On August 23, 2021, Nirmala Sitharaman, the union finance minister launched the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) project on the recommendations of NITI-AYOG, an agency established to plan and implement the re-colonization process combining Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization (LPG) policies. The BJP government claimed that by way of selling away vital public assets at an amount of Rs Six Trillion (Rs Six lakh crore) will be mobilized and the same will be deployed to create the national infrastructure that will take India on the path of faster growth.
Accordingly, the BJP government plans to lease out 26,700 km long highways, 90 passenger trains, 400 railway stations, 741km long train tracks, 21 airports, 40 harbors, 160 coal mines, 3,930 km long pipelines of public sector units (PSU), stadiums in Delhi and Bangalore cities, 14,197 telecommunication towers of telecom PSUs companies, and food grain storage warehouses to corporate companies. The lease will be for a period of 25 years done in 4 phases and expects to mobilize around Rs Six Trillion.
The true value of these public assets is several times higher than the Modi Government’s estimates of Rs Six Trillion. P.Chidambaram, former minister of finance in the Manmohan Singh government claimed the government can earn this amount of Rs Six Trillion within 4 years i.e. Rs 1.5 Trillion per year from the highly-valued PSUs of the Navaratna alone. Thus anyone can understand the dubious nature of the Modi government’s projections to deliberately sell off the highly valued profitable PSUs to the selected corporates.
These assets may probably be sold away at throw-away prices to corporates like Ambani and Adani. This is what lead Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party to claim Modi is selling away the assets created in 70 years of independence in 7 years just to benefit his friends. He also added that privatization took place during the Congress rule too, but Modi’s privatization is to sell off the public assets used by millions of people every day and that engages millions of workers. Rahul acknowledges the fact that Congress is not against privatization and what it did was minimal, but what Modi is involved in a maximalist privatization. At best Rahul Gandhi differs only in the quantum of privatization. Not only Rahul, but most of the opposition parties, the bourgeois media, and other political analysts also criticize the NMP only to this extent. But the NMP is no doubt an arrangement to push the country into an extreme re-colonization. It is a leap forward in the process of restructuring the entire nation to facilitate corporate plunder.
At the same time, new farm laws aim to drive the peasants out of their lands and hand it over to the corporates. Similarly, driving fishermen from the country’s coastline to hand over the coast to build harbors, parks, luxury hotels, sagarmala projects are planned through the newly enacted amended Marine Fishery Regulation Act (MFRA). In addition, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) pipelines, methane gas exploration in delta regions of Tamil Nadu, eight-lane road projects named Bhartamala that expect to carry the minerals from one end to another region of the country are all designed to plunder the nation. The newly enacted labour laws that legitimize the slave labor contracts deprive the available meager rights of the labour. All these together, the NMP becomes an important milestone in the re-colonization process.
What is National Monetization Plan (NMP)?
The NMP is an integral part of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). Nirmala had already made it clear in the Union Budget of 2021-22 that both these plans are linked to each other. In order to understand these ‘pipelines,’ we may take the example of the human heart. The heart is divided into two halves as right and left, and together they perform different but essential functions. The right side absorbs the oxygen-depleted blood and sends it to the lungs where it gets loaded with oxygen. The left absorbs the oxygenated blood and sends it back to the body again. In the process, the two sides perform different jobs in the oxygenation process. Similarly to facilitate the corporate plunder both the NMP and NIP operate in unison to restructure a re-colonized country. The estimated Rs 111 Trillion mobilized by selling away these public assets through NMP will be spent on creating new infrastructure under the NIP. Accordingly, this Rs Six Trillion is just the beginning.
New milestone in looting by re-colonization
Where and how the Modi government is going to mobilize such a large sum is the moot question. They contemplate three sets of actions.
Firstly, they are creating a financial framework to accelerate the process of mobilizing infrastructure financing through a Development Finance Institution (DFI). In that regard, a new law came into force in March 2021 to promote a new bank in the name of the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NBIFD). The government has announced that this bank will have a share capital of one Trillion.
Secondly, they want to create a momentum in the monetization of existing assets. This amounts to the subsequent sale of assets and projects in a continuation of the first monetization plan. In this way, they are planning to fund future infrastructure projects through the money thus mobilized. The question arises as to what other infrastructure they are going to spend on by selling away the existing ones created over the last seventy years and more. Sagarmala, Bharatmaala, smart city, GAIL, methane explorations, loans to corporates for starting new plants are some of the future infrastructure to be created in the name of “national development” facilitating corporate plunder. This is the ‘New India’ that Modi dreamed!
Thirdly, they want to increase the capital expenditure of the Union and the State governments through the budget. This means most of the budget funds will be earmarked to fund giant corporate companies to start their business. In that sense, the nature of the government budget will be changed in its entirety. The welfare schemes shall no longer remain with the government but funding the corporates through people’s money will take that place. This is the “AtmaNirbharta” budget for the new India!
This is a continuous process of re-colonization. When this trend is completed, the national resources such as the roads, public transports, electricity, agriculture, forests, mountains, sea coasts, etc., would come under the dominance of corporates. The government may only have the police and military under it’s control. This is what we call a milestone of re-colonization.
Corporate plunder lurking behind ‘growth’!
While indulging in this exercise of NMP, Modi clique repeats the same bogus claims of ‘national development’ and ‘employment generation’. The goods and services tax (GST) that was brought by the Modi government with similar claims has pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy and increased unemployment. Modi continues to carry on with this fraudulent campaign in the goebbelsian style.
First of all, what have been the credentials of those who gets these infrastructure or public funds. Tycoons like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, and industries such as Videocon and CAIRN and many corporate bosses have committed frauds, defrauded bank interests, taken away public properties with false claims and details, and finally cheated the government by colluding with bank officials. Aside from this, the Modi government announced in Mid-September that it would write off Rs Two Trillion bad debts that corporate bosses have borrowed from public sector banks. A new bank in the name of National Asset Reconstructing Company Limited (NARCL) will be formed to repay the debts of the corporates by the bank. Ever since the Modi government came into power, the bad debts of the corporate companies rose to Rs 18.28 Trillion. Of this, about Rs Six Trillion was written off by the Modi government. It is for sure that, through this dubious bank i.e. NARCL all the corporate bosses will escape without repaying. This is what the Modi clique portrays as national development.
Plunder by Enron, a model !
It is well known that, in 1992, the US corporation Enron proposed to establish a power project in Maharashtra with a capital of USD 3 Billion in the name of Dabol power corporation. Enron’s fraud is well known. It happened in the initial stages of the Liberalization-Privatization-Globalization era. The project cost was deliberately spiked up, lands were illegally occupied, water resources depleted, but the company and produced not even a single unit of electricity, but it used the police to attack the local people. Enron was a prelude to a corrupt and fascist rule that is to come. The Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) that was operating in profit until this time incurred a loss of Rs.16.81 Billion in 1999 and 2000. The government bought power from the company at a price that is several times higher. When Enron was declared bankrupt, the scandal got exposed that public money was used by the company, and the state government paid for electricity that it did not even produce. Enron is a model in the act of plundering through privatization. In the end, the result is an environmental catastrophe, the devastation of people’s livelihood, inflation, and an increase in repression. Most corporate companies follow the same route
Will the employment opportunities increase?
The argument by Modi clique that the employment opportunities will increase through the national monetization scheme is dubious and fraudulent. Modi government’s actions in the past and present have not realized in any such increase. Now, there are 225 public sectors units in the country. In 1960-61, around 7 million persons were employed directly and indirectly. In addition, millions of workers received employment on a contract basis through allied units. In 1997, there were 20 million persons engaged in PSUs and related units. As of 31 March 2017, the number has fallen to 11.3million, which is a reduction of 44% from the peak. Similarly, employment in the private sector has shrunk from 7.55 million in 1983, to 1.64 million between 1994 and 2000.
Recruitments in the public sector have been completely paralyzed, especially since the liberalization–globalization era. Further, public sector employment has plummeted due to losses in business, lay-offs, and privatization. On the other hand, the modern slavery system of contract employment that guarantees no job security has completely devastated the employees. Petty jobs created through casual labour engagement, contract labour, and even the gig workers such as Zomato and Swiggy are counted as employed in India. The data by the government is totally rigged and even with that, the unemployment has risen to 7% in September with approximately 270 Million people.
When the NIP comes in full-force the workers will be forced into modern slavery and thrown into an irreversible hell. On the other side, millions of people would be pushed into unemployment, hunger, and made to live in modern slums without basic amenities. The saffron-corporate fascist’s new Hindurashtra is to divide the country into two camps by taking the poor and unemployed people into slums and the highly paid into smart cities.
There is no doubt that when the NMP and NIP become full-fledged, the people’s livelihood will be pushed to the bottom and over 70% of the population will be made useless, portrayed as enemies of development and an obstacle to national progress. When COVID-19 struck, a national tragedy of millions of workers were driven home by barefoot. Similarly, the peasants are fighting on the streets for more than 10 months to repeal the farm laws (Now the laws repealed by the Modi government). They have been shown as second-class citizens of the country. Despite skyrocketing prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas the ordinary people are unable to resist this. Life becomes harder by the day for the vast majority. The aim of the saffron-corporate fascist Modi clique is to aggravate this pitiable situation.
Congress and BJP incorporate service
Sachin Pilot, a Congress leader taunted that any government exists to protect the property of the people but the Modi’s government is here to sell them. According to him, Congress dis-invested only the loss-making PSUs but the BJP sells away all the profit-making ones. He agrees that both Congress and BJP are here to sell away the public properties. PSUs became loss-making because both the Congress and the BJP are involved to conspire and cripple them. When he spoke during the thirtieth anniversary of liberalization in India, P.Chidambaram argued that the concessions to corporates are a necessity. At the same time, Congress pretends to oppose the plan and it is a comedy that they announced hoisting black flag protests to Modi government’s NMP and NIP plans.
The Brahminical media including the ‘Tamil-Hindu’ and ‘Dinamani’ that never fails to preach patriotism published this treasonous news about the announcement of NPI as a box news item. Other media had totally blacked out.
A great plunder is going on in front of our eyes. This is not only an economic project but also a political attack through oppressive statutes, and surveillance mechanisms by the saffron-corporate fascist regime. The immediate task before us today is to take these facts to the people and ignite the minds of the working class for their political power and economic welfare.