Comparisons, contrasts and a competitive evaluation!
China’s 70 rich delegates to Parliament!
India’s 36 richest Member of Parliament!
China’s richest support the party and the government!
Some comparisons of what is happening inside China and in India!
Yes, we seem to imagine and feel a bit complacent too about India being the world’s biggest democracy, right?
Yes, in other areas too India seems to be different and much better than China. In India there is rule of law, there is elected parliament, there is independent judiciary and also free press and there are any number of political parties that are vociferous and noisy and there is the constant debate and discussion on public platforms and on the TV screens and yes, we are different from China, totally India is a different country from China.
Then, please see the ironies and also the realities.
This March in China there is going to be a new parliament meeting. They call it as the National People’s Congress (NPC) and there are delagt5es of as many as 3,000! In India we have a parliament with just 500 and odd members. Here the contrast stops.
There are very rich delegates to the Chinese NCP, some 7o rich delegates, all China’s top businessmen worth 11. 5billion US dollars last year. This is authentic, a Shanghai based report by a company, Hurun, which seems to publish the China’s rich list every year.
In India too we are having several such rich lists, the list of the rich MPs from India is published by several NGOs, one is widely quoted the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and also the National Election Watch and many others in the field.
The ADR lists the MPs rich list and says that the current list of 36 richest Indian members have a combined total wealth of 252 million dollars.
Of course, this is all no big news and also China and India are different.
But wait a minute.
What is really big news is that in India, as also in Russia too, besides China (two of the supposedly) authoritarian countries and societies, Russia is still not a free country, an opened democracy like in the Western sense, there is the hold of the oligarchy on the life of a common Russian citizen, no free judiciary and no free press (in fact pressmen and women are getting killed there. Now in China, there is also no free judiciary, no free press, no opposition parties either.
Two leaders of the recent past who played a big role in China’s destiny, that is the right word, are Jiang Zemin (some 12 long years of rule) and Deng Xiaoping.
Deng brought Capitalism to China, though observers are very discreet in admitting this bland fact rather clearly and openly. So too Ziang’s co-option of the rich businessmen into the NCP. Ziang thought the co-option of the rich businessmen, often they are not independent businessmen and entrepreneurs in the American sense but they are also the government heads of the big state enterprises. However, they are obliged to the government favours to accumulate their wealth.
It is not clear whether they hold their wealth as their private fortune or they taxes or hold the wealth as public property as well. However, some names given, one the second riches man is a chairman of a beverage company, they serve on government advisory councils, what does it mean in China?
Anyway, in India we have a similar convergence of the business and industrialist groups, individually or otherwise who are seen as very influential and even over-powerful enough to swing government, (read democratic government’s) policies.
The 2G case is a watershed in post-Nehru, why even post-Indira Gandhi-s era of government and governance.
Here is a case where we see so many new features if not a whole lot of contradictions.
We saw how the 2G case evolved and solved itself finally!
Some of the biggest and powerful names, individuals, politicians and industrialists, why even the lobbyists and even the media figures, who all prominently plays roles in the issuing of telecom licenses and also even inducting the ministers in the key portfolios, the most infamous was the telecom portfolio!
Yet these key players, all indulging in such high-scale corrupt practices were let off the hook finally!
The industrialist or industrialists are happy to be away from public attention or scrutiny, the lobbyist is no more heard off, the journalists and anchors are nowhere to be seen, though they lost their face long ago!
The most corrupt of all, the politicians, the national and regional party leaders are also happy to sit back and have a hearty, laugh at the turn of events.
This is for a democratic India and its parliament and judiciary and the press to ponder over.
As for China, there is total suppression at the end of the day with or without the70 rich Chinese businessmen, call them as capitalists or by any other name you can fancy.
Unfortunately, the point here is the common features.
There is rising corruption, both in China and in India!
There is rising concern for the lack of the rule of law in China of course, but in India too there is the concern about the bad governance, widely, wide enough to cover the whole of the country, at the Centre as well as in the states, from W.Bengal to TN and beyond.
This is a subject that calls for deeper study and analysis and solutions.
On another from too there is discontent in China.
There is a widespread discontent in China in rural China, in the villages and also in the local government. That also catches the international attention.
In a recent instance, in a Southern China village, village of Wukan, Guangdong province a group of villagers rose against the local Communist Party of China and the villagers staged a protest against land grab!
This invited the attention of no less a person than the present Premier of China, Mr.Wen who went all the way to the village to pacify the villagers.
They Premier said that “the arbitrary seizure of farmland was triggering mass protests, in a rare acknowledgement of high government official of the driving force behind the “tens of thousands of such cases reported every year”.
This is really the news. For such protests, mass protests are not taking place inside China over several such issues, land disputes, migration of the rural people into China’s new cities, also over ethnic unrest in Western China and also the Tibetan issues, not the least is the unset among the rising Chinese middle classes, of academics, cultural and intellectual protests and also from the new generation of the Internet community of youngsters.
The point, actually, the very important point to be noted is that in India we see a rise in dynastic politics, some families now try to monopolies political power for there is much opportunity to amass power and property. This, we see in every state, from UP, to Punjab and Goa and much more prominently in the South, in TN.
So, what future for democracy?
For fighting rising political corruption?
For cleansing the parliamentary democracy, getting rid of the scourge of money and muscle power in parliament?
In cleansing the big money power and also the bureaucrats occupying all the political space, in PM’s chairs, Rashtrpathy Bhavans and also in parliament and Rajya Sabha?
If this type of a new oligarchy is to take hold of the democracy institutions, what chance for the aspirations for equality?
The fast economic growth is accompanied by the fast rise in inequality too.
So, what are the chances for Indian democracy? Or, what room is there for a true and genuine liberal democracy in India?
Or, what sort of competition or comparison with China, still a totalitarian and an oppressive regime in our neighbourhood, that would always invite a comparison and a competitive comparison that would also invite a sort of Asian upsurge and Asian stability being affected?
There are all questions, not for the weak hearted or the selfish coteries and power seekers.
This is a topic +for the wise and the sober sections of Indian society and politics.