Oh, The Sweet Taste of Capitalism!


This is when our politicos hit on a brainwave! Why ‘privatise’ to corporate houses, when they can ‘privatise’ it to themselves? As long as some of the invisible ‘assets’ were being privatised our politicians didn’t mind because, except a few, most of them didn’t understand how to harness those assets anyway! But the tangible ones are a different ballgame! They started looking around and everything they saw had an ‘asset’-potential. The land, water, river, forests, mountains, dams, there was no end to it. Instead of ‘privatising’ them to corporates, they started ‘privatising’ them to their cronies. Suddenly, new companies, hitherto unheard of, started mushrooming everywhere. The next generation kith and kin of our great leaders, returned afresh from their masters in the US or Europe, guided them about these ‘enterprises’. The newer generation, sons and daughters of our leaders understood the potential of even the ‘intangible’ assets. They knew that an airwave that could not be seen was pregnant with more money than acres and acres of land could fetch.

Meanwhile, our tall leaders became busy with their privatisation schemes. Capitalism was in full swing now. They sold our rivers to private enterprises such as mills, factories, even water theme parks. They sold our forests to private enterprises such as coal, bamboo, wood, even clearing the forests to make way for real estate development. They sold our mountains to private mining companies, for iron ore, aluminium and bauxite. They sold our lands to private enterprises for setting up business, for Special Economic Zones. More often than not, these ‘private enterprises’ were companies owned by their own friends, relatives, friends of relatives or relatives of friends. Memorandums of Understanding were signed at lightning speed. After all, airwave can be unlimited, but these resources aren’t, for there can only be so many mountains in a single state, so many forests, and that we need to garner them before the next elections, just in case the anti-incumbency kicks us out!

That’s when trouble started. We didn’t need to uproot anyone from their homes to bring in private TV channels. But it became necessary for other ‘privatisation’ and ‘capitalism’ projects. Mountains belonged to tribal communities. Forests were used and protected by adjacent villages. And rivers, when diverted to factories and theme parks, dried up before reaching farmers. Understandably the ‘victims’ started protesting these ‘development’ initiatives. They didn’t understand when the officials spoke of double-digit GDP growth. To make matters worse, the environmentalists cried foul. And activists, whose claim to fame was just one stupid novel, jumped into the fray. They noise began to get louder and the middle-class needed to be protected from this din.

The leaders then summoned our media for help. Somewhere along the way, from the time when MTV came to our living room to when our forests went out of our life, the business barons began to quietly buy stakes in media. Slowly, but surely, with new found confidence, our corporate leaders started investing shares in our media houses and soon, all we middle class heard was the only one word, ‘development’. Like a hypnotised mantra, the word ‘development’ seeped into our memories and invaded our consciousness. Anyone who didn’t use this word became our enemy and who used, became our saviour. Therefore, we believed that it was necessary for those thousands of villagers to move out to make way for Special Economic Zones, because, after all how else will you help establish industries? If Tata can’t manufacture Nano, won’t India’s economy come crashing down?

Those one-novel wonder activists became a nuisance to us, someone who has come to spoil The India Story. We started losing patience and started asking for more ‘development’.

Somebody pointed out that these ‘developments’ are not ‘development’ in real sense. That our infant mortality rates haven’t improved, that in terms of literacy, communicable diseases, health care, poverty, starvation deaths, below poverty line, and other indexes, we are still on par with sub-Saharan Africa, worse, some of the African countries are faring much better than us. We turned livid when somebody pointed out these facts. After all, isn’t all that mattered was the GDP growth?

And then, those ‘victims’, displaced from their villages, their mountains, their forests and who didn’t have recourse, legally or otherwise, decided to hit back. 

(To be continued..)