‘Those who were all praises for the growth have had to admit it cannot be sustained’

Pointing out that the high GDP growth rate enjoyed by the Indian economy in recent years represented “jobless growth”, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said in Howrah near here on Tuesday that even those who had hailed the high rate of growth have had to admit that it cannot be sustained.

“Today, even those who were all praises for the GDP growth have had to admit that it cannot be sustained. Yesterday [Monday], the Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that this year the rate of growth of the GDP would be 5.5 per cent. So, it dropped from 8 per cent to 7 per cent and is now down to 5.5 per cent,” Mr. Karat said, adding that the upshot of this economic slowdown would be loss of more jobs.

The high GDP growth rate over the last 15 years has not been accompanied by an increase in employment in the organised sector. In fact, there has been a decline in employment in the organised sector; and the employment that is available is exploitative in character. The 40-crore workers in the unorganised sector are among the most oppressed, Mr. Karat said at a seminar on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II and India’s Economic Policy, organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

Stating that industrial production in the country was declining while agricultural production had stagnated, Mr. Karat criticised the Centre’s response to the present economic slowdown.

“In September, the Centre announced a series of reforms that made it clear that it would continue with the same neo-liberal policies… The Centre’s emphasis is on restoring investor confidence and attracting international finance capital,” Mr. Karat said.

The message to large Indian corporations is that the government will take all measures that will yield super-profits for their firms while the door is being thrown open to international finance capital to invest here without any regulations whatsoever, Mr. Karat said.

The CPI(M) general secretary said that when the UPA-I government had first tried to introduce foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade, leaders from the Left parties had approached Congress president Sonia Gandhi and she had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the need to exercise caution. However, this time around, Ms. Gandhi and All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi have publicly supported the Centre’s decision to allow FDI in multi brand retail.

“Inviting firms like WalMart to India will only worsen the present employment crisis,” he said.

CPI(M) polit bureau member Nirupam Sen was also present at the seminar and addressed the gathering.