India’s 2014 General Election And APCO’s Trojan Horse
By Colin Todhunter *
2014 will witness India’s general election. And the choice available from the two biggest national parties seems to be more globalisation or more globalisation. In other words, continued acquiescence to Wall Street’s economic agenda.
Globalisation, the type we are witnessing, reflects the needs of the extremely wealthy of the world. They are ultimately setting the agenda at the G8, G20, NATO, the World Bank, and the WTO and are from the highest levels of finance capital and transnational corporations. They dictate global economic policies.
In India, many people are resisting state-corporate policies because they are in the main merely facilitating corporate takeovers of food, agriculture, resources, land, public infrastructure and water. Successive governments have abused and removed some the nation’s poorest people from their lands. Killings and human rights abuses have gone hand in hand with the destruction of the environment as profiteering industries linked with resource extraction and processing have moved in. Parts of agriculture have already been placed in the hands of powerful Western agribusiness. The effects include seed patenting and seed monopolies, increasing levels of cancer due to contamination, the destruction of rural economies, farmer suicides and water run offs from depleted soil leading to climate change and severe water resource depletion.
Traditional agriculture is being destroyed by Western agribusiness and petro-chemical farming. Both food sovereignty and the health of the nation are under threat as the structural adjustment of Indian agriculture leads to a shift away from the production of bio-diverse food crops for local consumption to commodities for exports.
The secretive corporate-driven EU-India Free Trade Agreement currently under negotiation could well entail India’s finance sector and food retail/processing sectors and investment rules being restructured in favour of transnational corporations. Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture, are already being sold off.
If people are to have any hope of reversing these trends, before casting their votes next year they should at least take a look at some of the backers behind those running for high office. And that includes ALL major candidates, whichever party they represent.
In the meantime, however, let us turn to Narendra Modi, not least because of his phenomenal reinvention as a political figure and subsequent rise to the pinnacle of national politics.
While many hold Modi personally responsible for the killings of Muslims and atrocities that took place in Gujarat back in 2002, Brand Modi has reinvented and remarketed himself. Modi and his backers have had considerable success in forwarding the message that he is a visionary and a hero of development in Gujarat, where he is Chief Minister. He has even been selected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Indian general election. Modi’s recent story has been one of remarkable repositioning and self promotion.
The future is bright, the future is Modi? Would you trust him? It is clear that 960,000 followers on Google plus do. And it is clear that his six million ‘likes’ on his official ‘fan page’ on Facebook do. On that page, it says: “the man endeared as a visionary & an untiring, selfless worker who has made Gujarat the cynosure of all eyes across the world.”
While not denying Modi has a mass support base, especially among young middle class voters, his backers have a record of setting up ‘grass root’ groups tailored for specific causes. On other pages across the internet, the words ‘fascist’ and ‘spin’ often appear in forums about Modi.
Modi’s party, the Hindu-nationalist BJP, promoted the phrase ‘India shining’ in 2004 in an attempt to hoodwink the electorate that all was well in India as a result of its neo-liberal economic policies. That electioneering slogan was as bogus as the ‘Gujarat shining’ one we hear now, given that Modi’s record on development in Gujarat is not all it appears to be.
It seems you can sell anything to anyone given these days with the right backing and strategy.
And who are among Modi’s backers? Look no further than the US-based PR/lobby giant APCO Worldwide, which, as outlined by researcher Shelly Kasli (see the article at the end of this piece) has strong links with bodies such as the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group. Pro-Wall Street and very well-connected to key US/Israeli political, financial and security-intelligence institutions, this firm has been instrumental in helping to give Modi a much needed makeover, remarketing him as prime ministerial material and promoting Brand Modi and Brand Gujarat.
Behind the glossy spin promoting Modi, there lies a rather different reality; that of APCO and its lobbyists, who it is reasonable to assume would benefit from having what could be a former client as India’s top politician. Regardless of any nationalist sentiments that certainly play well with sections of the Indian electorate, if Modi becomes PM, he would in principle be well placed to allow what could arguably amount to further international corporate-financial power grab in India facilitated by APCO. That would only serve to further accelerate the processes discussed in the first half of this article.
In APCO’s India Brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the recent global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead. APCO describes India as a trillion dollar market. The emphasis is not on redistributing the country’s wealth among its citizens or their genuine empowerment via common ownership of production, but on the opposite – recovery of ‘the economy’, which means positioning international funds and corporations to exploit markets and extract profit the best way they can.
In the mainstream media and among many leading politicians and economists, this constitutes growth and development; but it’s neither. It’s plunder. The evidence doesn’t lie – in the West, decades of such policies have culminated in austerity, disempowerment and increasing hardship for the masses and the concentration of ever more wealth and power in the hands of the relative few.
In India, the horse is in position. And the vultures are circling.
For revealing insight into APCO – who it is, what it does, its clients and outlook - see the following article by Shelley Kasli: http://greatgameindia.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/mechanics-of-narendra-modis-pr-agency-apco-worldwide-orchestrating-our-future/
* Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other newspapers, journals and books. His East by Northwest website is at: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com