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.

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.