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Is The Government’s Economics Driven By A Capitalist Mindset?

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Nirmala Sitharaman may not have done much in her short tenure as the Finance Minister, but after her comment on millennial consumers, she will be remembered in the history of Indian politics. There is enough commentary on the correctness of her statements. Yes, asset-heavy products and services have evolved into a shared economy model; therefore reducing demand for production. Though consumption is never a problem; it is an ever-changing trend. These industries needed to reduce their production capacity to evolve with time as they were already built to produce over capacity, but they didn’t. The capital intensive industries like telecom and aviation needed deregulation to support reducing revenue because of lowering price points, but that didn’t happen either. So instead of correcting the production practices, we have come down to blaming the consumer.

Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman. Image vis Getty

This is where I feel there’s a desperate need to highlight how this government’s stance on blaming consumption patterns is the result of the capitalist mindset where their ideas are governed by business principles. And they somehow don’t seem to understand that businesses don’t run the economy, the economy runs businesses.

This is not a radical suggestion either. There is a desperate need to address the complicity of government officials with the top 1% of this country. The industrialists have successfully lobbied to work on key government policies, granting them a monopoly over several projects. Adani was granted the extremely controversial coal mining project in Queensland, Australia in 2015. The project was promoted to show India’s policy move for energy security for the next five decades. Yet the conscious citizens of Australia have been protesting and fighting this move as it will result in the destruction of one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef.

There is a very clear correlation again between the launch of Jio and the Digital India policy implementation. You would imagine a company selling its services for free would have caught the attention of the extremely heavy-handed regulators in DoT and TRAI. But instead, they were allowed to continue operations despite other operators raising concerns, leading to the largest merger in modern Indian history in telecom, a drastic loss of jobs and an extraordinary increase in debt.

The state-owned banks are not being merged because it will make the way to create a 5 trillion economy, as Nirmala has claimed. The banks are currently suffering to clear their NPAs and debts, largely owing to absconding industrialists. Demonetization is another topic that is avoided like the plague by these politicians. Aviation’s suffering revenues led to the closure of Jet Airways. In my opinion, all these phenomenons have had two things in common: loss of financial security for the working class, and therefore, reduction in unsustainable consumption. This includes environmentally damaging consumption as it is inadequately affecting lower classes through pollution as well.

The 1% of India has gotten away with a lot under every government, but the lack of corrective measures under the current regime seems to be especially problematic. Corporate tax relaxations have been substituted with an increase in income tax, but this is not enough. There is a mention of “marketing budgets” in almost every policy document and public funding announcement. It is absolutely appalling to me as a taxpayer how much money the government has spent creating marketing communication for what they are doing.

It actually serves no purpose—it is the job of the government to implement these policies and allow citizens to vote for them by reaping the rewards. But promoting all the supposed good deeds of the government using citizen money is literally propaganda. This is exactly what happens in North Korea, enormous posters and paintings of the state leaders with all the good they have done. Meanwhile, who can tell the incalculable environmental pollution which has been created by such activities? Maybe the cleanliness promoted by Swachh Bharat will magically make the waste disappear.

The lack of education of our leaders is clear; India has a long history of being ruled by “bahubali” politicians. They are beyond class politics and money is never a deterrent to their political dreams. Recently at a Pinjra Tod rally, a woman holding this poster won my heart: “Chatra rajneeti karte ho, manifesto se kyun darte ho? SUV mein jaate ho, kahaan se paisa laate ho?” Student politics has long been the initiation of young people into politics. It is therefore very reflective of the national politics at the center—because people who are fighting for class and caste justice are being labelled “Urban Naxals” and jailed with no lawful procedure.

Communism and Socialism have been successfully branded as deeply destructive ideologies so we can avoid actually working for the progress of 99% of our country. The working class gets up every day to use the same old public transportation system which has not been updated in decades, while newer flatter roads are being constructed for the rich to drive their fuel-guzzlers. So now the educated middle class is venting their frustrations online, realizing as the likes of Ambani kids celebrate their weddings with Beyonce—that we can’t even get a date and we will never be able to close the wealth gap.

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  1. Aditya Samal

    The Bjp is not capitalistic.Govt is the largest owner of property and there are still so many public sector banks. The govt hasn’t brought down equity below 58%.I don’t know what the problem is but it is definitely not capitalism.

    1. Sumedha

      BJP is a political party. The government ownership goes beyond this one party. And ownership of some land and industries has in fact been privatised under BJP rule. Will recommend checking up readings on how capitalism thrives under specific government rules due to complicit policies. I feel you are not understanding the emphasis here on private profits vs public wealth with relation to economy.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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