Monday, July 19, 2010

Reducing Poverty: Corporate-Style

"New Delhi: Reliance Industries Limited chief Mukesh Ambani has been chosen by the United Nations as a member of a key advocacy group on Millennium Development Goals (MDG), whose mandate includes finding ways to fight socio-economic evils such as poverty."
The Hindu, 19th July 2010;

I see I never gave Reliance enough credit (unlike our banks that not only gave it credit, but didn't even mouth 'foul' on defaults...). In fact I've been avoiding using their SIM cards but now I suppose, I am honour-bound to buy'em - by the dozen...? After all, now that the esteemed and no-longer-estranged Ambanis (or did the recent Bharat-Milaap bring about the change in heart, Jeez, I really need to learn not to be so darned judgmental!) are turning public-benefactors I am reminded of all the good old companies who spend one rupee per product sold, on poor children's education and what not. I mean what self-respecting ex-social worker could now boycott Reliance? [BTW, these days, in my print moments, I go by 'writer' and rest of the time, by the glam title of 'educationist'. . .only maybe i should add - 'in the making'? Faced with the Ambanis' do-good avataar I would be ashamed of the least bit o' deceit, no?] In fact I suppose I should now stop advertising the fact that in a weak moment at a Social Work College, I actually participated in a protest protesting Reliance buying land in Raigarh district for a SEZ! Oh, the endless inevitable follies of idealistic youth....

But you see, I am sure the UN cannot be wrong - if they think a top corporate house of an HDI-in-the-pits country [Human Development Index - for the uninitiated, the industrialists, the politicians, the middle & upper classes, the 24-hr
sansanikhez-news-bite channels, the i-hate-depressing-news-ers. . .] can help reduce poverty, then I am sure their reliance on dear Mukesh isn't misplaced. I mean, I'd say the UN knows best. Just like the World Bank knows best. You see, what we stupid, short-sighted, anti-development, anti-national welfarist people do not really understand, is the power of 'the corporate unleashed' - free-market style. So if you were wondering what our Friedmanist Chicago School followers are up to these days, you'd find them at the UN offices - playing 'halve-poverty-or-die-tryin''. Only, I call it 'button-button-who's-got-the-button'. . .

But, maybe you know, what emboldened the UN-MDG people, was the Union Carbide victory. That surely proves that our corporate houses, and our tried-and-tested aid-granting, debt-dangling friends urging our government to do its best by its people, can get it do deliver on just about anything - i mean, on right up to justice for darling
old Warren Anderson, now can't they? Oh, c'mon now, don't tell me you'd grudge a pliant li'l drowning-in-debt third world country an attractive business climate!!

So, really, getting businessmen-who-mean-business to help us halve poverty is just the first step, and no mistake. (In fact, better still, let's halve the poor! I mean look at the way it was so terrifically stage-managed in Latin America - seems so much easier than tackling poverty, love, it'd be a shame not to consider it as an option!). With the World Bank helping us structurally adjust to neo-liberalism for last twenty years, we cannot fail. . .to get many more Ambanis
faring well - at the centre, at the UN, and at the rich man's roulette. . . .oh, the stock-market, you silly darling!

[That populations in certain regions of Latin America have gone down drastically as a result of brutal regimes and brutal economic-realignment programmes, is a fact garnered from Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. Other books that have contributed to my understanding of the Latin American situation and the dominant political-economic paradigm in the post-Chicago School-decades - i.e. the last 40 years - are: Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, Tariq Ali's Pirates of the Caribbean, and Susan George's and Fabrizio Sabelli's Faith and Credit: The Secular Empire of the World Bank]

1 comment:

Wooaaaoowww said...

I like the sarcasm in your piece, Reva. Write more often! :)