From Capitalism: A Ghost Story
"In India, the 300 million of us who belong to the new, post-IMF 'reforms' middle class —the market— live side by side with the spirits of the nether world, the poltergeists of dead rivers, dry wells, bald mountains and denuded forests; the ghosts of 250,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves, and the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than half a dollar, which is 20 Indian rupees, a day.
Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority controlling share in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a company with a market capitalization of $47 billion and global business interests that include petrochemicals, oil, natural gas, polyester fibre, Special Economic Zones, fresh food retail, high schools, life sciences research and stem cell storage services. RIL recently bought 95 per cent shares in Infotel, a TV consortium that controls 27 TV news and entertainment channels in almost every regional language [...]
RIL is one of a handful of corporations that run India. Some of the others are the Tatas, Jindals, Vedanta, Mittals, Infosys, Essar. Their race for growth has spilled across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their nets are cast wide; they are visible and invisible, over-ground as well as underground. The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s oldest and largest private sector power companies. They own mines, gas fields, steel plants, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks, and they run whole townships. They manufacture cars and trucks, and own the Taj Hotel chain, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daewoo, Tetley Tea, a publishing company, a chain of bookstores, a major brand of iodized salt and the cosmetics giant Lakme—which I think they’ve sold now. Their advertising tagline could easily be: You Can’t Live Without Us.
According to the rules of the Gush-Up Gospel, the more you have, the more you can have [...]
Which of us sinners was going to cast the first stone? Not me, who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses. We all watch Tata Sky, we surf the net with Tata Photon, we ride in Tata taxis, we stay in Tata Hotels, sip our Tata tea in Tata bone china and stir it with teaspoons made of Tata Steel. We buy Tata books in Tata bookshops. We eat Tata salt. We are under siege.
If the sledgehammer of moral purity is to be the criterion for stone-throwing, then the only people who qualify are those who have been silenced already. Those who live outside the system; the outlaws in the forests or those whose protests are never covered by the press, or the well-behaved dispossessed, who go from tribunal to tribunal, bearing witness and giving testimony.
But this—you know, I’m talking about this because, as I said, you know, for the poor, India has the army and the paramilitary and the air force and the displacement and the police and the concentration camps. But what are you going to do to the rest? And there, I talk about the exquisite art of corporate philanthropy, you know, and how these very mining corporations and the people who are involved in, really, the pillaging of not just the poor, but of the mountains, of the rivers, of everything, are now—have now turned their attention to the arts, you know? So, apart from the fact that, of course, they own the TV channels and they fund all of that, they, for example, fund the Jaipur Literary Festival—Literature Festival, where the biggest writers in the world come, and they discuss free speech, and the logo is shining out there behind you. But you don’t hear about the fact that in the forest the bodies are piling up, you know? The public hearings where people have the right to ask these corporations what is being done to their environment, to their homes, they are just silenced. They are not allowed to speak. There are collusions between these companies and the police, the Salwa Judum."