The Indian Economy in a Tailspin

THE Indian economy is in a tailspin. This cannot be attributed only to innocence in economic matters of the command-centre of the NDA government. While that is indubitably a contributing factor, the current travails of the economy point to something deeper, namely the dead-end to which neo-liberalism has brought the economy. Without moving away from the neo-liberal trajectory, the economy cannot come out of its current difficulties.

Dangerous Drift

A FANTASTIC scene is being enacted in the country. The rupee is sliding down, and is now considered the weakest of all the currencies of the “newly-emerging countries”. Because of this, the rupee price of imports, particularly oil, is rising everyday (over and beyond the trends in the world crude oil market).

Workers and Peasants

THE programme of the Bolsheviks in the early years of the twentieth century was founded upon the insight that, in countries coming late to capitalism, the bourgeoisie, instead of dealing those telling blows against feudal property that the classic bourgeois revolution in history, the French Revolution, had done, compromises with the landed interests. It does so because of its fear that in the new situation any attack on landed property could rebound into an attack on bourgeois property.

Finance versus the People

SOMETIMES even a tiny news-item can reveal volumes about capitalism. The Indian stock market, as is well-known, is booming at present: the 30-share Sensex closed at a new high of 38,278.75 on Monday, August 20, and the broader-based Nifty crossed the 11,500 mark for the first time on the same day. One of the financial sector executives explained the reason behind this boom as follows (The Hindu, August 21): “The only difference between now (versus a few months back) is that politics looks more stable – prospects of an opposition coalition are looking a little shaky”.

Begging and Criminality

ON Wednesday August 8, the Delhi High Court decriminalised begging in the capital. In the course of its hearing, it had raised the question how begging could be an offence in a country where the government was unable to provide food and jobs; its final verdict is in line with this thinking. Of course there was no central legislation, or legislation relating specifically to Delhi, that had criminalised begging earlier; but the capital region like several other states had simply used the provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act to treat begging as a criminal activity.

Ranking Universities

THE proposal to eliminate the University Grants Commission and to tighten political control over the higher education system in India, has been mooted at the behest of Narendra Modi who is apparently concerned about the dearth of Indian names among the top-ranked universities in the world. This concern is not confined to Modi alone; it is shared by large numbers of persons in the country’s political establishment, and by many in the general public.

Capitalism’s Discourse on “Development”

CAPITALISM’S discourse on “development” which has become quite influential all over the third world in the neo-liberal period proceeds as follows: (i) “development” must consist in shifting the work-force from the traditional (petty production) sector which is overcrowded with low labour productivity, and hence constitutes a repository of poverty,  to the modern (capitalist) sector which has much higher labour productivity.

The State of the Economy

NEWSPAPER headlines over the last few days have highlighted three facts which point to the current abysmal state of the Indian economy. The first relates to inflation, where the June 2018 wholesale price index was 5.77 percent above that of June last year; this is the highest inflation rate witnessed since December 2013. The second is a burgeoning trade deficit: the trade deficit in June, at $ 16.6 billion, was again the highest for any month in the last five years.

Has There Been an MSP Hike for Kharif Crops?

MUCH has been written by now exposing the fraudulence of the government’s claims of a “historic” rise in the minimum support price for kharif crops. It has been pointed out for instance that while the Swaminathan Committee had recommended that the MSP should be fixed at 50 percent above the cost of production C2 which includes rental on own land, a recommendation that the BJP  in its 2014 election manifesto had promised to implement, the current MSP still falls way below that level.

The Proposed Abolition of the UGC

THE Modi government is bringing in legislation in the coming monsoon session of the parliament to abolish the University Grants Commission. The UGC has two important roles at present. One is the distribution of funds to colleges and universities; this will now be handled by the ministry of human resource development. The other role is a regulatory one, which will now be taken over by a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). This commission however will have no funds to distribute.