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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The New American Darling

From Tehelka Magzine
By doling out sops to Ford Motors, Narendra Modi has gotten rid of the ‘untouchable’ tag

THE AMERICAN certificate to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has not surprised me. What surprises me is why such a certificate from the United States came so late! The US is known for propping up communal, hardline and right-wing elements as leaders of their respective constituencies the world over and ultimately bumping them off when they are found to be inconvenient. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and some of the former presidents in our neighbourhood are just a few examples.
Modi qualifies for being propped by the US as much as any of the abovementioned leaders did, who were once ‘friends’ but later on deemed ‘arch enemies’ by the US. The delay in praise for Modi from the US authorities was more out of political compulsion on the part of the US, as they did not want to be perceived as being anti-Muslim anymore. For this very reason, they did not want to be on the same side of the fence where Modi was. It was also for the same reason that the US even chose to deny a visa to Modi for a long time.
It is universally known that the US administration always works for the interests of its multinationals and goes to any extent to bow under their pressures. Nowhere is this more evident than in its foreign policy, which is invariably designed to suit the interests of American MNCs. Once this is understood, it will not be difficult to find an answer as to what made the US laud Modi’s so-called ‘developmental’ politics.
As far as the development of Gujarat is concerned, let us face the fact that it has always been a well-developed state. The farsighted approach of its former chief ministers such as Jivraj Mehta, Hitendra Desai, Madhavsinh Solanki, Amarsinh Chaudhary and Chimanbhai Patel had already laid the solid foundation for not only industrial and infrastructural growth of Gujarat but also for a better living standards for people of Gujarat at large. Be it the rich or poor; farmers or artisans; small, medium or large industries — all have been beneficiaries of the government’s policies. Previous chief ministers did not frame policies for a few influential business houses like the present dispensation under Modi does. But those far-sighted leaders did not qualify for the praise from the US, as they were neither hardliners and communal nor had they doled generous favours to US MNCs.
For every car Ford makes in Gujarat, the burden on the exchequer will be more than Rs 1 lakh
Large petroleum refineries, some of the first private ports and toll-roads in the country, the Narmada irrigation and power generation project, thousands of megawatts generation capacity of electricity, over 50 state governmentowned corporations — all of whom were profit-making — and many more engines for development of the economy whose credit Modi takes were initiated at least 10-20 years before his political advent.
Like quite few influential industrialists, Ford Motors of the US is the new entrant in the list of Modi’s favourites to which the government has liberally given incentives, land and loans at such concessional terms that it has cost the citizens of Gujarat dearly. According to an estimate, for every vehicle that will be manufactured by Ford in Gujarat, the burden on the exchequer and therefore citizens of Gujarat will be over 1 lakh per vehicle. In return for these favours — most of them obviously ‘undue’ and at the cost of a common Gujarati in whose name Modi always swears — Ford arranged the US certificate for Modi. If Ford makes one lakh vehicles every year, the per-capita burden on every citizen of Gujarati will work out to 160 per annum for this certificate.
If other chief ministers start competing with Modi on selling national interests to US corporates for their certificates, the day is not far when a new imperialism will dawn in India.
Niranjan Tolia is Political thinker and activist.

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