A Singular Person Jayati Ghosh

There are some people who are hard to classify, in terms of achievement or contribution to society or personality, and Ashok Mitra is one of them. Economist, policymaker, writer, organic intellectual, politician, litterateur, legislator: he has been all of these at different times, and often several of them together. In a remarkable life spanning nearly nine decades, he has also shown an amazing ability to integrate the personal and the political, the individual and the social, and the emotional and the rational in ways that express both the contradictions and the sublimity of being truly human. But even among these…

Former Bengal Finance Minister was a polymath member of significant groups Jayati Ghosh

Ashok Mitra was one of the most remarkable personalities of Independent India. A polymath who spanned technical economics, literature, policy and politics, he brought to all of these his distinctive flair, razor-sharp intelligence, and enormous energy and passion. His death — in Kolkata on Tuesday after almost a month’s stay in hospital for diarrhoea and later respiratory problems — marks the end of multiple eras, as he was the last surviving member of several significant groups: the influential progressive economists who in the 1950s laid the groundwork for economic strategies of the subsequent decades; the founder trustees of the Economic Weekly (later Economic…

Ashok Mitra: Railing Against the Times, But Very Much a Part of Them Jayati Ghosh

It is difficult to write about those whom you love. Curiously enough, the difficulty is not only because of the fear of excessive partiality: it is also because love brings with it the freedom to be exasperated. And intimacy creates very complex and textured perceptions, often too nuanced to be easily captured in mere words. That is why, when this book of memoirs (A Prattler’s Tale: Bengal, Marxism, Governance, Samya, Kolkata 2007) by Ashok Mitra, came into my hands, I was at first reluctant to write about it. But the author was and is so much more than the recipient…

The collapse in developing country exports C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

If there has been one big change in the nature of the global economy in the second decade of this century, it is in global trade. In the first decade of this century, especially in the period 2002-08, cross-border trade grew much more rapidly than total world output, and the integration of countries through greater exchange of goods and services essentially became the primary engine of growth. It is true that the explosion of financial activity that has become such a prominent feature of contemporary capitalism also added substantially to income growth – and indeed generated the bubbles that were…

How unequal are world incomes? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

In discussions of global inequality, there is general agreement that, whatever else may have happened, within-country inequality has increased in most cases, even as between-country inequality has come down. But overall, because of the recent emergence of countries with large populations like China and India, there has actually been some reduction in global inequality, because of increasing incomes in the “middle” of the global distribution. Chart 1 shows that, whether measured by the Gini coefficient (a measure of the dispersion of incomes of the population) or the Palma ratio (the ratio of the share of income of the top ten…

Agrarian Distress in India Jayati Ghosh

Across the country, farmers are furious – and rightfully so. Four years ago, they helped bring the BJP to power, believing Narendra Modi’s claims that they would no longer suffer official neglect. Cultivators were promised a doubling of their incomes in five years and many policies to increase their productivity and reduce their costs and risks. But since then, conditions in agriculture have got worse rather than better. Earlier problems have worsened as farm incomes have been squeezed by slower output growth, higher costs and increased vulnerability to changing climate. And there is a slew of new problems resulting directly…

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.…

National Income in India: What’s really growing? Jayati Ghosh

Recent income growth in India has been dominated by sectors that do not reflect real physical output increases – such as finance, insurance and real estate and public administration and defence.   National_Income  (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on February 27, 2018.)

Can Banking Recover? Jayati Ghosh

The bank frauds involving Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the companies associated with businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi as well as the Rotomac case couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Indian banking system is already reeling under the pressure of growing NPAs, or non-performing assets (less politely known as loans that are not going to be repaid), which will touch nearly ₹10 lakh crore by March this year. This does not include the ₹6 lakh crore already written-off. This has already caused a slowdown in disbursal of bank credit, in turn affecting productive investment. Failure at many…

The Budget and Education Jayati Ghosh

Forget the massive and overblown promises to farmers and on health insurance, which were not covered by any budgetary provisions.  Ignore the supposed increases in rural development spending, which are all to be met through “extra-budgetary and non-budgetary sources”. Disregard the declared concern for rural areas, the poor and women, which has translated into next to nothing in terms of actual allocations. The real story of this Union Budget is not to be found in the verbose rhetoric of the Finance Minister’s speech or in the supposedly “big ticket” items, which amount more to a manifesto of the ruling party…