Dollar Nationalism, Dollar Secessionism

- Tapas Ranjan Saha

An annual global study conducted by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, two global financial advisories, has some good news for India. Globalisation and the much-vaunted New Economic Policies are finally taking India places. India now has more than 100,015 ‘dollar millionaires’ – individuals who are termed as ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ or HNIs because their net worth is over a million dollars. With India’s HNI population expanding 20.5%, it was second only to Singapore in terms of growth of this highly worthy set of people. The financial advisories conduct the annual study to track the trends of how the rich invest their money.

HNIs in the Asia-Pacific, according to the study, like to invest in tangible real estate; and nearly doubled their allocations to real estate, from 16% in 2005 to 29% in 2006. North Americans on the other hand traditionally invest in equities, but are shifting towards real estate: in 2006, North Americans increased their real estate allocations from 12% to 20% of their portfolios.    

The study tells us “NRIs tend to be global in outlook, savvy about the markets in which they live and well-informed about international affairs. Theirs is a close-knit community. Members openly discuss investments and provide an excellent base for referrals.”

Well, this “close-knit community” is now considerably large: large enough, certainly for its “global outlook” to guide the way in which India’s rulers view the dollar daddy USA. Both in India and in the USA, this sizeable class is a force in shaping Indo-US relations. They’re no ordinary millionaires – they’re dollar millionaires. Stands to reason then that theirs is a dollar-nationalism. Their fates, fortunes and interests are tied, not to the Indian economy but to that of the US dollar. Dependent as they are on the health of the dollar, they push hard for India to be more dependent than ever on the US; for the Indo-US Nuke Deal that gives US an upper hand in dictating Indian’s power priorities as well as India’s diplomatic and strategic choices. India, for this growing class, is a piece of real estate – and they dream of turning the whole nation into an SEZ, an outpost of the dollar empire. Their compatriots in the world of dollar millionaires – the ones who hail from USA – had done their share of land grab of an entire continent, but had then come to rely on investment in financial markets. But now they are again being seduced to joys of real estate land grab in other continents.   

These HNIs have effectively seceded from the worthless millions of the rest of India – and it’s a secession movement that receives the encouragement and patronage of an admiring and obedient state. While enormous tax-cuts and sops are being doled out to pamper the dollar holders and speculative transactions, the last vestiges of livelihood and welfare support system are being snatched out of the reach of the teeming millions. Take two examples. FDI in retail (a euphemism for big corporates’ monopoly control over our retail outlets) is being bolstered by a slew of judicial interventions which make small enterprises, household industries, kirana shops ‘illegal’ in residential areas, thereby decimating small business enterprises and petty shopkeepers and forcing consumers to the monopoly clutch of multiplexes and shopping malls. Similarly, the network of astronomically priced ‘super-speciality’ hospitals are grabbing prime real estate at subsidised rates while prising away the best brains and resources from our already tottering and anaemic Government health care system.

These secessionists have hijacked the nation, forced it to fly off course, and retrace its steps in history in order to land somewhere back in the colonial ages. It is they whose voice resounds in their Prime Minister’s when he proclaims that the British Raj was an instance of good governance. A cultural ambassador of this HNI syndrome, Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar candidly asserts, “I make films for Indians living anywhere… They could be living here, they could be living in Bihar… It is just that my sensibilities match those of NRIs…” One wonders how Johar managed the feat of equating the “sensibilities” of the dollar-spinning NRIs with that of people from Bihar (clearly for Johar, Bihar is short-hand for all that is backward and outmoded). Well, it is nothing but an equation by elimination. For last decade and a half the HNI-controlled entertainment industry has all but eliminated and made invisible the face of that “worthless” India reeling under flood, drought, famine, starvations, farmers’ suicides, communal carnage and caste oppression. Karan indeed deserves kudos for having unwittingly confessed this conscious elimination process. Through this elimination HNIs are out create an India in its own image. They are now all set to be awarded dual citizenship- a step towards reincarnation of absentee landlordism over “worthless millions” from the land of the dollar. And the time is not far when once they have had their way with it, the Preamble of the Indian Constitution would be meant to read as follows: 

WE, THE DOLLAR MILLIONAIRES OF INDIA having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SPECIAL SUBJECT TERRITORY and to secure to all its citizens INJUSTICE, INEQUALITY…..