Thursday, 1 June, 2023

Woes Spawned By Lack Of Will

Woes Spawned By Lack Of Will

P Kharel

The will to change will always prevail, sooner or later, whatever the twists and turns in the events and processes involved before the eventual outcome emerges. Rather than wailing over woes, the call is for commitment to cope with the existing challenges. Writing for the Indian Wire news outlet the other month, Jayati Ghosh pointed out the existing deep discrepancy in a poor country like India, with highly affluent elite. The glaring inequality comes under sharp focus in a country that proudly proclaims itself as the world’s “largest” multiparty democracy. Seen as one of the most unequal countries in terms of income and wealth, Ghosh warns India’s democratic challenges are stupendous.

In fact, its quest for socialism risks being pushed too far behind by way of success rate. Sifting the scanty data scattered and painstakingly gathered, analysts indicate the deterioration to have rendered the bottom half of India’s 1.39 billion population’s income share to merely 13 per cent in contrast to 22 per cent share of the top 1 per cent. If chronic gap continues to grow, potential serious problems get fuelled in creating large scale public disenchantment, disgruntlement and conditions far worse.

Such indicators constitute a setback for any nation assertively aspiring for the status of a major international power to reckon with. Existing pattern of development — or underdevelopment — in much of the world suggests the deep-seated workings of a vicious cycle that churns out unflattering economic conditions. The task is to address the situation head on and generate confidence in the masses that the days ahead are set for the better loud and clear. Individual nation’s economic interests override other considerations. When the crunch comes, principles are consigned to the backburner, and hostile even brutally unfair activities are triggered.

In the 1956 Suez crisis when Egypt’s President Nasser nationalised the waterway, the US distanced itself from the British and French military intentions, and prevented a likely war. Just over a decade after the end of World War II, Washington and London thus happened to signal to the international community that their stand did not necessarily have to rhyme on every major international issues.

Deals are struck as per national interests wherever possible. When adjustments are required, common points are accommodated for minimum mutual interests. Rulers every now and then tend to push their way forward by dubious means and lame excuses. If unsuccessful, they implicitly or explicitly, pray for and warn of Judgment Day! That’s the losers’ course of self-consolation, despised as compulsion but likely to bare their teeth the moment an occasion offers opportunity for avenging earlier setback.

Financial secrecy maintained at national and international levels caters to the greed of the domineering breed oriented to securing its comfort zone and assuring the profiteering class by any means in the guise of “strategic interests”. However, the times of traditional order are about to cave in, which means it’s all a question of a few decades, paving way for a new era whose duration is as unpredictable as have been its predecessor orders were down the centuries.

As the No. 1 superpower, the United States provides one of the latest examples regarding how fickle the fortunes of political figures can be. During the campaign course of the 2016 presidential election in the United States, most political analysts, news media and public opinion polls dismissed the Republican candidate Donald Trump as not only unfit for the world’s most power office but he would be defeated by Democratic Party ticket holder and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The eventual outcome brought into glaring focus the contradictory aspects of the electoral system. It was a touch-and-go in that Trump won the decisive majority of collegiate votes whereas Clinton obtained more popular votes. Particularly the sections that had dismissed Trump as the presidential candidate seemed bent on proving that the new occupant at the White House would be a disastrous. Citing hundreds of his statements and claims, they condemned his habit of peddling “lies” as matter of routine.

No doubt, Trump functioned in a style markedly different from his predecessors, at least, in the post-World War II years. Both on the domestic front and in the conduct of international relations, his policies received mixed reactions. His core support base, however, has not diminished even 16 months after he failed in his bid for a second term, which turned out to be a messy affair amidst claim of victory stealing and counterclaim of being a “disgrace” to the nation’s democratic culture.

A fortnight before Biden was to be sworn into office, thousands of Trump’s diehard supporters went on the rampage in Washington, creating ugly scenes contributing to a highly embarrassing spectacle to the world. Images of the rancorous engagement peaked by the unedifying fracas and Trump’s refusal to attend Biden’s inauguration to formally pass on the baton to the successor.
Politics of radical action infects many leaders, groups and nations. Societies search for new ways and means of improving the process of democratic governance and quality of life for an average individual. Three years ago, Britain quit European Union membership. Today, whereas anti-Brexiters are cribbing over London nowhere close to emerging as Singapore-On-Themes, China proves to be a super engine of global economy.

Relentless search
Wealth concentration is an infection not only in the big capitalist countries, as shown by the past few decades. Globally, the top 1 per cent owned two-fifths of all wealth growth. In India, the bottom half of the population’s share is a paltry 6 per cent of the wealth in contrast to the top 1 per cent having with more than one-third of the national share. The COVID-19 pandemic period, too, proved to be one of high profits for the superrich billionaires while the plight of well over 95 per cent of an average individual is discouraging.

Free market slogan could tread dangerous grounds if large majority of people were to get disenchanted and lose faith in the existing political systems if the economic gains produced minuscule beneficiaries. Search for the prevailing economic trends and their inherent ills is the call of the hour to put at bay potential troubles in the not too far future. Sound assessments and matching prescriptions should pull things together. For justice in wealth distribution aimed at reducing the huge gap between the rich and the poor will become a major issue in the ensuing times. This should not be taken lightly.

(Professor Kharel specialises in political communication.)