BETWEEN 1980-85 and 2005-10, per capita foodgrain production in the world as a whole declined. Since by the latter date a significant proportion of the world foodgrain output was being diverted for the production of biofuels, and since the addition to world foodgrain stocks in the latter quinquennium was no less than in the former, it follows that the per capita foodgrain absorption between these two dates must have declined even more rapidly.
ON the eve of the declaration of the schedule for general elections in 2014, P Chidambaram, finance minister in the outgoing UPA government, chose to meet the chief executives of India’s public sector banks. The cynical would argue that this must be a last attempt to get the banks to dole out some more sops before the election date. If that were to impress a section of the electorate at all, it is a clever strategy. The government can be seen as benefiting some, without running foul of the Election Commission’s pre-election Code of Conduct.
IT used to be said of the Bourbon kings of France, whom the French Revolution overthrew, that “they learned nothing and they forgot nothing”. These words could well describe the UPA government; and Chidambaram’s budget speech gave ample proof of it.
THE Obama administration has been negotiating what is claimed to be a free trade agreement with eleven other Pacific nations for some time now. These nations are: Australia, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Canada and Mexico. The exact terms of the agreement are not publicly known; whatever is known is from “leaks”, including one that has come through Wikileaks.
WE have been hearing of late remarks like “We do not believe in ‘Isms’” and “Divisions between the Left and the Right are things of the past”. Since these remarks emanate from quarters that supposedly strike a chord with the contemporary youth, they deserve to be taken seriously. Besides, they constitute part of an intellectual tradition that has been recently in vogue, which holds that all “grand narratives”, of which Marxism is a classic example, are passé.
IN the late nineteen sixties and the early nineteen seventies, an argument used to be put forward by theorists of Social Democracy that went as follows. In any society, wealth inequality is always greater than income inequality; but if this income inequality is curtailed, then that ipso facto has the effect of curtailing wealth inequality as well, and that too quite substantially.
THERE exists a whole tribe of economists, by no means a small one, which debunks every attempt at income redistribution in the country as “populism”, and which insists that the growth of the Gross Domestic Product must be given absolute priority. This tribe applauds Narendra Modi’s “development” agenda, which entails enticing corporates, both domestic and foreign, to invest in one’s own domain by offering them generous incentives.
THE Indian media for which the WTO meeting at Bali was of no more than passing interest made out on December 7 that India had achieved a great victory at that meeting. Even The Hindu’s headline read: “India’s Stand Prevails at Bali”. The media were merely echoing the view of the Indian government whose commerce minister even took pride in the fact that it was the Indian draft that was put up for endorsement to the member countries. The truth regrettably is exactly the opposite.
ON Tuesday, November 25, the Vatican brought out an 84-page document written by Pope Francis which was a severe indictment of the current unjust economic system that prevails in the world. It said (all quotations and the basic information are taken from Lynn Parramore’s article published in Truthout of December 2):
THE United States and Europe subsidise their agriculture massively. In the US for instance, government expenditure by way of subsidies to the agricultural sector is on average nearly half of the GDP originating from its agriculture. The figures for Europe are broadly similar. In India by contrast, government expenditure by way of subsidies to agriculture is estimated to have been less than 10 percent of the GDP originating from agriculture in the past, and is now just likely to exceed this figure.