- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Dateline New Delhi- bad news but not atrocious

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 06, 1999 at 11:37:14:

Bad news, but not perhaps as bad as a cursory glance might suggest. The lower house of the Indian parliament has just apporved a bill to allow foreign and domestic private investment in the country's state-owned insurance industry. Insurance had long been one of the holdouts against private invvestment, as the Communists and the labor unions prevented any measures towards privatization. But now that the right wing BJP is demonstrating their fascist tendencies, and now that the old Congress-Socialist-Communist 'Secular Alliance' has collapsed, the crafty BJP has been able to squeeze this bill through. The Upper House will probably pass it as well, if some amendments are made to please the Congress Party.

Yet, there is an upside. Private investment will be limited to a 26% share, and the govbernment has assured everyone that the two state owned insurance companies are in no dnager of being turned over to the elites, but will instead stay under the control of the people. So it looks like the state sector wiull still remain dominant, as it should. Any usurpation of public control in this matter is a threat to democracy.

Of course, a 50% state role in joint ventures was not enough to keep 20,000 people from being killed, in their beds or over years of suffering, at Bhopal 15 years ago. Union Carbide evaded their responsibility in spite of the fact that the Madhya Pradesh government had a 50% share. The lesson here is that we must always be vigilant against businessmen who are willing to prostitute human life for profits.

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