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Kanika Datta:Left is right out of the picture


Kanika Datta  |  New Delhi 

The reason he's heard of the last two names is that a relative from his village works in a corner store that stocks a cooler for these soft drinks, so he occasionally gets to sample them. He'd like a part-time job like that too.

Now: do these facts make him (a) a "running dog" of the Americans (to use a favourite sixties Leftist phrase) or (b) a regular guy trying to make a living in the hurly burly that is India, an aam aadmi in the current fashionable parlance?

Since it is difficult not to choose option (b), you begin to wonder just what the Left movement in India is all about. Here is a poor person, supposedly the focus of Left concerns, who senses an income-earning opportunity, however small and indirect, from a multinational business operation.

The ideological distance between people like him and the Left parties that espouse his cause is wider than the circumference of the earth. The Left has withdrawn support to the government because it is worried that signing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal will hold India in thrall to the "imperialist" designs of the US and its big business. But those struggling at the bottom of the pyramid are unlikely to worry about possible nefarious designs of global companies that offer employment opportunities up and down the value chain.

The irony is that Indian business and industry probably have more in common with poor people like the garbage collector with whom I chatted Wednesday morning than any of the four Left parties

First Published: Thu, July 10 2008. 00:00 IST