Loot, corporate loot



India and China are normally compared for economic growth. But the two are poles apart the way they push reforms to foster growth.

India has dismantled all protection mechanisms for poor and the middle-class so that profits of the corporates can increase whereas China has ensured benefits of the growth are equitable.

China last week pushed for higher taxes on rich triggering a similar demand in India.

Indian policy-makers out-rightly rejected the proposition saying the richer are taxed more than the ordinary ones. Not fully true. The government in the last budget gave tax rebates of over Rs. 3,50,000 crore to the corporate world, which was equal to 70% of the central government’s yearly spending for public welfare.

If that was not enough, the last six months had witnessed the government quick dismantling of its people-protection regime and opening the doors for higher corporate loot. And, one cannot expect accountability when loot is happening.

It hurts because such loot is being allowed from the highest office in India – the Prime Minister’s.

The Prime Minister’s Office has pushed the environment ministry in the last two months or so or since when Dr V Rajagopalan was appointed secretary to dismantle its people-environment protection regime.

I was dismayed to find that the environment ministry says that up to 25% expansion in mining can happen without any additional adverse impact on environment. More so, the ministry also gave two years to the companies to regularize illegal mining in the mineral-rich forests of India. Not to speak about how the rights of poor tribals have been compromised by allowing linear projects without their consent.

All this is under the pleasantly sounding words – “streamlining of the norms”. It is allowing the rich to loot further because there is little or no accountability of the corporates in the environmental regulation regime pursued by the UPA.

Any efforts to make corporates more accountable are on the back-burner.

Old and archaic systems of environmental accountability, which only leads to corruption, are in place and sadly, no one in the government is talking about reforming them. The only reform the government wants is to allow the corporate to loot country’s rich minerals.

In a year or so, over 18,000 hectares of forestland was diverted to fulfill this greed. And, in the last six years or so not even a single project has been rejected for environmental clearance, a record no other country can boost of.

If someone, deeply and rightly investigates, the environmental scam in India would be bigger than 2G, Coal and Commonwealth Games scams put together. The key question is who would ring the bell? To me, both government and the corporate sector will not as they mutually gain from it. Someone Gandhian like Anna Hazare would have bell the cat or else the corporate loot would go on.

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