HT Image
HT Image

Constitutionally sound

On the occasion of Republic Day, it is only natural that the country articulates the resolve to strengthen the foundational pillars of our Republican Constitution.
By Left hand drive | Sitaram Yechury | None
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2006 12:51 AM IST

On the occasion of Republic Day, it is only natural that the country articulates the resolve to strengthen the foundational pillars of our Republican Constitution. Secular democracy, economic self-reliance, federalism and social justice constitute these pillars on which our modern republic rests. Notwithstanding the usual peroration accompanying such articulation of the resolve, it is imperative that the Indian people intensify the struggles to safeguard the gains made so far and to enlarge them in the days to come.

During the course of the last one week, I had the opportunity to have two public interactions with renowned international personalities, both born in undivided British India, but living abroad, which have a direct bearing on these issues. First was with the internationally-eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati at New Delhi. The Columbia University, US, has established a chair in his name in 2004. The second was with the international activist, Tariq Ali, at Kolkata. The contrast between these two, in a way, also poses the choice between questions that India, as a Republic, faces today.

The discussions with Bhagwati centred around his latest book, In Defence of Globalisation. This discussion was moderated by Lord Megnad Desai of the London School of Economics. During the course emerged certain very uncomfortable truths of the real world under globalisation. According to the International Labour Organisation, 12 crore people are officially registered as unemployed. There are an additional 70 crore who are underemployed. A total of 130 crore people live in absolute poverty earning less than $1 a day. In addition, 300 crore people — more than a half of the world’s population — live on less than $ 2 a day. Hearing this, Lord Desai lamented that a cow in the European Union is subsidised to the extent of $ 2.80 a day!

According to the Human Development Report, 46 countries in the world have become poorer today than they were in 1990. The share of the poorest 20 per cent of the world’s population is less than 1 per cent down from 1.4 per cent in 1991. On the other hand, the combined assets of 358 billionaires in the world is greater than the combined annual GDP of countries constituting 45 per cent of the world’s population, or 230 crore people.

In India, while distress suicides and starvation deaths stalked our rural areas, the number of individual billionaires increased from 71 to 311 during the course of the last year. They have a net worth of Rs 364,000 crore. At an 8 per cent rate of interest, they would be earning Rs 29,000 crore a month, or Rs 80 crore a day. Indeed, the challenges before the nation to strengthen the pillars of social justice and economic self-reliance under these conditions are colossal. Bhagwati, in fact, argued for active State intervention to protect the welfare of the farmers who were forced to commit suicide.

The moot question, however, is: where does the Indian State raise resources to offer such protection? In fact, since the adoption of the reform process, the share of the central tax revenue to the GDP declined from being close to 11 per cent to close to 8 per cent last year, i.e. a loss of revenue of over Rs 1 lakh crore every year!

This, however, should not detract us from recognising  that the foundations of our republic can be strengthened only when the State arms itself with the capability for such intervention. This means that we must be prepared to face up to the international pressures of globalisation which constantly seeks to downsize State expenditure in the name of fiscal discipline. Never mind the fact that such advice comes from a country, the United States of America, whose public debt in September 2004 stood at $ 8.2 trillion — 65 per cent of its GDP.

The other conversation with Tariq Ali focused on the popular reactions to this state of affairs among the world’s people. Like the rejection of the ‘India Shining’ and ‘feel good’ factor slogans in India in the 2004 general election, people in many countries are reacting in a similar fashion.

This is dramatically reflected in Latin America where country after country has been defeating, in elections, forces that advocate neo-liberal economic reforms. It is all the more significant that this is happening in a continent which was once considered to be the backyard of US imperialism. Following such electoral victories in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, comes the news of the victory of Evo Morales as President of Bolivia. This is followed by the victory of the Left-Centre coalition in Chile.

Clearly, people in Latin America are rising in opposition to US-dictated economic prescriptions that had heaped misery on them. Nine more countries in Latin America are scheduled to have elections in 2006. The results of these will, conceivably, change the political map of the continent.

Elsewhere in the world, the popular struggles against the US’s military occupation of Iraq, its latest targeting of Iran and its brazen support to Israeli atrocities are growing. These struggles will shape the contours of future world developments.

It is in this specific international conjuncture that the struggles to strengthen the pillars of our modern republic must be undertaken. The strengthening of our economic sovereignty and self-reliance, under these circumstances, means the need to directly resist globalisation’s assaults on this score. This entails that India pursues an independent foreign policy resisting US pressures  and emerges as the legitimate leader of the developing world.

The contrasting content of these conversations reflects the complexity of today’s world. Resisting the mosaic of miseries through popular struggles — the way it is happening in many countries, especially in Latin America — is the way forward for the Indian people to protect their gains of the past and move towards a better future.

On the score of strengthening the pillars of secular democracy and federalism, a long road has to be traversed before these can be irreversibly consolidated. The Indian Constitution describes our country not as the Indian Union but as the Union of Indian states. This is not

a mere semantic difference. Behind this is a large history of people’s struggles which brought about the integration of British India with the princely States. Federalism, thus, became one of the cornerstones that shaped the evolution of India. The issue of Centre-state relations, thus, has always remained an important issue.

Under contention has always been the issue of the central intervention through the office of the governor. This has once again come into centrestage with the recent Supreme Court 3-2 majority judgment concerning the dissolution of the Bihar assembly. While the issues contained in the judgment will be discussed intensely, it is clear that after such an indictment, it is not morally tenable for the present incumbent governor to continue to hold office.

Having said this, let us return to the larger theme: the issue of consolidating the Indian Republic necessarily has to take place in the background of the current global developments. No country can today remain insulated or isolated. The moot question is: what are the terms on which such an integration  with the global economy will take place? Let us work for the realisation of such terms which shall  strengthen the foundational pillars of our republic.

The writer is Rajya Sabha MP and member, CPI(M) Politburo

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Kangana Ranaut. (HT Photo)
Kangana Ranaut. (HT Photo)

Kangana Ranaut moves SC, seeks transfer of cases from Mumbai to Shimla

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:54 PM IST
The transfer petition by Ranaut and Chandel was filed in the top court on February 24 and is yet to be listed. The two have been named in separate FIRs for promoting enmity and insulting religious beliefs
Close
Vardhan on Monday had also pointed out that in the next few days the "walk-in system" for Covid-19 vaccination will be further streamlined in states to ensure smooth functioning. Those who have successfully taken the first dose after registration will get their next appointment automatically scheduled on the 29th day.(HT file photo)
Vardhan on Monday had also pointed out that in the next few days the "walk-in system" for Covid-19 vaccination will be further streamlined in states to ensure smooth functioning. Those who have successfully taken the first dose after registration will get their next appointment automatically scheduled on the 29th day.(HT file photo)

Centre, state officials to review CoWin portal functioning today

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:41 PM IST
Vardhan on Monday had also pointed out that in the next few days the "walk-in system" for Covid-19 vaccination will be further streamlined in states to ensure smooth functioning.
Close
Ghulam Nabi Azad. (PTI)
Ghulam Nabi Azad. (PTI)

News updates from HT: Congress leader leads protest in Jammu against Azad

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:43 PM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis, and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Maharashtra leads Kerala, Goa, Chandigarh, Punjab and Gujarat with a weekly positivity rate of 10.02 per cent. (ANI Photo)
Maharashtra leads Kerala, Goa, Chandigarh, Punjab and Gujarat with a weekly positivity rate of 10.02 per cent. (ANI Photo)

6 states, UT have Covid-19 positivity rate higher than national average: Govt

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:38 PM IST
Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab and Tamil Nadu cumulatively accounting for 84.16 per cent of the active Covid-19 cases.
Close
Modi has made a successful attempt to ensure that the light of development reaches every needy person through his resolve of "inclusive development and universal empowerment" without any discrimination, Naqvi said.
Modi has made a successful attempt to ensure that the light of development reaches every needy person through his resolve of "inclusive development and universal empowerment" without any discrimination, Naqvi said.

PM Narendra Modi is an authentic brand of development, good governance: Naqvi

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:37 PM IST
Addressing BJP workers in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur, the Minority Affairs Minister said confidence in development would be a "strong criterion" in the upcoming polls in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Close
File photo of Pawankumar Badhe, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to UN.(ANI)
File photo of Pawankumar Badhe, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to UN.(ANI)

'OIC has no locus standi to comment on J&K, misused by Pakistan': India at UNHRC

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:25 PM IST
The statement comes almost a week after India rejected Pakistan minister Shireen Mazari's criticism of the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Close
Police said they have sealed the borders of Begusarai district to stop the robbers from escaping.(Getty Images)
Police said they have sealed the borders of Begusarai district to stop the robbers from escaping.(Getty Images)

14 lakh looted in two separate incidents in Bihar’s Begusarai and Saharsa

PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:25 PM IST
  • The bank robbery in Begusarai was the fourth in the last three months.
Close
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik(ANI)
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik(ANI)

Odisha nominates senior officers to monitor development works in 10 districts

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:01 PM IST
The Planning and Convergence department issued a notification on Monday and nominated the officers to supervise welfare programmes in 10 aspirational districts of the state for three months starting from April 1, he said.
Close
Representational image. (REUTERS)
Representational image. (REUTERS)

IndiGo flight makes emergency landing in Pak, passenger dead on arrival

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 03:52 PM IST
An official of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority said the landing permission was granted to the Captain of the Lucknow-bound IndiGo flight 6E1412 after an elderly passenger fell seriously ill
Close
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. (File photo)
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. (File photo)

Jammu: Cong leader holds protest against Ghulam Nabi Azad for praising Modi

UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2021 04:35 PM IST
Shahnawaz Choudhary, a general secretary of Congress in Jammu & Kashmir, accused Azad of acting on Modi’s behest. He said Azad did not come to J&K for the DDC election campaign last year but praised Modi, who snatched the region’s statehood
Close
"India has shown the capacity to be a manufacturer at the global scale and also be an innovator when it came to vaccine development," WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.(Reuters)
"India has shown the capacity to be a manufacturer at the global scale and also be an innovator when it came to vaccine development," WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.(Reuters)

WHO chief scientist says India showed capacity to innovate, manufacture vaccines

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 03:35 PM IST
Speaking at the Global Bio-India 2021, she opined that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is at a very critical junction now as cases have suddenly gone up, particularly in Europe and America.
Close
Inviting world to invest in Indian maritime sector, PM Modi said, "India's long coastline awaits you. India's hardworking people await you. Invest in our ports. Invest in our people. Let India be your preferred trade destination. Let Indian ports be your port of call for trade and commerce."(PTI)
Inviting world to invest in Indian maritime sector, PM Modi said, "India's long coastline awaits you. India's hardworking people await you. Invest in our ports. Invest in our people. Let India be your preferred trade destination. Let Indian ports be your port of call for trade and commerce."(PTI)

Government aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030: PM Modi

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 03:14 PM IST
The Prime Minister said that the capacity of major ports which was around 870 million tonnes per annum in 2014, has increased to around 1550 million tonnes annually now
Close
The program is executed by the National Integrity & Educational Development Organization which looks into the teaching faculty while the Army oversees administration and logistics.(Hindustan Times/representative image)
The program is executed by the National Integrity & Educational Development Organization which looks into the teaching faculty while the Army oversees administration and logistics.(Hindustan Times/representative image)

Army provides free coaching to J&K students under Super 30 program

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 02:50 PM IST
The program, the first of its kind in the state, was started on March 15, 2018, with the aim to provide coaching for MBBS and NEET courses to poor students from far-flung areas of the state.
Close
Representational image. (AP)
Representational image. (AP)

Insurgency-related incidents dipped by 80% in N-E states last year: MHA data

By Neeraj Chauhan
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2021 03:55 PM IST
The highest number (2,644) of insurgents belonging to various outfits surrendered to security forces in 2020. Prior to this, the highest number of surrenders was in 2000 when 1,962 militants gave up arms
Close
A healthcare worker prepares to administer a COVAXIN vaccine, developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech, at a private hospital in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)(AP)
A healthcare worker prepares to administer a COVAXIN vaccine, developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech, at a private hospital in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)(AP)

Covid-19 vaccination drive: Here's how to book appointments through Aarogya Setu

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Shivani, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 02:48 PM IST
  • The beneficiaries also have an option for walk-in registration at their nearby vaccination centre.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP