A Dangerous Period Prabhat Patnaik

For over half a century after the second world war, fascism had ceased to be a serious political force anywhere. There were no doubt many authoritarian, even murderous, regimes, and military dictatorships, especially in the third world, often installed through CIA-backed coups against progressive nationalist governments, and enjoying the tacit support of the U.S. But these must be distinguished from fascist regimes, which rely on mass political mobilization by arousing hatred against some hapless minority. For people of my generation, and several succeeding ones, the main contest appeared to be between liberalism and socialism. There were I believe, two major…

Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Over the last few decades, people in the developing world have been rejecting the intellectual property (IP) regime as it has been increasingly imposed on them following the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including its trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) regime. IP rights (IPRs) have been further enforced through ostensible free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment treaties among two (bilateral) or more (plurilateral) partners. Despite their ostensible rationale, the IP standards rich country governments insist on have never been intended to maximize scientific progress and technological innovation. Rather, the IPR regime serves to maximize the profits of influential…

The Aging of a Growth Engine C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

With the dollar value of exports declining, India’s software sector faces a historical crisis which may worsen, given the protectionist trends in the US and other uncertainties. Aging_Growth_Engine  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on February 13, 2018)

The Top 1 Percent of Thailand: Their Income Sources and Tax Due Pasuk Phongpaichit and Francis Cripps

The rising share of total income held by the top 1 percent has had a substantial impact on income inequality in developed countries. In the United States, the share of the top 1 percent more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. In other rich countries, the trend was similar but the scale differed among countries. Some have argued that this concentration is a result of technological changes increasing the rewards to skill, but the differences in scale across countries with similar technological context suggests that institutional and policy factors are more  important. Top_1_Percent_Thailand (Download…

The Economic Survey 2017-18 Prabhat Patnaik

Like the person on the proverbial tiger, the Indian economy is currently riding a precarious course. The Government of India’s Economic Survey for 2017-18 recognizes this frankly, but its panacea is to keep one’s fingers crossed and hope that the ride continues. The macroeconomic data it presents are closer to those of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update prepared for the Davos meet than to the figures of the Indian government’s own Central Statistical Office. Its GDP growth estimate for the current fiscal year is 6.75 percent (compared to the IMF’s 6.7 percent and the CSO’s 6.5); and in the absence of anything untoward,…

The 2018-19 Union Budget Prabhat Patnaik

The Union Budget for 2018-19 sets a new record for cynical dissimulation. To be sure there is a certain amount of “window dressing” in all budgets, but the announcement of fantabulous schemes with scarcely a paisa earmarked for them, as has happened this year, is quite unprecedented in the annals of budget-making in India. Consider for instance the much-hyped “World’s Largest Healthcare Programme” announced in this budget, which is supposed to provide insurance cover for up to Rs.5 lakhs per family to 10 crore families constituting 40 percent of India’s population. The total sum allocated for this programme is a…

Budget 2018: The Finance Ministry’s Grey Shades of ‘Pink’

Has the Union Ministry of Finance really turned gender-sensitive at last? At least according to its own lights, it has. Indeed, the creators of the Economic Survey are so excited by this new perspective that they have been moved to colour the cover of their document pink. (Presumably, no one has yet told them about how such colour stereotyping is no longer fashionable.) And – instead of the usual practice of clubbing together matters relating to women with children, social sectors and other supposedly “soft” stuff – there is an entire chapter in volume I of the Survey devoted to gender and specifically…

Where’s the money, Mr Jaitley? Jayati Ghosh

This government is especially good at optics, at managing public perceptions to persuade people that it is working for them, rather than doing so. So it is no surprise that Arun Jaitley’s pre-election Budget Speech went on about how much his government cares for the people, the poor, for farmers, for women, for people running small and micro enterprises, and so on. Many major claims were made: not just about the recent past, but about the coming fiscal year, with supposedly massive increases in public spending that would be directed towards these hitherto-ignored categories of people. But the actual increases…

Budget 2018-19: No money where the mouth is

Billed as the last full budget of this second NDA government, Budget 2018 was not expected to surprise. Its primary thrust had to be a show of concern for the large mass of the deprived in India, with some focus on the agricultural sector which by all accounts has been neglected and allowed to languish over the last four years. There were therefore three questions that the budget was expected to answer. First, to what extent would pre-election imperatives be addressed with mere rhetoric and window-dressing, rather than actual measures backed with financing aimed at the neglected and marginalised sections…

Did the FM deliver for Farmers? Jayati Ghosh

For those with short memories, let’s remind ourselves that Arun Jaitley has been promising “top priority to farmers” for a while now. Indeed, this government came to power in 2014 promising to double farmers’ incomes in five years. Four years later, that goal post has been shifted, with all official documents now declaring that farmers’ incomes will be doubled by 2022, as per a “clarion call” given by Prime Minister Modi supposedly in 2017.  In fact, in Budget 2016-17, the Finance Minister had already announced a slew of measures that were supposed to double farmers’ incomes in five years, to…