India: An Economic Agenda for 2004 Organised by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) and the journal Social Scientist at New Delhi on 5 July 2004.

This set of papers discusses some important issues faced by the Indian economy and presents policy alternatives.These papers were presented at a convention jointly organised by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) and the journal Social Scientist on 5th July 2004 at New Delhi.

How Feasible is a Rural Employment Guarantee?

Jayati Ghosh & C.P. Chandrasekhar

There is no need to defend a rural employment guarantee scheme against those who perversely welcome “dream budgets” with tax concessions as progressive and market-friendly, while illegitimately dismissing an employment guarantee scheme that is targeted at increasing capital formation and productivity in rural India.

Regulating Capital Flows
Jayati Ghosh

The new government must recognise that capital controls have to form a basic part of the overall economic strategy. Such controls must be over both inflows and outflows, and be flexible and responsive to change. Otherwise it would be difficult to implement the other aspects of the planned economic programme effectively.

A Brief Outline of a Critique of the Common Minimum Programme in respect of Public Sector and Public Services
K. Ashok Rao

Discarding the opposition to neo-liberal economic policies in an effort to strike a ‘broad -based’ alliance against the communal forces can be suicidal. The Trade Unions and all patriotic sections of the Indian people must understand that the defence of the public sector and public services remains the main agenda of their struggle, which is totally undiluted by the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance.

Centre-State Financial Relations: How Wise will a Nation-wide VAT be?
Ashok Mitra

The 2004 Lok Sabha elections marks the emergence of India’s regional parties as entities as powerful as its two major national parties. This verdict calls for a realignment of Centre-State relations in favour of the States, including suggestions for a drastic revision of the existing financial relations. Unfortunately, the nation-wide Value Added Tax, as mentioned in the Common Minimum Programme, aims to replace sales taxation, the main revenue-raising instrument at the disposal of State governments.

Marginalized Groups and the Common Minimum Program

Sukhadeo Thorat

Where do the marginalized groups in Indian society stand today? Although there has been some improvement in certain spheres, the level of living of the marginalized communities has not improved. The government needs to focus on policies to improve the ownership of income-earning capital assets (agriculture land, and non-land), employment, human resource & health situation, as well as the prevention of discrimination to ensure fair participation of the marginalized communities in the private and the pubic sectors.

Expenditure on Education in India: A Short Note

Subhanil Chowdhury & Prasenjit Bose

The importance of education in economic development is accepted across the ideological divide in economic theory and policymaking. However, in India, both the recent phase of market-oriented reforms and the earlier phase of state-led development planning have failed to ensure access to basic education for the masses. The UPA government has to make a decisive break from its predecessor and mobilize adequate resources for universal elementary education through taxation of the rich and privileged.

Industrial Policy: The Way Ahead
C.P. Chandrasekhar

Given that a nation’s economic strength is in the final analysis based on the strength of its commodity producing sectors, this article looks at some of the principal measures that the Indian government can adopt immediately to redress the distortions that have resulted from the indiscriminate liberalization of the 1990s.

Trade Liberalization and Agriculture: Challenges before India
Biswajit Dhar & Murali Kallummal

The increasing economic integration of the Indian economy with global processes has brought considerable challenges at the door of its agricultural sector. But, the reforms programme introduced since the early 1990s have neglected the sector that supports the largest share of the country’s workforce. With its agricultural sector facing a decline in productivity of several major crops and unfair competition from cheap imports, it is vital for India to adopt a two-pronged strategy.