ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

What do you expect when governments, in country after country, are being privatised wholesale? Only ngo’s are henceforth likely to matter. It is little use complaining that these are dangerous faceless entities. You made the bed and you have to lie in it; is that not the essential free market philosophy?

No question about it, major confrontations henceforth, whether globally or within the precincts of individual countries, are going to be between ngo’s and other ngo’s. Country governments will, for their own reasons, recede into the background, the proxy war between non-governmental organisations will be the real thing.

Already Seattle presented a preview of the future awaiting the world. Years of preliminary soundings with friendly governments notwithstanding, the American administration was feeling extraordinarily shaky about the outcome at Seattle, the combined weight of the Western nations and Japan was no longer considered adequate for swinging decisions in international fora in favour of unbridled capitalism. Quite apart from the fact that the majority of the membership of the WTO belong to either the developing or the underdeveloped category with short as well as long range interests mostly in conflict with those of the industrial West, even within the West confusion prevails on a fairly large number of important issues, including, for instance, agricultural subsidies. Romping in the free market is all right as a concept, which has its direct lineage from the works of David Hume and Adam Smith. Interpretation of what the original gurus had meant has however tended to vary from epoch to epoch and country to country; the articulation of class attitudes has often overshadowed other aims. Contentious domestic issues have sometimes goaded private pressure groups in a particular country to strike out on their own. The purpose has been to persuade the government of the country to decide in this manner rather than that of a seemingly grave systemic problem. Or what has been on is the phenomenon of a non-governmental organisation mobilising a movement for introducing a piece of social or economic reform or against the continuation of a set of archaic laws and regulations offending the soul. Many of the ngo’s of this genre have been frightened at the prospect of being dubbed as camp-followers of any political group. They have in fact insisted that they be allowed to display their equidistance from established set-ups of all descriptions, and have taken pride in stressing the nuances of an approach to life that is wrapped in a philosophy which distinguishes it from similar other ideological positions. At least the attempt has been to emphasise this distinction.

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