ECONOMIC NOTES

The Unravelling of the Modi Arrangement

LIBERAL commentators see Modi’s rise as being caused exclusively by the ascendancy of Hindutva. But they never explain why Hindutva should suddenly acquire this ascendancy. If this ascendancy is traced to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, then why two decades should pass after the demolition before Hindutva could come to power needs to be explained, as does the phenomenon of the BJP suddenly emerging as the richest political party, and one enjoying overwhelming support in India’s print and electronic media.

Everything for Sale

EVERYWHERE in the world people got vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus without having to pay a penny, but not in India. Everywhere in the world, historic landmarks that define a nation, that constitute the warp and woof of a nation’s consciousness, are held sacred and left untouched in their original shape, but not in India. Everywhere in the world, public assets that provide basic services, or cultural and educational services, to the people, are virtually free, but no longer in India.

The Scandal of Old-Age Pensions

JUNIOR Minister for Rural Development in the central government, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, ruled out in parliament any increase in the amount of monthly pension given by the centre to the elderly under the National Social Assistance Programme (The Telegraph, August 22). The amount currently being given to each beneficiary under this programme is a princely sum of Rs 200 per month for persons between ages 60 and 79, and Rs 500 per month for persons of 80 years and above!

Neo-Liberalism and Nationhood

THE anti-colonial nationalism that informed the struggle for liberation in third world countries was, as is well-known, of an entirely different genre from the bourgeois nationalism that had emerged in Europe in the seventeenth century. There is a tendency in the West, including even among progressives,   to treat all “nationalism” as a homogeneous and reactionary category. They treat even anti-colonial nationalism as if it is no different from European bourgeois nationalism, notwithstanding the several crucial differences between the two.

Mexico’s Turn Away from Neoliberalism

PRESIDENT Lopez Obrador of Mexico in his inaugural speech itself had called neoliberalism a “disaster” and a “calamity”. The Leftist political party, MORENA, to which he belongs, had stated in its programme: “The global economic crisis has revealed the failure of the neoliberal model. The economic policy imposed by the international financial organisations leads to the fact that Mexico is one of the countries with the slowest growth.” MORENA’s programme had proposed instead that the “State should assume responsibility to lead development without foreign interference”.

The Household and the State

SIMPLE analogies can be deceptive, even dangerous. An example is the analogy often drawn between the household and the State. Just as a household cannot “live beyond its means” for ever, and sooner or later its creditors not only stop giving loans but take away the assets of the household for defaulting on loan repayment, likewise, the State cannot “live beyond its means” for ever and go on borrowing ad infinitum; sooner or later its creditors stop giving loans and even attach its assets.

Equality and Scarcity

MANY would remember that the Soviet Union and other Eastern European socialist countries used to be characterized by long queues of consumers for several commodities. This was a source of much derision in the West and was attributed to the inefficiency of the socialist system of production, compared to capitalism where one just had to walk into a supermarket and buy whatever one wanted to.

Three Decades of Economic Liberalisation

IT is thirty years since India adopted neoliberal policies in 1991, though some would date their introduction even earlier to 1985. Newspapers are full of assessments of the impact of these policies on the economy, and liberalisers from Manmohan Singh downwards, have suddenly become visible, lauding their handiwork, while lamenting at best that the benefits of liberalisation have been unevenly distributed.

The Nationalisation of Banks in 1969

ON July 19, 1969, 14 major banks were nationalised in the country. Today, after 52 years there is some talk again of privatising the nationalised banks, which naturally raises the question: why were banks nationalised at all? The answer to this question is usually given in terms of the specific advantages of bank nationalisation; this is correct and appropriate, but what needs also to be kept in mind is the overall perspective underlying bank nationalisation.

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