Left attempts to finetune its ambivalence on US

Kolkata, Oct 30 | Updated: Oct 31 2004, 05:33am hrs
Last year on a Kolkata visit, Promod Bhasin of GE India was full of praise for Manab Mukherjee, the flamboyant IT minister of West Bengal.

We believe Mr Mukherjee is one of the most active IT ministers in an Indian state, Mr Bhasin said. Reason: the minister was responsible for providing various incentives to the BPO sector which sometimes dared to be not-so-labour friendly.

It is entirely a case for conjecture whether Mr Mukherjee felt elated at this accolade from the senior executive of one of the largest US corporations but the comment certainly drew the attention of some of the major IT companies.

John Kerry
G B Bush
The truth, which everyone has known since long, is that the ruling Left in West Bengal and Tripura both stand in dire need of US investment. They have realised the obvious truth that such investment will create jobs and prosperity. But the Left cannot seem oblivious to the imperialist role of the US government. So, Mr Bush must go because of his role after 9/11 and the crime against humanity that he and his Republican party committed in Iraq. And whether Kerry wins or Bush, the institutional Left believes anyway that the US will merely continue with its aggressive exploitative policy against the developing nations.

For instance, Nilotpal Basu, one of the Rajya Sabha members of CPI(M) who was in the US for 15 days to witness the election campaign, sees the US election through the filter of Bushs policy of bullying weaker nations: If Mr Bush wins the election, it will seriously raise questions against US democratic practices, though we know it will create no difference in terms of the US governments anti-people policies against the developing nations, he says.

Mr Mukherjee does not think that Mr Kerrys win will jeopardise the West Bengal governments plan to create more jobs in the BPO segment. Mr George Bush should go but I dont think that if Mr Kerry wins, he will bring legislation to stop outsourcing. The US economy cant afford to do that.

Chittabrata Majumdar, the general secretary of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), does not want to take a stand on outsourcing. The logic of the market is to create relatively cheaper wage labour employment in one place at the expense of creating unemployment at places where labour is expensive. In future, we will see people working in call centres beginning to demanding a better job environment.

Not an ideologically sound hypothesis for the Left Front government in West Bengal but Mr Basu does not think that there is a contradiction between the West Bengal governments open invitation to foreign investors and the CPI(M)s FDI stand at the Centre: We are for US investment in India particularly in segments which require new technology infusion. But 80% of FDI goes to the developed nation. This must end. We want equitable FDI distribution among the developing nations, he says.

Nor is there a contradiction in the minds of that portion of the Left that belongs to the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), in wanting an imperialist state to create more jobs in a Left-ruled state.

Monoj Bhattacharya, a central committee member of RSP feels that since both Republicans and Democrats represent large US corporations, there will be no change of US policy towards India or any developing country: The Left has to decide that whether its anti imperialist role will be confined to US policy towards Afghanistan and Iraq or will it also oppose US investment and institutions in the country, is Mr Bhattacharyas definition.