The Importance of Dissatisfaction Prabhat Patnaik

In a slave society, one can argue, the interest of the slaves lies in keeping the slave-owner happy, for otherwise he is likely to flog and whip them mercilessly which would cause them great agony. Likewise in a caste society, one can argue, the interest of the dalit lies in being as inconspicuous as possible, in not “polluting” the upper castes through his presence, for otherwise he is likely to be beaten and lynched. Such behavior however appears “rational” only if we adopt exclusively a perspective that accepts the system that sees no possible existence outside of it. The same…

The UGC Directive on Autonomous Colleges Prabhat Patnaik

Higher education in India is facing a twin danger today. One is its commoditization, by which is meant not just the fact that higher education itself is becoming a commodity but also that the products of higher education, i.e. those in whom higher education is “embodied”, are also becoming commodities, in the sense of simply having their worth assessed both by themselves and by others in terms equivalence to a certain sum of money, the amount that they can command on the market. Commoditization makes the products of higher education self-centred individuals without any social sensitivity, and prepares them only…

The Tripura Election Verdict Prabhat Patnaik

Two clear conclusions emerge from the Tripura election verdict. First, it is exceedingly difficult for an opposition party that has an incumbent government in any state to withstand the onslaught of the BJP. This party brings to the electoral arena the might of its Central government to buttress its own well-financed electoral effort. True, the Manik Sarkar government had been crippled in its last term in office by a financial squeeze which had doubtless affected its performance, but this squeeze itself had been the result as much of the recommendations of successive Finance Commissions that had been grossly unfair to…

The Destruction of a University Jayati Ghosh

For more than two years now, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi has been in a state of turmoil. There is reason to conclude that this turmoil is no accident: it is the result of a set of decisions imposed from above that appear to be aimed at undermining the fundamental nature of this university and all that it has stood for. The fact that these decisions and actions are being adopted by those supposedly in charge of protecting and nurturing this institution - the Vice Chancellor since January 2016 and the administration that he has appointed - is particularly alarming.…

The Financialization of Everything Servaas Storm

The following article forms the Introduction to a set of 10 articles which assess the logic and consequences of ‘financialization’ across a range of geographic, economic and social scales — deep down, at the level of ‘ideas’, and also by providing ‘knock-out evidence’ on the social inefficiency of a capitalism ‘without compulsions’ for finance. The authors in the Debate expose how establishment economics has been hiding its reactionary political agenda behind the pretence of scientific neutrality. The financial emperor wears no clothes. Full Article (This article was originally posted at Wiley Online Library on January 24, 2018.)

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…

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 Demise of Bank Credit C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

Growing economies generally show increasing deployment of bank credit – but in India this has been decreasing for years and recently has been almost flat. What does this suggest about the growth process and the health of the Indian economy. Bank_Credit  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally posted in the Business Line on 1 January 2018.)

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 Obscenity of Hunger Deaths Jayati Ghosh

There is no doubt that human life is cheap in India, perhaps more so now than ever before. The attacks, atrocities and killings of people from minorities and marginalised groups that have now become so common are particularly appalling because they reflect a culture of impunity. Indeed, the lack of punishment does more than embolden the perpetrators and those who would imitate them: it also points to a deadening of sensibilities not just among those in power but in society as a whole. The murder of innocents is no longer even a cause for much outrage; the horrifying proliferation of…