Unmasking and Extractive Political Economy

Image Source: Jagran Josh

The rising prices of petrol and diesel in our country are hitting hard at the pockets of common man from all directions. Dissent being translated as sedition as we saw in the case of young climate activist Disha Ravi and many others; it is difficult to imagine any progressive movement led by the young in Indians in the immediate future. But without being excessively cynical we have  to stay hopeful because we can see that the present political, economic and social policies if allowed to run the full throttle, we are heading towards a mighty collapse that might become a springboard for revolution. We have not yet reached the boiling point of our blood. Once this point is reached nothing will save the ruling benches from the wrath of the people. I am no futurist to become a prophet of doom to the reigning forces and boom to the struggling people.  The neoliberal economic policies wrapped with narrow narcissistic nationalism are steadily exhibiting its razor sharp teeth and resistance is slowly gathering steam among the people on the margins.  The second innings of Modi Government has pushed hard  its neo-liberal policies and what is  cut-throat model that is operating  in our country may be best described as exctractivism, an analytical tool devised by Raul Zibechi from Uruguay .  

Hindutva has so far succeeded in deflecting the anger and frustration of the people against a demonized other, the Muslim or other minoritized communities. But with the economy sliding down, sky rocketing prices, job losses, new farm laws etc, we can trace an increase  in the levels of discontent among the people. People across our country are realizing what is doom for them is boom for the crony capitalist of our country.  Raul Gandhi of the Congress Party has satirically put it  as ‘hum do or hamare do sarkar’.  Maybe the analyses of what is termed as a model of extractivism can be insightful  to understand our society. Extractive model assists us to understand the collusion between the state and corporations that profit on the natural, human and cultural  resources of the people. People in Goa that are fighting the three linear projects might be able to understand how the extractive model is working. Even though our Government is denying that Goa will not become a coal hub, one can see how the three linear projects align to profit the cronies of our central Government. The political economy of an extractive order uses natural resources, cultural as well human resources as raw material to enable its corporate lobby to extract wealth.  In Goa our natural resources are getting realigned under the three linear projects that are dressed as national projects to hide the obvious corporate interest.   Besides, Hindu nationalism is used or abused to provide fire power to hide the poisonous fangs of the corporate interest that is preying people’s resources. 

We live in an extractive political economy. It is extracting our natural, human and cultural resource to benefit the corporations. It destroys our democracy and thrives by creating its illusion by concentrating power on the top.  The economic elite works hand in gloves with the power elite.  The cycle of extraction is also offered legal backing.  The farm laws appear to be a product of this exploitative extractive economy. The farmer’s protest embodies a protest against the extractive economy.  Protests of the people in Goa also exemplify the rejection of the extractive model and portray people’s longing for a regenerative model that saves our natural, human and cultural resources from being treated as raw material for the corporations to accumulate wealth.  People in Goa are trying to redefine their relationship to their natural, human and cultural resources. The cry to save Goa echoes these new imaginations and longings  of our people. Already there is trust deficit between the people and the Government machinery in Goa. The gulf is widening with every passing day and the urgency to save Goa, Goans and Goan-ness is becoming more and more profoundly felt. Conversion of Goa into a coal hub has destructive consequences. It is seen as a slow death of Goa, Goans and Goan-ness.   This is why we can see a dream for a post-extractive political economy and society  in the farmers agitation as well as peoples agitation against three linear projects in Goa.  This is why we also have the challenge to decode how Hindutva has become a justificatory apparatus for an extractive political economy. 

 There is democracy to come. It will come on the back of post-extractive economy when people participate in making of vital decisions that impact their life. The protests in Goa and the farmers prolonged agitation and determination bring into focus the evils of the destructive extractive economy.  The rising petrol and diesel prices and the insult of its defence that justifies it as a need for infrastructure development manifest the exploitative nature of the reining extractive economy. Ram Raja or what is envisioned as a Hindu Rastra cannot be based on an extractive economy. The plundering of our natural, human and cultural resources to benefit the select cronies or elites   damages our society as well as economy and polity.  We need to revive our dying democracy and redefine our relations with our natural, human and cultural resources. We have to fight to stay in control our natural, human and cultural capital.  Strongman driven politics actually weaken democracy by strengthening extracting political economy.  We have to reclaim our ownership over natural resources, build human resources and police over the abuse of cultural resources. Extractive economy is a slow death.  We need to build sustainable models to bring development by consent. Extractive economy converts our democracy into a police state and feed us on the opium of a permanent state of exception.  This permanent state of exception makes us think that tomorrow will be a better day. We can put up with evils like riots, violence, police excesses on our citizens that are deemed as anti-nationals. When exception becomes the rule, it is sign of collapse of  the moral compass our society.  

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao