These days, we often come across the term ‘Modinomics’ in the mass media. Soon after the Seoul Peace Prize to Prime Minister Modi was announced, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Raveesh Kumar took to Twitter to say that Modi received the award for his contribution to high economic growth in India and world through ‘Modinomics’. Even during the 1990s and 2000s, when Dr. Manmohan Singh was ruling the roost as the Finance Minister and later as the Prime Minister, we would often hear the term ‘Manmohanomics’. When people hear such portmanteau words they tend to infer that the ‘nomics’ are different from each other and that these words are the original creations of the people with whom the words are associated.
That, however, is not true. These ‘nomics’ with the names of our politicians as their prefixes are simply the plagiarized derivatives of the original ‘Reaganomics’. Former US President Ronald Reagan was the first leader to implement the laissez-faire aka trickle-down economics, which resulted in the subjugation of the working class and the conferment of the pre-eminent position on the ultra-rich. But even here if you feel that Reagan was the one to formulate Reaganomics, you are grossly mistaken. The famed term was brewed by a set of economists led by Milton Friedman and FA Hayek. Sometime in April 1947, a group of economists led by FA Hayek assembled at a Swiss resort and founded a society called the Mont Pelerin Society.
The economists associated with this think-tank opposed the Marxist and Keynesian economics and abhorred any kind of collectivism. Their ideas later acquired the term ‘neo-liberalism’ and the scholars associated with this think-tank went on to become the advisors to President Reagan and influenced his economic policies. And President Reagan, surrounded by the Wall Street bankers such as Donald Regan, who famously ordered Reagan to ‘speed it up’, generously gave tax cuts to the tycoons even while trimming social programs and altering labor laws, which led to their subjugation.
When the Washington Consensus was formulated in 1989 by John Williamson, a British economist, he simply summarized the neo-liberal prescription made by the Mont Pelerin Society into 10 points. This ten-point program, which gained notoriety as structural adjustment, was peddled as a standard ‘reform package’ for the crisis-ridden third world. The ‘reform’ package is imposed on the developing nations when they approach the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout. The two international financial institutions continue to carry out the neo-liberal project with a missionary zeal.
Manmohan and Modi have simply been implementing the neo-liberal prescription, in other words, the trickle-down economics with impunity under the garb of economic ‘reforms’. And therefore, there is nothing original about all these ‘nomics’. The ruling dispensation and the media have popularized these terms with a vested motive to glorify these politicians and with an intention to promote the economic and political interests of the top 1% of the society.
In 1991, Dr. Manmohan Singh accepted the prescription that came as a precondition for a loan from the IMF and implemented it in the country. Modinomics is only a ‘kadak’ version of that toxic brew. It is all part of laissez-faire devil may care’ scheme and its beneficiaries are the top 1% of the society. This scheme puts the tycoons’ ease of doing business first and the people’s ease of living last. Moreover, it considers any social sector spending that is intended to bring about human development as ‘populist’.
Laissez-faire loves economic growth but abhors human development, it loves the ease of doing business but resents ease of living, it likes dazzling physical infrastructure but dislikes social spending, it advocates trickle down and denounces any eminence to the working class. And in a way, it transforms democracy, as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz rightly stated, into an arrangement that is “of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%”.
Our politicians and their tycoon cronies are very clever. Even while gaming policies and institutions in a stealthy and insidious manner to serve their narrow self-interest, they don’t forget to use terms such as human development, democracy, and social integration. They say that ‘their growth’ through whatever ‘nomics’ it is, led to the human development, strengthening of democracy and brought about more social integration. Their statements, which are laden with mischievous use of words that are sacred and convey beautiful ideas, are nothing more than cruel jokes played on the lives of the commoners.
It appears that our politicians, who are bereft of any original ideas, are simply imitating American capitalism by implementing ‘Reaganomics’. If they feel that they can’t do without copying something American, they should rather emulate Franklin D. Roosevelt because we the people of India are desperately in need of a ‘New Deal’.