India Against Corruption protests Robert Vadra's taunt
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"In a society governed
passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats
" Matt Taibbi.
'Mango people in a banana republic' sneered Robert Vadra- the son in law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi- on his facebook page. Vadra was trying to be clever with his word play in Hindi as the word "aam" in Hindi means 'common' and also 'mango'. He was referring to the anti- corruption movement of India Against Corruption (IAC) which was essentially a movement by the common people against people like Vadra who were involved in shady land deals with the DLF group exploiting his political patronage with the Congress Party.
Even though Robert Vadra would be consigned to the dustbin of historical irrelevance, his clever bon mot was used by the IAC anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal, to christen his newly formed political party as Aam Aadmi Party or The Party of the Common Man
In the recent assembly elections held in Delhi on 7th February 2015, the mango people exacted their revenge by giving the Aam Aadmi Party 67 out of the total 70 assembly seats ,wiping out the Congress in the process. The Great Leader--namely Narendra Modi of the BJP who personally launched an abusive and vitriolic campaign- bit the dust. His party the BJP obtained only 3 seats which was in stark contrast to the 32 seats which the party won in the last assembly polls held in 2013.
Only nine months ago- in the general elections of 2014- Modi's BJP rode on the crest of popularity by the promises of providing economic development and clean, efficient government to the common people of India. Sick of the corruption of the Congress government of Manmohan Singh, the people of India gave a decisive mandate to Modi by giving his party an impressive majority of 281 seats out of 543 seats in the parliament.
The Modi- BJP government only flattered to deceive as after only nine months the voters in Delhi became disillusioned with their performance as being no different from that of the earlier Congress government who were voted out of office.
At the core of the widespread anger among the people of Delhi was that the BJP did not deliver on the promises made during the General Elections of 2014 -- namely- to curb inflation of essential commodities and efficient governance. Moreover, the people became disenchanted with the BJP as the party continued the same discredited economic policies of free market crony capitalism of the Congress government.
Added to the disenchantment of the Delhi voters for BJP was the increasing communal violence instigated by the BJP targeting Muslims and Christians -- especially in the attack on churches and fomenting Hindu -Muslim riots in parts of Delhi prior to the polls. The aim was to polarize the Hindu -- Muslim votes for electoral gains.
The inexorable march of the Indian democracy towards a banana republic started in real earnest with 'reform process' of the Congress government for the last 15 years. The state was rolled back with cuts in social sector spending in the critical areas of education, health and other subsidies like food security. The full impact of the Orwellian term reform process was felt by the rural poor which led to a spate of farmer suicides.
Indian political parties were seen by the common people as running errands for the likes of powerful business families like Ambani and Adani. In that sense, many voters felt that there was no real difference between the two mainstream political parties, namely, the BJP and Congress who receive campaign contributions, mostly unaccounted, from big corporate houses and shape economic policies to suit their interests. The claim of India as a world's largest democracy was -- in reality- a hollow claim as it was a well oiled corrupt oligarchy where the interests of the many were sacrificed for the narrow interests of business elites.
As Sitaram Yechury of the left party CPI puts it --"Tax concessions for the rich are billed as incentives for growth and subsidies for the poor are said to be bad for growth.'' [i] The Indian economy became a Shangri-La where "success in business depends on close relationship between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks and so forth."[ii]
Corporate welfare took deep roots in the Indian polity so much so that the data available for the past nine years shows that the corporate sector received subsidies to the tune of 36.5 trillion rupees(Approx $608 Billion). The mind numbing figure can be better understood as amounting to 11.1 Billion rupees(Approx $180 Million) every day for the past nine years to the corporate sector - a fact which is seldom discussed in the boom box of mainstream television (Times Now, News X,CNN-IBN, and NDTV) who serve the agenda of a corrupt corporate welfare state. [iii]
The disastrous impact of the corporate welfare handouts was that it created huge inequalities of wealth. As Credit Suisse report observes that among all the geographical regions, India has the most disproportionately wealthy top 1%. The share of the top 1% in India was 49% while it was, - Africa -- 46%, Asia Pacific- 40.4%, China -- 37.2%, Europe -31.1, Latina America -- 40.5%, North America -- 37.5%. Further the report states- inequality is even more staggering when we consider the fact that 15 richest Indians in 2014 owned more wealth than 62.5 crores of the Indian population (the bottom 50%). [iv] The magical figures of GDP put forth by the media are of no interest to the majority who are eking out a miserable livelihood and sinking into mass poverty.
They say nature abhors a vacuum. Given the explosive nature of the great divide between the 70 dollar billionaires and the rest with 80% of rural households and 45% of the rural subsisting on less than a dollar per day, the conditions were ripe for a genuine grass root organization like the AAM Aadmi Party funded largely and transparently by the common people to appear in the arid political landscape of India. And they did it with a vengeance.
On 14th February 2015, history of sorts was made. The Ramlila Square in Delhi had a capacity crowd of nearly hundred thousand cheering mango people for the swearing in ceremony of the AAP government in Delhi. There were no paid crowds this time and the square was filled with idealistic volunteer workers- men and woman from all walks of life who worked with selfless determination to defeat the might of a crony capitalist state.