Among Top 5 in India
Cartoonist,poet,social activist,development banker, documentary filmmaker,reader of books and realities,
slow ponderer of questions milling around.
Given up on jobs; gone free at last.
- Ananya (@AnanyaTales) on Greek Tragedy
- Archana Kapoor on Hurt sentiments : Graffiti Wall
- svs on The Poor today : Sharp Reminder
- sudha10092 on Things Change, Remain Unchanged : Cartoon Tota-Myna
- Alok Singhal on Things Change, Remain Unchanged : Cartoon Tota-Myna
- Amarnath Mishra on Soldier, Spy, Bose, Nehru : Cartoon Tota-Myna
Just focus on two figures and forget the rest. The installment of money the Greek government has to pay European bankers latest by July 20 is $ 3.5 billion (euros actually). The second figure is that of Greece`s GDP. Falling steadily since around 2006 it was still $249 billion in 2014. This is the size of the problem.
One of the many politically incorrect truisms in India is: tell me the caste of the person and I will tell you what he thinks. Sadly it applies well to the Greek “problem” too. TV channels, newspapers, and the Internet is being deluged by “chronic” Greek “tragedy”, financial “catastrophe”, political “betrayal” by Tsipras, “collapse of EU”, “intransigence”, “adventurism” and such hype. As if the whole white Christendom is teetering on a precipice. Perhaps it is. And the caste bylines are: NYT, Reuters, Bloomberg, etc, or the more rabid ones like the Economist, or the Washington Post. Voices of Big Money, global banks.
Then consider what Greek government is asking for is a reasonable re-schedulement of this $ 3.5 billion — a thing bankers do routinely the world over. The European bankers are saying yes, too, to this reschedulement , but they are asking for Greek government to do some deeper Orwellian thing called Reform. What is this thing exactly? It is a concept much in vogue globally and nobody is sure, but one important part of it is called Austerity – which everybody understands.
Note that this song and dance in Greece has been going on since 2008. Greek government has fallen short of money many times to meet repayment of some loan installment. It has then asked for reschedulement. And the Eurpoean banks have rescheduled, each time subject to the condition that Greece does more “reforms” involving more “austerity”. So what is the extra whoop-la this time?
This time a new leftwing coalition of political parties, SYRIZA, has come to power in the recent elections on the public plank of “No To Austerity”. It is this “No” that has set the cat among the pigeons this time. Because during the campaign for election, which swept almost the whole Greek people this time, many deeper voices of the people came up and found utterance. On the face of it the Greek people were saying No to “austerity”, but the deeper message – not quite expected by SYRIZA – was also a bigger “No” to the whole caboodle of national policies of their current governments!
Everybody heard and understood this deeper “No”. The Mandarins of European Union and its masters IMF heard it and shivered in fear, because if this “No” spread to more countries in Europe or beyond by “contagion” it will mean the collapse of the currently ruling German sub-imperialism under the USA`s global main-imperialism. At the same time the surviving Left in Europe and the world, languishing in the bleak hopelessness of a post-USSR epoch, suddenly saw in this the first swallows of a coming spring – hoping that could it be the start of yet another New Left?
This has been the underlying script in the media overkill on Greece – the frisson of fear on the Right and the tizzy of extravagant hope on the Left.
But there is a curious thing about it. The enormous mass of written, spoken, filmed, twittered, or otherwise media-captured stuff about the Greek Crisis engages the world`s attention, sure, but produces no retainable understanding. One understands something, true, but forgets it immediately afterwards. And this is not peculiar to the poor Greek Crisis alone. Middle East Crisis, Ukraine Crisis, Boko Haram Crisis, ISIL Crisis, USA Gun Laws Crisis – all such are handled in the same way. Some say that Civilization itself has reached a new stage in its historical trajectory, when understanding things is no longer necessary or fruitful.
But understand we must, out of the ancient civilizational habit. Even if understanding might have now become a gauche or retro activity.
So here it is. The main point about this Greek crisis is that it has been repetitive, at least since 2008 when the USA-led global financial system collapsed – it has had about half a dozen such crises, bailouts, and austerities.
What was the central cause of that 2008 collapse? The financial system had globally burgeoned and ballooned out in USA while being based upon insufficient or bogus underlying economic activity, and the designated US watchdogs of public accountability and probity (Regulators) either failed or colluded in the hoax. It was also a global hoax, perpetrated within the bosom of the most advanced global financial ecosystem led by USA – the ecosystem we live in even today.
Well, the USA, which needs no real economic activity since it has the most piratical military power, just printed dollars and gave them to its big, bankrupt banks which were Too Big To Fail – “recapitalized” them – and simply started the old merry go round again.
What USA could do nobody else could do, of course. Why, come to that? Because the entire globe today — with a few, partial, exceptions like Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea – has become an economically integrated architecture with USA at the apex and all nations embedded in hierarchical, subordinate and dependent positions. The Ultimate Imperium – only dreamt of by the likes of Alexander, Changhez Khan, and Hitler – has come to pass at last, in the 21st century C.E. Now USA`s Federal Reserve, using US Treasury Bonds and the IMF, manages the integrated financial soufflé of the world. Including Greece.
And, lo and behold, this time too, after the whole nerve-wracking tamasha, the bailout package finally hammered out between “tough” Merkel and “communist” Tsipras is exactly the same as the previous packages! Only the figures have changed, like each time. Moreover to rub it in for Tsipras he has been asked to get this tame package approved by the Greek parliament where he has been making his grandstanding posturings.
OK. As always, the package has three parts. Greek government will be given money to honour its old international debts provided (a) it “reforms” its economy so as to generate more wealth, (b) increase its tax revenues and, (c) curtails its budgetary spending. All these will hopefully generate the extra money that will be one day required to repay new loans now being given. Sounds familiar? It is not some rocket science mastered in Geneva or Brussels, but the standard old formula of all loan sharks – since ancient times.
As earlier, the package will fail again. Why?
Take (a): “reforming” the economy to generate more wealth. This can be done only by starting more or more value-added projects of agriculture/horticulture, or manufacturing/mining, or services/tourism. But is there much scope left? Apart from some tinkering space, no. Why? Because by now the global architecture of economic activities has been tightly mapped out by the financial empire of USA, with Germany and Japan as its subordinated cohorts, leaving no autonomous spaces for other nations of the world. This is a profound contemporary truth, not as well appreciated as it ought to be.
In order to highlight this sharply let us take, say, New Zealand. It is a viable nation seemingly with all attributes of a sovereign nation. And what does it produce for its viability? Maybe not much more than meat, fruit, wine, etc. With these in its basket, formed over several decades of trial and error, it is economically integrated with the world economy without hiccups. Now can we expect it to “reform” its economy today to suddenly produce more value-added things like cars, planes, computers, etc? No. The American Imperium has “allocated” to New Zealand its basket of permissible economic activities within the global jigsaw pattern. Similarly with Argentina`s vast savanna grasslands can any IMF bailout package seriously expect it to “reform” its economy away from its present basket of mainly meat and dairy products? Can any bailout truly enable Congo to stop exporting its mineral products like Coltan and, instead, start making mobile phones in which it is used? Who is fooling whom?
Truth is, “Globalization” is just an Orwellspeak – weasel word – for the American empire, just as “market-forces” is another. America dumps “market-forces” brazenly and repeatedly when it doesn`t suit its interests. Parrot-like economists are just bottomless Orwellspeak salesmen. So, here: nearly all nations of the world today have had to more or less surrender to USA at least their economic sovereignty. Including India, but that is another story, for another time.
Back to Greece. So what happens to “reforming” its economy? It is simply reduced to privatizing its national assets – selling family silver – to raise some money for the loan sharks. Rings a bell in India? Indeed it does, exactly as it does in scores of countries in today`s world snared by the IMF some time or the other.
Okay, what of (b): increasing tax revenues? Well, nobody wants to pay taxes. The Greek rich, like the rich everywhere in the world, just whisk away their wealth to keep in untaxable places – like Cayman islands, Lichtenstein, and such carefully nurtured “countries” – or simply force and browbeat their government, helped by pliant courts and lawyers, so as to rewrite the tax laws for exempting them from taxes! The poor can`t afford such stratagems. Thus the increased tax burden falls upon the relatively poor.
And what of (c): curbing government expenditure? Again the same algorithm comes into play. Government expenditure favouring the rich is Orwellspoken away as “incentives” for “growth” and “development”, while expenditure for the general public is Orwellspoken as “subsidies”, “doles”, “market-distortions”, etc. So curbing government expenditure boils down to reduced wages, reduced quantity and quality of schools, hospitals, municipal facilities, pensions, transport – in short, reduced quality of life for the relatively poor. More austerity.
We have seen through (a), (b), and (c). So how will Greece come out of the trap, repay its debts, and breathe free again? It won`t. It will privatize more national assets, squeeze its people more, till the next repayment falls due; and another bailout package will be crafted. Greece will go downhill; it will be throttled more and more, asphyxiated more and more. Eventually it will join the growing list of IMF-infected “Failed States”—open game for US-driven “regime-changes”.
And what of the breathless expectations of an emerging Left in Greece and Europe? This was never on the cards. SYRIZA`s Tsipras never dreamed, let alone asked the Greek voters, of detachment of Greece from the currency Euro, or of leaving the European Union. There was no demand for fundamental restructuring of Greece`s internal economy in favour of the poor and of its interface with the global economy. Tsipras just wanted a more humane austerity in an inhuman game. That`s all. The Left has been thinking wishfully at best, and stupidly at worst.
All this is not just about Greece. As I mentioned in the beginning nearly the whole world is caught in this death-grip. The IMF is an American spearhead force for global policy-subversion, probably more powerful than American military. It is America`s Trojan horse! Today it is just doing its Greek episode, is all.
Cricket vs. Cricket
Cricket in India has turned out to be so much fun, more off the field lately than on.
It seems only yesterday when we were congratulating ourselves that under the Srinivasan period Indian cricket had become an adult finally and had joined the global capitalism of cricket. The post-globalisation generation in india, now the prime mover of all markets, does not even know of the pre- Wadekar/Gavaskar era of cricket feudalism, except by reading books – if it reads books at all. Even the ICC of the firangis had to bow to the suzerainty of BCCI. India of the middling classes had found something to be proud of at last. A seat in the UN Security Council seemed imminent.
But the era was short, like that of Louise XVI. From the womb of that pride and prejudice was born the Indian Premier League, led by Lalit Modi. And everything changed. Beyond the imagination of everyone. Today the world acknowledges that it changed the genes of Indian and world cricket. World cricket has found its Kumbh Mela through IPL.
Money, sleaze, betting, fixing, girls, booze, drugs were always there – even in the Wadekar era. But today`s scale and splendor is something else. Moreover the latest exposes on the shenanigans of Srinivasan and Lalit Modi have taken us by a delirious storm. And the exposes are not over yet, not by a long chalk. Much fun has been unleashed!
And , as we know, there are capitalisms and capitalisms. Srinivasan period`s capitalism was brahminical, constipated, exclusive, furtive, and corrupt. Post Lalit Modi, the djinn is out, and India`s cricket capitalism has become OBC, exuberant, inclusive, flamboyant, and corrupt. More fun, more animal spirits, any day.
Oddly though, that seat in Security Council seems less imminent.