Misconceptions about the Food Economy

THE Indian intelligentsia has an incredible propensity to swallow the self-serving arguments of metropolitan capitalism that are typically supposed to constitute ‘economic wisdom’; and nowhere is this more evident than in the case of India’s food economy. There are a plethora of centre-page articles in newspapers these days suggesting that Indian kisans should move away from producing foodgrains towards other crops, which is actually a demand that metropolitan countries have been making for quite some time.

Countering the Corporate-Hindutva Narrative on the Nation

THE kisan agitation has become more than simply a fight for MSP or against the corporatisation of agriculture. Through its practice, it is recovering a narrative that is opposed to the hegemonic narrative promoted under neo-liberalism. And as the Modi government’s skulduggery for breaking the movement intensifies in the coming days, this recovery will become more and more comprehensive, clear-cut, and oppositional. Let me illustrate the point by referring to the narrative about the ‘nation’.

Agriculture and the Free Market

IN the context of the on-going country-wide kisan movement for repealing Modi’s three agriculture bills, while an overwhelming majority of commentators have stood with the position taken by the kisans, a few, though not necessarily agreeing with Modi, have raised the question: why shouldn’t agriculture operate within a free market? It is worth recapitulating here the answer to this question which is well-known but can bear repetition.

What the Second Quarter GDP Estimates Reveal

IT is ironic that government spokespersons should exhibit so much euphoria over the second quarter (July-September) Gross Domestic Product estimate, which shows a drop “only” of 7.5 per cent compared to second quarter 2019-20. The expectation had been that the drop would be larger, about 8 to 9 per cent; and as the first quarter drop had been 23.9 per cent, the talk has been of a “stronger recovery” than anticipated.The irony however is that on closer look the recovery appears both dubious, as well as immiserizing and hence fragile.

Modi on Demonetisation

ON the fourth anniversary of demonetisation, Narendra Modi has claimed that it succeeded in curbing black money. He probably believes he can get away with making this claim because of the passage of time. But most people in the country know this to be a lie for a simple reason.

Capitalism and Inheritance

IT is often believed that the ability to pass on property to one’s progeny is an essential element of capitalism, without which the capitalists’ incentives will dry up and the system will lose its dynamism. Nothing could be further from the truth; indeed the acquisition of property through inheritance is contrary to the bourgeois justification for capitalist property.

Labour Hours Lost During the Pandemic

THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has for some months been bringing out a report that monitors the impact of the pandemic on the world economy, especially the labour-hours lost because of the lockdown and their ramifications. The statistics it provides are not compilations of official data from different countries; they are based on the ILO’s own estimates made with whatever information is available from these countries.

Billionaires and the Pandemic

WEALTH distribution data are notoriously difficult to interpret. This is because variations in stock prices affect wealth distribution, so that a stock market boom suddenly makes the rich appear much richer, while a stock market collapse makes wealth distribution less unequal overnight. In other words, the fact that the rich hold a part of their wealth in the form of stocks makes it difficult to estimate their total wealth which now has one durable component and another that is potentially evanescent.