THE Modi government is celebrating four years in office with great fanfare. The fact that these four years have unleashed an unparallelled process of social and political retrogression in the country is well-known and need not detain us here. Our purpose here is to examine what these years have meant for the living standards of the bulk of the Indian people.
THE last time the Indian economy had faced a serious macro-economic disruption, as distinct from the more or less steady poverty-enhancement that accompanies its growth performance, was in 2013, when the rupee had depreciated sharply.
IN the wake of the take-over of Flipkart by Walmart, one is once again hearing an argument which one has often come across before, namely that having a large multinational in this sphere, which can do global sourcing for its products, will make goods cheaper for buyers and therefore be in the “consumers’ interests”.
ORTHODOX economics has for long been haunted by the prospect that the growth in foodgrains output in the world economy would not be sufficiently high to sustain the growing population of the world. Malthus was an early exponent of this fear. Keynes too subscribed to the view that unless the poor countries somehow ensured that their population growth was controlled, there would be a food shortage in the world economy, of which growing poverty would be a symptom.
CENTRAL to liberalism is a distinction between two spheres, the sphere of the market (or more generally of the economy) where individuals and firms interact to exchange their wares; and the sphere of public discourse where individuals interact as citizens of a polity to debate and determine the actions of the State. The importance that liberals attach to this second sphere was underscored by Walter Bagehot, the nineteenth century British essayist of liberal persuasion, who had lauded democracy as “government by discussion”.
ON March 8, Donald Trump made an announcement which according to many has the potential of starting a global trade war. He announced that the US would be raising tariffs on imported steel by 25 per cent and tariffs on imported aluminium by 10 per cent.
HIGHER education in India is facing a twin danger today. One is its commoditisation, by which is meant not just the fact that higher education itself is becoming a commodity but also that the products of higher education, ie, those in whom higher education is “embodied”, are also becoming commodities, in the sense of simply having their worth assessed both by themselves and by others in terms equivalence to a certain sum of money, the amount that they can command on the market.
NIRAV Modi, and his uncle Mehul Choksi, are the latest additions to the list of the so-called “entrepreneurs of new India” who have looted public money and decamped with the loot. The Punjab National Bank, the second largest bank in the country, kept giving them loans without any collateral (which is basically what happened through the complicated procedure of the so-called “Letters of Undertaking”); and one fine day Nirav Modi simply left the country with his immediate family, to be followed by his uncle a few days later.
WHAT is happening in the US economy provides an object lesson on the functioning of neo-liberal capitalism. Pre-first world war capitalism which had witnessed the long Victorian and Edwardian boom had relied on the colonial arrangement for the system’s dynamics.