ECONOMIC NOTES

Cutting Social Sector Expenditure

THE NDA government is reportedly planning drastic cuts in social sector spending in 2014-15 to reduce the fiscal deficit. According to a report in The Hindu of November 27, the cuts relative to the budgetary provisions for this year could be as large as 25 percent in many sectors. While the government has not confirmed these reports, the coyness of its protestations, together with the pervasiveness of such reports, and the clear evidence at least with regard to one area where cuts are being effected, viz.

The Gathering Clouds Of Recession

THE world capitalist economy has been mired in stagnation and high unemployment ever since the 2008 financial crisis. Many were predicting that a turnaround was about to occur, partly because of the fact that the US economy last month showed larger job creation than of late, and also because it had grown at 3.5 percent last quarter which is higher than for some time now. But, far from recovering, the world capitalist economy now appears to be sliding into a new downturn.

The Anatomy of the State Under Neo-liberalism

THE change in the nature of the State under neo-liberalism has been much discussed. From standing apparently above society and mediating between different classes, as under dirigisme (even though it too was a big-bourgeois-led State), the State under neo-liberalism promotes primarily the interests of the corporate-financial oligarchy (which is integrated to international finance capital), on the plea that what is good for this oligarchy is ipso facto good for the nation.

Dilma Rousseff’s Victory

THE American “mainstream” media have tried to play down Dilma Rousseff’s victory in the presidential election in Brazil by emphasising the “narrowness” of her victory-margin, even though they would never be grudging in their acknowledgement of Bush Jr’s victory which was by a far narrower margin. “Narrowness” becomes a consideration for them only when the victor belongs to the Left.

 

The Nehruvian Economic Strategy

THIS being Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, much is being written about him and the economic strategy he pursued. The corporate-controlled media are full of articles criticising the “inward looking” dirigiste economic strategy that Nehru, along with PC Mahalanobis who was in charge of the planning process for much of the Nehru era, was supposed to have introduced.

Decontrolling Drug Prices

ON September 22, 2014, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) withdrew at the behest of the central government, which was bowing to the pressure from drug companies, its July 10 order capping the prices of 108 life-saving drugs. These drugs are essential for treating a whole range of diseases from diabetes to cancer, to tuberculosis, to HIV/AIDS to cardiac diseases.

Capitalism and Discrimination between Workers

THERE is a peculiar paradox at the centre of capitalism. Since it is a system that institutes free mobility of workers between sectors, real wage rates should be equalised across occupations which are not too dissimilar from one another in terms of their arduousness, or hazardousness, or unpleasantness, or skill requirements, or intensity of effort etc. In other words, more arduous, more hazardous and more unpleasant jobs should be better paid compared to less arduous, less hazardous or less unpleasant ones, other things being equal (i.e., per unit of homogeneous labour-time).

The Dalits And Undernutrition

IT is as if the fact that we still have manual scavenging six and a half decades after independence were not enough; it is as if the fact of the daily perpetration of the most horrendous atrocities on the Dalits was not enough; in the realm of nutrition itself, which constitutes the most elemental necessity of life, the condition of the Dalits has worsened quite remarkably over the decade-and-a-half between 1993-94 and 2009-10. This fact has got hidden until now by the utterly spurious “poverty” estimates that the Planning Commission under the neo-liberal regime has been putting out.

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