ECONOMIC NOTES

Foodstocks, Bio-Fuels and Hunger

THE Modi government’s attempt to “explain” away India’s slipping from being 94th on the world hunger index in 2020 to 101st in 2021, a rank well below that of neighbours Pakistan, Nepal or Bangladesh, by questioning the “methodology” of the index, is jejune enough; but even more shocking is its total inability to see the reason behind the acute hunger in the country.

Finance Capital and the World Economy

THE period of neo-liberalism witnesses an increase in the share of economic surplus in total output both in individual countries and also for the world as a whole. This is because the “opening” up of the economy to freer trade in goods and services leads to a rapid introduction of structural-cum-technological change, which, because of its labour-displacing character, keeps down the growth rate of employment, to even below the natural growth-rate of the work-force.

Peasants and the Revolution

MARXIST theory develops with changing times, as capitalism itself develops, which is why it remains a living doctrine. On the question of the role of the peasantry in the revolutionary process that leads to the transcendence of capitalism, there have been significant developments in Marxist theory, which I propose to discuss here.

IMF’s Issue of Fresh SDRs

THE International Monetary Fund has announced a fresh issue of $650 billion Special Drawing Rights in August which would be distributed among member countries in proportion to their IMF quotas. This amount is less than what had been demanded by many, which was a trillion dollars, but it does represent a small temporary comfort for the heavily indebted third world countries.

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”.

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