Republic Day Lesson: How Modern-Day East India Companies Are Ruling Us

Nadim Siraj, EmpireDiaries.com

January 22, 2022: India’s Republic Day is around. It’s that time of the year when the country’s citizens come together to proudly look up at the fluttering flag and passionately celebrate our truly hard-earned liberation from foreign occupation.

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While it’s very important for us to mark the big moment from the past, it’s also time for a certain reality check on this occasion. It’s time for us, as citizens of India, to collectively wake up from a deep slumber. A mass hypnosis.

It’s time to realise that the economy of our cherished motherland is now being firmly recolonised by a sophisticated network of foreign, profit-making companies based in countries from east to west.

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This bitter truth doesn’t come up in our daily discourse. It’s perpetually off the radar, and that’s because it never makes it to: (1) everyday news headlines, (2) social media feed, (3) covers of journals, books and magazines, and (4) influential research publications.

Of course, India is not colonised in the administrative or textbook sense.

We have been joyously marking Independence Day and Republic Day since getting freedom from the parasitic British in 1947. We elect our own political leaders. Our courtrooms are run by people from among us. Our bureaucracy is indigenous. Our police forces are staffed with our fellow citizens only. So, physically, we are a free and independent country.

But the economic reality is entirely different, especially since the early 1990s.

Since the early 1990s – when the doors of the Indian economy were thrown open to foreign corporates – we have unwittingly allowed thousands of international businesses to set up shop across the country.

As a result of that move, we have gift-wrapped a large chunk of our economy and handed it over to these external empires.

FOREIGN COMPANIES ARE EMPIRES

Before we deep-dive into the pros and cons of this inbound rush of foreign multinational companies (MNCs) or transnational companies (TNCs), we need to first understand and acknowledge that the Indian economy is indeed not free from the grip of modern financial empires.

Large sections of India’s economy – or India’s marketplace – are colonies of major foreign players.

It’s difficult to get the exact number of foreign businesses operating in India. The corporate affairs ministry no longer puts out on its official website an updated list of international companies that have a foothold in India.

But according to media reports and independent research, it’s estimated that there are over 4,000 foreign companies with some form of presence in the Indian marketplace, plus-minus a few hundred.

This list of 4,000+ includes: foreign companies that directly have operations on Indian soil; foreign companies that have partnered with India’s domestic companies leading to a breed of FCCs (foreign-controlled companies); and foreign companies that operate in India through shell or cover companies that only appear domestic but are actually not (it’s impossible to establish the third lot’s presence through paperwork; the system is designed that way).

China, USA, Russia, Britain, Japan, UAE, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Canada, Taiwan, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, Belgium, Austria, Hong Kong – many of the companies that have a foothold in India are mostly headquartered in these countries/territories.

In some sectors of the Indian economy, the foreign players have moderate influence; while in some other areas, they totally run the show, dictating terms to the vast Indian consumer base as well as to local administrations.

Take any industry, for example. From everyday confectionary stuff to fashionable clothes to sensitive defence equipment to social media apps, the recolonisation of India by foreign corporate players is underway full steam.

TOO ‘INTERNALISED’

The clout of the big cats of global capitalism in India is so ‘internalised’ in our culture and lifestyle that we hardly realise we’re being groomed by these external business interests to serve their interest, simply by turning into (1) devoted customers and (2) dedicated employees.

Note that our state governments and central government are free from any form of direct political and administrative control by foreign governments. But access to our economy – to our collective financial wealth – is still mostly in the hands of these MNCs or TNCs that have arrived here to recolonise us.

One might ask, so what’s wrong if foreign companies do business in India?

Valid thought. After all, aren’t they generating local jobs for Indians by setting up offices, shops and factories in the country?

Aren’t they bringing in money from outside and investing it here?

Aren’t they giving us a refreshing variety of products and services from different corners of the world to choose from?

Aren’t they manufacturing their products right here in India using Indian labour?

Aren’t they paying taxes to the Indian government?

Aren’t they connecting Indians to the world around us?

Aren’t they into CSR?

Yes, these are contributions. But while they are opening up our window to the world, they have also silently prised open our economy and are making a phenomenal amount of money from the business they conduct over here.

The math is simple. Who gains from all this? What we financially gain from the foreign companies’ presence in India is by a long, long way outweighed by what we lose due to their activities here.

THE SOFT DRINK STORY

To understand how we suffer a huge overall loss, let’s look at any popular foreign brand as a real example, which can multiplied countless times over to get a sense of how we are financially bleeding continually.

Let’s look at global soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which are immensely popular consumer goods all over India, especially among youngsters, right from the urban space to far-flung suburbs and villages.

For every bottle of soft drink that the two empires, Coke or PepsiCo, sell here in India, they make a certain profit. Out of that profit earned per bottle, one part goes to the Indian government’s coffers as taxes. One part is reinvested by the company into its operations in India to sustain or expand its business here. And a third part of that profit (which is often suspected to be the largest part) is dispatched to the home countries of these two soft drink companies, where they’re headquartered.

In the case of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the money that they make here in India is sent all the way to the United States, their home turf. Technically, the money travels from here largely to American banks and the rest of it to global tax havens.

Now multiply that ‘take-home’ profit from that one bottle by the lakhs and lakhs of bottles that these two American companies sell in India each year.

The final sum of the profits that Coke and Pepsi transfer to their home country – partly to US banks and partly to tax havens around the world – runs into millions of dollars annually.

It’s crucial here to understand what’s actually happening to our economy.

The two companies are transferring the wealth earned in India to overseas banks or foreign reinvestment hubs. So basically, India is ending up leaking financial wealth like a sieve simply by agreeing to consume these nonessential, cola products. And that perpetual transfer or outflow of financial wealth from India is directly resulting in the country’s deepening poverty.

So, there’s a neat transfer of wealth of from India to largely the US; and a resultant transfer of a degree of poverty in the US straight to India. Wealth moves from here to there. And naturally, their poverty shifts from there to here.

It’s not rocket science. It’s simple economics. Only that we are not told about this wealth-poverty swap in simple terms. Perhaps there are forces that don’t want us to know this incredible thing in simple words. That’s why it’s not there in our schoolbooks or in the media.

4,000+ EMPIRES & COUNTING

Now, take a step back and look at the larger picture of the Indian marketplace to make sense of how much financial wealth gets drained out of our country every single day.

With 4,000+ companies constantly carrying out this wealth-siphoning, poverty-offloading ‘exercise’ – selling or dumping goods and services here and transferring the profits out – the total volume of financial wealth that we leak every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year is a mindboggling figure.

It’s almost incalculable, and yet, it’s as real as flesh and blood. Finance drain is no concept or idea. It’s an actual and constant resource leak.

Some of the most prominent and celebrated foreign companies and brands that are deeply engaged in conducting business across India are: Microsoft, Google, P&G, Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Britannia, Cadbury’s, Sony, Panasonic, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Twitter, Siemens, LG, Samsung, Amazon, IBM, Adidas, Nike, KFC, McDonald’s, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen, Suzuki, GM, Nissan, Levi’s, Pepe Jeans, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte, E&Y, Bata, Unilever, Citi Bank, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank – the list just goes on and on. 

TRADE, THE OTHER ‘OPERATION

Outward wealth transfer by foreign companies in India, FCCs (foreign-controlled companies) in India, and shell (or hidden foreign) companies is not the only way in which India is leaking financial wealth.

There’s another way in which money flows or leaks out of the country – and big time. It’s through the import of goods and services from companies based abroad; they don’t operate from here.

Basically, we’re talking about international trade. The way to map the outflow of India’s financial wealth through trade, or rather whether the country suffers a net outflow of wealth or a net inflow of wealth, is to follow the latest ‘balance of trade’ data.

Balance of trade of a country refers to the difference between its overall export of goods and its overall import of goods in money terms.

If the exports exceed imports, a country is said to be enjoying a ‘surplus’ in its balance of trade – it means more money comes into India (through exports) than goes out (through imports).

On the other hand, if imports exceed exports, the country suffers a ‘deficit’ in its balance of trade – it means more money flows out (through imports) than comes in (through exports).

Data on India’s balance of trade over the years shows that India has historically been a net importer rather than a net exporter. It has generally reported a deficit rather than a surplus, with available data as of July 2020 showing a balance of trade deficit of $4.8 billion (Rs 356 billion).

Going by data available from January 1957 to July 2020, India’s balance of trade has averaged at a deficit of $375 million (Rs 27.8 billion).

It shows the country has perpetually seen a drain of financial wealth – which is mainly a result of the money outflow from goods and services that are dumped in India by foreign companies and foreign-controlled Indian companies through trade.

Since we are discussing the concept of balance of trade, it is worth noting that June 2020 was a dramatic break from norm for India, with the country recording a rare surplus for the first time since 1976-77 – at $793 million (Rs 58.9 billion).

The reason behind this anomaly or miraculous trade surplus was the temporary impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. With large parts of the world going into lockdowns and an international trade freeze in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, foreign players didn’t get the scope to dump products in India. As a result, India’s imports during that brief spell fell below its exports.

But as the engine of global trade slowly began to roll July 2020 onwards, India again began to import heavily as usual and its trade surplus turned to trade deficit.

AGENDA BEHIND ‘CONNECTEDNESS’

We always celebrate the concept of ‘connectedness’. It is human nature to mingle, to reach out to the unknown, to build bridges, to explore different cultures, to exchange ideas, to share joys, to jump to each other’s rescue, to not be withdrawn as closeted societies but to huddle and form a global village.

That’s how civilisation grows. But we gain from this interconnectedness only at the individual level or micro level, and not at the macro level (the macro level deals with countries and their economies).

At the micro level, ‘globalisation’ is a win-win situation for all of us because the exchange of ideas and cultures enriches us all as individuals. The more the differences in culture, the more we celebrate them and share them around.

But at the macro level, to be precise, at the country-level, globalisation is not a win-win situation for all countries. Rather, interconnectedness or globalisation gives rich and powerful countries the scope to financially dominate poorer and weaker nations through the tools of connectedness.

That brings us to the concept of what is popularly called ‘dependency theory’ – which goes to the root of why some countries perpetually suffer trade deficits and why some others perennially enjoy trade surpluses.

DEPENDENCE THEORY

The dependency theory has its beginnings in two papers written in 1949. The papers were authored by Hans Singer, a German-origin economist from the UK, and Raul Prebisch, an economist from Argentina.

According to the path-breaking theory, some countries always remain financially drained because resources always flow from the ‘margins’, which are poorer and/or weaker nations, to the ‘core’, which are affluent and/or powerful countries.

Basically, the powerful countries get richer at the expense of the weaker nations, the theory says.

The theory argues that this imbalance of powerful countries dominating weak countries and siphoning their financial wealth results from the fact that the two sides are integrated – rather over-integrated – into a common global system.

As a result of the integration or connectedness, weak countries are unable to break free from the influence or orbit of powerful countries, which exploit them financially through terms of trade that are rigged to help only the powerful nations.

That’s the crux of the dependency theory. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, this theory, also known as the Prebisch-Singer thesis, helped economists and social scientists get to the bottom of why some countries in South America were perpetually getting impoverished.

The same theory now helps us understand why India continues to remain so poor – mainly because we are way too integrated with a ‘rigged’ world system in which the terms of trade are heavily tilted in favour of powerful export-dependent countries.

WHEN INDIA WAS NOT COLONISED

A good way of gauging how badly the Indian economy is performing now is to turn the clock back by a thousand years.

In the year 1000 CE, several empires were simultaneously running the Indian subcontinent. It is well documented that for a 1,000-year period from around 1 CE to around 1000 CE, the economy of the Indian subcontinent was estimated to have been the largest in the world.

In 1000 CE, the region’s estimated share of the global GDP was 28.9%, which is incredible by today’s standards.

The data signals that the region was indeed the wealthiest place on Earth at that time.

Seven centuries down the line, when the Mughals were in power during the year 1700, Mughal India and the Chinese empire were jointly the two biggest economies on the planet – each region enjoying nearly 25% of the global GDP, and each one staying marginally ahead of the global GDP share of the whole of Europe put together.

But the Indian subcontinent’s firm grip on prosperity began to drastically weaken when colonisers from the western world started to make inroads here – first, through the East India Company over a 100-year spell from 1757 to 1857; and right after that, a 90-year reign by the British monarchy from 1857 to 1947.

When India earned freedom from British rule in 1947, its share of the global GDP stood at an unimpressive 3% – testimony to the financial damage that India’s economy suffered under the British opportunists.

Right now, India’s share of the global GDP stands at just 4.7% – far below the bright days of a thousand years back. And India’s clout globally is negligible because of the negative impact of free trade on the country and the presence of thousands of foreign business players that are pumping away financial resources.

THE START OF RECOLONISATION

Behind every major economic phenomenon lies a turning point. For modern India’s deepening economic misery, the 1990s was that turning point.

That was the time when the manufactured idea of ‘economic liberalisation’ was rolled out with aplomb.

While the mainstream narrative hailed India’s liberalisation starting in 1991 as a welcome move to resuscitate the struggling economy, the reality was grim and alarming.

On paper, 1991 onwards India was throwing open its stagnant economy to dynamic foreign investors, ending a regime of import tariffs, reducing the burden of over-taxation on big businesses, and allowing stifled markets to run freely without the state’s interference.

All that looked good and liberating – on paper.

In reality, the government’s decision to pave the way for liberalisation saw a red carpet being rolled out to foreign businesses so that they could tap into India’s vital financial resources and soak it up.

Once the economy was opened up, hundreds (and later thousands) of foreign companies or empires set up shop directly or paired up with indigenous companies to start minting money here – eventually transferring much of that financial wealth to their home countries, as explained before.

Liberalisation also saw India opening its doors to an unregulated import of goods and services from countries far and near. It sparked a phenomenal financial drain as imports outweighed exports, triggering a perpetual balance of trade deficit, as discussed earlier.

Interestingly, the liberalisation in 1991 wasn’t forced down the throats of the unsuspecting Indian public.

Instead, the country’s population, educated and otherwise, was groomed through a certain narrative during those early years of the 1990s – a narrative that repeatedly hammered home the message that India’s economy was in dire straits, it had run out of foreign exchange reserves, and it desperately needed to open up to foreign capital to bounce back to life.

If the state continued to regulate businesses; if domestic businesses continued enjoying the benefits of tariffs and other trade barriers; if foreign investments were kept at bay; if getting business licences continued to be difficult; if state-owned businesses were not thrown open to foreign and domestic private companies for buyouts; if consumerism wasn’t given a jump-start – then India’s economy would plunge further. In a nutshell, that was the narrative sold to the public at that time.

So as India was opened up to foreign corporates – leading to a permanent capture of a chunk of the economy – people didn’t mind the historic change they were witnessing. Instead, a section of the public unsuspectingly welcomed the ‘new order’ as a move that breathed life into what had been branded as an uncool economy.

MAGIC OF AD BLITZ

As foreign countries began showing up in the Indian marketplace, they were celebrated as their blistering ad campaigns on TV and roadside hoardings began to make an impression.

Among the foreign companies that began making inroads following India’s LPG drive (liberalisation, privitisation, globalisation) were some that were newcomers to the country while many others had already been around – but with lesser clout.

Suzuki had literally shot to fame with its epic tie-up with Maruti Udyog and the Indian government. Honda had become a household name for its partnership with India’s Hero Group. The Hero Honda ads on telly were a rage at that time. Cadbury’s, too, was not just the most popular neighbourhood chocolate after India-based Amul, but it was well-known for its catchy TV ads.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi had swiftly begun making it to the fridges of middle-class Indian households. The cola giants began battling for sponsorship of cricket tournaments, Indian cricket stars, and Bollywood icons. Coca-Cola’s ‘the official drinks partner’ ads were countered by Pepsi’s ‘nothing official about it’ propaganda series – and the contest was loved by youngsters.

Bata’s shoes were often wrongly seen as the best indigenous footwear in the market, while tech giants IBM and Microsoft began to resonate with the educated masses.

LPG was casting quite a spell, thanks to the advertisement blitz, basically a blinding corporate propaganda drive.

CABLE TV INVASION

Another interesting mode of ‘grooming’ and ‘shepherding’ the Indian public came about at that time in the form of a cable television boom. The advent of cable TV in middle-class neighbourhoods suddenly gave people a sort of a window to the world.

Once people started getting the taste of stylised, westernised mass media content on their TV sets – through popular channels such as Star Plus, Star Movies, AXN, Discovery, Cartoon Network, MTV, Prime Sports, ESPN, BBC, CNN – they lapped it up as a refreshing break from what began to be seen as the monotonous and limited ‘desi’ offerings of state-run Doordarshan network.

The charm, guile and freshness of international TV channels, most of which aired content largely from the western world, cajoled the captive Indian crowd into falling in love with getting ‘integrated’ with the world outside.

With Indians becoming hypnotised consumers of international mass media content from the cable TV explosion in their drawing rooms, it helped the cause of foreign corporate brands to get cheered and welcomed upon their arrival in India.

A key contribution of this ‘internationalisation’ of content and ads on our television sets was to push the TV-watching Indian crowd towards a foreign-influenced consumerist lifestyle.  

NO JOBS, JUST LIES

There are many influential people and interest groups that had openly championed the Indian government’s decision to open up the economy to LPG (liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation).

From politicians to bureaucrats to stakeholders in business to analysts to mainstream media to international organisations: the most common benefit of the move that they all spoke of was that LPG would jump-start employment. That there would be a huge job generation.

Statistics between 1991 and 2020, however, show that it’s quite the contrary. The unemployment rate in India in 1991 stood at 5.45%.

After economic reforms, instead of going down, unemployment kept creeping upwards for every subsequent year until 1996, when it stood at 5.65%. Then after falling only marginally for a few of years in between, it continued to rise before hitting 5.73% in 2003.

Over 30 years since economic reforms began, the unemployment rate stood at a worrisome 7.9% as of December 2021 (CMIE data). So the argument that liberalisation generates jobs is a complete myth, as proven by tell-tale data, not assumption.

The trend is similar when it comes to the youth unemployment rate – another key indicator of the general health of the economy. The youth unemployment rate stood at 16.6% in 1991, and over the next 28 years, it jumped up to 23.34% in 2019.

Even more alarming is the data on rising income equality. In January 2020, Oxfam published a study that found “India’s richest 1% owns over 4 times the wealth owned by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70% of the population”.

About three decades after India witnessed economic reforms, this is the sorry state of affairs when it comes to inequality of wealth.

These stats clearly shoot down the theory that opening up the Indian economy led to job generation and an improvement in standard of living.

JARGONS OF DECEPTION

Yet another factor that played a crucial role in convincing the public that the 1991 liberalisation was a necessary measure was the crafty use of deceptive terminology.

Just as foreign corporates were making a beeline to enter India, the mass media – some unwittingly and some knowingly – began dishing out certain terms and jargons that coaxed the educated class into welcoming the march of foreign opportunists.

India needs ‘FDI’ or ‘foreign direct investment’ to revive its struggling economy.

‘Privatisation’ is the only way to free up the country from state ownership.

‘Free trade’ is the need of the hour in a world that is getting integrated.

Isolationism is passé and the only way forward for a progressive India is to adopt ‘globalisation’.

‘Liberalisation’ of the economy is the only way to rescue it from excess government control.

These jargons were thrown at the educated masses by mass media outlets repeatedly, ad nauseum, to persuade them to accept the unprecedented cracking up of what was a carefully regulated economy.

The term ‘FDI’ served as a cover for a permanent invasion by foreign capital.

‘Privatisation’ was a cosmetic term for a fire-sale of precious state-owned assets.

There was nothing free about ‘free trade’ because it meant big companies from powerful countries could dump their goods in India in exchange for financial wealth transfer (Remember dependence theory?).

The term ‘globalisation’ was sold to to the public to make them feel they don’t get suspicious or xenophobic of foreign brands, whose products and services were grossly overpriced and often nonessential.

And the term ‘liberalisation’ helped remove government-controlled measures in place to protect domestic businesses.

In the end, the strategic use of terminology paved the way for the recolonisation of the Indian economy.

The jargons remind us of the 1980s when two similar terms – glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) – were used as cover (and promoted by foreign capitalist forces) for setting the Soviet economy free from state control.

THE GATT-WTO MAFIA

As the capture of the Indian economy by foreign corporates was underway, the country began to enter the orbit of powerful international institutions, such as GATT (later WTO), IMF and World Bank.

These influential entities started dictating terms to the government, guiding New Delhi towards doing away with trade barriers and handing India hefty loans with strings attached.

GATT, which is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, was a global trade pact inked by the governments of 23 countries in 1947. While it had the look and feel of a responsible monitoring body on international trade practices, its actual task was to take free trade forward.

In 1995, GATT underwent a makeover to become the WTO (World Trade Organization). Four years into liberalisation, India became a prime focus for the WTO as foreign companies fell over each other trying to enter the country’s lucrative marketplace.

The GATT-WTO programme had been geared towards breaking down trade barriers and promoting the principles of free trade – basically helping influential companies from powerful countries to storm into the economies of weaker nations.

Growing monitoring and pressure from GATT-WTO has seen not just India, but a number of similarly financially weak countries slip into impoverishment. It led to a widening of global inequality of wealth.

OUR THOUGHTS ARE COLONISED

Fast forward to the present: we are seeing yet another level of colonisation of India that has been driven by the advent of technology.

The social media boom, essential as it may seem, is actually a case of modern-day tech giants from America’s famed Silicon Valley colonising the entire digital space of India.

On the face of it, it may seem like Google Chrome, Gmail, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Microsoft Outlook, Zoom, LinkedIn and Skype are just handy tools in a world dominated by smartphones.

A closer look will show that these are not merely social media tools but actually privately-owned platforms with the potential to double up as privately-owned surveillance monitors.

These companies, which have a vice-like grip on the digital space, have monopolistic influence in their respective fields – and they enjoy extensive penetration across the length and breadth of India, giving rise to concepts such as ‘surveillance capitalism’ and ‘thought colonisation’.

Dangerously, our ‘thoughts’ and ‘data’ on our private lives are scripted and held captive in giant servers owned by these social media octopuses in remote parts of the world that we aren’t even aware of.

That information is then assessed, commodified and sold off – without our knowledge. What is even more dangerous is that we don’t feel alarmed by this onset of thought colonialism.

India is the primary market for these so-called social media companies from the western world. Yet, very few Indians are aware of a now-famous tweet from whistleblower Edward Snowden that exposes the real role of social media platforms in our lives.

On March 18, 2018, Snowden had tweeted: “Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as surveillance companies. Their rebranding as social media is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defence.”

POST-PANDEMIC, WHO RUNS THE SHOW?

Adding a new layer to the debate on whether India’s recolonisation will continue or freeze is the impact of a global economic calibration due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign companies in India as well as overseas businesses that used to trade with the country have definitely lost much of their steam to carry on conducting business at breakneck pace because of worldwide lockdowns, followed now by spells of restrictions due to worries over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

But the signs aren’t good in the long run.

News reports from a few months back point out that the Indian government reached out to more than 1,000 American companies to fill in the vacuum left by Chinese businesses that pulled out of India due to the initial impact of the pandemic and also because of an escalation of tensions between the two Asian neighbours.

That sounds like a captive getting freed from a captor and then calling out to other captors for help!

There’s a long history of eastern and western businesses repeatedly trying to tap into the Indian economy whenever their own countries have faced financial turmoil. Which is why there’s hardly any doubt they will launch the same project once the world completely shakes off the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated scaremongering.

Already, our economy is in the grip of over 4,000 foreign companies and foreign-controlled companies, alongside countless overseas MNCs that dump a monumental amount of mostly nonessential goods and services here.

Once the pandemic-related restrictions on global trade are fully lifted, the existing foreign players and new ones will make a desperate dash to tap into the Indian economy to recover the financial wealth they couldn’t make due to the coronavirus.

Post-pandemic, it will only be a matter of time before the halted engines of India’s economic recolonisation are back in full swing.

THE MEANING OF FREEDOM

The objective of this article is not to incite people into becoming xenophobic and into going ballistic against foreign brands, foreign countries or foreign culture.

It is not a clarion call for marginalised domestic businesses to use force and manipulation to take back control of the marketplace.

Instead, the article intends to call on fellow Indians to realise, acknowledge and accept the bitter truth that this country’s freedom is limited only to the political and administrative fronts. The economy is largely (not entirely, thankfully) controlled and gamed by foreign stakeholders.

It is possible that this realisation – that we are as deeply colonised as we were during the days of the East of India Company – could motivate domestic businesses and entrepreneurs to win back control of the Indian economy.

That someday, indigenous businesses will again control the Indian marketplace, and as a result, they will reinvest their earnings back into this country’s economy, helping stop finance outflows.

Once that picks up pace, there will be no resource loot or resource drain outwards. The revenues made by domestic businesses will remain at home, they will keep getting reinvested and recycled here itself, helping replenish the domestic economy. If we’re flush with our own hard-earned money that doesn’t leak outwards, obviously the country will see actual progress.

Nationwide ills such as inequality and joblessness won’t evaporate, but both ailments will be tempered down thanks to the growing domestic presence and reinvestment of our own financial wealth. Take the examples of say Germany or Switzerland. They, too, have their share of poverty and inequality, but overall, their populations are relatively much, much more well-off than deficit-ridden India.

At the heart of this whole issue of India’s recolonisation lies a fundamental question: do we really know what freedom really means?

A truly free country is one that has an economy free from any kind of external overcontrol or manipulation. A truly free country is not one that sees foreign players pumping financial resources out of it, precipitating deepening impoverishment.

Going by that metric, freedom is as much out of our reach now as it was during the darkest days of British colonialism (both versions, East India Company and UK monarchy).

It was colonialisation back then. It’s recolonisation now. Only the pages of the calendar have changed. India’s economic miseries have not.

‘Corporations’, ‘firms’, ‘businesses’, ‘conglomerates’, ‘enterprises’, ‘ventures’, ‘multinationals companies’, ‘transnational companies’ – by whatever name you call them, they are the modern-day East India Companies that have enveloped much of India’s economic landscape.

This Republic Day, let’s all celebrate it like we always passionately do. But should we just marvel at the fluttering flag and the echoing of the national anthem, and not dig deep into who or what exactly is squeezing the wealth out of our economy (like blood out of our bodies)?

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7 Comments

  1. The ‘corporations’, ‘firms’, ‘businesses’, ‘conglomerates’, ‘enterprises’, ‘ventures’, ‘multinationals companies’, and ‘transnational companies’ are eating not just India but the entire world. This is a horror. Beautifully written post.

    Liked by 1 person

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