What Caused the Bengal Famine?

2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the Bengal famine, 1943-44 that led to three million civilian deaths from starvation. The famine was caused by a deliberate policy of raising resources from the Indian people, through an engineered ‘profit inflation’ described by John Maynard Keynes as a practical measure for reducing the consumption of working masses and extracting forced savings to finance abnormal wartime expenditure.

India’s Pension Scandal

INCREDIBLE as it may seem, the union government of India provides a pension to the elderly which amounts to an absurd sum of Rs 200 each per month, and even for  accessing this the beneficiary must belong to the BPL population which, as is well-known, is notoriously underestimated. True, the state governments add something to this amount, but, their resources being meagre, the additions cannot be large. What is more, this figure of Rs 200 has remained unchanged since 2006-07; even the elementary courtesy of indexing it to inflation has not been accorded to the elderly.

Ayushman Bharat

THE fraudulence of the claim made by the Modi government with regard to the “Ayushman Bharat” scheme launched recently surpasses all its previous efforts. This is hardly surprising for a government for which what matters is not what it actually does but how it creates perceptions about what it is doing.

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.