India had 73 million people living in extreme poverty which makes up 5.5% of its total population. India’s top 1% owns half of the national wealth.
13. External Debt is nearly about $620.7 billion (March 2022)! However, Indian Government has written off the astronomical figure of money, 68,607 crores owed by the super-rich people, at the time of international crisis.
14. Suicide rate: About 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year, of these 1, 35, 000 (17.8%) are from India. India now accounts for over a third of the world’s annual female suicides and nearly a fourth of male suicides.
After the COVID Pandemic hit India and an unplanned lockdown was imposed by the Government, the suicide rate rapidly multiplied.
Suicides increase 10% to highest since 1967, accidental deaths down 11%: National data VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 29th October, 2021 ©Hindustan Times)
15. India is “partly free”, says 2021 World Press Freedom Index:
“The 2021 World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a French NGO, has again placed India at 142nd rank out of 180 countries. This despite the fact that for a year, under directions from the Cabinet Secretary, an Index Monitoring Cell worked to improve the world rankings, including a meeting between Ambassador to France with the RSF officials to lobby for a change in the ranking in the index compiled by them. In 2016, India’s rank was 133 which has steadily climbed down to 142 in 2020. The RSF report says India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly. They are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.” VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 21st April, 2021 ©The Hindu)
The following reports further throw light on this issue:
India Is No Longer a Democracy but an ‘Electoral Autocracy’: Swedish Institute ⤡ (As reported on 11th March 2021, © The Wire)
The Freedom House also dropped India from the list of “Free Countries” in its annual report entitled “Democracy under Siege” VIEW HERE ⤡
16. World Inequality Report 2022: “As per the latest World Inequality Report 2022, India is a “poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite,” where 57 percent of the national income is held by top 10 percent, while the share of the bottom 50 percent is merely 13 percent in 2021.” VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 8th December, 2021 ©The Quint)
The above data makes it evident that India no longer can proudly carry the epithet of being the “largest democracy” in the whole wide world, since the recent degenerative socio-economic processes have undermined every ideal that India was supposed to stand upon, as per the ethos of the Indian Constitution! It has been acknowledged that India has a dire lack of statistical data in terms of its data paucity, data opacity and data denial.
ii. Economy: all that is solid melting into the air?
As per the never-ending coup-de-etat of world capitalism, the WB-IMF-WTO trio manages to install puppet dictators or autocrats in countries, which are steeping down in the ocean of debt. Such debt is generated because of crafted, manufactured, simulated conflicts involving the use of arms and ammunitions. By controlling the debt, the trio primitively accumulates the wealth and resources of those countries, considering nature as a “free-gift”, ready to be brought under the epiphenomenal de-signation of exchange value. The same kind of phenomenon can be observed in the nation-states within the South-East Asian territory, including India.
In order to get a broad overview of the ongoing state of the Indian Economy, the reader may refer to the following documents:
One may attempt the summary of the above documents by highlighting certain essential points:
Ø Across the past decade, India has witnessed rampant bankruptcies in the financial sector, leading to the major loss of a significant amount of laypersons’ savings. PSBs and Private Banks such as IL&FS, PNB etc., have gone to the bankruptcy court increasingly over the last few years.
The 1969 nationalization of Indian banks had followed the path of Soviet socialism. However, the entire process ended in a smoke by the crony ruling party, following the policy of LPG (Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization) since the signing of the Dunkel Draft in 1992.
Ø A trend towards monopoly capitalism could also be seen in the ruling party’s politico-economic stance:
After Ambani, it’s Adani who’s beginning to carve up India’s post-Covid business monopoly VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 25 August, 2020 ©The Print)
Is Modi a PM or business development manager of Ambani, Adani: Sidhu VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on April 20, 2019 © Business Standard)
Ø Unemployment rate has reached record high, unwitnessed in post-independent India.
Ø The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has now (18th July, 2022 onwards) been arbitrarily imposed on articles of mass consumption such as rice, wheat etc., making it difficult for common citizens to afford their means of subsistence at the time of unchecked hyper-inflation.
Ø On the other hand, PSU banks and some private banks are undergoing bankruptcy due to Gross Non-Performing assets (NPA).
Nevertheless, while the wilful defaulters of public money roam around the globe scot-free, the assets of the BJP keep on increasing astronomically at the same time! Is there a one-to-one correspondence between the two sets of events, i.e., the rampant bankruptcies and the rising assets of the ruling party, as noted earlier? Should one apply Mill’s method of concomitant variations in order to draw positive correlations amidst the two sets of events? The BJP’s electoral promise to provide every Indian citizen with 15 lakh rupees from the Swiss Bank “black money” accounts is still to be realized! Modi’s “Demonetization drive” in 2016 has been proven to be completely futile in its supposed attempts to impede the flow of black money, corruption or terrorism.
It can be understood from the above that the present Indian ruling class favours the super-rich wilful defaulters. What a crony state of affairs!
Instead of looking after the needs of the common citizens, the NDA government wishes to hand over each and every sector to the big corporates. It wants to implement its policy of “atmanirbharta” (self-reliance), which is an oxymoron (Orwellian newspeak under the plutocratic regime!) since what the government is striving to achieve is not self-sufficiency but minimal state intervention and complete corporate control over people’s lives, hopes and aspirations.
It is the face of savage capitalism that is taking over the life-spheres of the Indian people. The ruling party is associated to the underworld goons, who are again associated with the corporates, and the corporates are further related to the profiteering religious preachers or gurus. It can thus be said that savage capitalists are working under the guise of “sage” capitalists. It is an attempt to further the grand design of the market fundamentalist order of things by masking it with religious extremism. This collusion (Party-Goons/Shadow Economy-Corporate-Gurus) is working through an unholy nexus within the Indian polity. The collusion can be comprehended with regard to the specific case of the Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) scam.
iii. The Curious Case of the DHFL Scam
The financial scam that I am going to briefly discuss below might baffle even the mind of the great Sherlock Holmes! It has been dubbed as the biggest bankruptcy that India has ever witnessed.
· The Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd. (henceforth DHFL) was an AAA-rated deposit-taking Housing Finance NBFC (Non-Banking Financial Company) regulated by the National Housing Bank (NHB) headquartered in Mumbai with branches in major cities across India. DHFL was established (11 April 1984) to enable access to economical housing finance to the lower and middle income groups in semi-urban and rural parts of India. DHFL was the second housing finance company to be established in the country. The company also leases commercial and residential premises. DHFL was among the 50 biggest financial companies in India. [Source: Wikipedia⤡]
· Following a report by Cobrapost declaring the DHFL to be a major loan defaulter, Reliance Nippon Life Insurance went ahead to the court of law in order to prove the company to be a grave matter of concern, which must be dealt with immediately by the blind eyes of the law. Reliance’s legal step can be considered as an expression of professional rivalry with DHFL, an ongoing concern that can be toppled down by other NBFCs in India, viz., HDFC.
· Cobrapost also raised allegations of political donations worth crores of rupees, in violation of Section 182 of Companies Act, 2013 for political donations or political charity or otherwise terror funding.
For details cf. Alleged Dawood-Mirchi-RKW-DHFL-BJP Collusion⤡ (Here, in this document, apart from Dawood-Mirchi-RKW-DHFL-BJP Collusion, PM Care Fund Scam, Electoral bond scam are also mentioned).
The ruling party is associated with the “terrorist dons” or the so-called “underworld”, viz., Dawood Ibrahim and his close associate late Iqbal Mirchi, who are again related to Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited and its associate RKW Developers Private Limited (Dheeraj Realty).
“Why did BJP receive crores in donation from a company accused of buying properties of Iqbal Mirchi? Is this not ‘treason’ Mr. Amit Shah?” Upping the attack, the Congress tweeted, “As it turns out, the ‘Modi Bond of Corruption’ ⤡ extends to terror funding companies as well. Companies associated with Iqbal Mirchi have donated crore of rupees to BJP. PM Modi and Amit Shah must answer on these treasonous acts.” In the case of DHFL scam, the ruling party has played the “dog in manger” policy.
BJP received donation from company being probed for ‘terror funding’ by ED VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on Nov 22, 2019 ©The National Herald)
The India Congress Party alleged that . Gift BJP Rs 20 cr, get ‘return gift’ worth Rs 31K cr: Congress on fraud by DHFL VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 30 January, 2019, ©Millennium Post). May we believe Congress’ allegation?
In response to this serious allegation, the BJP has not
(a) filed a Defamation case against all these media houses, who reported such a collusion;
(b) banned all these above newspapers, who had reported such allegations against the BJP.
DEWAN HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION LIMITED- THE ANATOMY OF INDIA’S BIGGEST FINANCIAL SCAM VIEW HERE ⤡ (as reported on January 29, 2019 ©Cobrapost)
· The High Court of Bombay in the case of Reliance Nippon Life Insurance v/s DHFL passed an order on September 30, 2019 and October 10, 2019 restraining DHFL from making payments to any of its secured/unsecured creditors, including the payments to any fixed deposit holders.
Although earlier, the Bombay High Court declared the DHFL as a solvent, ongoing concern. Till this verdict, all the FD and Non-Convertible Debentures (NCD) Holders of DHFL were getting their dues as per schedule. For more information on this Bombay High Court verdict, visit the following link: Stopped payment to creditors following Bombay High Court orders: DHFL VIEW HERE⤡ (As reported on 4th November, 2019 ©Business Standard)
· DHFL was put under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, on 22 November 2019. The RBI (The Reserve Bank of India) appointed a Committee of Creditors (COC) by giving special powers. At that point, the DHFL was being run by an Administrator appointed by the RBI. Repayments to FD holders were stopped and FD holders were clubbed together with banks and other big lenders in the Resolution Process by the RBI-appointed Administrator. The FD and NCD holders are waiting for repayment of their money-deposits since then.
· A bidding war ensued amidst possible corporate candidates to buy the company. Business tycoons like Gautam Adani, Ajay Piramal and others participated in the competition. After a certain amount of time, Piramal won the offer, defeating Oaktree and Adani in the process. It has to be noted that Ajay Piramal is the recent recipient of the honorary CBE for his so-called “contribution” in the India-UK trade relationship, conferred by Her Majesty the Queen.
· Oaktree Capitals questioned the CoC decision and said that the latter was biased from the very onset in favour of Piramal. It must be noted that Piramal, once an alleged insider-trader, was the lowest bidder among the competing corporate groups. His offer was to buy the entire 40,000 crore company of DHFL by spending only a rupee! It is also quite mind-baffling to notice that Piramal announced the occurrence of an incoming “major shock in the NBFC sector” just a day before the Cobrapost findings on the DHFL.
Readers must also consider the fact that Piramal is a follower of the alleged murderer turned religious preacher, Radhanath Swami of the ISKCON as well as Sadhguru (alias Jaggi Vasudev), who has established his religious territory by illegally displacing indigenous people from their lands.
· The RBI (Indian Central Bank) has approved the Resolution Plan (18th February, 2021) put forward by Piramal, which has deprived the small depositors of the major percentage of their dues.
· The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) came up with an order, asking the DHFL CoC to reconsider the offer made by DHFL’s erstwhile owner, Mr. Kapil Wadhawan, which had the provision for 100% repayment to all the creditors of the DHFL with interest. It has said: “…it (The COC) has not considered the same (Mr. Kapil Wadhawan’s Resolution Proposal) on its merits or with its commercial wisdom.”
This was a major turning point in the entire DHFL Scam. It made us question the validity of the CoC decision on firmer grounds.
· Soon after, the winning bidder: Piramal, along with the CoC administrator appointed by the RBI, hurried to the NCLAT the day after and got the NCLT order forcibly revoked without answering the pertinent questions raised by the NCLT within the stipulated time period of ten days. This is clearly a case of “contempt of court”, involving the deliberate avoidance of the lowest quasi-judicial body, NCLT’s order.
· The NCLT was then compelled to approve, certify and give its assent to the CoC Resolution Plan under such circumstances involving the political will of the present ruling party, which was leaning positively towards the favoured tycoon Ambani’s good old friend and affinal relative Piramal.
· The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), in another striking turn of events, questioned the efficacy of the DHFL CoC in an order issued on 27/01/22. The order declared the allocation of the resolution amount to the depositors as being “contrary to law”.
· Now, the decision regarding the final settlement of the DHFL case is awaiting legal process at the Supreme Court of India. The NCLAT order has been indefinitely stayed.
The fate of thousands of small deposit holders now awaits the apex court’s judgement.
iv. Financial Abuse: the curtailment of business-related rights in neo-liberal India and the dead-end of the Indian Judiciary
This brings us to the discussion on the abuse of business-related rights. In a world of the financial bourgeoisie, the larger population is indoctrinated to participate in the race of the bulls and the bears. It is a sphere where the traditionally maintained line of demarcation between money and commodity withers away, and the constant transference of one to the other keeps on running without the performance of socially necessary labour. The participation of the mass in this market risk zone makes them submissive slaves to Money the great Sorcerer. The sorcerer takes hold of their lives and makes it dance to the socially construed rhythm of supply-and-demand.
The United Nations has the specific goal to protect the common citizens from falling prey to financial abuse, as we noted in the case of the DHFL scam.
The human rights related to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights⤡ , especially the provision for “Access to remedy for victims of business-related abuses”, are infringed and compromised because of the cumbersome and lengthy legal processes in India. The judiciary is now merely an instrument in the hands of the political executive. The apex court of India is being manipulated by the ruling party to justify its actions.
Here’s proof that poor get gallows, rich mostly escape. VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on JULY 21, 2015 © The Times on India)
Judiciary ramshackled, going to court is useless: Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on 14th February, 2021) © The Indian Express
‘If you go to court, you don’t get a verdict,’ says former CJI Ranjan Gogoi VIEW HERE ⤡ (As reported on Feb 13, 2021) ©Scroll.in
The notion of ‘distributive justice’ and the principle of fair-play no longer plays the dominant part in the dynamics of Indian democracy. Democracy has been reduced to an empty-word, devoid of all its inherited content. Presently, the ruling party has tilted more towards monopoly capitalism in its exclusive partial attitude or favouritism towards Gautam Adani, disregarding all other capitalist groups that compete alongside him.
A Document Reveals Modi’s Role in Pushing Adani Deal with Sri Lanka VIEW HERE ⤡ (Note that Sri Lanka recently underwent a massive countrywide economic bankruptcy, which led to a political upheaval and the toppling down of the governmental apparatus)
On the other hand, the hitherto favoured tycoon’s family, i.e., the Ambani family, is now engaged in formulating their “route for escape” by buying a huge and highly expensive property at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire, England. Ambani’s sizeable enterprise, Reliance, is going for a toss as Piramal, IndusInd, Oaktree and other corporate houses are hankering after the enterprise to purchase some of the companies under the Reliance umbrella. Inner conflict amidst the capitalists themselves can be observed here. Capitalism, in its moribund stage, itself creates the contradictions that it is unable to solve all by itself without resulting into an incessant race between the big capitalists themselves!
Taken as a whole, it is a thoroughly perplexing and distressing situation that worries those who toil hard to earn their basic means of subsistence. When their hard-earned money is put at stake by the actions of the corporate-state nexus, when the cries of the ‘many’ do not reach the deaf ears of the earless rulers of contemporary India, one can only envisage the scope for the creation of an alternative method or techne of living or sustaining oneself along with one’s fellow beings.
Such a social ethic is grounded on the ideal of an “ecotopia”, a community-based, local resource-dependent, non-hierarchical, partyless, moneyless, classless, stateless realm of free mutual reciprocity, without the artificial hindrance of the money-signifier and the overpowering tactics of the crony state or monopoly capitalist regime. It is a space that is free from all kinds of appropriation, manipulation, codification and approximation by the coercive institutions of a regimented power-structure. Such a community thrives on the basis of dialogical transactions (the Habermasian “dialogue constitutive universals”) without the omnipresent gaze of the panopticon.
This may sound “utopian”, or even “unscientific” in the eyes of the defendants of the enlightenment metanarrative. Even so, one must recall the example of the Luddites- who at once undermined the essentialist power-relations of the industrial superstructure. One must think in terms of the Romantic poets, who espoused the ‘will-to-live’ in harmony with society and nature. Can they be designated as “escapists”?
Therefore, I end my article with this note of harmonious and sustainable living-patterns that can be adopted to minimize the intervention of repressive statist constructs in the quarters of our ontological manifestation.
Waiting for the permanent revolution…