Shaktichakra, the wheel of energies

Culture and systems of knowledge, cultivation and food, population and consumption

Seventy-five years of extended colonisation

with one comment

Mumbai, India’s fabled city of dreams.

There is now a third generation of young adults in India who believe, because that is what they have been led to believe, that they live in a free and democratic country. In the way that their parents did and their grandparents did, the young adult Indians consider themselves to be citizens of a sovereign nation which has the wherewithal to determine its identity and place in the world, and that within that ‘national identity’ they are free to find and play out their individual identities and personal or family aims.

This idea is sustained and fed today by a set of tools very much more sophisticated compared with those that were available and used 25 years, ago, 50 years ago and 75 years ago. Many of the new tools are of course deliverred through the internet. Twenty-five years ago it was television, Fifty years ago it was radio. Assisting the new tools that create and spread crude ideas of ‘nationhood’, ‘patriotism’, ‘love for the motherland’ and ‘unity in diversity’ are a legion of minor methods. These include what are today called influencers, advertising by Indian commercial companies – and considerably more by the foreign multi-nationals whose products and services are sold here – television serials that are now beamed through the medium of smartphones perhaps more than they are beamed to TV screens, and a myriad ‘youth’ and ‘grassroots’ organisations controlled by the political formations.

What the young adult Indian of 2022 is fed is a diet of caricatured national belonging. Since 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party formed the national government (it formed the government again in 2019), the childish sloganeering that has, for 75 years, been a feature of Indian ‘democracy’, has increased greatly in tempo and volume. This was a staple during the two earlier national governments – that of 2009 and 2004 – under the Indian National Congress.

The excuse very often given for the great prevalence of sloganeering as the primary communication between political formations and citizens, from the later period of the Struggle for Independence (in the 1940s) and including the two most recent phases of Congress rule, was that illiteracy is widespread, and such messages make a ready impact. That was the strategy for elections in India, and ever since the 2004 central government (and especially since 2014), has also been the strategy used to foist a misshapen brand of nationalism onto citizens, except that since 2004 the brand has had as a wrapper the term ‘development’, or ‘vikas‘.

To me it is very doubtful indeed whether there were more than a very tiny minority of young adults who, by the end of August 1947, when the fervour of the celebrations had abated somewhat, looked around them and asked one another with any seriousness, what is the form and substance of our independence. I do not think that in any of the years from 1948 until today, 2022, such a minority has enlarged its numbers (as a portion of thinking and critical young adults, or indeed adults of any age group of India).

There is nearly nothing at all today, which forms the apparatus and provides the methodologies, utilising which Indian families and adults pursue their lives and livelihoods, which is Indian in thought and form. India’s cities, in which perhaps 55% of the country’s people now live, are easily amongst the most polluted in the world and, together with their abysmal civic conditions, are just as easily amongst the most unlivable in the world. There is no Indianness whatsoever in these gigantic settlements, that are criss-crossed brutally by ‘infrastructure’ and befouled by industrial and consumer effluent. They are several degrees worse than the industrial townships of the communist bloc of the 1960s, but only much bigger.

The food that young adult Indians, that their children and babies are fed, that their elderly parents are offered, is designed to injure and weaken. What was by the late 1990s called the retail revolution in India was indeed revolutionary for the country, because it cunningly household cooking a drab drudgery that chained the woman (who if freed could puruse a ‘career’ and add to the national income) and introduced food ‘convenience’ in the form of Maggi two-minute noodles, which in more recfent years has become the ‘food service’ industry, ready-to-eat packets, and food ‘takeaways’ delivered on a two-wheeler to the consumer doorstep by an underpaid, un-unionised, dangerously overworked slave of a logistics enterprise who, himself underfed, steals from ‘cloud kitchens’ whenever he can.

The medicine and ‘health care’ the young adult Indian is led to spend copious amounts of money on, for himself, children and parents (if his parents have not yet been despatched to a ‘seniors home’ or, more stylish, an ‘assisted living centre’) is, like food but more so (especially after March 2020), a fundamental means of control for the large group of transnational enterprises that in fact control the country. Whereas in the 1980s and even in the 1990s the reach of ayurveda, siddha, unani, tribal and indigenous medicine, homoeopathy, naturopathy and their allies were popular, if relatively inconspicuous, today they have been pushed well outside the margins of what is understood to be public health, whether as the government-sponsored and aided public health system or whether the commercial healthcare industry, both being equally controlled by the pharmaceutical and drugs multinationals.

There is nothing which today in India is called a ‘sector’ – by which a particular kind of activity and its asociated products and services are labelled – which is Indian in concept and finished form. Education is like a remote-controlled Frankenstein’s monster, a figure clumsily composed of ill-fitting parts. The Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, the ‘top’ tiers of engineering and medical universities and colleges, all compel young Indians – not yet adults – to conform to the demands of global finance capital and the globalised industries such capital controls, invents and replaces.

Transport and mobility, energy and power, telecommunications, information technology, core heavy industry, all these are simulacra of the idea of western ‘development’ and ‘modernity’ transferred to Indian soil and using Indian raw materials. There is no Indian-designed equivalent of the internal combustion engine (nor even an Indian modification of the more than 100 most common kinds of automotive engines that have been invented elsewhere in the world during the last century). There is no Indian electricity-generating plant that does not burn coal or a petroleum derivative in faithful imitation of the west (the smokeless chulha remains a ‘development’ curiosity).

A public sector firm called Indian Telephone Industries used to make the rotary dial telephone instruments for decades. When the global telecom hardware industry invented the mobile phone, that too vanished. Even with the ‘smartphone’ there is no Indian telecom chipset manufacturer (naturally, because indigenous chipset development is prohibited by the same forces) nor is there an Indian operating system for the ‘smartphone’. This of course has much to do with the Indian servility, now more than 35 years old, in ‘info-tech’.

The young Indian adults, a group that forms the overwhelming majority of the ‘IT engineers’ of India, are lower than the assembly-line or factory shopfloor workers their parents and grandparents were. They modify nothing, their specialisations are extreme, their range of competencies is shockingly narrow, they are constantly goaded by externally-set and directed ‘performance markers’. They inhabit a truly frightening world. Their seniors write no standards for any product, and are chained by meaningless perquisites and stock options to the whims of the global capital vultures who use both info-tech and telecom as 21st century devices of overwhelming control.

There could be around 850 million adults in India in 2022. But we don’t know because the 2021 Census of India was not begun in 2020 and has still not begun. The administration of the colonised territory that is India has no interest in counting its people because that counting is done many times every single day – by the many subsidiaries of the transnational corporations whose smartphones, digital wallets, telecom service providers, ‘smart’ home televisions and assortment of ‘internet of things’ gadgets relay the daily minutiae of every Indian adult, child and senior that posesses them. The state, that is, what is presented as being the Republic of India, in this 75th year, is either redundant or is nearing redundancy. The notion of ‘independence’ therefore is an utterly false one.

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Written by makanaka

August 15, 2022 at 12:51

One Response

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  1. An excellent in depth analysis. But how many people understand that mankind has been pawned by fraction of humans. Once upon a time there were ruthless ki gs and rulers. with an ambition to conquer the world and now there are global corporations, vying to capture the human mind globally.. The new media has helped them. All young people, Men and women were running a race to achieve the standards that market defines. And one day the humanans among the people will feel that they have run out of energy and would not like to pace with ever changing lifestyle that was dictated by the market.

    Skm

    August 16, 2022 at 00:40


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