The Resurgence of Inflation

THE official wholesale price index for March 2021, which was released a few days ago shows it to be 7.39 per cent higher than for March 2020. Such a high rate of inflation has not been seen in India for over 8 years. It was only in October 2012 that the country had witnessed a 7.4 per cent inflation over the corresponding month of the previous year.

Biden’s Package and Its Pitfalls

US President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package is one of the most ambitious measures to revive the US and, with it, the world economy. Coming on the heels of Trump’s $2 trillion package last year and a further $900 billion package announced in December 2020, it seeks not just to provide relief from the pandemic but to start a new boom in the US which, it is expected, will have spill-over effects for the world as a whole, notwithstanding the protectionist measures against imports introduced in the US under Donald Trump.

Ruling Classes and Concern for the Poor

WHEN Elizabeth Warren a contender for American presidentship had proposed a progressive wealth tax during her campaign for Democratic Party nomination, 18 American billionaires had come out in support of her proposal; one cannot recall or even imagine any comparable behaviour in the Indian context. This is not because the American, or more generally Western, capitalists are particularly kind or generous towards those whom they exploit.

The IMF’s True Colours

THE Covid-19 crisis has seen a very different response from the advanced countries compared to the third world countries. The former have unrolled substantial fiscal packages for rescue and recovery while the latter have been trapped in fiscal austerity. Among third world countries, India’s fiscal package has been perhaps the most niggardly, amounting to no more than one per cent of GDP; but even other third world countries have not fared all that much better.

The Modi Government and the Public Sector

THE Modi government has made no secret of its intention to hand over India’s public sector to its favoured corporate houses and foreign multinationals. And this is backed not by any economic argument, but rather by its desire to raise resources for government expenditure, thereby betraying both its utter ignorance of economics and its bloody-minded determination to favour its crony corporate houses.

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.