Some of the élites are in a fury and others busy in making cover up. West Bengal Education Ministry scam in recruiting teachers, though yet to be come as व्यापक (vyapak) as the व्यापम (vyapam) scam of the of Madhya Pradesh where one officer was found to be in possession of ₹70 crores, has already made storms in media, social-media and over cups of tea, where in a search conducted in a flat of a girl friend of the minister revealed more than ₹20-25 crores in cash. More searches are going on and the minister was arrested, discharged from ministry and purged from the ruling party. By the way, the BJP minister in charge at MP during Vyapam scam was also jailed years ago.
Just before months many more scams have been unearthed in West Bengal: where an ordinary panchayat member’s house seemed abnormally luxurious, or where a body-guard was found to be in possession of about a billion and so on.
While TV channels and social networks are abuzz with kinds of things and amount uncovered by the ED in their searches, memes and spicy gossips are trendy, hundreds of School Service Commission passed and empanelled aspirants who yet did not get job are continuing their protest by the Gandhi Statue in Kolkata, that protest crossed 500 days. It is so depressing to see all such hundreds of boys and girls, who are educated, who have cleared all examinations, are sitting on the street for hundreds and hundreds of days just to demand a job for which they have proven their ability.
Social support to these protesters still meant some ornamental presence of some ‘opposition’ leaders and naturally the photos and videos pouring out in corporate and ‘social’ media, while uproars are more in megabytes and de-facto toothless. Nonetheless, as the sufferers here, eligible candidates to be placed as school teachers, a profession still socially revered and as the candidates are highly educated (Graduates, Post Graduates with B.Ed. degree) they attract sympathy. ‘Educated’ persons generally demand government services and that demand is also somewhat socially accepted.
Generally, as it happened and still happening, protest against government’s corruption and governmental party’s, leaders’ corruption end with demand of resignation and naturally that means ‘in the coming election vote out of power some x party (and vote for some y party) – we saw two such ‘great’ anti-corruption movements ending in change in government in last 33 years – the VP Singh led one and Anna Hazare led one. Incidentally, in both cases, ultimately BJP could gain, perhaps by god’s blessing corruption of their leaders is less felt by the voters vis-à-vis their ‘devotional’ activities. This time also this theme of ‘a change in government is the need of the hour’ is being percolated by loyalists of opposition parties. If the discussions that are going on among the so-called middle-classes are analysed, which even include some utterings like ‘the system itself is to blame’, seldom or never a ‘change of the system’ a radical departure from the present capitalist precapitalist order is sought after. Talks against the ‘system’ end up in searching for more honest leader/party and voting for a change in government. Thus, anti-corruption movements are so dear to all parliamentary parties.
Then there is another phenomenon: pampering of a belief that if the govt takes regular exams for jobs, be that for clerical posts, officer posts, or posts of teachers and etc, this reality of severe unemployment would have changed. This is fuelled by some left-sympathisers who always propagate the holiness and efficacy of the School Service Commission during the Left Regime. What these left supporters hide are several crude facts: (i) the left regime started this school service commission examination and ‘fair recruitment’ system after 20 years of their rule, i.e., during more than half of their rule there were no such ‘fair recruitment’ mechanism like SSC exams, (ii) as the govt publication during their own time revealed, “Till date, West Bengal School Service Commission has selected and recommended 85,392 candidates for the post of A.Ts and 6,500 candidates for the post of H.M.” [Annual Report 2007-2008, Department of School Education Government of West Bengal
Bikash Bhawan, Bidhan Nagar Kolkata – 700 091. Date of Publication: January 2009]; that means, in first 11 years of SSC, they appointed on an average less than 8500 teachers per year. (iii) Even if it is argued that now on an average 10,000 teachers can be appointed per year, another fact needs to be remembered: WB is producing about 3,00,000 graduates or more each year – so, how many of them could be appointed as teachers and then govt clerks, officers and etc? But, well, the middle-class aspiration cannot reconcile to the fact that white-collar govt office jobs, school jobs, working as high-end professionals and so on ‘prestigious’ jobs is not the ‘solution’ to the huge unemployment problem of the society.
What about the lakhs and lakhs who completed school till class-10 or class-8 and lakhs and lakhs who could not even complete that? A state with population of 10-crore even if with recently decreased population growth rate of 0.9% would mean 9 lakh kids are getting added each year. For the lower three-quarter or so of the population (iv) those ‘left’ loyalists have the ‘clean image’ of ex-CM Buddhadeb babu, the whimper of loss of Tata Nano project in Singur (and how Sanand of Gujarat profited), and the stories they propagated that time: so many jobs of gardeners, sweepers, cleaners, dhobis, maids, small-business ‘owners’ will be created by the new industrialisation. And indeed, a whole lot of low-paid attendants, shop-assistants, guards (all of those are not allowed to sit during their long duty hours), ‘delivery-boys’, service-boys, and so on cropped up within a decade and half – what a splendid ‘development’! Interestingly they would never say how badly the Nano venture failed, what happened to the Nano workers there, number of permanent and temporary workers there, their wages and income all through the period and etc – forget about the ‘exploitation’ of capitalism, they had been saying since 1980-s in Bengal ‘why capitalists would operate if they cannot make adequate profit’, ‘workers must save the factory from closure’ and etc. just to convince the workers that they should shoulder the pains, they should accept all black-agreements, agree to retrenchment (“rationalisation”), work-load-increase, DA freeze etc whenever needed to protect the industry (protect the industrialists’ ‘gain’). Simultaneously, while stressing corruption of TMC leaders often other corruptions are pushed under the carpet: like, how big capitalists too fled away looting perhaps ten- or hundred-times public money, or how banks are writing of debt to capitalists – how could they say, because during their supported United Front govt regime and also during UPA regime the same thing happened, after all those parties are their Mahagutbandhan partners – or suppose the Karnataka Govt Works Contractors’ annoyance, publicly made, over 40% ‘cut-money’ system there – as it is not surprising in any capitalist country.
Whatever happens every time: the section of the middle-classes and the top layers of the society, when they are dissatisfied with a certain govt, do not have the power of ‘making’ a movement, or, ‘changing’ the govt, i.e., ministry, in the next vote. So, they need the support of those sections who cannot think, usually, except in rare cases (which are much publicised to create an illusion among these sections) that their kids or they (18-35 years age group) can become a ‘govt service holder’. However, number of ‘govt serviced holders’ are decreasing since decades – for example, we are approaching the golden-jubilee of Railway Strike of 1974 with number of railway staff less than halved, while passenger-kilometres and tonne-kilometres transported by those workers have increased exponentially. Govt units are being closed and/or privatised, and even that happened in left ruled Bengal, because there is essentially no difference between the Industrial Policy chalked by Jyoti Basu and the line of Manmohan Singh.
We are in a society run by capitalists in their neo-liberal era. And corruption is blatantly interwoven with capitalist run state-system, so much so the Times of India editor Jug Suraiya once in his witty style wrote (on Aug 19, 2020): “It’s a question of vocabulary. Change the word ‘bribe’ into ‘tip’ and ‘corruption’ becomes ‘capitalism’.”
Frederick Engels in his “Origin of the Family, Private Property and State”  warned us: “The highest form of the state, the democratic republic, which under our modern conditions of society is more and more becoming an inevitable necessity, and is the form of state in which alone the last decisive struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie can be fought out—the democratic republic officially knows nothing any more of property distinctions. In it wealth exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely. On the one hand, in the form of the direct corruption of officials, of which America provides the classical example; on the other hand, in the form of an alliance between government and Stock Exchange, which becomes the easier to achieve the more the public debt increases and the more joint-stock companies concentrate in their hands not only transport but also production itself, using the Stock Exchange as their centre. The latest French republic as well as the United States is a striking example of this; and good old Switzerland has contributed its share in this field. But that a democratic republic is not essential for this fraternal alliance between government and Stock Exchange is proved by England and also by the new German Empire, where one cannot tell who was elevated more by universal suffrage, Bismarck or Bleichroder. And lastly, the possessing class rules directly through the medium of universal suffrage. As long as the oppressed class, in our case, therefore, the proletariat, is not yet ripe to emancipate itself, it will in its majority regard the existing order of society as the only one possible and, politically, will form the tail of the capitalist class, its extreme Left wing.”
Due to capitalism’s relationship with brazen corruption, it often creates a deception that corruption, theft, loot etc are the main drivers of capitalist exploitation and not the thing on which capitalism is based, that is, surplus value extraction. People are astonished to find that capitalist Goutam Adani who was ranked 250 in list of world’s richest-persons in 2017 is now in rank 4 – such astonishing achievement in 5 years! What is not publicly visible is that more than one-third of his ‘worth’ is actually ‘debt’ and many of his debts were written off by the govt owned banks. It was not Adani who only got this privilege, many more capitalists got this opportunity, and the RBI or the honourable court of justice could not yet disclose the list of such fortunate ones and how much advantage they got in last 30 years of liberalisation. All capitalists, even smaller ones, tries to influence insiders of ‘state’ to get ‘favour’, licenses, orders – even sales representatives of competing brands come to a shop owner and offer ‘greater margin’ – it happens within the private sector also. Just for securing an ‘order’ meant 5-10% even a decade or more ago. Nonetheless, surplus value extraction is the characteristic form of exploitation of capitalism. We can see a small example. Take the financial statements of Reliance Industries Limited for the year 2019-20.
This capitalism more or less reproduces the ‘division of labour’ into mental (respectful) and manual (menial) and more subdivisions. Society was taught for thousands of years that five fingers of a palm are different in length, inequality is normal. Though, of course, capitalism also keeps ‘some’ space for those who can climb up the ladder – otherwise it would look like feudal order, it would smell less-democratic.
In a society, in a time, when ‘revolution’, a radical change in society, in property relations, sounds like daydreaming, if we take loan a sentence from Engels, “As long as the oppressed class, in our case, therefore, the proletariat, is not yet ripe to emancipate itself, it will in its majority regard the existing order of society as the only one possible and, politically, will form the tail of the capitalist class, its extreme Left wing” The want of better, ‘clean’, leaders and parties continue to attract the oppressed people, the toiling workers and peasants. But even in such a situation, can revolutionaries stop campaigning for total change and instead keep themselves confined in choosing a ‘better-alternative’ within this system?
Sandeep Banerjee is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India. Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at email@example.com
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