Does economic anarchy lead to political chaos?


Does economic anarchy lead to political chaos?, K S Chalam, Aam Aadmi Party, Jantar Mantar. Anarchy is understood as a state of statelessness or...

Anarchy is understood as a state of statelessness or disorder. It is in fact has a wider meaning and historical background than what is generally conceived by Aam Aadmi or common man. When AAP Chief Minister of Delhi created flutter through his histrionics at Jantar Mantar few weeks ago, commentators started projecting him as an anarchist, if not a nihilist, radical and so on. We had also some apprehension about the future of the Party as the promise that AAP presented to the nation was really prodigious at that time. Now, AAP is busy with its political strategies like any other Indian party, and one can expect their real blush when they take up fulltime activity of public policy. Till such time we may defer using harsh epithets.

The Pepper Spray spectacle has diverted the attention from the essential condition of the polity today, otherwise the record of events in Parliament and state Assemblies for the last few years have already reached a critical phase of eventuality. Unfortunately, the blame is attributed to Telugu politicians. The manifestation of culpability of some in Parliament may be understood as culmination of deceit, double standards and unethical conduct irrespective of the party. What are the motives behind this trend? Is this an indicator of the prospects for the 21st century?

In fact, the whole drama of fighting corruption both on the social net and media costing crores of rupees appeared to be sponsored by Corporates to divert attention from real issues. For instance, Kejriwal has challenged some individuals and corporate houses including media on this important issue and opened a new front for his tirade. However, what interests some of us is the issue of economic idiosyncrasiesinvolved in the so-called political anarchy. In the normal philosophical discourse, anarchy looks at the moral legitimacy of state to control or regulate individual freedom. Gandhiji has also questioned the moral authority of the British to rule us and resorted to civil disobedience. This was termed as grammar of anarchy. We are now independent with a Constitution and Parliamentary democracy to guide our collective destiny. Is it really happening as envisioned by our founding fathers? Is political democracy adequate for common man to lead comfortable life? Does it include economic and social considerations?

The western scholars and philosophers were involved in passionate debate on the question of freedom and rights in a capitalist system. But, they seem to have not been entangled with the economic basis of freedom, though Rawls and Sen were instrumental in getting the argument stretched to include questions of inequality. However, our issue here is not about ownership of property and distributional justice in which Marxists were interested. ‘For Marx, only public ownership of the means of production can guarantee distributive justice. Because public ownership of the means of production not only transforms surplus labour from private owners to the state, so that it no longer belongs to individuals but to the whole society, it also transforms the relationship between employees and employers who then become equal… Both the managers and workers theoretically are owners of the means of production.’ This objective was never realised anywhere in India. In fact, violence and abuse of power were used in amassing wealth and property by some apparently using democratic process that created disharmony of interests leading to chaos and disorder. This is perhaps echoed in our Legislative bodies as a political manifestation, but the real motive was economic gain. Therefore, it could be brought under the notion of anarchy.

We can go beyond the precincts of Parliament to notice the chaos in public policy. One of the important issues flagged by AAP explicitly, and several others implicitly is about the pricing of Gas, Oil and other public sector goods or things produced out of common resources. It is noticed that some high profile politicians cum policymakers have voiced their view on pricing of Gas, Oil etc in India. Surprisingly, they have questioned Marginal Cost as the criterion to decide a goods/product, may be out of ignorance or arrogance? Economists have been using marginal cost, as an important method of fixing price for Public sector goods. Marginal Cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a product, reveals the efficiency at which the firm operates. This is different from average cost that is equal to marginal cost arriving at average revenue in an ideal condition of perfect competition. As far as the issue of using marginal cost pricing for Gas/Crude of Reliance is concerned, we all know that the situation is neither a condition of perfect competition nor it is the only firm in the oil industry. Therefore, the ideal method of pricing as indicated by some policy makers and experts, taking average cost or some other method seem to be not reasonable. This is not a product produced by the firm on the basis of its own resources but given a contract to supply the product at a price that is reasonable to consumers and profitable to the contractor. Therefore, it should be administered or mark-up price arrived at by the government based on cost of production both variable cost and capital cost. It seems, it is here that several charges of manipulations against Reliance including CAG Report and the disciplinary action initiated against Sibal the then DGHC are cited. This is what Kejriwal and his team including senior bureaucrats who are aware of the facts are contending. In fact, the whole process of open auction, certification by independent agencies about the genuineness of investments involved etc are all now debunked due to the manipulation of share market giving fabricated information. Perhaps, Kejriwal being an Income Tax person knew all this or may be some other reason has got genuine issue for wider debate.

It is not only in the case of Reliance, Coal, Spectrum, Power, etc contracts but, in several operations in the private sector involving common properties, frauds are becoming order of the day involving billions of rupees. The argument that ONGC and other public sector units are also going to be benefitted by Gas pricing is not acceptable as the surpluses of the public sector go to the state exchequer while private profits or margins fatten individuals. It is noticed that some of the huge private gains are in areas where state has invested on R&D or society has foregone its present consumption, legitimately possessed by all. The beneficiary contractors are the ones who contested elections or put their agents in Parliament to sit on judgement on policies. Naturally, they do not tolerate anything that goes against their private interests and create chaos and confusion either in Parliament or outside. Is it not anarchy as they are insensitive to the social good of majority?

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