Here is my suggestion for a Single Point Anti-Incumbency Manifesto for 2019 against the BJP for the Grand Coalition of Socialist and Communist Parties.
95% of Indians are agricultural labourers, cultivators and other landless labourers in the informal economy, and outside of the tax regime in India.
We depend above all for our survival with dignity on the availability of currency, in local markets, on its stable purchasing power and stable prices. In conjunction with assured and functioning public services in the field of health, education, water, ecology, forests and soil health, we could give ourselves health, wealth and happiness if we had such conditions. These are conditions we are supposed to be giving ourselves according to the Constitution. This is.what is meant by Justice.
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar need a new politics at the centre more urgently than others perhaps, but all the States are reeling from the accumulated effects of the Indian National Congress (INC) rule and the effects of the unkept promises of the BJP at the centre; and need a brand new beginning in 2019.
The BJP like the INC before them are not listening when we say that convertibility of the Rupee forces all manner of evil on the country. We know that B.R. Ambedkar would have favoured an inconvertible paper Rupee. But he overruled himself on grounds that the proposal was too radical. But he understood that after two centuries of colonial extraction and export of Indian valuables and the devastation of the productive base of the Indian economy by the British, an economy based on exports is incompatible with stable purchasing power of the Rupee. His insights got lost. In 1966 convertibility forced liberalisation on India. In 1991 the Reserve Bank of India again devalued the Rupee and made it fully convertible. Indian upper caste elites want petroleum and gold and other imported products and get them financed mainly by exports of agricultural products produced by agriculturists who as a consequence are exposed to the instability of the Rupee.
Agriculturists’ incomes are subject to fluctuations in international prices, and the lack of a local markets and lack of local purchasing power with stable prices combined with unaffordable transport limit alternative options for selling the products; and thus millions of people are suffering malnutrition as a consequence.
In addition, because of the cruel FRBMA 2003, there is no public welfare system to alleviate the suffering. Landless labourers are forced to sell our labour cheap and the produce cheaper still and are forced into dependence on public rations. We are now a country depending on food rations as the only central government subsidy of note, a support that is less than the minimum for survival. Anything more than one meal, a one-room house, one set of clothes is a luxury. India has no local markets to speak of, at least none that would allow a family to save for a house with a kitchen, water storage facilities and clean drinking water filters, say. The combination of convertibility of the Rupee, licensing of dozens of new private banks and the profit-oriented lending by all these banks including nationalised banks has given 10% of Indians 80% of India’s wealth. To compound the misery the 90% who have 20% of money, and more so the 95% who have 5% of the money, are suffering the effects of Narendra Modi’s demonetisation of 500 and 100 Rupee notes. Even the BJP mouthpiece the Swarajyamag is now asking Modi to admit that “DeMo was the last straw that broke the farmer’s back.” Neither the markets nor the government are working for landless labourers, agriculturists, cultivators, let alone the landless unemployed who are 95% of Indians.
Obviously there will be an anti-incumbency swing in the 2019 Parliamentary elections. And to get the campaign against the BJP right we need a Manifesto for a Grand Coalition of Humanist Secular Socialist and Communist Parties.
The BJP inherited their fiscal regime from the INC and made its impacts worse. The BJP are obsessed with liberalisation and are even planning to privatise the railways. Also to top it all, their regime causes man-made climate change. This further exacerbates the negative impacts of the elite castes’ fiscal regime.
We should not allow the institutional inertia that serves the BJP caste elites and which is served by the BJP caste elites to dictate fiscal policy. We must not allow failed demonetisation to obscure the much more fundamental failure of humanity represented by the FRBMA 2003. The BJP appealed to voters on the basis of Hinduism and caste. But they did not understand that Indians suffer not because of caste per se, but because of the specific choices forced on Indians by the upper caste elites, especially convertibility of the Rupee, liberalisation, and the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA 2003).
The way to improve the stability of the Rupee and the purchasing power of the citizens everywhere in the country is to abolish the FRBMA 2003. With more government spending we will improve liquidity for everyone, improve local trade and encourage import substitution with a overriding policy of creating and maintaining full employment. Making a commitment to ecological and social justice, we can enforce laws that restrict the flow of money to polluting and inhumane industries, which would otherwise be the preferred option of private and nationalised banks. Such private banking must be severely curtailed. Instead most money in India should be issued by the governments at all levels and should fund local markets by injecting money into employment, and into free and fully functioning public services such as health, education, agricultural extension, public housing, forestry, horticulture and clean water.
Politically the consequence of the mess caused by the BJP and the INC is that we need a Grand Coalition of Secular, Humane, Socialist and Communist Parties who unite around this single point programme of abolition of the FRBMA 2003 and get the BJP voted out on this basis.
I don’t mind if my proposals for a New Reserve Bank of India Act are too radical and must be ditched. I don’t mind very much that we are keeping the Rupee convertible if we must. I don’t even mind so much, only a bit, if we keep the private and nationalised banks that lend for private profit. In any case everyone knows now that the BJP has totally failed to deliver at the Centre since 2014 and has caused huge despair amongst the majority of the public. The only people who benefit from the BJP rule are a few dozen private corporate borrowers who have been given the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Rules 2016 to help them to a fresh start in life, without punishment for contributing to jobless negative growth let alone indulging in pollution-causing borrowing.
We must abolish the FRBMA 2003. Once the Grand Coalition government at the Centre and the assemblies in the States and the Panchayat Raj Institutions are free to create our own money for our own purposes with power to say aye or nay for any proposals within the territory of the government in question, – as the Central government of course did in the early years of Independence when no one bothered to even count the deficit as it was continuously monetised -, we can will be in a position to create money only for socially and ecologically sound work.
The only limit to public money creation, and of course the limit to private money creation if it is allowed to continue, should be ecological and social. We are constitutionally bound to protect the environment and to deliver social justice, and this requires us to change the basis of the economy completely. What is good for the people and ecology shall be funded, what is bad shall not be funded or be taxed out of existence. A convenient accounting system can be devised. Taxation will serve the purpose of managing and controlling inflation and discouraging socially and ecologically harmful practices. Private debt will really not be needed at all and so there will be no need for interest rates. If decisions on how much money and for what are taken by States and especially also third tier level governments, and if the Union also steps up and creates enough money to carry out its duties under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, then there really will be no danger of reintroducing the inefficient planned economy that would of course hamper the free flow of goods and service in a market of over 1 billion people. We have a great constitution and a huge domestic market we just need to vote out of power the globalised elites that stole the Rupee from us.
By abolishing the FRBMA 2003 we are overthrowing the wicked claim of the elites that the job of the Reserve Bank of India is to restrict money creation by government. Capitalism will be voted out, and socialism and humanism will get a new lease of life with much learning from past experiences. There will be full employment and no Hindutva fanaticism to incite the unhappy, angry, unemployed, uneducated victims of the BJP upper caste elites. Everyone knows by now that the BJP has not served the interests of any castes and classes in India except the upper caste 5% caste elites who continue to own all of the industrial productive capacity of the country and most of the land and all of the decision making powers in government. And PS: If the INC wants to join the fight against the BJP the condition for their entry into the fraternity of humanist, socialist, secular parties should be that they repent their past sins and sign up to abolishing the FRBMA 2003 in 2019.
Anandi Sharan is a current affairs commentator focusing on India and the policies needed for people to be able to adapt to climate change. She has drafted a new Reserve Bank of India Act 2017 which she would be happy to share with interested readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org