Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Minimalist State- Socialism Whither?

When there was recent controversy on 26th Jan 2015, regarding the Modi government's removal of the terms- Socialist and Secular in media ads by I&B Ministry, everybody was up in arms. The government's commitment to secularism is for all to see, but socialism has become obsolete in the present era, thanks to both NDA and UPA governments. 
 The State as we knew it, was mostly seen as "mai-baap", the protector/ the nurturer/ the provider. As we move in the present era, we see State almost becoming just an arbitrator, a by-stander, neutral umpire kind of authority. As the State starts withdrawing from different arenas, the private interests move in to fill the gap. Citizens are supposed to pay for services they earlier took for granted, or were highly subsidized for them. The education sector is now filled with private universities, where you pay for your degree. The fees is so much on the guarantee that they will not make you repeat another year however badly you may do, assurance is you will pass. After all, you do not pay so much to fail in private universities!
 Another area that of concern is the security. The police is under-staffed, inadequately paid and have been waiting for reforms forever now. The acute shortage of security has led to a rise of private security firms. Recently, I argued with a private security guard who almost hit my rickshaw walah with his lathi at Lajpat Nagar market. I told him he has no authority, he is no police, then rickshaw wala defended him by saying the market association has employed his firm for security and regulating traffic around the market. Thought that was the work of police, but recent burglaries have made the Market associations/RWAs/ Banks to get their own private armies of security guards. As much as it has led to employment for thousands (very basic requirements), their legitimacy has always been a grey area.
 Indian farmers until the 1990s were the State's favourite' children. The recent issues around the Land Acquisition Bill have come as a rude shock for them as they suddenly find the State abandoning their interests' and taking side of the corporates'. Corporates' pay more taxes and also fund the political parties, so no surprises there.
In more and more cases of indigenous communities/ tribals vs. mining companies, State is now taking side of the companies.  
 The rise of NGOs in the social sector, taking interests of women, aged, children, minority groups, tribals, etc. forward is again State giving up its welfarist agenda and outsourcing it to the other organizations and giving them some funding for it, or doing it together as Public Private partnerships. 
If you want to use better infrastructure pay toll at Highways. In a Capitalist economy, government moves out and regulates the field for different players who work on profit through competition (telephone services/ Airlines, etc.). There are no more permanent government jobs coming, people work on contracts in the hope that secure government jobs would come, but not much has happened there.   
The newest thing that we are supposed to pay for now is the internet! Free air that we breathe even that is posionous now, so no free things anymore!
We did blame the state for everything, but it was more like you would blame your parents for things that go wrong, there was some affection because you knew your interests' are important for them, but that romanticism is lost now. State as our parents' generation knew it, is dead now! This new State cares for the money and will support anybody who can pay, regardless of caste/creed/nationality- tourists/MNCs/ NRIs!! 

1 comment:

  1. What we are confronted with is the transformation of the much touted 'Welfare-State' into a 'Warfare-State' which has unleashed a war against its own people. Poverty, farmer suicide, hunger, unemployment, a degrading environment are all a blot on the middle-class project of development!