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|February 18, 1998||
Issues '98/Professor K N Panicker
'Now is the time to reconsider the decision to globalise our economy'
There are two main issues which should be focussed on by everyone this election: Communalism and globalisation; and the politics that is being played around them.
For the last 20 years and particularly in the last decade, the character of politics has changed so much, that a domain which was largely secular has become communal.
This change in the political ethos of the country has resulted in the polarisation of the polity. This is very crucial since this schism in the Indian polity has brought about a communal right-wing and a secular, democratic formation.
The consensual centrist political formation which was dominant over the years has declined. And the space it had occupied has diminished. This is a trend which has to be checked for it would be progressively detrimental to the country's democracy.
The next issue is that of the integration of the country's economy with that of the rest of the world. In the present scenario, no country can afford to be in isolation. But the most important aspect of the issue is on whose terms do we integrate with the global economy.
For the last six years, a process of integration has been going on. The people of the country have had no participation in the exercise and they did not have a chance to express their choice.
Though it had such a great impact on the country, it was never an election issue. For that matter, India never votes on issues.
I can only remember two occasions when an election was fought on an issue: 1977 and 1989. In 1977, the Emergency that had just been lifted was the issue; and in 1989, corruption was at the forefront.
In fact, the government, which is responsible for the integration of the country's economy with the global economy, was voted out in 1996. It was a people's rejection of that government's actions.
Now is the time to reconsider the decision to globalise our economy. I feel that we should focus on the issues of globalisation and communalism now.
K N Panicker, professor of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, spoke to R R Nair.
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