The Proposed Abolition of the UGC Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government is bringing in legislation in the coming Monsoon session of the Parliament to abolish the University Grants Commission. The UGC has two important roles at present. One is the distribution of funds to colleges and universities; this will now be handled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The other role is a regulatory one, which will now be taken over by a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI). This Commission however will have no funds to distribute. The proposed set-up will immensely increase political control over the academia. The fact that the distribution of funds will…

Why didn’t Socialism have Over-production Crises? Prabhat Patnaik

Socialism has collapsed over large tracts of the globe. Where it still exists, the economic regimes have undergone considerable reforms. Not surprisingly therefore the old socialist regimes are objects of much vilification these days. While capitalism, understandably, has a vested interest in promoting such vilification, the Left opponents of capitalism continue to remain too shell-shocked to counter it. There were to be sure serious problems with the earlier socialist regimes, which manifested themselves above all in a de-politicization of the working class whose class dictatorship they were supposed to represent. But at the same time it must never be forgotten…

George Soros on the Current Conjuncture Prabhat Patnaik

Billionaire financier George Soros has set financial markets aflutter by suggesting that a new world financial crisis is in the offing. In a speech he gave recently to a think-tank, he underscored the outflow of finance capital from the third world which is likely to catch these economies in a cycle of exchange rate depreciations and austerity. And he talked specifically of the European Union facing an “existential crisis” on account of three factors: its territorial disintegration as exemplified by Brexit, austerity, and the refugee crisis. The solution he offered for Europe was a typically Keynesian one which included a…

The Invisible Class Prabhat Patnaik

G.K.Chesterton has a well-known detective story involving Father Brown called “The Invisible Man”, where “invisibility” is supposed to characterize the postman: one is so used to seeing the postman come and go that one scarcely ever notices him. “Invisibility” in Chesterton’s sense however can get attached not just to an individual but to a whole class; and in our country, the peasantry undoubtedly is the “invisible class”. The peasantry has been called many things by many people, from “a sack of potatoes” to “an awkward class”. But it is above all an “invisible class” whose presence, and providing of essentials…

Trump Versus the Rest Prabhat Patnaik

Donald Trump’s leaving the G-7 summit without budging an iota on protectionism is indicative of the disunity among the leading capitalist countries on the strategy to overcome the capitalist crisis. Trump has decided that the U.S. would go its own way, by enlarging the fiscal deficit, not just for giving tax concessions to the corporates, which would have little demand-stimulating effect anyway, but also for increasing government expenditure which would have this effect, and at the same time by protecting the domestic market. These two strands of Trump’s strategy have to go together. In fact in the absence of protectionism,…

The Push for Privatizing Banks Prabhat Patnaik

From the very beginning there has always been a demand for undoing bank nationalization in India. This demand naturally gathered momentum with the adoption of neo-liberal policies. It was completely unacceptable to international finance capital that the bulk of the banking sector in a country like India should remain under public ownership. Accordingly, “friends” of the Wall Street working in the U.S. administration like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers would visit India and demand of our government that, even if it could not privatize the entire banking sector, at least it should send a “signal” by privatizing the State Bank…

The Modi Government’s “Achievement” Prabhat Patnaik

The Modi government is celebrating four years in office with great fanfare. The fact that these four years have unleashed an unparallelled process of social and political retrogression in the country is well-known and need not detain us here. Our purpose here is to examine what these years have meant for the living standards of the bulk of the Indian people. Here however one immediately comes across a hurdle. For a very long time India had one of the finest statistical systems in the world, with a National Sample Survey collecting data from a large sample of households, larger than…

The Gathering Storm Clouds Prabhat Patnaik

The last time the Indian economy had faced a serious macro-economic disruption, as distinct from the more or less steady poverty-enhancement that accompanies its growth performance, was in 2013, when the rupee had depreciated sharply. The fact that since then no similar disruption has appeared on the horizon, despite the country’s running a continuous current account deficit, has been because of two specific factors: the reduced international crude oil prices which have kept India’s import bill and hence current account deficit restricted; and the easy inflow of finance, owing to reduced U.S. interest rates, which have made shifting funds to…

The So-called “Consumers’ Interest” Prabhat Patnaik

In the wake of the take-over of Flipkart by Walmart, one is once again hearing an argument which one has often come across before, namely that having a large multinational in this sphere, which can do global sourcing for its products, will make goods cheaper for buyers and therefore be in the “consumers’ interests”. This argument is so old that it even goes back to the colonial times, when it was argued by many that imports from Britain, which had caused domestic deindustrialization by outcompeting the local craftsmen, had cheapened goods for the consumers and were therefore in the “consumers’…

Ashok Mitra Prabhat Patnaik

Ashok Mitra who passed away on May1, 2018, was the doyen among Left intellectuals in the country, held in the highest esteem by one and all for his absolute integrity, his outstanding intellect and his commitment to the cause of the working people. Born on April 10, 1928, in the eastern part of undivided Bengal, he was a brilliant student who was drawn to the Communist movement and became an activist of the Student Federation. After Partition he stayed on in East Pakistan and even represented Pakistan at an international conference of progressive students held in India, where he first…