December 31, 2022: Fresh waves of Covid-19. Exciting new web series. Political yatras. Suicides in Bollywood. Latest smartphone trends. India’s rivalry with China and Pakistan. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Noisy TV debates. The list of things that keep you engrossed all day goes on and on.
You are living in times when you are constantly bombarded with information that you mostly don’t need. The bombardment of over-information happens via TV, smartphones, internet, newspapers, magazines, radio, schools, movies, books, think tanks, journals, research papers, and advocacy groups.
Interestingly, this overdose of information does not include one sensitive topic that you actually need to know in the larger interest of how your country works. It’s a topic that some global powers don’t want you to pay attention to.
This topic is a certain project that has been silently underway in India over the past few decades. What is this project that some international powers don’t want you to know about? It is a financial project – called neocolonialism – being carried out by foreign corporate powers to slowly and steadily recolonise the Indian economy and extract an enormous amount of money from it.
Yes, you read it right. It’s a quiet project to prise open our precious economy. A large bunch of international corporate forces are pumping out a vast quantity of money from India without you even noticing it. The project is happening now on an unprecedented scale, and at an unprecedented speed.
When the British and Russian empires locked horns during the 19th century for geopolitical domination of Central and South Asia, the tussle was famously called the Great Game. Today’s geopolitical neocolonialism project to recapture India’s economy can be aptly called Great Game 2.0.
We know that this neocolonialism theory sounds like some conspiracy theory to you. That’s because you have never been told about this incredible operation by your trusted information sources, especially the mainstream press. Great Game 2.0 is indeed happening right now, and right under your nose as you are reading this.
Now, let’s go deep into what this project is all about. Who are these foreign forces that are trying to recapture or recolonise India’s economy? Well, they are modern-day empires. And what are these modern-day empires? They are a huge network of giant foreign corporations or multinational companies (MNCs) owned by powerful business families from countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Interestingly, while we are never directly told that such a vast, economic project is underway, we are allowed to discuss the collateral impact of the operation. Such as rising inflation, deepening poverty, increasing job losses, alarming rural distress, continual currency depreciation, and perpetual administrative failure.
Unfortunately for dedicated followers and fanatics of mainstream news, India’s popular press doesn’t or can’t make any effort to blow the whistle on what’s happening with our economy. Instead, the mainstream media helps those behind the neocolonialism project by keeping the public distracted with shallow and irrelevant news.
They report the fallout of this economic recolonisation as naïve, unconnected events. Hence, you are unable to connect the dots and see the larger picture. Why does the mainstream media play this negative role in the lives of its audiences? Because it is on their side, not on your side. The mainstream press survives on the money it gets from the foreign corporate players in the form of advertisements, advertorials, tie-ups, endowments, and partial or full ownership.
The point is, the dark days of the British East India Company are here again. The East India Company left us long back, shortly after the uprising of 1857. But modern-day East India Companies have landed back in India. They have their boots on the ground. Yet again. Colonialism isn’t gone. It’s back as neocolonialism.
Overt vs. covert neocolonialism
It was a case of overt colonisation back then. What is unfolding now is covert recolonisation. Only the pages of the calendar have changed.
By the way, as many as seven East India Companies, and not just one, looted India during the past. Apart from British East India Company, there was Dutch East India Company, Swedish East India Company, Austrian East India Company, French East India Company, Danish East India Company, and Portuguese East India Company.
The new-age companies use their geopolitical influence and sharp marketing skills to dump tons and tons of nonessential products here that we don’t really need from them – that we can easily produce ourselves. After dumping their goods here, the foreign forces pump the vast earnings out of India. They park that money straight into the banks of their home countries. Those banks then reinvest that money into their own economies, making them grow and develop.
As a net effect of this financial wealth transfer out of India due to this neocolonialism, the home countries of the foreign corporate forces are getting richer and richer by the day, while they are constantly offloading their poverty right into India. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple economics.
The foreign corporate players behind this enormous operation to wring India’s economy dry are names that you know very well. They are conglomerates, companies, and trusts whose brands are household names across India because of their immense popularity, thanks to the power of ads.
The idea here is not to name and shame the new East India Companies or to whip up xenophobia against foreign cultures and foreign individuals. Empire Diaries is firmly against xenophobia and believes in the need for exchanging cultures and ideas across borders.
The focus here is to give you a clear picture that a silent financial drain of the Indian economy is underway, and nobody is paying attention to this intensifying neocolonialism. The focus here is to educate fellow Indians that the country will become poorer and poorer if this gigantic wealth transfer is allowed to continue freely.
Of course, we need to acknowledge that India is not colonised technically. We celebrate our Independence Day and Republic Day. We elect our own political leaders. Our courtrooms, bureaucracy, army, police, and civil services are all run by Indians. Physically, we are free. But our economy is controlled by several thousand foreign corporate players.
This economic recolonisation was, in fact, waiting to happen since 1947, when we gained political independence from illegal British occupiers. It finally gathered speed during the early 1990s, when neocolonialism struck, and the doors of India’s economy were thrown open to foreign corporations and organisations, such as the World Bank and the IMF. As a result, thousands of overseas businesses rushed into India and started to set up shop. Effectively, we gift-wrapped a chunk of our economy and handed it over to the foreign companies and their backers.
3,200+ foreign companies in India
In August 2022, the corporate affairs ministry disclosed that 3,291 foreign companies actively operate in India, while there are 5,068 companies registered. These 3,291 foreign companies operate here in three forms. Some of them officially have operations on Indian soil.
Some of them have partnerships with local companies and operate as foreign-controlled companies. And there are some that operate covertly using shell or cover companies that give the impression they are Indian companies, when they’re actually not. You can’t establish their presence here through paperwork. The system is designed that way. That’s how neocolonialism works – it’s insulated.
Most of these modern-day empires or foreign corporate forces are from the US, China, Britain, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Switzerland, just to name a few.
Look at any industry, and you will find that foreign corporate players are running the show. In some sectors of the Indian economy, the foreign players have moderate influence; while in many other areas, they call the shots, dictating terms to the vast Indian consumer base.
Fast food, textiles, cold drinks, banks, gadgets, healthcare, cars, insurance, toys, confectionary, defence equipment, medicines, browsers, social media apps – Indian companies are losing out to foreign forces in most of these areas. What has been their biggest success story? Smartly using their influence and charm, they managed to turn millions of Indians into devoted customers and dedicated employees.
You might wonder, what’s wrong if foreign companies do business in India? Aren’t they generating jobs? Aren’t they bringing in investments? Aren’t they paying taxes and giving us new things to buy? Are we hyping it all up by labelling it as neocolonialism?
Well, these are only superficial contributions. They are completely outweighed by the overall negative effects of the financial wealth transfer. It’s like CSR events of rogue companies, or charity done by billionaires dodging taxes. The math is plain and simple. The minuses dwarf the pluses. And the mainstream press tells you only about the pluses.
Fizzy drinks, fuzzy maths
To understand what is precisely going on in this neocolonialism project, let’s use an example, say a popular foreign fizzy drink. The case study can be multiplied a few thousand times over to get a sense of how we are financially bleeding from the overall impact of the economic recolonisation.
Now, let’s assume the foreign soft drink giant in question is an immensely popular consumer good all over India, especially among youngsters, sports junkies and foodies, right from urban India to far-flung suburbs and villages.
For every bottle of soft drink that the foreign company produces in India and then sells here, it makes a certain profit. Out of that profit earned per bottle, one part goes to the Indian government’s coffers as taxes. Another part is reinvested by the foreign company into its operations in India to sustain or expand its business. And the third part of that profit (which is often the largest part) is dispatched to the home country of the soft drink company where it’s headquartered.
So, the money the foreign fizzy drink company makes in India is sent all the way to the foreign country, its home turf. Technically, the money travels from here mostly to foreign banks, while some of it presumably gets parked in tax havens around the world.
Now multiply that take-home profit from that one bottle by the lakhs and lakhs of bottles that the foreign company sells in India each day, each week, each month, and each year. The final sum of the profits that it transfers to its home country – partly to foreign banks and partly to overseas tax havens – runs into millions of dollars annually.
It’s crucial here to understand what’s happening to India’s economy as a result. The cold drink company is 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 beverages. That perpetual transfer or outflow of financial wealth from India is directly resulting in its deepening poverty.
Importing other countries’ poverty
Well, because there’s a neat transfer of wealth from India to a foreign country, there’s a resultant transfer of that same degree of poverty from that country straight into India. Wealth moves from here to there, and poverty gets transferred from there to here. It’s a hallmark of neocolonialism.
Outward wealth transfer by foreign companies is not the only way in which India is constantly leaking money. There’s another way in which moolah flows from here to the banks of foreign countries. It’s through the import of nonessential goods and services from abroad. We’re talking about international trade. Essentially, India imports much more from other countries and exports less, resulting in an overall outward drain of the country’s financial resources.
In November 2022, India’s trade balance ran an embarrassing deficit of $23.9 billion, which means our overall imports overshot our overall exports in a big way. Between January 1957 and November 2022, India’s average trade balance was a deficit of $401 million. In fact, the trade deficit hit a record low of $29.2 billion in September 2022.
So, the neocolonialism project is seeing the Indian economy leaking money through these two routes. One, through foreign companies earning profits here and reinvesting them in their home countries. And two, via India importing goods in excess of what it exports.
Dependency theory and neocolonialism
There’s an interesting theory that fits well with what is happening with the Indian economy. It’s called the Dependency Theory, which exposes the root cause of why countries such as India perpetually suffer trade deficits. The Dependency Theory has its beginnings in two papers written in 1949. They were authored by Hans Singer, a German-born economist from the UK, and Raul Prebisch, an economist from Argentina.
According to the theory, some countries remain financially troubled because vital resources always flow from the ‘margins’, which are poorer and weaker nations, to the ‘core’, which are affluent and powerful countries.
The theory says that this imbalance of powerful countries dominating less influential countries and siphoning their money is possible primarily because the two contrasting parties are deeply integrated into a common global system. As a result of this integration or connectedness, weak countries are unable to break free from the influence or orbit of powerful countries, which then exploit them financially through economic tools such as trade and FDI.
The theory helps us understand why India continues to remain so poor – mainly because our economy is too deeply integrated with a rigged world system in which the terms of trade are heavily tilted in favour of powerful countries that call themselves developed nations.
When India was rich
Now, let’s turn the clock back by a thousand years to the time when the Indian landmass was not colonised. In the year 1000 CE, several empires were simultaneously running the Indian subcontinent. It is estimated that for a 1,000-year period from around 1 CE to around 1000 CE, the economy of the Indian subcontinent was the largest in the world. In 1000 CE, the Indian region’s estimated share of the global GDP was as high as 28.9%, which is an incredible figure. Data shows that this region was the wealthiest place on Earth at that time.
Seven centuries later, 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 25% of the global GDP.
However, the Indian subcontinent’s phenomenal prosperity began to drastically diminish when invaders from the Western world came here – first, through the British East India Company for a 100-year spell from 1757 to 1857; and right after that, through a 90-year spell by the British monarchy from 1857 to 1947.
When India gained freedom from British invaders in 1947, its share of the global GDP stood at a pathetic 3% – a clear result of colonisation. Right now, India’s share of the global GDP is just over 3% – far below the bright days of the past. In simple words, today’s India is a dustbowl of consumers and cheap labour for foreign players to exploit.
Let’s look at some other hard facts in the context of a gigantic shock treatment we received about 30 years ago. We’re talking about the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation of the Indian economy that was kick-started in the early nineties.
Data shows that the unemployment rate in India in 1991 was 5.45%. Now, 22 years after the much-celebrated reforms, joblessness stands at 8.5%. The trend is equally dismal for youth unemployment as well. The youth unemployment rate was 16.6% in 1991. In the next 28 years, it shot up to 23.34% in 2019.
The data on India’s rising income equality is also alarming. In January 2020, Oxfam published a disturbing study. It found that “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”.
These tell-tale numbers prove that the onset of foreign corporate players steadily entering the Indian marketplace has definitely not resulted in more jobs and an improvement in the public’s economic condition. Instead, it has expectedly denuded the Indian economic landscape by scraping out financial resources.
Jargon jugglery of economics
A major factor that played a crucial role in misleading the unsuspecting Indian public into welcoming the onrush of foreign corporate players was the crafty use of deceptive terminology. It’s another key characteristic of neocolonialism. Just as foreign corporations were making a beeline to enter India, the mass media – some unwittingly and some knowingly – began to dish out certain strategic terms.
The term ‘FDI’ served as a cover for an economic invasion by foreign capital. ‘Privatisation’ was a cosmetic term for the fire sale of 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 Dependency Theory?).
The term ‘globalisation’ was sold to the public to make them feel they don’t become 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.
This brand of silent neocolonialism or the recolonisation of the Indian economy over the past few decades has come a long, long way. It began with the birth of the World Bank, the IMF, and the GATT, which later became the WTO. Fast forward to the present. We are seeing yet another level of the recolonisation of India, driven by so-called technological advancement.
The social media boom is actually a case of modern-day tech empires mostly from California’s famed Silicon Valley capturing India’s entire digital landscape. If you take a step back and look at India’s internet ecosystem, you will realise that foreign tech giants literally own the space. From social media apps to browsers to video-sharing sites to OTT platforms – we rely mostly on foreign companies, usually from the West.
Simple, peaceful solution
Corporations, MNCs, conglomerates, enterprises, trusts, etc. – by whatever name you call them, they are the modern-day East India Companies. And yet, it’s India that is in their crosshairs as part of their neocolonialism mission.
There’s an old saying – desperate situations need desperate measures. For Indians, nationalistic occasions such as January 23, January 26, and August 15 remind us that we are indeed capable of setting our economy free from foreign control. Our freedom fighters did it valiantly in the past. We can do it yet again. And to achieve it, we don’t need guns, bullets, violence, and xenophobia of foreign cultures. All we need to do is to simply change our mindset over what to buy and what not to.
We need to wake up to this ongoing economic recolonisation, and help thousands and thousands of local businesses stand up on their feet and constructively outperform their foreign rivals. If we start buying goods and services made only by Indians, the new-age swadeshi movement will ensure that the rest of the things will fall into place.
Once the trend of going desi for the sake of supporting our indigenous businesses catches on, modern-day East India Companies will start becoming irrelevant, domestic companies will rise to become the backbone of our economy, our financial wealth will remain within the country, and India will become prosperous and self-sufficient again.
To turn the Great Game 2.0 or this intensifying neocolonialism on its head and help rescue the Indian economy, let’s first wake each other up from the deep slumber we’ve been lulled into by the mainstream media.
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