Arundhati Roy and P Sainath are voices that counter the neoliberal growth narrative of growth at any cost and painting growth as a linear story line. A story line where labor rights, environmental commons are commodities to be discarded as these cannot be listed in an IPO on Dalal Street. I grew up during the late 80’s and the 90’s where I transitioned from Doordarshan to Cable TV to 4G internet on the phone and where a vada pav in the mall costs 50 rupees. Where having an overpriced KFC is cooler than having tandoori chicken in the popular culture now a days. IT Sector has created a class of socially mobile class of credit cards and cool cars, but cannot finance them as IT firms are retrenching them. Suddenly, class consciousness hits home. Growth is not cool, when you are handed a pink slip in one hours notice.
Growth means the communities at the margin in Langigarh and Jaitapur have no voice in the resource and nuclear capitalism of Shining India. The growth discourse is panned out in tv panel debates and the holy shrine of Davos.
Arundhati Roy’s Capitalism : A Ghost Story is a class essay book on the fissures of the growth story. Growth has a rosy narrative when it is painted in Malabar Hill and not Dharavi or a Middle Class Mira Road in Mumbai. The middle class are sold the aspirational growth stories for them to buy in when a techie-MBA education does not render the critical thinking skills to understand the globalisation dynamics which help us to assess the next work wave.
Dibakar’s 2012 film Shanghai showed that a lands owner sells his land in lieu for being a security guard in a mall on the same piece of land ironically drinks bottled water with pride. As Asim Shrivastava’s seminal book Churning the Earth demonstrates a treatise on how the SEZ boom is a land grab scam and how industrialisation causes ecological degradation in every respect.
Mr Modi has made development as the national totem. Although non inclusive growth is not cool, when religious minorities feel unsafe. One year of decent selfie taking does not make for development. Modi’s Foreign Policy and Defence Regime is aggressive and competent though. There is a long way to go in order to accommodate all aspirations. Delhi is not Amdavad oops Peking.