The Politics of being a Dalit Woman Jayati Ghosh

In the political landscape of contemporary India, it is only too easy to find more reasons for depression than optimism. The rise of a nastier, more aggressive, communally charged and openly patriarchal political discourse is evident all around us. Oftentimes, it feels like the poet W.B. Yeats’ apocalyptic description is coming true: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity.” Perhaps more than at any previous time in Independent India’s history, we are faced with existential threats to our most important institutions, and challenges even to the very notions of democracy and secularism that…

Public Banks: Dressing up for the market C. P. Chandrasekhar

When the government presented its third supplementary demand for grants to the winter session of parliament, the list of expenditures included Rs. 80,000 crore for a first tranche investment in equity of the public sector banks to recapitalize them. This was a clear declaration that the government intended to go through with its plan to provide as much Rs. 1.35 lakh crore from its budget to recapitalize banks that are recording losses, as they recognize and provide for non-performing assets accumulated substantially from debt provided to a few large corporates. The recapitalisation plan announced in October 2017 promises to infuse…

PPPs Likely to Undermine Public Health Commitments Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

The United Nations Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being touted in financial circles as offering huge investment opportunities requiring trillions of dollars. In 67 low- and middle-income countries, achieving SDG 3 — healthy lives and well-being for all, at all ages — is estimated to require new investments increasing over time, from an initial $134 billion annually to $371 billion yearly by 2030, according to recent estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in The Lancet. Selling PPPs Deprived of fiscal and aid resources, none of these governments can finance such investments alone. The United…

Arun Jaitley on Electoral Bonds Prabhat Patnaik

Arun Jaitley had outlined a scheme of electoral bonds in his budget speech on February 2, 2017. Now, exactly 11 months later, the notification of the scheme and some details of it have finally been announced in a Press Information Bureau release on January 2, 2018. Along with this release Jaitley himself has also written an explanation-cum-defence of the scheme, from which it is clear that the scheme, far from countering the threat to democracy arising from large-scale corporate funding of elections, does not even address this issue. On the contrary, its implementation will have the very opposite effect of…

The Airtel-Aadhaar Fix C. P. Chandrasekhar

Despite its clear violation of the law, telecom major Airtel appears to have been let off lightly by the government. And that story, though reported, has neither led to adequate punishment nor has it received the extent of media attention it deserves. The story is that Airtel used its position as a dominant mobile services provider to strengthen its new role as a “payments bank” by exploiting a loophole in a system created through the decisions of multiple agencies. The company not only opened a large number of payments bank accounts in the names of its mobile subscribers without their…

Destroying our Wetlands Jayati Ghosh

To say that we are destroying our natural environment in India is only to repeat the obvious. In cities, towns and even villages across the country, we have fouled up the atmosphere to make it almost impossible to breathe; we have polluted water bodies to make them unhealthy or even poisonous; we have injected all sorts of chemicals into the land to cause long-term loss of soil fertility and other problems; we have denuded forests and reduced biodiversity at frightening rates; we are allowing various kinds of hazardous waste, including e-waste, to collect without treatment so that it poisons everything…

A Year of Wilful Economic Disaster Prabhat Patnaik

The uniqueness of 2017 lies in the fact that never before has the country seen a government-caused economic crisis as serious as was witnessed in this year. There have certainly been worse years for the people, such as 1965-66, 1966-67, and 1973-74, each of which saw massive inflation. But these were years when economic hardships occurred for reasons that had nothing to do proximately with government policy. 1965-66 and 1966-67 when the “Bihar famine” had occurred, had seen a sharp drop in food grains output, a drop that had lasted two years. The probability of such an event, statisticians told…

Trade Multilateralism Set Back Yet Again Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

As feared, the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 10-13 December 2017, ended in failure. It failed to even produce the customary ministerial declaration reiterating the centrality of the global trading system and the importance of trade as a driver of development. Driven by President Donald Trump's ‘America First' strategy and his preference for bilateral trade deals, instead of multilateral or even plurilateral agreements, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer was key to the outcome. The USTR also refused to engage in previously promised negotiations on a permanent solution to…

The Indian Economy in 2017 Jayati Ghosh

This was the year that the economy tanked. Not necessarily in terms of official growth figures: according to the CSO, GDP growth decelerated, but not by that much. And Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was quick to proclaim that, with GDP growing by an estimated 7.1 per cent for the current financial year, India still remains among the world’s fastest growing economies. Financial investors seem to agree: over the calendar year the stock market has boomed, with the BSE Sensex rising by around 25 per cent and the Nifty50 Index by 28 per cent. But these estimates sit uneasily with the…

The Problem with the Indian Left Prabhat Patnaik

The current problem with the Indian Left, and in this term I include all sections of the Left, from the so-called “parliamentary Left” to the so-called “revolutionary Left”, is in my view, its lack of appreciation of the dialectics between “reform” and “revolution”. There have been many critiques of the Indian Left, but none to my knowledge has made this point; and their not making this point is perhaps indicative of the fact that the critics themselves suffer as much from this lack of appreciation of the dialectics between “reform” and “revolution” as the Left that they are critiquing. Before…