ECONOMIC NOTES

A Crumb from the G-7 Table

THE G-7 meeting that has just concluded has promised to donate one billion doses of anti-Covid vaccine to the rest of the world, consisting primarily of the so-called “developing” countries. The US has promised 500 million doses, Britain 100 million doses; the other G-7 countries, Italy, Japan, France, Germany and Canada are supposed to make up the rest.

Property Rights and Pandemic Deaths

A SPADE must be called a spade. The biggest ally of the coronavirus today as it decimates mankind is the institution of capitalist property rights. The Economist estimates that the actual death-toll across the world from the virus so far is not  three million as officially claimed but 10 million; and the virus is far from finished. The only way that its march can be checked is through universal vaccination of the entire population of the world.

Destitution, Hunger and the Lockdown

ON March 24, 2020, Narendra Modi had announced that the country would go into a lockdown after four hours! This nation-wide lockdown was to last till the end of May, after which there were local lockdowns but not a general one. It brought acute hardship to millions of the working poor, among whom the migrant workers’ woes received global attention.

Patents versus the People

ON October 2, 2020, even before any vaccines against Covid-19 had been approved, India and South Africa had proposed to the WTO that a temporary patent waiver should be granted on all such innovations. In the following months, 100 countries had supported this demand. And on May 5, the US, usually the most ardent defender of the patent system, agreed to a temporary patent waiver on anti-Covid vaccines, committing itself to “text-based negotiations at the WTO”.

For Free Universal Vaccination Against Covid-19

OF all the decisions taken by the Modi government the most mindless has been the so-called “liberalisation” of vaccine distribution. Originally, the central government was the sole buyer from the two producing firms at a fixed price of Rs150 per dose, and then, while itself distributing them free to the people,also usedother channels for distribution, including private hospitals (who however charged Rs250 per dose because they had to pay the central government for the vaccines).

The Resurgence of Inflation

THE official wholesale price index for March 2021, which was released a few days ago shows it to be 7.39 per cent higher than for March 2020. Such a high rate of inflation has not been seen in India for over 8 years. It was only in October 2012 that the country had witnessed a 7.4 per cent inflation over the corresponding month of the previous year.

Biden’s Package and Its Pitfalls

US President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package is one of the most ambitious measures to revive the US and, with it, the world economy. Coming on the heels of Trump’s $2 trillion package last year and a further $900 billion package announced in December 2020, it seeks not just to provide relief from the pandemic but to start a new boom in the US which, it is expected, will have spill-over effects for the world as a whole, notwithstanding the protectionist measures against imports introduced in the US under Donald Trump.

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