Our rulers boast about India’s high rate of economic growth. However, the growth of wealth is concentrated in very few hands. It is accompanied by widespread and growing poverty and misery among the toiling majority of people.
On 13th July it was reported that Mukesh Ambani, head of Reliance Industries, became the richest capitalist of Asia. His wealth increased from US$ 31.3 billion (Rs. 200,000 crore) in 2017 to US$ 44.3 billion (Rs. 300,000 crore) in 2018, an increase of 50 per cent in just one year.
Two weeks later came the report of the death of three girls due to starvation in the capital city of Delhi. This is what rapid capitalist development has delivered – monopoly super profits and wealth for a few dozen big capitalists and pauperisation of the toiling majority.
Inequality in wealth and income is at the highest level seen in the last 100 years. The bulk of India’s national income is pocketed by just 0.001 per cent of the population, or about 14,000 rich capitalists, headed by about 150 monopoly houses. The rule of Congress and BJP led governments over last twenty years is referred to by many as “Billionaire Raj”.
According to the World Economic Forum, India needs 225-230 million tonnes of food per year to feed its population. In 2016-17, farm output touched a record 273.38 million tonnes. Yet, the food-surplus country has millions of people sleeping on empty stomachs and many thousands dying of hunger. As many as 38.4 per cent Indian children under five years have stunted growth due to lack of sufficient nutritious food.
The policy of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation has led to staggering growth in the wealth of many capitalist monopoly groups.
The Tata group now has over 100 companies. The total revenue of this group was as high as Rs. 6,70,000 crore in 2016-17. About 65% of this came from operations abroad. The Tatas have become the largest foreign investor in Britain.
The Aditya Birla group has become the largest cement monopoly in the country by acquiring a number of smaller cement producers. It is now the fourth-largest cement producer in the world. By acquiring an American company recently, it has also become the world’s largest producer of aluminium sheets.
The Reliance group is among the five largest petrochemical producers of the world. The central Government’s policies are being tailor-made to guarantee maximum profits for this group from petroleum, telecom and retail trade. Reliance refinery at Jamnagar, Gujarat, is the world’s largest single location refinery and is a major gainer of the decontrol of petrol and diesel prices in our country.
The battle for monopolisation of the telecom sector has led to closure of four telecom companies, leaving only three big players in the field. Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Telecom has already grabbed 23% market share in less than two years and is aiming for 50% share. The reserve price for 5G spectrum auction has been reduced by the present Modi-led government by 40%. It is reported that the sole beneficiary of the move will be Ambani’s Jio which alone among the telecom companies in the country has money to buy the new spectrum.
The entry of big monopolies in retail trade is throwing out lakhs of small traders out of business. The annual sales of 7500 stores of Reliance Retail already exceed Rs. 70,000 crore. It now intends to use its dominance in telecom to dominate on-line retail and compete with the biggest monopolies of the world in this field.
The Government claims that the introduction of GST has been the biggest tax reform ever done in the country. It is declared to be a big success after one year of implementation. Increase in collection of GST, an indirect tax, from monthly average of Rs 90,000 crore in FY 18 to Rs 96,000 crore in June 2018 is presented as the indicator of success. But, increased collection of GST of about Rs. 6000 crore per month means additional annual burden on the people of Rs 72,000 crore.
GST has further hurt people by causing higher inflation because services are now taxed at a higher rate of 18%, from 15% previously. GST introduction has taken a heavy toll on India’s exports. Exports as a proportion of GDP for 2017-18 were the lowest since 2003-04, due to which lakhs of workers lost their jobs.
GST and various other measures of the government have of course been good for the capitalist monopoly houses. According to a report of Economic Times, profit for large private sector companies are estimated to have grown by 15% in April-June 2018, the highest growth in any quarter during the past two years.
Attacks on workers have been intensified to shore up capitalist profits. Employment through fixed term contract has been allowed in all industries. This will allow businesses to hire and fire, a demand of capitalists for many years. Privatisation is being pursued in every sector.
Every few months a new attack on the working class is carried out. The latest attack is through the proposed Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, which will make crores of workers working all over the country in lakhs of small auto repair workshops jobless, as only those workshops authorised by big auto companies will be allowed to carry out repair.
The control of the State by a miniscule minority of super-rich exploiters is ensuring that the economy works solely for their benefit, at the expense of the toiling majority of people. Unless the state is brought under the control of workers and peasants, it is not going to work for their welfare and progress.