Corporate Compulsions


Eons ago, long before liberalisation unleashed the full primal instincts of Indian politicians, the Congress used to promise a “government that works,” and the BJP “a government that works better or faster.” While nothing can be said for certain of their governments, the parties have certainly worked in overdrive. Between the Ram Mandir of the one and the Aam Aadmi of the other, they have made such short work of the nation’s wealth and resources that bread on middle-class tables is nothing short of a miracle. As for those further down, want and deprivation is a decree of fate, a brahmanical ordinance, that no amount of social engineering can tamper with or change – a writ cast(e) in stone which has to be upheld by agencies of human intervention whenever the scales show the anomaly of an upward shift. No one can complain that the two parties have not been the restoring force whenever nature’s balance was disturbed, either by the naive notion of equal rights for all or by the daft declaration of a universal right to life. From the killing fields of Meerut, Delhi, Mumbai or Gujarat, to the coal fields of Karnataka and the gas fields of Bombay High, the principles of extermination and exclusion have been applied without fear and with a lot of favour. The result being that the old anthem of Indian reality – the rich getting richer and the poor poorer – gets younger with every passing day, and would seem to be stepping into the perpetual prime of youth with the corporate world coming truly into its own.

Progress in India has necessarily to be measured on a different yardstick than on the prosaic indices dished out with such tiresome regularity by a host of institutions desperate to grab attention. Try posing malnutrition figures against a bevy of svelte figures cavorting with a mobile phone on TV. There may be possibilities in dipping into Below Poverty Line rations, but all of that is passé, and fit only for the stragglers: nothing less than Spectrum will do for those brave enough to play in the big league. So, while a massive chunk of the nation undertakes the inescapable early-morning ritual beside railway tracks or further afield, its leaders can proclaim with pride that it does so with a lota in one hand and a mobile phone in the other.

In the dull and dour days of the past, when the going rate for Indian parliamentarians was only a few lakh rupees, the word ‘corporate’ was virtually unknown, as only a couple of old houses, usually dubbed industrialists, had the capacity to afford the commodity. The usual mode of sustenance was petty bribery for swinging transfers or clinching small-time contracts when not stuffing flagship public sector enterprises with near and dear ones at high places. But in a giant leap for the nation, what went for business has morphed into corporates, if with characteristics markedly cruder and shadier than prototypes elsewhere in the world. 

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