Globalization, Public Policy and the Secret Agents


Bhupinder Singh has an interesting post on globalization (here). I am inclined to think that globalization or not, things remain the same with us. I don’t buy the argument that with a better economic policy, one that is less committed to globalization, we would do better. This is so because, in our society, despite economic factors, underdevelopment and misery are socially maintained. I mean to say, as long as we keep the caste system alive, no amount of economic force will eradicate hungry masses. Because, caste is both a social and an economic structure. Elitism in India is caste determined. Class therefore largely becomes an insufficient category for both mobilization as well as analysis, as discovered by some communist intellectuals in the recent past.

In India caste framework is the source of the nature of much of the public policies and their implementation. Let me take the example of primary education. By and large, the aim of primary education for all has been achieved as far as the upper castes are concerned. Now, illiterates are nearly always from the ‘lower’ castes. This is not entirely wrong in the case of health care too. I am sorry I am not providing the necessary data here, but I am sure my readers would upon reflection find enough signs of the truth of this statement around them. So this means that implementation of policies is not always a problem; nor is it always the policy that is wrong. I agree that India boasts of some of the most radical social policies and initiatives. Globalization may have lessened this urge among our legislators. But, when it comes to implementing policies that would undermine the dominance of the upper castes in any field, we see a problem. True, there are millions of upper caste poor. It is true that the country hasn’t yet been able to feed all the upper caste masses. But, if we do see the proportion of the upper caste society that has benefited from any of the system since modernity came to India with the British and compare it to the proportion of the oppressed castes’ social improvement, we see the truth of my statement.   

Globalization’s present avatar is doubtlessly discriminatory and in countries like India, it will benefit a few by dis-empowering many; it wears the mask of progress, while it hides the millions who are no more even exploited, just thrown out of the system. But, in a caste ridden society most policies will not fare better. Indian socialism never addressed annihilation of caste oppression. What I believe is urgent is the creation of a public sphere which is public enough for the policies to represent the interests of all social groups in India not only at the level of framing it but also at the level of implementing it. When we have a situation where terrorist attacks invite the full fury (justifiably) of the country but not when a colony of the dalits is burnt; when caste oppression becomes the affair only of those castes and not of the ‘society’, we are miles away from making a system work for the benefit of all.

One response »

  1. I cannot but agree with you on this topic (having myself made a laborious journey from Marxism that did not go beyond class to a Marxism that incorporates the Dalit perspective).

    I think the last line summed up the post well.

    Your point on globalization and Dalits reminds me of Gail Omvedt, she had propounded that globalization is actually beneficial to Dalits- I remember hearing her in a seminar in the 1990s. I wonder whether she still belives in that.

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