Guest Post by Ravi Sinha
Recently, the Indian Prime Minister had occasion to report to the Japanese on his genealogy and haematic chemistry. Addressing a house-full of corporate honchos in Tokyo he declared, “I am a Gujarati, money is in my blood”. One does not know what percentage of Gujaratis would feel insulted by such a description. It can be asked, perhaps more meaningfully, if great civilizations are created by money-in-the-blood types and one may wonder if Gujarati greats such as Narsi Mehta, Narmad, Govardhan Ram or Gandhi, too, had money flowing in their blood.
There is also some irony in the situation – prime minister of a country with the largest number of world’s poor boasting about ‘money in the blood’ to the richest men of a country that has, in the post-war decades, made more money per capita than any other on the planet. This prime minister can be accused of many things but not of lacking in hubris unencumbered by learning and cultivation.
One may wonder about something else too. The Indians may deserve their new prime minister and all his speeches – on the Independence Day, the Teacher’s Day and on all the other days. After all, they have elected him. But what have the Japanese done to deserve this? What forces them, despite the depth and dignity of their civilization, to lap up such crassness and banality?
The answer can be given in one word – money. Continue reading Of Money-in-the-Blood and Blood-Money: Ravi Sinha
At the recent Historical Materialism conference held in Delhi from April 3-5, a panel was organized with great fanfare – an official panel by the HM editors – around Vivek Chibber’s new book Postcolonial Theory and the Spectre of Capital. This panel was billed to be a decisive refutation of Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial theory, not only by the chief theorists and organizers of Historical Materialism but by many other Indians – most of whom in any case have little more than a religious faith in ‘Marxism’ and understand little of Marxism and its history. There was glee all around and one came across the hurried announcement of a Centre for Marxist Studies that was to host further events around this book against the demon that Chibber had apparently slain. After all, Chibber was backed by the likes of Slavoj Zizek, Robert Brenner and Noam Chomsky, all of whom had endorsed his book as the death knell to Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial theory. The glee was to be short-lived.
On April 28, at the New York conference of Historical Materialism, the organizers made the mistake of inviting Partha Chatterjee (a representative of a spent force, already buried at the Delhi HM Conference!) to debate the new star on their horizon. The meticulous demolition of Chibber that followed, embarrassed even his most ardent supporters, who had hoped to see the redoubtable Partha vanquished in person. And Chhibber, let our marxist brethren note, is reduced to finally accepting that he is more inclined towards contract theory than towards Marxism!
Partha, whose years of meticulous engagement with Marxism can hardly be taken on cavalierly by any upstart on the horizon, calmly tore Chibber’s claims to shreds. Many supporters of Chibber’s book have, in social media, glumly described the 28 April event as a great setback to their cause…
Here is Partha in debate…
Since even the chief minister of Bengal admits that violence was used in Singur to acquire land against the wishes of farmers who owned and/or worked it, there’s virtually nobody who claims otherwise (except our favourite newspaper).
So the line that goes is that it is the state government which botched it up. If only you had allowed the Tatas to acquire land on its own, if only the land acquistion act didn’t require the Evil State to acquire the land… market forces of demand and supply would have prevailed. Continue reading Are the Tatas not to be blamed for the Singur fiasco at all?