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Network Business In Manipur: Capitalist Fetishism

Human wants know no limits

In the most recent scandal involving a China-based networking business company, under the name of Jainex International Trade (JIT), around 2000 people have invested around INR 20 to 30 crores (Sangai Express, Imphal, October 16, 2010). And the company has disappeared as if a bubble has busted. This is not the first time people in Manipur have been duped. Network business, in various hues and under different names, has entered Manipur and gullible persons have lost money. The catch word is gambling induced by instant money/profit. Let’s examine how the gambling takes place.

Every network begins with a rumor (promise in the networking vocabulary). The rumor has to be spread like a ripple. So, the first trick consists in forming a network of rumor spreaders. These are ones who are well equipped with the technique of presenting a set of lies to prospective investors. They begin with the age-old captivating mantra of gambling: ‘Are you ready to take the risks?’ Then they proceed with the technical aspect of the network in hand. For example, in the latest scam, which has been in operation in Manipur since September 21, 2010, following are the norms:-

  1. Under JIT Basic Funding, INR 1000 (rupees one thousand only) is charged from new recruits as clients account opening fees with the promise that if he/she invest a minimum of INR 6000 (rupees six thousand only) or a maximum of INR 12,000 (rupees twelve thousand only) to earn a daily profit of 3 to 6 percent of the invested amount besides other business opportunities.
  2. Under the second policy of JIT Power Plus Funding, the company charged INR 1000 (rupees six thousand only) as client account opening fees and promised that an investment of INR 15000 to INR 30,000 (rupees fifteen thousand to thirty thousand only) will yield a daily profit of 5 to 10 percent of the investment besides other business opportunities
  3. Under the third plan of JIT Super Power Funding, INR 1000 is charged at the time of opening the account with the promise that an investment of INR 50,000 to INR 1,00,000/- (rupees fifty thousand to one lakh only) would earn a profit of 10 to 15 percent of the invested amount daily.
  4. Other details include, forming tripod, pair, etc. that is based on number of new recruits, for which a percentage cut is promised
  5. The earned amount is ‘virtual’ in the sense that one has to log in to the website for which an investor has been provided with an ID and password. The same is informed through SMS (mobile phone) and e-mail to the registered members
  6. The virtual money can be converted into hard currency from ‘any’ of the banks in India only after the completion of 15 days, for those who have enlisted with INR 50,000/- (rupees fifty thousand only) and above, and for the rest 28 days
  7. At the time of encashment 2.5 percent of the invested amount would be deducted by the processing bank as processing fee
  8. One does not earn any money or interest for mere registration.

What motivates people to join any business network scheme is the amount of high returns being promised to the investors, even if the returns are logic defying. For example, a percentage growth of 10 to 15 is something unimaginable in any of the sectors of economy worldwide. For that matter, the volatile nature of the stock market has never been taken into account, which is marked by ups and downs. Even if we assume that growth takes place at the assumed rate perpetually, it is financially unthinkable to be disbursed to the investors on a daily basis. So, only one commonsensical catch survives, which is, one has to depend on another investor to recover his investment or earn his profit. Therefore, once you have invested your money, it’s like the dice has been cast, rolled, and you just have to wait for the bubble to burst. Until then you’re made happy; SMS (es) keep you informed about your daily earnings. One smiles at receiving a particular amount of virtual money. Experienced ones, those who are at the top rung of the network (topliners) convert the virtual money into hard currency through registration fees collected from new recruits (downliners) or selling of PINs to investors, for which they get a percentage cut. In other words, they take the hard currency from the interested gamblers and the required process is completed wherein their virtual money lying in their account is used. Fresh recruits stand to recover the money they have invested in a similar way. Ultimately, the person who stands to benefit is the one who brought in the business to Manipur.

At the end of the day, it is about taking a chance.

Capitalist Fetishism

Networking business is capitalism in its fullest sense. The very basis of capitalism is profit, which is rooted in the Malthusian doctrine and social Darwinism of natural selection, commonly known as ‘survival of the fittest’. The dehumanization process of capitalism (in which all human endeavors are subordinated to the fetish of capital) has been starkly made possible with the coming in of the information technology. The penetrative power of capitalism, we believed was possible only with the functioning of BFSI (banking, finance, savings and investment) institutions. But the reality is, BFSI institutions do not matter anymore. Information revolution (one we call the internet) has made everything look possible at least. A software engineer is all one requires to make us live in a virtual world. While we’re smiling at the virtual money we have been robbed off our hard-earned hard money. Thus, what is dangerous is the mixing of technology with capitalism.

Networking in its true sense is not a bad thing. Each and every aspect of our endeavors depends on networking. And for that matter, the principle behind the functioning of civil society bodies at a larger level, regional or global, is networking. Activists working on a similar issue share action plan, strategy, knowledge and manpower, as symbol of solidarity, to fulfill a particular goal. Even in the economic realm, economies at different places of the world have managed to come out of crises on the basis of networking. For example, Robert Putnam in his study of southern Italy demonstrated that social capital and trust built through networking was responsible for giving the southern Italians a comparatively better off livelihood than the northern Italians.

Closer home, traditional institutions in Manipur worked on the basis of trust through building networks. Take the case of the Singlup. It was and still based on the principle of trust and networking. Even the modern day marups are based on the pool of the social capital. In this form of networking only trusted friends and individuals are allowed to be members of a specific marup. In the 1980s and 1990s, Soibam Leikai, Wangkhei Khunou, Imphal East, was praised by the elders for the successful style of networking (marup), the locals indulged in. For example, almost every family in the said Leikai owned a lorry. In a major way, this kind of financial networking (marup) helped in uplifting the living condition of the people in the specific area.

In these instances, area of operation is defined and restricted whereas in the case of the business network, as we understand today, it is not so. Internet has broken down barriers and borders. The penetrative power of capitalism is felt stronger with the emergence of such medium. Capitalists are having a field day, eating up the greedy, who prays for instant karma.

*The article is written by Yenning.

*The writer can be reached at yenning05@rocketmail.com

*You may  visit www.hoipolloiandmundanity.blogspot.com for further readings.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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