Economic, Ecological and Agricultural Science Illiteracy of Elites
Having already been investigated by the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate, we now get news that NDTV, one of the most viewed nation-wide news channels of India, is again being investigated, this time by the Central Bureau of Investigation. A First Information Report has been filed by or on behalf of the ICICI bank, a private bank, and apparently the CBI is involved because the government has a stake in it.
The antecedents of the Bharatya Janata Party, – the ruling party of government that claims to have suffered the financial loss -, are those various politicians who were the Hindu opposition to Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar and the other secular members of the Constituent Assembly when India gained its freedom from the British. After the successors to these Hindu opposition politicians formed themselves into a full-fledged political party in 1980 they picked up additional ideological momentum as critics of the corruption being perpetrated by the Indian National Congress and its United Progressive Alliance government politicians and bureaucrats. The double platform of anti-corruption and Hindu supremacy appealed to voters. I have been asking myself why the Indian legal system, the lawyers, judges and magistrates, could become so sucked into the BJP ideology that there have been hardly any prosecutions of BJP politicians under the Representation of the People Act 1951 for appeal to religion in elections, which is illegal under the RPA 1951, despite the fact that the BJP manifesto contains a promise to build a Ram Temple at the site of Babri Masjid, a clear appeal to religion. The party is simply not being prosecuted, which means the entire judiciary supports this party that has an illegal programme. Why?
I think the answer may be found in the way the citizens of India including the legal profession conceive of politics at the level of the Union and the state generally, and the way this conception is related to the second ideological plank of the BJP, viz. anti-corruption. I think in India, citizens’ trust in the central government especially is nothing other than trust in the ability of the politicians at the Centre, mainly the Prime Minister, to handle the public good of the country, which is the money. If the citizens believe you are trustworthy it also means they trust you in money matters. You are then by way of the mandate to your party given charge of the government’s money and the management of the country’s affairs especially the Union’s power over the Rupee. During the period of trust bestowed by the majority of voters you can do no wrong, you are forgiven in relation to any possible transgressions and criticism of you and your policies is considered anti-national. The judiciary is part of this system for upholding national unity by means of more or less totalitarian rule, and is also prohibited by convention and because of the separation of powers between judiciary and the legislature from interfering in economic matters. As Nitish Kumar said of Narendra Modi, the voters judge the man to be capable and competent and so he becomes Prime Minister. In this way the sanctity, integrity and unity of the nation, which since Independence has been an article of faith for Indians over and beyond such trivialities as constitutionality and legality in so far it inconveniences elite party politics, is maintained. Conversely, as the Prime Minister, you must uphold the trust bestowed on you by handling the economic policy according to traditional institutional mechanisms, including causing those who according to the laws of the land are behaving unaccountably to be prosecuted. Thus in the scenario we find ourselves in India today we end up with a virtual one-party system and a dictatorship of the party or alliance in power, whether it is called as such or not. We also end up, because of this desire for absolute trust, solemnly renouncing any scientific discussion about how money in India is created by private and nationalised banks for corporates, – and a few others deemed creditworthy -, for profit, and how this system of money creation with its accompanying restrictions through the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act 2003 is having a worse effect on the health and nutrition and education of Indians than anything the East India Company and the British crown did.
The recent outrageous comments of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Urjit Patel that loan waiver for farmers and landless agricultural labourers is a moral hazard has gone uncommented. This man, a Manmohan Singh appointee and a former staff of Reliance Industries, colludes with INC, BJP and India’s elites that run these parties to bamboozle us into believing that anti-corruption is an adequate monetary policy and the best money policy the Centre could bestow on the country. He maintains the system of licensing private banks to create money for the elites and cutting off the hands of the sovereign to create money on all our behalf.
The laws of India and the complete set of the rule of law is inherited from the Romans via the British, and these criminal and civil laws deal to an overwhelming extent with debt, debt enforcement, lending, borrowing and stealing money. They abolished slavery sometime before the laws were brought to India, but economic suffering by means of economic extortion and oppression by private owners of money reinforced by social oppression and managed by the Reserve Bank of India went on and has gone on ever since.
What is surprising is that there have been millions of studies since Independence on the military and economic suffering caused to India by the Britsh, but the capitalist economics and caste economics inflicted on India after Independence by the upper caste Indians is never criticised by the dominant public discourse as anti-national, rather those who criticise it are considered leftists, Dalits, communists and are condemned and silenced.
How do we explain this? I think the answer is that the upper castes, the elites of India, of which the BJP and INC politicians are a part, have managed to spread the lie across the country and into its furthest most recesses and into every election booth at election time by means of the millions of Sangh Parivar volunteers, that private money is a public good and that therefore it is of public importance to ensure that “the law takes its course” with respect to whether or not private money is being managed according to the law. The fact that there is absolutely no public money to speak of in the country and that 60% of the government budget is going to pay off government debt is in this way eliminated from public discussion.
Why has money created as loans by private banks to private individuals for private purpose become the chosen form of money creation in India? And why is the public so ill educated that we believe that enforcing the law with respect to private money debts is the paramount law to be given political attention above all else by politicians even when public funds and funds in the hands of the agriculturists and landless labourers have been reduced to a pittance?
The answer is to be found solely in the self-serving greed of the upper caste elites who run the country as an outpost of the Anglo Saxon capitalist Empire for their own private gain. The democratic constitutional aspiration for equality of every Indian is decried as leftist communist anti-national propaganda; and every politician who fought for India’s freedom from the British is held up as a freedom fighter and hero only as long as his or her humanitarian commitment to economic equality, justice and fraternity is burnt, expunged from history, and drowned in the depths of the ocean.
The conditions Indians are suffering from today are worse than the conditions the peasants suffered from at Champaran and everywhere else in India before Independence. We are independent from the British now, but there is no sovereign government accountable to the people to create an Indian money system to suit the needs of the majority of Indians who are farmers or agricultural labourers or landless labourers in the informal sector.
I don’t care about NDTV. I think the things that the NDTV news channel reports on and the topics it chooses to cover are limited to the interests of the beneficiaries of the private money creation system we have in India today: the 5 or 10% of families or corporations in India who are potential or actual creditworthy types: recipients of loans from private and nationalised banks, sitting in isolated colonies in Delhi and Mumbai and owning industrial infrastructure. They are the beneficiaries of the state capitalism built by the INC and the liberalisation thereafter by the INC and the BJP governments. These are the elites who have come to believe their own propaganda that as long as you enforce the law with respect to private borrowers, – and of course the bureaucrats and politicians shall enforce the law and not benefit from their position through graft,-, then all will be well with Indians. There is no intellectual debate on NDTV about the shortcomings of the economic system India that we took over from the British after Independence and embedded in the RBI Act 1934 with all of its innumerable useless amendments.
There are no programmes on NDTV about how to reform the Reserve Bank of India to make money a public good in India to benefit all Indians. Ironically it is NDTV who successfully spread the ideology in India that anti-corruption is a sufficient monetary and economic policy for a central government and whose prime duty is to uphold the framework and functioning of capitalism. If capitalism functioned as it should, these people preach, Indians would be fine. The RBI for them is part of the sacrosanct machinery of the state that upholds the country on behalf of the elites.
It is too bad NDTV is being unfairly prosecuted for having tried to raise private funds to be a private TV channel. But the fact of the matter is NDTV is as much part of the problem as are both the political parties under whose regimes they have operated. Both the INC and the BJP promote private banking as the only form of money creation in India barring the disaster of note printing and the old fashioned issue of coinage. Political parties are similarly funded by hand outs from the system of private money creation.
The insistence on private banking in India today is completely wrong, as it causes massive hardship. Capitalism is not the right system for Indians as it causes ever rising levels of women and child suffering, population growth, illiteracy, poverty and ill-health of the people, and temperature rise due to climate change and soil loss and loss of wild and domestic animals and plants due to various factors.
Actually we need to ban private banks and nationalised banks, and instead we need a money system that lets us use our own money deposits in our local banks according to our own priorities in our own gram sabhas and town wards to help us deal with whatever ecological condition we find ourselves in. We need scientific popular planning and our own money creation to execute our private and common plans in our localities. We need a money system that allows our private and common interests as communities to overlap and we need money creation powers to deal with our own interests and needs. We need absolute power of veto over economic and ecological decisions where we live, using local government powers that include money creation. In other words we need our own branch offices of the Reserve Bank of India in the control of our own gram sabhas and town wards as a part of our powers of government under the 73rd Amendment.
The private news channels that dominate the airwaves in India today are not discussing any of this. It is why what needs to concern us is not whether or not NDTV survives, but whether we exercise our freedom of speech in any forum whatsoever to consider whether anti-corruption is really enough of an economic and money policy for Indians today, and if it isn’t, what is. We need to come up with a programme to reform money politics in India that is fit for purpose to suit the majority of Indians considering the severe deprivation the majority are suffering. We also need to counter the globalisation of money propagated in the name of progress by the proponents of digital currencies. Without addressing the question for whom and where the energy base for technology comes from and who controls it, technology innovation is useless. See how the owner of PayTM has bought a grand house in Delhi’s Golf Links. This is no way to create money, which should be a public good and circulated into all hands that need it.
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