To be Bravely Critical of Reality: An interview with Tamás Szentes

Tamás Szentes, Professor Emeritus of the Corvinus University of Budapest (the former Karl Marx University), elected full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is ‘one of the grand old men of development economics.’[1] His first celebrated book in English, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment (published first in 1971, republished in nine languages and ten different countries, totalling altogether 16 editions in the first fifteen years of publication) was praised in ROAPE in 1974 as ‘a serious and comprehensive attempt at providing a true political economy of underdevelopment.’ For a while he was one of the contributing editors of ROAPE, and between 1967 and 1971…

The furore over farm debt C. P. Chandrasaekhar

The decision of the newly elected Congress-led governments in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to implement the manifesto promise to waive farm debt has set off a controversy. Opposition to the move comes not just from opposing parties. In fact, the political leadership has been sensible enough not to oppose the policy per se. For example, the BJP that had gone the same route in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, has only said that these governments are not doing things the right way, and are deceiving farmers with mere platitudes. The opposition comes from the neoliberal advocates, who paint this decision…

Criticism and Criticism Prabhat Patnaik

Former Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has come out openly against the Indian government’s measure of demonetizaton of currency notes in November 2016, in a speech delivered recently at the University of California at Berkeley. Since Rajan is an economist of repute, and has been an important economic decision-maker in the country, his criticism of demonetization is to be welcomed: it adds considerable weight to the voices that have been raised against this wanton and despotic measure of the Modi government. At the same time however it provides an occasion to draw an important distinction. Since there can be no…

The Modi government, the RBI governor and the mess that is the Indian economy Jayati Ghosh

The sheer ineptitude of economic policymaking under prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has been evident from almost the beginning of its tenure. What is also now well-established is the aggressive and rigid approach of the political leadership, which generally pushes its own (often hare-brained) policies regardless of the views of experts and the wider impact on ordinary people, both of whom it tends to treat with disdain. Surely, any of the economic advisors and others in significant positions of economic policymaking would have known all this for some time now. Any self-respecting central bank governor (or indeed anyone described as…

Contemporary Capitalism and The World Of Work Prabhat Patnaik

The most significant feature of contemporary capitalism which is of relevance to the world of work is its inability to provide work to a substantial proportion of persons looking for it. This is not just a matter of economic denial, which itself can have important implications for such phenomena as hunger and crime; it also has deep socio-psychological implications of which at least two must be noted. One is the loss of self-esteem among the unemployed which leads inter alia to drug and alcohol abuse and high mortality rates as a consequence. This has been noticed even in an advanced…

On taking sides in the RBI-Government stand-off C. P. Chandrasekhar

Unlike in the worlds of business and politics, there is little scope for gossip in the world of economics. So, when multiple signals suggested that that there was a stand-off between the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the media made the most of it, with a multitude of stories reporting and explaining the nature of the spat and its implications. Given the formal economic arguments that must enter those discussions, there is much that the lay reader cannot process to assess which of the two institutions is right in this controversy. However, the thrust of the reportage…

Vilifying the Intelligentsia Prabhat Patnaik

Narendra  Modi said the other day, rather disparagingly, that the “Urban Naxals” live in air-conditioned comfort. Since all who speak or write in public upholding the right to dissent from the Hindutva positions, including even known critics of the Left, which means virtually all members of the intelligentsia who display any integrity, have been dubbed “Urban Naxals” by his government, his remark in effect amounts to targeting the entire intelligentsia. His remark constitutes an utterly crude attempt to delegitimise any intellectual position that is unpalatable for the government, by suggesting that those who hold such positions live in comfort and…

Who Should Control India’s Central Bank? Jayati Ghosh

The standoff between India's government and the Reserve Bank of India isn't problematic because of the risk of infringing on central-bank independence. It is problematic because, rather than fighting to protect the public interest, the government's goal is to revive irresponsible bank lending, protect its cronies, and win votes. For full article click here (This article was originally published in the Project Syndicate on November 12, 2018)

A Heart-Rending Episode Prabhat Patnaik

This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bengal famine of 1943, a heart-rending episode in which 3 million persons died, and which epitomized the callousness of imperialism. The scale of devastation can be understood if we remember that in the United Kingdom, taking civilian and military casualties together, the total loss of life during the entire Second World War was just 0.45 million and in the U.S. 0.42 million. In Germany itself the loss has been estimated as anywhere between 6.6 and 8.8 million and in the Soviet Union which suffered the most at around 24 million. To say…

The Modi Government’s spat with The RBI Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government’s spat with the Reserve Bank of India, like its sudden resurrection of the Ram temple project, indicates the desperation it feels at its dwindling electoral appeal. Having dealt a huge blow to the small-scale sector through its measures like demonetization and the GST, having aggravated through its inaction the impact on the Indian economy of the world capitalist crisis, and of Trump’s protectionism that has followed, it is now quite desperate to salvage some support for itself as the Lok Sabha elections approach. Since mere grandiose announcements such as Ayushman Bharat or doubling agricultural incomes can no…