Home > Kalākośa > Kalāsamālocana Series > List of Books > Culture and Development SeriesInterface of Cultural Identity Development >  

INTERFACE OF CULTURAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT

[ Previous Page | Contents of the Book | Next Page ]


Taming Structural Transformation

The Significance of Community Resolve of Mavalibhata

B. D. Sharma

The people’s struggle against authoritarian state and insidious money-power has taken a new turn on October 10, 1992 at Mavalibhata in Bastar, Madhya Pradesh. The foundation stone of a giant steel plant laid just four days back by the Chief Minister—the symbol of state power and the first epitaph of the onward march of the neo-colonial imperialist Axis in the remote tribal areas of our country – was reduced to rubble quietly by the simple people of that village and thrown away with utter contempt which it richly deserved. The Community’s command over its habitat was reaffirmed with exemplary equanimity in open defiance of the rising tide of the new world order all set to engulf the same.

Ironically at about the same time the government at the Centre – the final authority for protection and welfare of the tribal people – was making empty noises about a comprehensive rehabilitation policy—its umpteenth performance during the last 44 years without any qualms for the fact that demonic development had already claimed some 15 per cent of the tribal people as its victims even as the Constitution stood still all through and remained a mute witness to the violation of the most scarce of the sacred human rights, the right to life with dignity. In fact the idea of mere rehabilitation as a benign and acceptable proposition was dead the moment community staked its natural claim for ownership of industries which may be set up in its territory. It is amusing that while making that ritualistic statement the paper kings did not realise that they had already surrendered their right to do so, when they accepted privatization and globalization as guiding principles for managing the national economy, a position totally unacceptable to the people though. In fact, the State is guilty of betrayal to a sacred contract and the great trust reposed in it by the people while adopting the Constitution.

The people of Mavalibhata in Bastar in a significant move decided to stand up against the State. They have given their verdict – the State has transgressed the limits of its authorization. They have given a new formulation concerning the structure of industrial enterprises not only in tribal areas but in the country as a whole. It is being welcomed by ordinary village people and also the working classes everywhere. The Mavalibhata Declaration which may become a landmark, inter alia, maintains—

Only those enterprises will be allowed to be established in our respective areas which agree to accept community control over them. This provision will not be against money, but will be in lieu of the real contribution of the community, by way of cooperation and consent for use of those resources by the enterprise over which it has enjoyed full control through the ages and which have provided the community and its members with sustenance in all aspects of their life. Other partners in the enterprise will be those who may invest capital and all categories of workers.

The Real Nature of Industrialization

The process of industrialization and its implications for the ordinary people by now are well-known even in India where we are still in an early phase of industrialization. A big industry is set up in a resource-rich area ostensible for its development. A few persons with money-bags and their retinue march in like prize-cocks with bright tails. The local people are at the receiving end, sullen and apprehensive about their future. Some of them are directly displaced as their lands are taken over. Many times more are gradually squeezed out in a ruthless struggle, with no rules of game even as a guide. Small, usually token, monetary compensation is doled out to some with no relationship with the real value of those assets since land is not an article of free trade there. The whole process is plagued with manipulation, cuts, frauds in a milieu of open loot. What reaches the man in the end is frittered away in no time. The grand promise of a new era of prosperity and even just employment proves illusory. Employment at best turns out to be casual wage drudgery. The proud farmer and the care-free tribal are forced to join ghe long queues of destitute job-seekers. Want of `wanted’ skills and fear of people with roots who could become unmanageable or even revolt at some turn, militate against their regular engagement.

And after the industry is established, a new devastation-wave sets in assuming numerous forms. Gases poison the air, flying ash darkens the sky settling ubiquitously on trees, plants, crops outside and vital organs within: chemicals and sediments spread out and g et mixed in earth around and pollute streams, tanks and even wells. Consequently fields turn barren, water is rendered unusable even for nistar, life itself becomes hazardous. And what remains by way of their cultural tradition and social identity is ravaged by gangsters of all descriptions swarming the area.

The area may develop but the son of soil is pushed to the margin. Resources are depleted and drained leaving behind desolate land. The new lords could not care less about this holocaust, the price of their shares continues to soar high in the magic market. They are all well-guarded by quotable quotes -- `Is this not a necessary concomitant of industrialization and legitimate price of development which someone has to pay’? Pleading and plaints are received with studied equanimity and arrogant unconcern from pedestals well-kempt, well-protected and declared "out of bounds" Everything turns upside down – the sons of the soil and erstwhile masters crawl and supplicate in the new Regime while neo-lords consolidate their hold absolute and divine.

The transformation from agriculture to industry in the West with a similar trauma-potential in course of time proved to be a benign turbulence at the top as a global phenomenon. The respective national economies attained new heights after each of them acquired a colonial underworld. The colonies served as sinks for all that was hazardous, sinful or was deemed to be not-so-desirable. Now the very same style of transformation has been accepted for the Third World countries by their leaders without making its implications explicit, guided largely by their self-interest. The process by its very nature is creating a great divide and conditions of internal colonialism in every country including our own. The tribal area with rich resources and simple people is a special target of neo-colonial forces, the people there do not enjoy even the protection of the common law. In many other areas the process is the same though its intensity is not that severe. Rich argicultural lands are being devoured and entire farming communities are being rendered resourceless and destitutes. Chota Nagpur in Bihar, Chhattisgarh in Madhya Pradesh and Koraput in Orissa are just a few examples where the area has developed but the original inhabitants have no space even to stand on. They can be found perching precariously near some nala in a nearby town or pulling rikshaws on its streets, serving the `Greater Nation of bigger brothers’. The community resources are literally transformed into luxuriant private estates, high value shares of industries claiming phenomenal growth held mostly by urbanite manipulators of the economic system. And the dazzle of development bewitches the onlooker as modern minars sore high in the ocean-blue sky and shining `five stars’ punctuate pervading darkness around.

Conflict with National Goals

This process of structural transformation is clearly against the schema of change envisaged in our Constitution. The state is committed to establish an egalitarian social order. In particular, while measures were to be taken for rooting out all inequitous and exploitative elements of the traditional economy, efforts were to be made for not allowing similar elements to get entrenched in the new economic structure built around modern industry. Accordingly, the Constitution enjoined on the state the duty to adopt certain basic principles in making the laws—the Directive Principles—for it is the law which can make the intent of Constitution real and concrete.

The most important Constitutional injunction in this case is that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people. Welfare itself has not been left to be interpreted at will, it is qualified by a categorical statement by securing and protecting, as effectively as it may, a social order in which justice social, economic and political shall inform all institutions of national life. Nor was this considered as an easy walk-over even for the new ebullient nation. The state had to strive to achieve this goal. The founding fathers were clear that free market economy could not be trusted, money could not be allowed to become the sole arbiter in all aspects of community life which had been the motto all through of the capitalistic world of old masters. Therefore, sufficient space was created for state action. The state was obliged (Article 39) to direct its policy, inter alia, towards.

  1. securing for every citizen the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
  2. ensuring that the ownership and control of material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good, and
  3. managing the economic system in such a way that its operation does not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to common detriment.

It was in persuance of these objectives that a mixed economy was sought be be created. The public sector was assigned a dominant role in the modern industrial sector with private sector as a junior partner. Certain vital items such as command and ownership of resources were taken out of the operation of free market. Nevertheless the directive principles, which showed the path clear and straight, were not made legally enforceable. The reason was simple. The operation of a policy, of necessity, has to be through appropriate legislative and concomitant administrative measures. The pace of change cannot be a matter of wish, but is governed by a variety of elements not always amenable to simple commands. Nevertheless the direction was clear. In particular, any action of the state-legislative or administrative, including studied non-action in vital matters which goes against the spirit of these provisions, is violative of the Constitution.

The Great Manipulation Game

However There were insidious counter –currents from the very beginning Equity was ominously relegated to a subsidiary position in the mistaken belief that once there was development the benefits would gradually spread out the trickle down. But the was not to be. On the contrary, in that feigned fond hope concentration of economic power was allowed, even though it was against the basic grain of the Constitution. Superficial efforts to counter it proved counter-productive. They led to centralization of administrative and political authority, which was glibly misused. This ambivalence had disastrous effect on the public sector whose performance can be said to have been excellent looking to the pioneering task in an unchartered setting and also the serious handicaps under which it was obliged to function. Most of those who were responsible for promoting and building it up, used it for personal gains and many in key positions worked against it. The promoters mostly were not committed even to the idea of public sector. On the other hand with growing inequality, corruption and manipulation, the elite market at the top expanded phenomenally while ordinary people were denied even bare essentials. The private sector operating in softer areas, aided and abetted by multinationals gained on all counts, though as a deviant, and distorted the economy beyond recognition. Policy-makers ostensibly made Herculean efforts for keeping the criminals under check and the aberrant economy on the track. But half-baked and insincere measures increased the malady rather than curing the same. In fact, the disease remained undiagnosed and that too on purpose.

In this ambivalent phase of socialist claims and deceptive designs vested interests gradually consolidated their position. Even reasonable restraints on market and money power were removed or made ineffective negating the general and even specific provisions of the Constitution. The economy was therefore allowed to run down in the name of liberalization, modernization, et al. Incurring heavy debt. Internal and external. And the vested interests struck, and struck had at that, as soon as they captured vantage points in terms of persons, institutions and the system itself. All sins were piled against the idealist egalitarian goals, overzealous concerns for human rights, indolence and inefficiency of the public sector, in fact all that the nation had so far stood for. And the pseudoradicals of that socialist era lost no time to join the contrived chorus, casting off egalitarian cloaks of many colours. A so-called new economic policy has been thrust on the unsuspecting nation under slogans of efficiency, liberalization, globalization and what not.

The most nefarious aspect of this ambivalent phase of intellectual dishonesty was that not many dared or even cared to touch the question of inequity inherent in the structural transformation from agricultural economy to industrial economy. This was so largely because the articulate and the ruling elite got accommodated in the emerging modern sector which cornered all the gains of development and proceeds of continued expropriation from the rural economy and the tribal region. Some ideological under-pinning even amongst the progressives as also the radicals was also responsible for ignoring this issue. The farmer was deemed to represent a decadent system, which had to go, and expropriation from the rural economy had to be justified for capital formation, modernization and advancement. The primitive tribal, according to this view, in any case has no place in the new system. It is a pity that the resultant inequitous deal remained shrouded in the haze created by welfare activities of the state and operations of the ubiquitous public sector. The people were confused as the system adopted the easy path and treacherous method of cooperation of a few such as exceptionally talented, vocal, influential people, persons showing leadership potential and mischief-makers, and dangling of carrot before the rest.

The three vital issues in this structural transformation are

  1. the nature of control over and ownership of natural resources,
  2. generation of surpluses and claims thereon, and
  3. entitlement of ordinary people and workers in the emerging system.

It is a matter of national shame that the colonial legacy of denial of human rights to the innocent people not only continued after Independence but it got reinforced. The legal and institutional frame built on altogether different premises of an imperial regime was not changed or not even adapted even after the adoption of the Constitution. The vital issue of community claim over natural resources and citizen's right to use them for their sustenance was pushed into background as the state assumed the responsibility of development through planning. The state was deemed to represent the community and, exhypothesis, to serve the same. Accordingly public sector was created with an aura of idealism. But the behaviour of enterprises in the sector in practice was no different from that of capitalists on any of the three counts. This has been sought to be rationalized on a variety of pretexts – efficiency, competition and such like. The result is that the fact that community is the real owner, nay, even the idea that the community can have a claim over the natural resources has been ignored and forgotten.

The position is in a way the continuation of the global piracy of community resources by the erstwhile colonial powers. The early loot was later camouflaged under the theology of capitalistic order in which capital was ordained as the high priest of development. The real productive forces were pushed into background. Everything was made money-convertible. And the rulers armed with authority of creating money developed the dubious game of manipulating the same. Accordingly natural resources could be easily taken over or purchased like any other commodity in a free market. The distinction between right to use the resources and their ownership got obliterated de facto and even de jure in the bewildering maze of usage, contract, rules and laws.

The expropriation of community resources in our country has continued in the age-old colonial style after Independence, only the destination of its proceeds and the beneficiary groups have changed. Accordingly these resources are being siphoned off through a variety of institutional devices and pooled in numerous forms such as inflated share values and corporate and private assets. It is this unabashed loot and transfer which is at the base of what are paraded as high growth industries where dividends of hundred per cent and more are not exceptions any more. In the rat race of emerging elite, open loot is legitimatized and daring dacoity glamourized:

The Real Face of New Economic Policy

The new economic policy has put a seal of approval on this incongruous situation. The capitalistic neo-colonial onslaught through this policy has three objectives--(I) usurpation of natural resources, (ii) exploitation of plentiful manpower, and (iii) creation of a captive market for its merchandise. The nefarious game is being played under the garb of removing all hurdles from the path of development and establishing a free market which has acquired a divine aura after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Privatization and globalization are now passwords for anything and everything. The globalization trap-theory amounts to a virtual surrender of the sovereign national claim to create a society of our dreams and accept a subservient role in the community of nations as per the dictat6 of the Rich, Privatization is a surrender of community claims and general welfare concerns of an egalitarian society. These two processes admirably complement each other and ominously converge on the three point objective of the Axis.

The command over natural resources can be simply purchased with no constraints of any description. As logic of free market and modernization of technology unfolds and opportunities for human labour shrink, people will be thrown out of the system. Surplus labour with no opp0ortunity and no regulations even as a guide will float around. This background will provide the best possible situation for exploitation in all forms, child and female labour and sex included. As inequality grows, the nation of the affluent at the top including the labour-aristocracy as its appendage, which are essentially an extension of Western economies, will be best suited to dump anything unwanted under label, `Phoren. The ruling elite will thus accept the role of an agent of the neo-colonials and the history of landlord-stranglehold under direct British Rule will repeat, albeit with a new idiom, a new frame and a new East India Company after just three centuries.

The inequity of structural transformation in this context is bound to be accentuated and acquire many new dimensions. All areas in the country have been thrown open for all sorts of ventures - big and small, basic and superficial, serious and superciliously speculative. Money of any colour and technology of any genre with their angle-like halo are being given red-carpet treatment. The worst affected and also the main target of this new annexation is the resource-rich tribal area which even under the benign Constitutional dispensation has been badly mauled. The simple logic of special Constitutional safeguards for the tribal people under the fifth and the sixth schedules are so pervasive and radical that they have been termed as `Constitution within Constitution'. The executive has been bestowed with unlimited power even to `legislate'. There is specific mention for making regulations for such simple but vital matters as money-lending, trading and transfer of land. Yet `rogues' - brown, yellow and white -- are being let loose under the new economic policy without even an allusion to possible checks against imminent depredation which they will surely indulge in.

The First Assault Effectively Countered

The first spectacular display of the new game plan was slated for Madhya Pradesh. The Government proudly announced its decision to invite private parties to establish three steel plants and four super-thermal projects in the extensive resource-rich regions of the State. Open market was to be the sole guide in all matters. Therefore, even the routine processes of the by-gone era were not gone through. These processes no doubt did not serve much purpose but at least held the state formally responsible for many possible actions such as rational choice about their location as also certain preventive measures such as choice of technology, measures against health hazards, environmental degradation and human misery. The new schema is essentially designed as a `free for all' game ironically under the patronage of the state. So best `site-value' locations were chosen not caring even for the best agricultural land (Nagrnar) and heavy population concentration (Mavalibhata) in this otherwise sparsely populated area with more than 70 per cent under the so-called forest. Everyone was to gain except the simple tribal who was still not really out of the stone age.

But the people on the other side in the proposed location of the first steel plant (Mavalibhata) proved to be of a different mettle. They are not prepared to accept a servile status and humiliation of serving others about which they have come to know personally and through word of mouth from areas already afflicted. Money has no value in their paradigm. `Even a truck load of notes would not burn through a winter night' runs their simple logic. Consequently katenge, par katege nahin was their natural response and a firm resolve from the Day-One after the word about the location of steel plant reached them even as a rumour. This was the natural and transparent rustic expression of the community's claim over its habitat otherwise lost in the bewildering complexity of the modern world. This was perhaps also the proverbial last straw in the deteriorating situation in the tribal areas where discontent has been simmering and internal pressure has been building up for quite some time. Perhaps time has already changed even though the rulers have obstinately refused to take due note of it, being obsessed by the beautiful make believe world of what has been termed as `development'.

And a New Lead

This confrontation in Mavalibhata provided an opportunity for serious deliberation over basic issues involved in the modernizing process by the people facing similar onslaughts in many other places. The state has no power under the Constitution to grant virtual sovereign claims to individuals or corporate bodies. And allowing foreign bodies/multinationals to move in the grand style of rulers is not only abominable but the surrender of national sovereignty itself. Here it must be noted that the basic and the natural claim over all resources -- natural and man-made -- is that of the community. Community is the real living entity while state is an abstraction. The rationale and legitimacy of state control over resources are derived from a `social contract' and its role in promoting the welfare of the community. It is unfortunate that this aspect was ignored even by state-run public sector enterprises which behaved like a capitalist, albiet amenable to governmental directions and advice. This neglect was responsible for the confusion in which capitalists-institutions and individuals merrily acquired virtual ownership of resources after payment of compensation to individuals and lease money to the State. With the advent of the new economic policy, the formal limitations imposed on the acquisition of land and use of resources by individuals / corporate bodies have become redundant -- making it possible for those with money to acquire virtual absolute ownership.

The claim of capital, that is, people with money, to the central place in the economy conceded in the historical setting of the colonial capitalist era, stands thoroughly debunked in the present state of our economy. Capital formation is no longer a function of abstinence from current consumption. After all all those who claim to make savings do so from highly inflated and inequitous entitlements perfected insidiously, unearned incomes and ill-gotten money. Moreover there are innumerable devices in vogue for manipulating capital formation through invisible sectral transfers such as erosion of due entitlements of real workers through depressed wages and contrived prices of primary produce, creation of money by the state, simple underhand deals of individuals and such like. Harshad Mehta episode has finally exploded the `sacrifice myth' and shattered the legitimacy of capitalist control on any segment of national economy. The call for privatization with a free license to the private sector to acquire control over national resources and dismantling the public sector in the name of capital mobilization are a big fraud for the nation.

The moot question is, can we afford to accept the logic of free-market and the power of money in such vital matters as command over an area and its resources, ownership of means of production and labour relations? The dice in that case, ex hypothesis, is heavily loaded against the ordinary people in general and the primary producer in particular. The production of goods has a physical limit. They have to be exchanged with money which serves as a severe constraint on their entitlements. Persons commanding money suffer no such handicap particularly in the age of created and manipulated money. Moreover even otherwise, with the growing inequality under the spell of an inequitous order, the relative strength of the urban and organized has greatly increased. And the entry of dollar, with welcome arches at every corner, has made the two sides incomparable. People with money (dollar) bags from Bombay and Delhi can acquire anything which can be purchased with money. In the free market economy which is being thrust on simple people, the former are destined to be the new lords of all they survey, human forms included, particularly in backward tribal areas where money is still counted `pairing with pebbles', the revolutionary mathematical invention of a primitive age.

The avalanche of money-power which will subsume community resources and enslave the worker, cannot be checked as long as the current logic of money and market reigns supreme. The logic must be rejected and money power immunised in all vital sectors of national life. The command over community resources is one such sector-community resources which cannot be deemed to be money-convertible. That is also a Constitutional Directive.

The capitalist can have only a limited claim subject always to the suzerainty of the community at large. The state holds that right in trust after the adoption of the Constitution by the people a `civil contract', solemnised through the declaration -- `We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India… adopt, enact and give to ourselves… It is subject to clear limitations laid down in the Directive Principles and other provisions of the Constitution.

When the state fails or ignores the vital conditions of that contract of acquiesces their violation, the community has a right, as also the responsibility to defend its natural rights against any intrusion. With the acceptance of privatization and globalization as guiding principles the state has formally absolved itself of the grave responsibility and is not standing by the people, nay, have betrayed them. Therefore so far as the people are concerned the state is `withering away'. The people cannot afford either to wait for the unfolding of the great hisjtorical process and eventual withering away of the state, or to witness helplessly the grand feast of vultures arrayed by promiscuous rulers of the state. It is ironically the primitive man (like Russians instead of Germans in the earlier context), who is determined to drive away those vultures with just a `sling and pebbles' in both his hands. The wheel of history is moving on. Now that the community has appeared on the scene, state has no locus standi to speak or to act on its behalf. Mavalibhata Declaration' is thus a resolute assertion of that natural and unalienable right of the people by the people for the people.

Implications of Community Assertion

The prepositions of Mavalibhata Declaration are simple and unequivocal. The people reject the anti-people and undemocratic laws on the statute book. They have brushed aside with contempt the demonic claim of money to omnipotence by simply opting out of the market so far as their land is concerned and by making the command over their territory non-negotiable. Accordingly the people of Mavalibhata `have resolved to defend their right to life and not to move out of their villages.' This is firm and final. But the question here is not of Mavalibhata alone. The spectre is haunting many others throughout the country. The process however is extremely severe in the tribal areas which will be engulfed by it sooner than later. It is clear from the string of surrender deeds being authenticated by the government one after another in quick succession, ostensibly to meet the national crisis and in the name of so-called development.

The story of the earlier surrender cannot be allowed to repeat itself. The Mavalibhata Declaration is a call for a renewed struggle particularly by the tribal people who have been subject to worst ignominy and inequitous deal. It stands `for creating an alternative equitable order by suitably changing the law and, if necessary, also by amending the Constitution'. The new system will comprise two tiers at the mass-roots. The gaon sabha will be fully responsible for managing all affairs of the village. The second tier of regional councils will have adequate legislative and executive powers. The present dependence on remote authorities on matters vital for a life with dignity of ordinary people should end and a firm foundation of the new order should be laid.

In this Regime, the process of development, and its content will be decided by the people. Accordingly the community as the natural owner of resources calls on the people with capital and also necessary skills to join them if they so wish, in a new process of sustainable development with equity. It could include industries and even a steel mill, provided they satisfy certain basic norms. The ownership issue, however, is clearly non-negotiable. The community which commands the habitat shall be the owner of any venture taken up in the area, albeit with a reasonable share for other participants therein as well.

The only formal expression of this central theme in the present system can be in the form of majority shareholding in favour of the local community. The shareholding shall be in due recognition of community's command over resources and in a way can be said to be, in lieu of allowing the use of those resources, a real tangible contribution. This formulation will not in any way affect the claims of individuals and of groups who may be affected directly or indirectly such as through denial of access to those resources or otherwise after the establishment of industry. In fact, since the community will be the owner and all affected people, by definition, are members of that community, they will be the decision-makers. Their claims will become the first charge on the system. No one will be required to pay the price of development. All those dislocated and otherwise affected will automatically get absorbed in the new system, with suitable preparation where necessary, as distinguished and honourable members.

Sustainable Development with Equity

No longer will issues like pollution of air and water, destruction of fauna and flora, denudation of agricultural land and such like will be the prerogatives of an abstraction called limited company whose prime objective is profit and sole criterion of success is the quotation on the stock-market. Sustainable and non-destructive development will be the first concern of the community. It cannot afford to leave behind the legacy of ugly holes and parched earth for successor generations. The dis-economics of industrial development, which today are being thrust as costs of development on an unsuspecting people and indulgent nature, will become an integral part of company account. Any rise in share-index will relect the honest gains of industrial activity rather than representing proceeds of expropriation of natural resources. The state as representative of the larger community can continue to claim a share as royalty. But the virtual loot of resources by those who command money through high dividends on shares and appreciation of their value must end. Those contributing capital will have a claim not as indolent jagirdars but as partners in an honest venture with reasonable reward built in for their entreprenurial skills as well. In particular what is taken out of an area shall flow back to the community in the form of money-entitlements which could be and should be used to maintain and improve the social, economic and ecological status of the habitat.

Once the basic principles are accepted, details of the model can be worked out. For example, the community claiming ownership over a small industry could comprise village-communities in a small area. In the case of a large enterprise like a steel plant it may comprise people of a bigger region, say, a block, a tehsil, or even a district. But the relevant region should not be too restrictive such as the directly affected villages, or too large which may become yet another abstraction like state beyond the understanding and effective control of the ordinary people. The natural basic unit of informal social interaction, humanised economic transactions and participative democracy is a hibitation complex in a village and mohalla in a town. Therefore these units can be deemed to be the building blocks of the `community' of the region. The share-entitlements in this case will naturally be in the name of concerned gaon/mohalla sabhas, making them all co-partners in the great adventure of real development.

The working classes have a legitimate claim for a share in industry. Hitherto worker's participation has remained merely an idea of a wish. Moreover, only these workers who are directly engaged in industry have claimed some attention in this regard. The legitimate claims of those engaged in production of raw materials such as bamboo-cutters in paper-industry and mine workers supplying ore to a steel mill have been ignored. All workers associated with an industry should be partners in ownership and should hold a proportion of equity-shares therein.

A New Alliance in the Making

The simple propositions outlined above are just logical corollaries of the basic premises set in the Constitution for establishing a new social order. They may appear to be too drastic today because the nation has moved far away from the egalitarian goal and socialism itself has become a dirty word. Moreover a variety of vested interests have appeared and acquired total control over the economic as also the political system. Therefore the neo-colonial capitalist Axis looming large in the national scene cannot be expected to beat an easy retreat. Nor can we expect the gilded vultures to get scared at the very sight of the tribal with his sling.

The vested interests have been operating treacherously. The manipulation game in an area begins even before an industry is set up. The local people become the first target of that manipulation with breaking of the community as its prime objective. They are not given even the `subject' status in the new empire. They are excluded, exhumed and flushed out consciously and otherwise. And people with good links, appropriate skills and opposite demeanour are inducted, induced or allowed to move in from outside for creating a congenial new world. Within this reference even the public sector did not make much difference except for a relatively better deal for those directly employed basic model in either case was the same. The unwholesome and inequitous differentiation amongst workers engaged in different segments of the national economy has driven a wedge within the working classes. There is a great divide between the organized and the unorganized sectors. They are two different worlds altogether with different norms, different entitlements and different perspectives. There is a wide twilight zone in between no doubt. It is crowded by restless people, the organized-unorganized, bewitched by dreams of a promised land above and haunted by the spectre of an abominable underworld below. We have a fragmented and fractured working class. Consequently their struggles have not only lacked a focus but have been, not infrequently, at cross purposes as well. For example, the struggles of organized sector workers against capitalists have remained exclusive urban phenomena with sectoral interests in the fore. The community at large and the rural people in particular have stood apart, unconcerned, alienated and deprived. Within the rural sector even farmers with soiled hands and agricultural labourers, totally broke and badly bruised, have not realized that both are victims of the same system, mercilessly exploited through depressed wages and trifled prices. The middle classes in the tertiary sector have remained satisfied with crumbs which they got in the vile game of expropriation making all sorts of noises, sadly only for a larger crumb.

This scene is changing fast with unbelievable speed. After devastating the rural economy the main target of the new Axis is the middle class including workers in the organized sector. This class has become much too large to serve the elite objective as the funnel and also the instrument of expropriation. Moreover this class has itself become a vested interest and also dysfunctional. That it needs to be pruned is universally accepted with no one to defend it. Therefore, a process of so called rationalization has been started whose main target ironically is the working class which needs to be protected, with some qualifications, so as to serve as a strong foundation of the modern sector of new economy. Management skills are on ascendency now. The advances in technology are being used to break this class to push it to the other side, may be into the twilight zone for the time being. The upper crust, comp0rising mostly mangers of the system, will admirably serve as agents of capital and as virtual extention of the Western economy, with the dubious status of pratilomi (offsprings of higher caste women and lower caste men) though. The remaining will get reclaimed by the amorphous mass below -- the subject people of the new Regime.

The call for struggle in Mavalibhata Declaration is qualitatively different. It is the community, which has been ignored, despised and broken, it is ordinary people -- farmers, workers, artisans and tribals -- who have been trampled on relentlessly and mercilessly and who are getting ready for leading the revolt. They are no longer prepared to accept the current ownership concept of industry or its revised version of control through management structures. The choice before the workers, of all hues with all their faults and fractures, is clear. They must close their ranks, align with the community to which they belong and accept the place of honour designated for them in the new schema. The capitalist also will have no choice but to accept the reality. If he fails to do so he will be totally isolated. The borrowed, nay, contrived glory cannot last forever. He must accept the role in keeping with the modest contribution which money makes as a junior `four-anna' partner and participate in the exhilarating march towards sustainable development with equity under the benign and wise leadership of the community. Or else, he will be swept away in the torrential currents of the new history of the working classes in the making.

What the people may gain in terms of economic benefits and welfare is no doubt important. But, the real issues are those of national honour, dignity of the people and identity of the community. The people have resolved not to allow their primacy slip by and make their honour negotiable in the new scheme of structural transformation and retrieve the same where damage has already been done. The rulers shall not be allowed to proceed further with bartering away the suzerainty which has been michievously planned under deceptive titles, deeds and forms. These paper titles will have no force on the ground firmly held by the people. The alliance of farmers, workers, artisans, tribals, that is, the community comprising working classes, is formidable with the capitalists and their agents standing isolated on the other side. The new alliance is destined to create a new world order based on equality, justice and fraternity.

Contd...

 

[ Previous Page | Contents of the Book | Next Page ]


HomeSearchContact usIndex

[ Home | Search  |  Contact UsIndex ]

 [ List of Books | Kalatattvakosa | Kalamulasastra | Kalasamalocana ]


© 1996 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi