Organise Country-wide Protests during
Barack Obama's India Visit
US President Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to India this November will inaugurate a new chapter in the 'strategic partnership' between US imperialism and India's ruling class. As people of India, let us examine the interests that the US President represents and the implications of his visit for India.
Barack Obama became President of the United States because he represented, for the people of the US as well of the world, a promise of 'change' – change from the imperialist policies of the Bush regime that had imposed wars, occupation, and economic crisis on the world.
Two years later, both in the US as well as elsewhere in the world, that promise stands belied. Obama's regime has represented 'continuity' rather than 'change' with the policies of US imperialism and war-mongering. Any 'change' has remained cosmetic. Obama colluded in suppressing the UN's Goldstone Report indicting Israel for war crimes in Gaza. In the name of ending the occupation of Iraq, Obama has actually renamed 50, 000 US troops in Iraq as 'advise-and-assist brigades' rather than combat troops. The US war in Afghanistan continues unabated. And there has been no change whatsoever in the policies of US imperialism that force a grave economic crisis on the people of the world.
As Manmohan Singh's UPA-II Government rolls out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama this November, we will once again hear the familiar claims – that India's 'special' relationship with the US is a matter of pride and that being part of the US' strategic embrace protects India's economic and security interests. But bitter experience has taught us better.
It has been revealed recently that the US had information of the Mumbai terror attacks' mastermind David Headley's links with terrorist outfits as well of his plans to target Indian cities, but did not share the same with India. Not only that, the US is even now keeping its own secrets by protecting Headley from facing trial in India. In the Bhopal gas tragedy, we saw how India's rulers obliged the US by failing to make corporations like Union Carbide and Dow face the criminal consequences or even pay damages. The Indo-US Nuke Deal is designed to keep a US leash on India's foreign policy and increase India's dependence on the US, while the recently passed Nuke Liability Bill is scripted to protect the interests of the US nuclear industry. The Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and 'Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative' are all increasing the US stranglehold over India's self-reliance in education and agriculture.
Obama's visit to India will undoubtedly serve US interests in many ways – by further prising open key sectors of the Indian economy for US investment; by expanding the Indian market for the US military-industrial complex; and by further binding India to the US' imperialist strategies in the world. For the mass of Indian people, however, it is clear that India's growing ties with the US are inviting economic crisis and terrorism on Indian soil, and shamefully shackling India's independence and self-reliance to imperialist interests.
Barack Obama is coming to our country as the intelligent, democratic face of US imperialism; let all who stand for peace, justice and sovereignty greet him with protests all over the country with a loud welcome message:
US Imperialism Keep off from India, Keep Off from Asia!
Asia is not for US Meddling and Occupation!
Stop Outsourcing War, Terror, and Economic Crisis!
Left Coordination Committee (Kerala)
Lal Nishan Party (Leninist)
For All India Left Coordination
The Human Cost of Wealth Explosion
"In proportion as the labour develops, and thereby becomes the source of wealth, poverty and demoralisation among the labourers and wealth and culture among the non-labourers develop. This is the law of the whole hitherto existing history. In the present day capitalist society material etc. conditions have finally been created which enable and compel the labourers to smash this historical malediction" -- Karl Marx
According to a recent report on global wealth by investment bank Credit Suisse, total wealth in India has tripled over the past decade to $3.5 trillion (this is a general trend in emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region: Indonesia’s wealth for example has grown five-fold over the same period) and could further increase to almost double that amount -- $6.4 trillion to be precise -- by 2015. Given the hardly reassuring state of Indian and world economies, will the forecast come true? More pertinently, assuming it does, will that bring India any nearer the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015?
Such apprehension arises in view of a number of very disturbing facts and trends. The hallowed wealth increase occurred almost exclusively among the uppermost and higher-middle layers of population and much of it in stock market operations, where only around 5% of Indians participate. According to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, brought out by financial services firms Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, the number of HNWIs -- defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables – were 84,000 in 2008. They had a combined net worth of $310 billion. According to the firms’ 2010 World Wealth Report, India now has 126,700 HNWIs, an increase of more than 50% over the 2008 number.
Not surprisingly, at least 200,000 peasants committed suicide around the same time as India became the nation with the second highest number of dollar billionaires, and the yearly food intake of an average poor family in 2007 turned out to be about 100 kg less than in 1997. In 2007-08 India occupied the132nd place in the UN HDI index – down from the 122nd place it occupied in the same index in 1992.
We have the highest number of malnourished people and malnourished children (43% of India's children under 5 are underweight – that is, with BMI lower than 18.5 – the highest in the world) as of 2008. In fact almost simultaneously with the Credit Suisse report, the 2010 Global Hunger Index published by the International Food Policy Research Institute placed our country far behind Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan in terms of people – children in particular – suffering from hunger and undernutrition. With these three countries placed in the 39th, 56th and 52nd positions and China miles ahead with the 9th place in the world, India occupies the 67th position. Shockingly, our country finds itself even behind countries in sub-Saharan Africa in respect to a whole range of indices like maternal and infant mortality rate.
The Gini coefficient of income inequality (a statistical measure where zero denotes complete equality and one denotes absolute inequality) in India comes to a high 0.535. Inequality of opportunity – which is more important in determining a country’s future growth trajectory and which depends mostly on distribution of land as well as access to education, health, stable employment etc – is even more pronounced.
The extremely skewed land ownership in our country is well-known, but few people know that India's educational inequality is one of the worst in the world. According to World Bank estimates, the Gini coefficient of the distribution of adult schooling years in the population, a rough measure of educational inequality, was 0.56 in India in 1998/2000, which is not just higher than 0.37 in China and 0.39 in Brazil but even higher than almost all Latin American countries.
Now add to these figures the wherewithal of economic growth: large-scale displacement, land grab, resource loot and onslaughts like UAPA and Operation Green Hunt. What you get is the moral of the whole story – in the neoliberal model, growth in GDP and ‘national’ wealth has to be inversely proportional to real development and democracy. For the aam admi, therefore, the spectacular growth prospects highlighted by the Swiss bank comes as a warning bell, implying more deprivation, more marginalization, more attacks on democratic rights, more cultural and environmental degradation.
Surely this cannot go unchallenged. The fight for an alternative path of self-reliant and people-centred development as opposed to the present imperialist-dictated, corporate-driven growth – an alternative that would promote relatively more egalitarian and employment-intensive and less energy-resources-capital intensive path of development – thus assumes a new urgency as we approach the second decade of 21st century.