'Emerging Kerala' project represents a departure from the 'Kerala Model' of development
Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) organised a 'Janakiya Koottayma' (People's meet) on "People's Alternative to Emerging Kerala" on September 8, 2012 at Trissur, that is 4 days before the 'Emerging Kerala' event. The meet was inaugurated by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik. This is a video recording of the entire inaugural address. An edited version of the transcript of the speech is published as a separate article in Bodhi Commons: 'Emerging Kerala' is a prescription for unleashing primitive accumulation of capital in Kerala. Credits to KSSP for organising the event and making this video available. The transcription and subtitling were done by Bodhi Commons.
Prof. Patnaik starts of the speech by exposing the blatant appropriation of natural resources, state property and property of small and marginal producers by big capitalists at throwaway prices that is happening in India. This is what Marx had termed as the 'primitive accumulation of capital'. He argues that this primitive accumulation of capital, without any commensurate increase in the development of the industrial sector, was the main feature of the post-liberalisation growth trajectory of India, and that is why high GDP growth rate on one hand was accompanied by absolute impoverishment of large number of agricultural labourers, small farmers and petty producers on the other. He points out that the various scams like those around allocations of 2G-spectrum and captive coal blocks, though appears superficially as instances of corruption, are intrinsically classic examples of this primitive accumulation, and the ensuing immiserisation of people is clearly evident from the declining amounts of per capita food intake in the country. He further argues that this primitive accumulation of capital and resulting impoverishment is a necessary fall out of capitalism and that if it was not very visible during the capitalist development of Europe during the industrial revolution, then it was only because capitalism could export its contradictions to other continents through migration of large number of Europeans to other territories which it conquered and plundered. He also contrasts the neo-liberal period in India with its post-independence, pre-liberalisation period when, at least, the professed goal of the national economic policy was to have an egalitarian order.
In the second part of his lecture (from 17:24 minutes), he analyses the economic policy shift of the current UDF Government in Kerala which is evident in some of its recent policy initiatives like proposal to allow tourism in 5 percent of plantation land, legitimising conversion of paddy fields etc. He points out that in spite of the remarkable achievements due to the land reforms, there is still a growing amount of landlessness and homelessness in Kerala. He warns that this shift in government policy will result in accelerating land concentration. Then he explains the dangers behind such a land concentration, and stresses the need for a social control in land use. He specifically seeks attention to the threat of a looming famine in the world due to vast tracts of land being shifted out of food grain cultivation all around the globe. He also points out how the government policy of cutting welfare expenditure, and foregoing revenue by giving concessions to big capitalists is bringing upon a second round of misery on the people already immiserised by primitive accumulation of capital. He reiterates that we should say a strict no to any kind of primitive accumulation of capital and that the state, instead of supporting the big capitalists, should support and encourage small and petty producers and defend them from big capitalists. This will also entail state support to them for technology upgradation and also increasing their scale of operations through voluntary cooperativisation. He recalls that, to a certain extend, such an alternative policy was mooted during the previous LDF Government.
Towards the end, he touches upon the international situation and predicts that the days of neo-liberal growth, even in regions where it was witnessed, are over and that the Manmohan Singh Government is trying to flog a dead horse when it tries to attract big investments to the country. He concludes by saying that India is in great peril and it is essential for its survival that the social contract up on which our modern nation was founded, the contract which guarantees a minimum standard of living for every Indian, should be urgently revived.