ECONOMIC NOTES

Privatising Indian Insurance

WITH the cabinet approving amendments to the Insurance Act of 1938, to raise the cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance companies from 49 to 74 per cent, the process of implementing the next stage of reducing public control over Indian insurance has begun. Once legislated and implemented, the proposed increase in the FDI cap would permit foreign control over a majority of insurance companies operating in the country.

Fiscal Policy in a Bind

EVEN the blinkered BJP government sees the need for a fiscal policy that would stimulate the economy by increasing government expenditure; but it finds itself in a bind since it does not know how to finance such larger government expenditure. Simply spending more by borrowing, that is, by enlarging the fiscal deficit, is frowned upon by international finance capital, and our government, notwithstanding its much advertised “hyper-nationalism”, does not have the gall to violate the dictates of globalised finance.

Mass Movement as a Teacher

PARTICIPATION in a non-divisive mass movement, i.e., one that is not directed against some other segment of the people, of which the struggle for improving the material conditions of life is a classic example, is the greatest teacher of the values of democracy and unity.

Fifteenth Finance Commission: A Neoliberal Boost to Fiscal Centralisation

THE headlines suggest that the 15th Finance Commission (15th FC) has not let down the states when deciding on their constitutionally mandated share in the divisible pool of the centre’s tax revenues over 2021-26. It has more or less stuck with the 14th FC’s recommendation to set the states’ share at 42 per cent, reducing it by just 1 per cent to take account of the conversion of Jammu and Kashmir from a state into two union territories.

Undoing the Dominance of the Corporate-Hindutva Alliance

THE farmers’ struggle represents a major step towards undoing the dominance of the corporate-Hindutva alliance that has characterised India in the last few years. The peasants, other petty producers like craftsmen, artisans and fishermen, have been among the worst victims of neoliberalism, which has progressively removed all fetters against the spontaneous tendency of big capital to encroach upon their domains. While the attack against the workers under neoliberalism is well-known, its systemic assault on the petty production sector is less appreciated.

Hype in the Midst of a Crisis

IN an attempt to persuade listeners into believing that Budget 2021 will complete the conquest of disease and unleash an era of post-Covid expansion, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman placed special emphasis in her budget speech on two sets of initiatives. The first was a claim that the budget marks a new beginning for the Indian state’s engagement with peoples’ health, riding on an unprecedented 137 per cent hike in allocations for the health sector, from a mere Rs 94,452 croreallocated in Budget 2020-21 to Rs 2,23,846 crore in Budget 2021-22.

Biden’s Rescue Package

EVEN before taking office, Jo Biden, the new American president, has announced a rescue package of $1.9 trillion, of which as much as $1 trillion will be in the form simply of transfers to the working people. Since the estimated US GDP was $20.8 trillion in 2020, the size of Biden’s rescue package comes to almost 10 per cent of current US GDP. This is on top of the rescue package, again amounting to 10 per cent of GDP, that Trump had announced some time ago in the context of the pandemic.

A Dangerous Red Herring

IN its systematic attempt to vilify the farmers’ movement against the three infamous agriculture bills that open peasant agriculture to corporate take-over, the government keeps using the argument that the opposition to these bills is confined to farmers only from a couple of states, that farmers from other states are happy with the bills.

Engels on the Peasant War in Germany

AT a time when peasant masses in the country are engaged in a valiant struggle for the repeal of the central government’s three infamous laws, and have laid peaceful siege to Delhi, braving rains and bitter cold, it is worth recalling Friedrich Engels’ study of the peasant war in Germany in 1525, that also celebrated its outstanding leader Thomas Muenzer. Such a recall becomes necessary for another reason.

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