On the BJP’s Election Manifesto

THERE is nothing surprising about a party that believes itself to be riding the crest of an electoral wave by appearing to be all things to all persons, delaying the release of its election manifesto almost until the elections have actually started. Since a manifesto is supposed to state what a party specifically stands for, the fear is that any such explicit statement would break the spell.

The Food Economy

AN impression is sought to be created by government spokesmen that Indian agriculture, especially the foodgrain sector, has left behind the stagnation that afflicted it in the immediate aftermath of the “economic reforms”. It has now “turned around”, and those who are still highlighting the deleterious effect of the neo-liberal regime upon food security are simply raking up a past that no longer exists.


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.