The logic of globalising growth persuades our ruling classes to ignore, obfuscate or minimise the three major contradictions at the global level. More dangerous, it compels the ruling establishment to stand by the wrong side of the contradictions (North, ‘Growth,’ Corporate Capital) and against the right side (South, Conservation of Environment, Poorer Masses). Consequently, in responding to the triple global crises, the ruling classes find themselves either defenceless (as in regard to fragility and rapacity of the global financial system and the threatened decimation of the peasantry) or on the wrong side (as in case of military confrontation between US-Israel and the West Asian peoples).
What implications does the global crisis have for the alternative political strategy to be evolved? First, it must be recognised that single issue strategies; isolated, sporadic strategies; or strategies based on eclectic or opportunistic combinations of issues or forces, would not work. Also, while in the nature of things, that is to say, deriving from the wider social objective functions and the historical continuum of which they are part, the strategy has to be conceived and operationalised at the national level, it cannot be viewed in isolation, overlooking the contradictions, crises situations and the potential allies/adversaries in the global context. (The ruling classes have already grasped this and established linkages with allies in the global context.) Indeed the global context and the global solidarity are becoming increasingly far more significant, if not critical, elements in evolving a national strategy.
The acid test of inclusiveness in the current context will mean its appeal to Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. No platform can claim to be radical and inclusive at the same time, unless it encompasses these three elements of our polity unhesitatingly and upfront. The political agenda must incorporate clear enunciations defending their interests. More important, there must be demonstrable endeavour to share power with them at every level. And, there must be a clear break from the stereotyped tendency to dismiss this whole issue as simply a post-modernist diversion of ‘identity politics’.
In operational terms, at the national level, what is needed is radicalisation of the agenda and inclusiveness of the platform. In other words, we need a radical renewal of the vision of modern Indian polity in the contemporary global context and we need to build anew an inclusive political platform which has the capability of providing a decisive operational thrust.
While a short priority list of strategic policies which will embody the radicalisation of the agenda will be attempted presently, defeating the corporate takeover of agriculture, resisting corporatisation of land, water and seed, and moving towards socialisation of these basic resources will constitute one of the two core elements of the radical agenda. The other element will consist of uncompromising resistance to neo-imperialism in all its manifestations — strategic, economic, political and cultural. While the latter element, particularly, the strategic and political aspects of it are well internalised by the Left formations, when it comes to the former element, their thinking seems to fall far short of a radical alternative. And that may account for, to a considerable extent, the present predicament of the Left, that is to say, their not having acquired political influence of decisive proportion at the national level.
Coming to the question of an inclusive platform, the acid test of inclusiveness in the current context will mean its appeal to Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. No platform can claim to be radical and inclusive at the same time, unless it encompasses these three elements of our polity unhesitatingly and upfront. The political agenda must incorporate clear enunciations defending their interests. More important, there must be demonstrable endeavour to share power with them at every level. And, there must be a clear break from the stereotyped tendency to dismiss this whole issue as simply a post-modernist diversion of ‘identity politics’.
What then are the policies that would need to be adopted in pursuance of an alternative political strategy? Here is an attempt to provide a short, ten-point priority list pertaining to critical areas:
- Defeating corporate takeover of agriculture; resisting corporatisation of land, water and seeds; moving towards socialisation of these basic resources;
- Defeating the corporate encroachment and appropriation of commons, particularly the forest and Adivasi habitations and lands; protecting Adivasi community rights and livelihoods; promoting community ownership and management of forest resources;
- Defeating the WTO/AoA paradigm on agriculture; striving for a peasant-centric alternative for South-South cooperation in agricultural production and trade;
- Alternative development policies which will not only repudiate the mainstream strategy of ‘globalising growth’ but also promote self-reliance; inter-personal, inter-class (in the sense of educationally and socially backward and advanced classes), and inter-regional equity; and conservation of environment. It will imply reorientation of direction and pattern of industrialisation. It will mean a break from the present obsession with ‘globally competitive’ industries and a shift in favour of employment-intensive and mass consumption oriented industries;
- A national wages and incomes policy severely limiting the disparity across the sectors and classes;
- Strengthening the autonomy of the Indian financial system and protecting it from the fragility and rapacity of the global finance capital. Working for regional financial cooperation e.g. the Asian Monetary Union;
- Decisive breaking away from the US strategic design and opposing US militarism, in particular, US-Israeli militarism in West Asia, and exposing and defeating US-sponsored Islamophobia;
- A new energy policy consistent with the reorientation of the strategic, agrarian and industrial policies; selective strategic cooperation with the West Asian and Central Asian oil and gas rich countries; closer cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization;
- Providing legally guaranteed preferential opportunity in education and employment, in private as well as state sectors, for the socially disadvantaged classes and communities; and
- 8 Introducing Common School System from the primary level.
The political forces that are committed to defending the vision of modern Indian polity and their constituencies of supporters and sympathisers are today either not politically influential enough on the national scale, or are localised, or fragmented, or apolitical. The compulsions of parliamentary politics as it is practised are partly responsible for this state of affairs. But at the root of this political disarray is the failure to creatively fuse radicalism with inclusiveness. Those with radical elements on their agenda are not inclusive enough. Further, radicalism in one part of the agenda co-exists with the absence of radicalism or even its opposite in other respects. And those who wish to be inclusive are not radical enough or are apolitical. And many are overwhelmed by the apparent might of the mainstream formations.
The call of our times is the call for a radical and inclusive political platform which alone will confront and defeat the combined assault on the vision of modern Indian polity launched by the mainstream political parties virtually appropriating the ruling as well as the opposition politics. A failure to respond to this call will spell not only the beginning of the end of pro-people, progressive politics in the medium term but a paralysis of the process of democratisation as such. Which has implications far more important than the electoral future of political parties; implications for the very survival of the integrity of our polity; implications which forebode severe retrogression in the historic popular struggle encompassing two continents, which brought about the demise of colonialism in Asia and Africa and which is still unfolding against the aggressive designs of neo-imperialism.