-Kshitiz Roy

Forget the term ‘long run’, for in the long run we are all dead. Forget the fact that the demonetization drive, a colossal policy failure that it has been in the short run, has left the nation’s economy battering. Forget everything and chug along the oft quoted nationalistic ideals, ideals which have been conveniently re-calibrated according to the political whims and fancies of a regime which seems to have taken a pledge to do the most ‘schizophrenic brand of politics’ in the political history of the nation. It seems as if forgetting is the new art which the current regime wants us to learn. Let alone our history and the hazy contours of a future often promised and never delivered in politics, it seems that we are even expected to forget the immediate present – a present which for now, seems to be marred by the serpentine queues stretching for miles and a blitzkrieg of changing rules. Nothing seems certain. At no point in time, in our political history, has there been a phase of unannounced yet widely evident financial emergency. This is where the subversion of electoral majority appears so well evident. That the charismatic persona of one leader who has helmed our political echelons after 2014 has so well been used to deny us of our own money, all in the name of realizing some well meaning yet ‘ vague’, yet ambitious ideals of rooting out corruption, sounds nothing but fantastic.

Now that the colossal failure of this ‘well meaning’ economical experiment appears well evident and the criticisms have been pouring down from all quarters, the vanguards of this bizarre move seem to be at a sea while countering the issue. First they began with the trial and tested magical potion called nationalism. The sacrifices and the pains are for the betterment of the nation, so we were told. But ‘whose’ nation it was going to be? For ‘whose’ betterment all this hullabaloo was being created? That was for us to find out in the next few days. Needless to say it fizzled out like a hot balloon running out of air. Let’s hope that they realize that a nation is an imagination realized to reality by the people who habitat the geographical region where it is being imagined. The imagination is immediately soured when you start picking and choosing and branding some ‘people’ being national and the others, anti-national. The imagination called nation crumbles when you deny a large section of its people the space and the voice to realize their right to life, something which is provided by the constitution; the holy book all political parties swear by. You tell the banks to deny them their own hard earned money and no matter how rosy a picture you paint, of a future rinsed of the blemishes of black money and corruption, nobody is going to buy that argument. For you don’t go on betting on the immediate realities of an entire generation. While politics might allow this game of betting on the present and romanticizing around an idea of the future, governance in a welfare state knows nothing but the immediate reality. And that is too pathetic a picture to even talk about.

No matter how shrewdly one goes around shifting the goalposts, churning out lies after lies, excuses after excuses – the reality is there, sprayed in front of all of us who are divided across parties and ideologies. It is not so soothing, neither it is comforting. No matter how much intellectual fodder you use, you cannot give back life to those who have dies because of this move; the crippled state of affairs can’t be corrected by a serious of hyperboles and a series of misplaced logical fallacies which debaters use to win a harmless debate in schools.

Speaking of logical fallacies, one section of the current regime, which has long aspired to become the ‘intellectual vanguard’ of right wing politics led by an army of shrill university professors, has now taken upon itself the burden to rationalize the irrational. They are here to tell us all about this being an ‘economic satyagrah’; they are here to make us realize that the exercise in effect is basically a war against the nepotism ushered in by rampant neo-liberal policies. They will tell you that the current right wing regime is here to cure the ills that the neo-liberal policies of the earlier governments have brought about. Playing with the standard logical fallacies which include Red herring and appeal to emotion, where the argument is peppered with misplaced priorities, they are trying to make us realize that the current regime is up against the crony capitalist empire of the trans-nationals; that their ideology has always been rooted in an essentially ‘socialist’ conception of capital. After a nerve wracking session within their think tank, they are here to topple history upside down and capture the centrist political space, well mostly because nobody else is there to articulate it. So because the voice from the opposition has been muted and none seems to be competent enough to articulate the idea of a ‘nationalist brand of capitalism’, these neo-intellectuals, tutored and trained under the tutelage of the Sangh Parivar, are ready to use the age old tools of ‘socialism’ to defend an essentially capitalist political bulwark of which they are a part of.

One can only laugh at this misplaced adventure. Scratch their arguments bit by bit and the sheer hypocrisy of it will be there for all to see on the surface. A regime which enjoys the unbridled political support of a primarily upper and middle class, a regime whose current leader has championed the cause of aspiration politics among the great Indian middle class – both of them are the necessary by products of an India which was ushering in the same age of neo-liberal politics. If at all, the political landscape of the nation has skewed in favor of the right wing forces, these self proclaimed intellectuals should thank Manmohan Singh and Co for opening the doors of Indian market. It was precisely that section of the society, riding on the MNC bred job offers and the thrust of opportunity brought about by the very same neo-liberal interests, which has now become the most important puppet in the game of televised politics. It is here that one needs to bring in renowned sociologist Partha Chatterjee’s brilliant assessment of the nature of the successive governments under the leadership of BJP and Congress. One just needs to look beyond their manifesto based macro discourse to find that both of them have been steadily pushing forth the neo-liberal interest in order to chalk out the ‘development story’ of the nation. The march of Trans national companies and capital has never been questioned; the distancing of populist politics from the so called ‘rational economical brand of polity’ is there for all to see. Talk about neo liberal regimes and BJP is nothing but Team B of Congress. That is not to say that the state has been absent from the growth story of the nation or the economic evolution of the nation has always been subservient to the neo-liberal agenda imagined at Bretton Woods institutions. The state has been always there, carefully balancing between the goals and aspirations of a welfare state, and promoting the idea of laissez faire.

This brouhaha coming from the right wing think tank, against the neo-liberal scheme of things and the politics of laissez faire is dramatic example of barking around the wrong pole. It’s a classic case of deflecting the issue towards another vague ideological proposition, something which they have always been against.  In an age when the talk of neo-liberal march sounds archaic, when on the one hand you are clamoring to make us go Cashless using mobile wallets funded by Chinese corporate houses, this demonizing of neo-liberalism as something which is alien borders idiocy. It is as misplaced as the Swadeshi movement in which the Bengali revolutionaries were thinking of taking on the entire British economic framework by boycotting foreign goods. No matter how enchanting the tune of Swadeshi might sound to the ears, hardcore economics is an unforgiving game, even more when you bring in your shallow political motivations into it. You kick on the belly of a common man and he will drag you out of your intellectual slumber in the next election. There have been instances of it, many so in our won nation where people have mastered the art of surprising themselves too when it comes to politics. While this newfound hatred against neo-liberalism and the crusade for a Swadeshi socialism might be the new intellectual invention from the stables of Sangh, put it through a test to time, person, place and history, it is bound to crumble down under the heat of hunger and poverty. Till that happens, let’s wish those neo-intellectuals a happy time on the TV screens with their newfound line of political bullshit.