Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Corporates backing Modi as Congress wasn't "sufficiently ruthless" against growing resistance movements

By Our Representative
Booker prize winning writer and social activist Arundhati Roy has expressed the fear that in case Narendra Modi becomes India’s prime minister, he will be “ruthless” against “growing resistance movements” against different types of corporate-based oppressions. In an interview with Vancouver-based “online source” www.straight.com, Roy has asserted, the corporate India is backing Narendra Modi as the country's next prime minister “because the ruling Congress party hasn't been sufficiently ruthless against the growing resistance movement.”
"I think the coming elections are all about who is going to crank up the military assault on troublesome people," Roy has predicted, adding, in several states, armed rebels have prevented massive mining and infrastructure projects that would have displaced massive numbers of people. Many of these industrial developments were the subject of memoranda of understanding signed in 2004.
"The corporations are all backing Modi because they think that [Prime Minister] Manmohan [Singh] and the Congress government hasn't shown the nerve it requires to actually send in the army into places like Chhattisgarh and Orissa," Roy believes, adding, Modi is a politician who's capable of "mutating", depending on the circumstances.
"From being this openly sort of communal hatred-spewing saccharine person, he then put on the suit of a corporate man, and, you know, is now trying to play the role of the statesmen, which he's not managing to do really", Roy says, adding, she has “researched” how the richest Indian corporations—such as Reliance, Tata, Essar, and Infosys—are employing similar tactics as the US-based Rockefeller and Ford foundations.
Suggesting how Indian companies are behaving, she says, the Rockefeller and Ford foundations worked closely in the past with the State Department and the CIA to further US government and corporate objectives, adding, the Indian companies are following the same pattern -- distributing money through charitable foundations as a means of controlling the public agenda through what she calls "perception management".
“This includes channelling funds to nongovernmental organizations, film and literary festivals, and universities”, Roy says, adding, while the Tata Group has been doing this for decades, but more recently, other large corporations have begun copying this approach. "Slowly, they decide the curriculum," Roy maintains.
"They control the public imagination. As public money gets pulled out of health care and education and all of this, NGOs funded by these major financial corporations and other kinds of financial instruments move in, doing the work that missionaries used to do during colonialism—giving the impression of being charitable organizations, but actually preparing the world for the free markets of corporate capital", she points out. She believes, the foundation-funded NGOs are seeking to "defuse people's movements and...vacuum political anger and send them down a blind alley".
Awarded Booker Prize in 1997 for “The God of Small Things”, since then, she has gone on to become one of India's leading activists, railing against mining and power projects that displace the poor. She's also written about poverty-stricken villagers in the Naxalite movement who are taking up arms across several Indian states to defend their traditional way of life.
"It's very important to keep the oppressed divided," she says. "That's the whole colonial game, and it's very easy in India because of the diversity." In fact, she believes, the high-profile India Against Corruption (IAC) campaign is just an example of "corporate meddling." According to her, the movement's leader, Anna Hazare, served "as a front for international capital to gain greater access to India's resources by clearing away any local obstacles."
With his white cap and traditional white Indian attire, Hazare has received global acclaim by acting as a modern-day Mahatma Gandhi, but Roy believes his movement has been "deeply disturbing". She also describes Hazare as a "sort of mascot" to his corporate backers. In her view, "transparency" and "rule of law" are code words for allowing corporations to supplant "local crony capital". This can be accomplished by passing laws that advance corporate interests.
She says it's not surprising that the most influential Indian capitalists would want to shift public attention to political corruption just as average Indians were beginning to panic over the slowing Indian economy. In fact, Roy adds, this panic turned into rage as the middle class began to realize that "galloping economic growth has frozen".
"For the first time, the middle classes were looking at corporations and realizing that they were a source of incredible corruption, whereas earlier, there was this adoration of them," she says. "Just then, the India Against Corruption movement started. And the spotlight turned right back onto the favourite punching bag—the politicians—and the corporations and the corporate media and everyone else jumped onto this, and gave them 24-hour coverage."

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