ECONOMIC NOTES

NEO-LIBERALISM’S ASSAULT ON EDUCATION

One of the most deleterious consequences of neo-liberalism is in the sphere of education, but it is less studied than its more direct economic effects. I shall confine myself here to the sphere of higher education. Some detailed studies have recently come out on the effects of the neo-liberal dispensation on higher education in the United States; and these are of interest to us since whatever is happening in the U.S. is also happening in India at present. Neo-liberalism’s consequences are indeed quite universal.

Smith, Marx and Alienation

THERE has always been a tendency among non-Marxists to ignore the specificity of Marx’s perceptions in the realm of political economy, and to reduce them instead to similar but antecedent ideas that might be found in Adam Smith or David Ricardo. Economist Paul Samuelson expressed this tendency in the most blatant, if deliberately provocative, manner when he referred to Marx as a “minor post-Ricardian”.

Capitalism And World Poverty

BETWEEN 1980-85 and 2005-10, per capita foodgrain production in the world as a whole declined. Since by the latter date a significant proportion of the world foodgrain output was being diverted for the production of biofuels, and since the addition to world foodgrain stocks in the latter quinquennium was no less than in the former, it follows that the per capita foodgrain absorption between these two dates must have declined even more rapidly.

Who is Robbing the Banks?

ON the eve of the declaration of the schedule for general elections in 2014, P Chidambaram, finance minister in the outgoing UPA government, chose to meet the chief executives of India’s public sector banks. The cynical would argue that this must be a last attempt to get the banks to dole out some more sops before the election date. If that were to impress a section of the electorate at all, it is a clever strategy. The government can be seen as benefiting some, without running foul of the Election Commission’s pre-election Code of Conduct.

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

THE Obama administration has been negotiating what is claimed to be a free trade agreement with eleven other Pacific nations for some time now. These nations are: Australia, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Canada and Mexico. The exact terms of the agreement are not publicly known; whatever is known is from “leaks”, including one that has come through Wikileaks.

The Indispensability of Marxism

WE have been hearing of late remarks like “We do not believe in ‘Isms’” and “Divisions between the Left and the Right are things of the past”. Since these remarks emanate from quarters that supposedly strike a chord with the contemporary youth, they deserve to be taken seriously. Besides, they constitute part of an intellectual tradition that has been recently in vogue, which holds that all “grand narratives”, of which Marxism is a classic example, are passé.

Employment during the Boom

THERE exists a whole tribe of economists, by no means a small one, which debunks every attempt at income redistribution in the country as “populism”, and which insists that the growth of the Gross Domestic Product must be given absolute priority. This tribe applauds Narendra Modi’s “development” agenda, which entails enticing corporates, both domestic and foreign, to invest in one’s own domain by offering them generous incentives.

India Yields to Pressure at Bali

THE Indian media for which the WTO meeting at Bali was of no more than passing interest made out on December 7 that India had achieved a great victory at that meeting. Even The Hindu’s headline read: “India’s Stand Prevails at Bali”. The media were merely echoing the view of the Indian government whose commerce minister even took pride in the fact that it was the Indian draft that was put up for endorsement to the member countries. The truth regrettably is exactly the opposite.

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