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Tidings from India on Occupy Wall Street

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What is the tide like in India on Occupy Wall Street? Will this anti-capitalist mood also venture in India?

India is on a capitalism high since liberalization in 1991.There might be few cases of people protesting against corporates and businesses but the major grievance is with the government – generally against corruption. A recent example being the mass protests against corruption. Corruption has became a major issue in India. A number of scams such as the 2G spectrum scam and the Common Wealth Games scam being the more infamous ones served as backdrop to the movement and eventually led people to protest. Although they were corporate scams  people’s dissatisfaction was aimed at the Government as they hold it responsible as many politicians were involved.

Even as one of the fastest growing economies, India is still tackling poverty, illiteracy, corruption and public health issues. A majority of Indians live on less than $ 2 a day and their immediate concern is more about meeting the basic needs like food, shelter, health and jobs and not so much the financial and banking problems. Many of these needs are expected to be met by the government so again the major  angst is targeted towards the Government. So a situation similar to that in the  United States and other countries and  protests against the top level bankers and executives who have become wealthy with the average citizen  suffering  even as  the economy is reeling under recession  is less likely right now in India. Here even educated people (barring a handful) are not so exposed to the financial markets or stock exchange. There is only a very select group who follow this. So  people are busier trying to see that their daily needs are met rather than  protesting against corporate greed and power.

An executive of the Indian Tobacco Company working in Delhi says that it is very unlikely that India will have a similar situation like Occupy Wall Street. Unlike in the West world the banking sectors in India are under the Government and fall under the Reserve Bank of India – the nation’s central bank. As 92% of the country’s banking segment is under state control the Reserve Bank regulates and supervises the banking and non banking financial institutions including credit information companies. India has stringent banking regulations- one of the reasons  for the negligible affects of the global financial crisis. The low presence of foreign banks in the country minimized the impact of the recession on the domestic economy. Thus India was not as effected.

There has been an attempt to start an Occupy movement in India through a website called Occupy Mumbai (the financial capital of India). The site claims that there is going to be peaceful protests against the abuse of human rights, corruption and oppression of people on 29th October and the agenda is varied. But we will have to wait and see if this is just a virtual movement and what results out of it. And this is again targeted at the seat of the headquarters of the Maharashtra(western state of India) state government and not at the Dalal Street (address of the Indian Stock Exchange).

We also have people depending on the corporate sector for their jobs as it employs millions of people. So protests similar to that of Occupy Wall Street seems unlikely presently.



Anuja Upadhyay Twitter: anujaupadhyay

Anuja is a social scientist and writer with development experience in organizations like UN Women, Manushi for Sustainable Development and International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) across India and Nepal. Her main areas of work are on gender equity, violence against women and children, anti-human trafficking of women, girls (including children), sustainable development, health and other critical global issues like governance, migration and economic globalization. She has special interest and expertise in writing about diverse issues as a blogger for Future Challenges.