By Nazarul Islam, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi: Beyond an iota of disbelief, deregulation of international capital flows has turned our planet into a free-for-all bonanza for the world’s richest capitalists. Under the post-World-War Two Bretton Woods monetary regime, governments could to a large extent run their own macroeconomic policy without having to constantly seek market confidence or worry about capital flight.
However, the deregulation of global capital movement has increased levels of dependency of nation states on capital markets and the elite interests—who control them(?)
This dominant narrative likes to refer to this ‘globalisation’—a euphemism for a predatory neoliberal capitalism based on endless profit growth, crises of overproduction, overaccumulation and market saturation and a need to constantly seek out and exploit new, untapped (foreign) markets to maintain profitability.
In India today we are seeing these implications, crystal clear. Instead of pursuing a path of democratic development, India has chosen (or has been coerced) to submit to the regime of foreign finance—awaiting signals from abroad, on how much the country can spend, giving up any pretence of its economic sovereignty; and leaving the space open for private capital to move in and then, capture the markets. It is the same old, British East India Company narrative with modern day adjustments!
The farmer unrest has badly impacted India’s agri-food sector. This has indeed been flung open, making it ripe for the powers that be—to take over. The country was lured to borrow more money from the World Bank than any other country in that institution’s history. Back in the 1990s, the World Bank had directed India to implement market reforms that would result in the displacement of 400 million people from the countryside…..This had marked another divide of the people, widening the gap between the rural and the urban India!
Moreover, the World Bank’s ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ directives have entailed opening up markets to Western agribusiness and their fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides and patented seeds and compel farmers to work to supply transnational corporate global supply chains.
The aim is dangerous—to let powerful corporations take control under the guise of ‘market reforms’. The very transnational corporations that receive massive taxpayer subsidies, manipulate markets, write trade agreements and institute a regime of intellectual property rights, thereby indicating that the ‘free’ market only exists in the warped delusions of those who churn out clichés about ‘price discovery’ and the sanctity of ‘the market’.
What could this mean for the future of India?
We only have to look at the business model that keeps these companies in profit in the US: an industrialized system that relies on massive taxpayer subsidies and has destroyed many small-scale farmers’ livelihoods.
The fact that US agriculture now employed a tiny fraction of the population serves as a stark reminder for what is in store for Indian farmers. Agribusiness companies’ taxpayer-subsidised business models are based on overproduction and dumping on the world market to depress prices and rob farmers elsewhere of the ability to cover the costs of production. The result is huge returns and depressed farmer incomes.
Indian agriculture is now in the process of complete commercialization—with large-scale, mechanised (monocrop) enterprises replacing family-run farms that help sustain hundreds of millions of rural livelihoods while feeding the masses. India’s agrarian base is being uprooted, the very foundation of the country, its (food and non-food) cultural traditions, communities and rural economy.
When agri-food corporations like Bayer (and previously Monsanto) or Reliance say they need to expand the use of GMOs under the guise of feeding a burgeoning population or to ‘modernise’ the sector, they are trying to justify their real objective: displacing independent cultivators, food processors and ‘mom and pop’ retailers and capturing the entire sector to boost their bottom line.
Indian agriculture has witnessed gross underinvestment over the years, whereby it is now wrongly depicted as a basket case and underperforming and ripe for a sell off to those very interests who had a stake in its underinvestment.
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Finally, we need to return back to the concept of Development, that was once used to be about breaking with colonial exploitation. And about radically, redefining the structures of power. Today, the new liberal dogma continues to ‘masquerade’ as economic theory, and the subsequent deregulation of international capital ensures giant transnational conglomerates are able to ride roughshod over national sovereignty.
Good luck to India….Happy hunting!
Compiled & Curated By Humra Kidwai