Adani’s capital Modi’s power in Sri Lanka

A symbiosis of genocidal politics and crony capitalism?

Modi AdaniImage courtesy: Financial Times

The Adani power plant scam in Sri Lanka and its speedy resolution are yet another example of how the Indian State is being used to further the interests of PM Modi’s cronies. It is also a blatant statement on the comprador character of the Gotabaya regime in the Island State.

Though Indian expansionism over its gullible neighbourhood has decades of history, it was aggressively challenged and stopped by the emergence of China as a superior Asian power in the last two decades. Thus, both SAARC and SAFTA have been in a state of coma for more than a decade now, which were mostly perceived as an instrument of the Indian ruling class to expand its sphere of influence and extend Indian Inc’s influence into their territories.

Almost all the neighbouring states have aligned with China after it emerged as a mighty power. These developments placed a check on the onward march of Indian hegemony in the region, temporarily. But, of late, the complete convergence of political, ideological and economic interests of Modi regime and the Gotbaya-Rajpaksa regime in Sri Lanka and the Modi’s willful acceptance to play the role of junior partner in the US strategy in the Asian region against China, has brought in new dynamic in the South Asian region.

Both the Modi government and the Gotabaya regime find many things in common when it comes to genocidal politics, authoritarian populism and crony capitalism and their tentative allegiance with the US. This new comradery between the crisis ridden Sri Lanka and Modi regime has facilitated expansion of the empire of Modi-Adani into Sri Lanka. Even though the revelation of the political corruption in the 500 MW power generation deal awarded to Adani, by flouting and amending the rules that mandated competitive bidding, at twice the rate per unit prevailing in the international market created a political controversy, it subsided speedily by the firm backing by highest level of, Gotbaya-Rajpaksa government.

Even the awarding of a most profitable deal to Adani, to develop west container terminal of Colombo port with 51 percent stake when even the east port deal was mired in controversy, is a clear indication of the firm footing of Adani in the Sri Lanka, powered by the political patronage of Modi government. Just a year before Adani was rescued from an international controversy by the Modi government, his global port development company, APSEZ, collaborated with a company floated by Myanmar’s military Junta. Though Adani had to declare the retreat from the agreement, the operations in the country ruled by the military state are not yet shunned.

Likewise, Adani’s Australian venture is protected and promoted by the Modi government from its very inception. The Modi government has extended its economic, political and diplomatic support to put Adani’s Australian Coal mines company into track. To begin with, Adani, in early 2000 did not have any expertise or knowledge of coal mining but still floated a coal company and bid to take over Carmichael coal mine, in Queensland, Australia. Many international Banks refused to fund the take-over since

a) Adani did not have the economic or administrative background to run a foreign coal company

b) The coal prices then were plummeting and financing a coal business was considered not credit worthy and also

c) For environmental considerations.

But when Modi became prime minister in 2014, one of the important economic decisions he took in the first few months was to direct the SBI to grant a one-billion-dollar capital loan to Adani towards the project. Later, when it was hit with controversies and peoples protest in Australia, he made a whirlwind tour to the country, used his diplomatic power so that the Australian government would not yield against Adani’s interest. Now, finally when the construction is complete and Adani’s coal from Australia is ready for export, there are reports which allege the Modi government’s compelling direction to NTPC to buy Adani’s coal on priority.

Another two incidents stand distinctly to prove the crony benefits that the Adanis enjoyed after Modi came to power. The Mundra ports on which the Adani empire has been built had violated all the stipulated environmental norms and were fined Rs. 200 Cr by the previous UPA government. This was completely annulled by the Modi government on flimsy grounds.

It is also widely reported that the major beneficiaries of the 165 days state tour by PM Modi to 52 countries between 2104-18, were Adanis and Ambanis, where multi crore contracts were signed between them and the host countries. The net result of this cronyism is that Adani’s businesses that were worth 1.9 billi,on dollars, are now worth 32 billion dollars, and he is now the 9th biggest billionaire in the world.

This meteoric rise was not mystical. It was completely financed and facilitated by the Modi government. For example, after the “second coming” of Modi, all profit-making ports and airports were privatised, and Adanis took over most of them, though it did not have  any eligibility for primary bidding. The News reports suggest that the Modi government amended the rules to facilitate Adanis.

Indian banks have extended more than one lakh crores of loan to Adanis to finance the takeover of these profit-making public enterprises. In turn, this unprecedented accumulation of assets has increased the share values of the Adani companies through the roof! Because of which Adanis are now having shares valued at around 10 Lakh crore, making it the most-wealthy company in India, overtaking even the Ambanis.

Thus, Adani’s rise is directly linked with Modi’s rise to power and vice versa!

And this symbiotic relationship between them is rooted in the dark pages of the Indian history where Indian democracy took a decisive turn towards communal polarisation, genocide and brazen cronyism in economy. When Narendra Modi was Heli-dropped from Delhi to Ahmedabad in 2001, the mandate given to him by the RSS-BJP was to rejuvenate the BJP party which was lacking the killer instinct and was facing possible electoral defeat in the impending elections of 2002. It’s now part of the darkest part of post-independent Indian history, how Modi achieved it.

There was a genocide of Muslims by Hindutva fanatic groups with the blatant connivance and cooperation of Modi government which also silenced the majority to approve. This deep and hateful communal divide gave the best electoral dividend, and Modi’s BJP came back to power with a thumping majority.

But India of 2002, still had some conscience. The CII, the conglomeration of Indian big business, heavily condemned Modi for his indirect connivance in the genocide. The SC, NHRC, the civil society organisations and the media – yes, the media – then, raised their voice against the Modi government’s patronage to the culprits.

Modi, then, was almost isolated and alone. It was Gautam Adani, whose business was then a small and a growing business entity, stood strongly with Modi. At his initiative, a counter business group of business and industry, “Resurgent Group Of Gujarat (RGG)”, was formed. Annual mela of global investors under “Vibrant Gujarat” was held and unprecedented incentives, tax breaks, cheap capital-land- electricity and unimaginable profit rates were assured, by flouting all established rules, regulations and laws.

Thus, by 2008, when Modi was re-elected as CM for the third time, most of the big business started drifting towards Modi and Gujarat led by Tatas with his Nano enterprise shifting from Bengal. By 2013, reports suggest that barring one or two almost all in the CII favoured Narendra Modi as the PM candidate. And the Adanis played an important role in making the Indian business accept the Modi and Modis as the future of India. Thus, it was so symbolic that the PM elect Modi travelled from Gujarat to Delhi to accept his new role in the private chartered flight of Adani! Thus, the Modi regime is casted on the symbiotic and mutually dependent relationship between genocidal populism and brazen cronyism. In political parlance it is also called as Fascism.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The author is an activist and freelance journalist who was also a columnist for Gauri Lankesh’s publication.

Other pieces by Shivasundar:

Modi’s eight years: Eight acts of shameful disgrace

How a state suffocated by Saffron got a new breath from Blue
Never Ever Forget



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