‘A heady confluence of crime, business & politics’

In his column in The Telegraph, Calcutta, Ramachandra Guha compares the IT frenzy in the Bangalore of 2000 and the mining frenzy in the Karnataka of 2010. The two phenomena, he says, represents contrasting shades of globalisation, the benign and the brutal, and contrasting forms of capitalism, progressive and barbaric:

“When the world economy offers opportunities for knowledge workers creating products that do not use much energy and do not damage the environment, these must be grabbed with both hands. When the world economy instead invites us to exploit scarce natural resources quickly, and without a thought for environmental sustainability, then we must be more sceptical.

“In their search for the big buck, the Bellary mine lords have shown a profound lack of concern for the law and for their fellow citizens. On the other hand, the best among Bangalore’s software entrepreneurs have made their money fairly and legally, spent a small fraction on themselves, and a larger fraction on various charitable and philanthropic causes.”

Guha also quotes Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, the New Delhi journalist who is making a documentary on the Bellary mine lords:

“According to him, the case of mining in Karnataka represents the first time that such close links have been forged between the worlds of crime, business, and politics. In the past, a Mumbai mastan occasionally fought and won an election; other mastans funded the odd politician. But never before have those who made money by illegal and even violent means so brazenly and effectively taken over the politics and administration of an entire Indian state.”

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