ECONOMIC NOTES

The Spectre of the Thirties

THE Reserve Bank of India, as is to be expected, has been denying that its governor Raghuram Rajan had ever suggested that the world was facing the possibility of a 1930s-type Great Depression. Members of the “global financial community” are not supposed to say such things; so even if Dr Rajan did, a denial was inevitable.

The point however is not whether Rajan actually said this. The point is not even whether the world would actually slip into a 1930s-type depression. The point is whether the issues raised by Rajan at the event organised in London were valid and significant.

The Growing Centralisation

WHAT we are witnessing under the Modi regime is a significant reduction both in the relative amount of resources made available from the centre to the states, and also in the states’ ability to make their voices heard on matters of national economic policy. Such centralisation has been one of the chief hallmarks of the Modi administration.

The Destruction of Education

THE NDA government’s appointment of hack loyalists to important positions in the sphere of education has rightly raised concerns about the damage being done to the education system. But this is not the sole source of danger to the system. The era of globalisation of capital brings in its train a process of destruction of education, of which in the Indian context the intrusion of communal-fascism into the sphere of education is an important additional ingredient. This process of destruction, its “how” and “why”, has to be understood in its totality.

Economics and the Two Concepts of Nationalism

THE Westphalian peace treaties in 1648 which ended the thirty years’ and the eighty years’ wars in Europe are considered to have ushered in the era of nationalism and nation-States in that continent. But the concept of “nationalism” that emerged there was a non-secular majoritarian concept, which invoked both Christianity, and a sense of “otherness”, shading into oppression, towards various domestic minorities.

The Declining World Foreign Exchange Reserves

IF one adds up the foreign exchange reserves of all the countries in the world, including under the term “reserves” what these countries hold in the form of gold, US dollars, other reserve currencies, Special Drawing Rights of the IMF, and also liquid assets such as short-term Treasury Bills of the US government, then the total sum in August 2014 came to $12.03 trillion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount is held by developing countries whose reserve accumulation started increasing after the Asian financial crisis of the late nineties.

Skating on Thin Ice

THE Modi government completed one year in office on May 26. This year saw a continuation of the industrial stagnation which has been a feature of the Indian economy for quite some time now. The year-on-year rates of industrial growth, calculated on the basis of the index of industrial production, have been as follows:

2008-09 : 2.5 percent                           

2009-10: 5.3 percent

2010-11: 8.2 percent

2011-12: 2.9 percent

2012-13: 1.1 percent

2013-14: -0.1 percent

2014-15: 2.8 percent

A Simple Calculation

A VERY simple calculation is enough to illuminate what has been happening in the Indian economy over the last few decades. In July 1973, I know from personal knowledge, the starting basic salary of an Associate Professor in a central university was Rs 700 per month. Nowadays the starting basic salary of an Associate Professor in a central university is about Rs 47,000 per month (which is the sum of Rs 39,000 and Rs 8,000 shown under two separate heads).

The Devolution of Resources From the Centre to the States

THERE is a common perception that with the government accepting the recommendation of the Fourteenth Finance Commission to raise the share of the states in the divisible pool to 42 per cent, there has been a substantial increase in the resources available to the states; and that a new “progressive” era has dawned in the Indian economy, since the states, which are the main spenders on welfare and social sector activities, will now have more resources at their command.

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