Technological Change and Impoverishment

THE fact that the socio-economic effects of technological change depend upon the property relations within which such change occurs is obvious but often not appreciated.Consider a simple example. Suppose on a certain area, 100 labourers were engaged for harvesting the crop at a total cost of Rs 5000; but the capitalist-landlord decides to use a harvester combine instead. Then the labourers’ income goes down by Rs 5000. The capitalist-landlord’s wage-cost goes down by Rs 5000, which accrues therefore as an addition to his profits.

The 2018-19 Union Budget

THE union budget for 2018-19 sets a new record for cynical dissimulation. To be sure there is a certain amount of “window dressing” in all budgets, but the announcement of fantabulous schemes with scarcely a paisa earmarked for them, as has happened this year, is quite unprecedented in the annals of budget-making in India.Consider for instance the much-hyped “world’s largest healthcare programme” announced in this budget, which is supposed to provide insurance cover for up to Rs 5 lakhs per family to 10 crore families constituting 40 per cent of India’s population.

The Economic Survey 2017-18

LIKE the person on the proverbial tiger, the Indian economy is currently riding a precarious course. The Government of India’s Economic Survey for 2017-18 recognises this frankly, but its panacea is to keep one’s fingers crossed and hope that the ride continues.The macroeconomic data it presents are closer to those of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update prepared for the Davos meet than to the figures of the Indian government’s own Central Statistical Office.

The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality

OXFAM has just produced a report in which it highlights the dramatic increase in wealth inequality that is occurring in India. The basic data it uses are from Credit Suisse which regularly brings out a Global Wealth Databook; and according to Credit Suisse the top 1 per cent of the population in India cornered 73 per cent of the additional wealth generated in the year 2017.This is an incredible figure in itself. What is more, this percentage, which refers to the latest year, is higher than the overall figure that had prevailed prior to this year, which was 58 per cent.

Arun Jaitley on Electoral Bonds

ARUN Jaitley had outlined a scheme of electoral bonds in his budget speech on February 2, 2017. Now, exactly 11 months later, the notification of the scheme and some details of it have finally been announced in a Press Information Bureau release on January 2, 2018. Along with this release, Jaitley himself has also written an explanation-cum-defence of the scheme, from which it is clear that the scheme, far from countering the threat to democracy arising from large-scale corporate funding of elections, does not even address this issue.

The 99 Per Cent Failure!

IN assessing the impact of the Modi government’s demonetisation measure on the black economy, the fact that nearly 99 per cent of the outlawed currency came back to the RBI has been widely taken to indicate that the measure was a failure – its costs far outweighing any benefits. The obvious reason for this is that the return of almost all the notes establishes the fact that hardly any black wealth was destroyed as its immediate direct outcome.