THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has just brought out its Global Wage Report 2018-19 which provides data on real wage growth in the world economy for 2017, the latest year for which such data are available. This shows that real wage growth for the world economy was 1.8 per cent in 2017, which was not only lower than the 2.4 per cent growth of 2016, but was the lowest annual growth rate since 2008, and certainly lower than what the world economy experienced before 2008.
NARENDRA Modi said the other day, rather disparagingly, that the “Urban Naxals” live in air-conditioned comfort. Since all who speak or write in public upholding the right to dissent from the Hindutva positions, including even known critics of the Left, which means virtually all members of the intelligentsia who display any integrity, have been dubbed “Urban Naxals” by his government, his remark in effect amounts to targeting the entire intelligentsia.
ON Wednesday August 8, the Delhi High Court decriminalised begging in the capital. In the course of its hearing, it had raised the question how begging could be an offence in a country where the government was unable to provide food and jobs; its final verdict is in line with this thinking. Of course there was no central legislation, or legislation relating specifically to Delhi, that had criminalised begging earlier; but the capital region like several other states had simply used the provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act to treat begging as a criminal activity.
THE proposal to eliminate the University Grants Commission and to tighten political control over the higher education system in India, has been mooted at the behest of Narendra Modi who is apparently concerned about the dearth of Indian names among the top-ranked universities in the world. This concern is not confined to Modi alone; it is shared by large numbers of persons in the country’s political establishment, and by many in the general public.
CAPITALISM’S discourse on “development” which has become quite influential all over the third world in the neo-liberal period proceeds as follows: (i) “development” must consist in shifting the work-force from the traditional (petty production) sector which is overcrowded with low labour productivity, and hence constitutes a repository of poverty, to the modern (capitalist) sector which has much higher labour productivity.
NEWSPAPER headlines over the last few days have highlighted three facts which point to the current abysmal state of the Indian economy. The first relates to inflation, where the June 2018 wholesale price index was 5.77 percent above that of June last year; this is the highest inflation rate witnessed since December 2013. The second is a burgeoning trade deficit: the trade deficit in June, at $ 16.6 billion, was again the highest for any month in the last five years.
MUCH has been written by now exposing the fraudulence of the government’s claims of a “historic” rise in the minimum support price for kharif crops. It has been pointed out for instance that while the Swaminathan Committee had recommended that the MSP should be fixed at 50 percent above the cost of production C2 which includes rental on own land, a recommendation that the BJP in its 2014 election manifesto had promised to implement, the current MSP still falls way below that level.
THE Modi government is bringing in legislation in the coming monsoon session of the parliament to abolish the University Grants Commission. The UGC has two important roles at present. One is the distribution of funds to colleges and universities; this will now be handled by the ministry of human resource development. The other role is a regulatory one, which will now be taken over by a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). This commission however will have no funds to distribute.
SOCIALISM has collapsed over large tracts of the globe. Where it still exists, the economic regimes have undergone considerable reforms. Not surprisingly therefore the old socialist regimes are objects of much vilification these days. While capitalism, understandably, has a vested interest in promoting such vilification, the Left opponents of capitalism continue to remain too shell-shocked to counter it.
BILLIONAIRE financier George Soros has set financial markets aflutter by suggesting that a new world financial crisis is in the offing. In a speech he gave recently to a think-tank, he underscored the outflow of finance capital from the third world which is likely to catch these economies in a cycle of exchange rate depreciations and austerity. And he talked specifically of the European Union facing an “existential crisis” on account of three factors: its territorial disintegration as exemplified by Brexit, austerity, and the refugee crisis.