February 24, 2015 By Shameer KS

Homecoming of common man or Ghar WaPasi of Aam Admi

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An evening stroll along one of the alleyways in Calicut had me hearing a thought provoking political satire in India. A young man waiting for his pillion rider in his bike outside the latter’s office was asking him in his phone: ‘yaar isn’t it time for Ghar WaPasi?’ (shan’t we return home yet?)

Anyone who knows the political dramas surrounding the Hindutva coinage of Ghar Vapasi (all believers of all foreign faiths should come back to the Hindu home) can gauge the mock heroic tone of the young man’s question. (Kindly read two illuminating commentaries on Ghar WaPasi this website carried). Home for the young man was not that politically charged, heinously trumpeted, electorally motivated ‘home’, but the home away from the cares of his office and from the hullabaloo of the home the loudmouthing graffitis prod him to return to. If Kafka posed the other worldly stranger as a fillip to the empty, drab, routinised cares of the family man, in post Modi India where aggressive tokenism has become banal and political normalisation of corporate sponsored right wing aggression has become routinised, the family man finds solace in his cares back at home- not that Home actually.

AAP switched the political themes back to the young man’s mundane, momentaryeverydayness of home. Narendra Modi had exploited it for that decisive verdict in the Parliament election. But riding on millions sponsored by his corporate cronies, he was unable to pamper the cares of the Middle class that trusted him. Needs for breather from a welfare state that the henchmen of all neo liberal economies face came to be arrogantly cold shouldered by the Manmohan Singh regime terming those needs populist. Modi’s tactics was to hide them under the carpet where the right wing fanatical themes, including that of Ghar WaPasi, were played out. Instead of home whose brittleness would be exposed by price rise, potentially phased out subsidies and mismatch between crude oil price and effectively ‘rising’ fuel price, it trumpeted the Hindutva home to return to, hate speeches against minorities including Muslims, and sloganeering for a Hindu state. Though Modi tweeted against them (according to critics he is No Action Message Only-namo-prime minister) there was no action even against his own colleague in the cabinet.

The reason why we can’t judge Kejriwal’s victory as a silver lining in the cloud is that we have not yet had any promising macro political gestures from him. If he wants to fill hope in his state’s homes he must pronounce ways to make India’s corporate houses, as Francis Fukuyama points out in his Political Order, self-critical and accountable. As I write this, reports about graft in the form of corporate espionage have come out in the press. The genie exposed in the Nira Radia tapes during the UPA regime, whom Modi promised to put back in the bottle, is still in the public. Though his government promised many times, there have not yet been any substantial moves to bring the black money back to home. It remains to be nothing but a pr stunt to make the NaMo image relevant in the public space.

There are two things worth considering when we try to put the Kejriwal victory in perspective. Kejriwal favours an economy where corporates call the shots without cronyism. If we believe by capitalism a field of competition in which meritorious individuals take risks to create wealth and an arena which is not closed to anyone, capitalism, in our experience of it at least, thinks cronyism is part of the supposed merit of individuals. That is why lots of attention has been paid to lobbyists in the government. Fukuyama analyses how lobbyists, even after the economic slowdown, could bypass stringent counter moves by the government. Several neo-liberal economists understand these moves as healthy strategies in the political economy. To say I will rein in lobbying and cronies without pronouncing how is not a promising gesture.

Combined to this is Kejriwal’s silence on those pressing problems like caste and struggles for land and livelihood in India’s tribal as well as rural belts. What does he say about representation of minorities in the public sphere? The mandate given to Kejriwal by Delhi voters can’t be considered as reflecting the whole Indian scenario. Delhi is a small state consisting mostly of middle-class, upper caste, salary earning voters. It is understandable that the promises Kejriwal gave them turned them in his favour. It is a worrying prospect that his future priorities would be set by the desires and satisfactions of his voters at hand. It is more worrying that the rural belt is more preoccupied by the lack of livelihood and land than by grafts and corruption. Lynching in the name of caste, rape, forced migrations are all pressing concerns in India’s tribal and rural areas whose problems need to be studied from radically different perspectives.

It is true that a party can’t be a perfect alternative in such a short span of time and we had better give Kejriwal time to clean up the mess and start afresh. Though critics rightly point out the near impossibility of achieving the promises he made (for example the promise of giving water to everyone in the light of there being no water resources in the state) it is not time to write the man off. He has shown intent and promise. Let us wait and see with all the best wishes.

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