When V. K. Singh termed the UPA-II Govt as a “puppet of market forces”, thereby demanding dissolution of Parliament, the anti-corruption crusader was pointing to the Government being the Gangotri of corruption. With economic disparities soaring, inflation continuing to rear its ugly head, hunger multiplying and all-out efforts being made to hide growing poverty, does this Government have any justification to rule?
In the name of economic growth, there is rampant and ruthless exploitation of natural resources. Massive land acquisition for real estate and industry is driving out millions of farmers.
Corporatisation of agriculture is forcing small farmers to migrate to urban centres; tribals have been hounded out in the name of development, their land rights being snatched away, and increasing emphasis on public-private partnership (PPP) is handing over control over public infrastructure and natural resources to the private sector. Jal, jangal and jamin are being usurped by the private sector at a phenomenal pace.
Land riots across the country have only fuelled the discontent against the Government. Regardless, the Government fans crony capitalism, which is all-pervasive. Scam after scam has revealed the close nexus between policymakers and corporates.
In the process, while the number of high net worth individuals is growing, the poor are being driven to the wall. Jobless growth is adding to the number of unemployed every year. With a third of world’s hungry living in India, the Global Hunger Index 2012 places India 65th among 79 countries.
As Singh said, FDI in retail is a classic example of faulty policies being pushed aggressively. The Indian retail sector employs 44 million people for the same turnover that Walmart, for instance, has. Walmart employs just 2.1 million people.
The hype generated over big retail’s ability to save fruit and vegetables from going waste and thereby providing higher income to farmers is a clever manipulation. In the US, 50 per cent of fruit and vegetables in superstores go waste, and it is the direct income subsidies that keep farmers alive.
Team Anna wants an overhaul of the existing system. It calls for dissolution of Parliament and, as part of electoral reforms, wants economic policies to be spelt out at the time of going to polls. In addition, let us have a referendum on crucial policy decisions. The aam aadmi cannot be sacrificed at the altar of development.
(The author is a founder member of India Against corruption, and was part of the erstwhile Team Anna.)