The lead editorial in the latest issue of CPM mouthpiece Peoples Democracy criticises India Inc. for being euphoric cheerleaders of the UPA,hailing the appointment of Pranab Mukherjee as finance minister and egging him to proceed on an unbridled course of neo-liberal economic and financial sector reforms.
Gleeful at the fact that the UPA government now does not require the support of the Left,India Inc. is asking this government for large-scale disinvestments of the public sector and to immediately legislate on financial sector reforms,which the Left had prevented the last government from doing so,like the privatisation of pension funds,allowing greater equity for foreign investment in insurance sector as well as to allow the foreign banks to virtually takeover Indian private banks, it says.
The editorial by Sitaram Yechury says India Inc. cannot simply accept the reality that unbridled financial sector reforms have laid the foundations for such a gigantic economic collapse and meltdown leading to a global capitalist recession. The World Bank has estimated that 2009 would be the first decline in world output on record. India Inc. also cannot simply accept the fact that the pro-people policies pushed by the Left with the last UPA government and those reforms that it stalled,ironically,contributed significantly for this victory of the UPA, it says.
Quoting Manmohan Singhs observation that the peoples mandate was a verdict for inclusive growth,equitable development and a secular and plural India,it said if these have to be achieved,then many a decisive policy measure would have to be translated into action. The statistics for key economic fundamentals for the first quarter of 2009 shows that industrial output has dropped to an alarming minus 2.3 per cent growth in March,manufacturing sector has dipped to minus 3.3 per cent,Indias exports have declined for the seventh consecutive month and exports have contracted by 35 per cent. All this means that the existing levels of employment and its future potential are set to decline significantly. This will only widen the hiatus between the shining and suffering India,pushing many more millions into levels of extreme poverty. The only way this situation could be dealt with and some relief provided to the people is by sharply increasing public investments to generate both employment and domestic demand that can stimulate growth, it says.
The US and us
An article titled thrilled US sets a big agenda for India says the return of the Congress at the centre,that too with a reduced strength of the Left in Parliament,has quite clearly bolstered the US administration in its pursuit of closer strategic ties with India.
The US media and India watchers have tried to explain the victory of Congress in India as an endorsement of stronger Indo-US ties,including the nuclear deal. They argued that the Left parties brought forth the question of foreign policy,particularly the proximity of Manmohan Singh government towards USA as an election issue, it says. The US now expects the new government to begin the process of enacting a nuclear liability law that facilitates compensation in the event of an accident. US companies will be unable to do business in India till New Delhi signs the convention on Supplementary Compesation treaty, it notes.
Even before the Manmohan Singh government took charge,the article says the agenda-setting for future course of action has been done by advisers and think tanks in the US. A new report by the Task Force of Asia Society,which has Steven Cohen,Ashley J Tellis as it members,has suggested two track channels of closer strategic ties among the two governments and through broadening ties between private sectors.
Quoting the report,it says the priorities of action over a period of four years should be to secure Indias leadership in multilateral institutions to provide the US a constructive partner in global decision making,to expand security cooperation,consultation in south Asia,stronger maritime cooperation and new consultation on other key regions of the world. Besides,the report suggested closer security ties in the name of fighting terrorism and bringing New Delhi into greater dialogue on the future of nonproliferation,including the NPT review conference and new efforts to achieve global nuclear disarmament,it says.
Compiled by Manoj C.G