Finance versus The People Prabhat Patnaik

Sometimes even a tiny news-item can reveal volumes about capitalism. The Indian stock market, as is well-known, is booming at present: the 30-share Sensex closed at a new high of 38,278.75 on Monday the 20th of August, and the broader-based Nifty crossed the 11500 mark for the first time on the same day. One of the financial sector executives explained the reason behind this boom as follows (The Hindu, Aug.21): “The only difference between now (versus a few months back) is that politics looks more stable---prospects of an Opposition coalition are looking a little shaky”. These financial sector executives know…

Begging and Criminality Prabhat Patnaik

On Wednesday August 8, the Delhi High Court decriminalized begging in the capital. In the course of its hearing it had raised the question how begging could be an offence in a country where the government was unable to provide food and jobs; its final verdict is in line with this thinking. Of course there was no central legislation, or legislation relating specifically to Delhi, that had criminalized begging earlier; but the capital region like several other states had simply used the provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act to treat begging as a criminal activity. India’s record in…

Ranking Universities Prabhat Patnaik

The proposal to eliminate the University Grants Commission and to tighten political control over the higher education system in India, has been mooted at the behest of Narendra Modi who is apparently concerned about the dearth of Indian names among the top-ranked universities in the world. This concern is not confined to Modi alone; it is shared by large numbers of persons in the country’s political establishment, and by many in the general public. This concern is, to an extent, understandable: it is akin to the concern over the lack of medals for India at the Olympic games; but at…

Capitalism’s Discourse on “Development” Prabhat Patnaik

Capitalism’s discourse on “development” which has become quite influential all over the third world in the neo-liberal period proceeds as follows: (i) “development” must consist in shifting the work-force from the traditional (petty production) sector which is overcrowded with low labour productivity, and hence constitutes a repository of poverty,  to the modern (capitalist) sector which has much higher labour productivity. (ii) For this shift to occur, the modern (capitalist sector) must be allowed to grow as rapidly as possible, for which all impediments to capital accumulation must be removed. (iii) Even if, in the process of the modern (capitalist) sector’s…

The State of The Economy Prabhat Patnaik

Newspaper headlines over the last few days have highlighted three facts which point to the current abysmal state of the Indian economy. The first relates to inflation, where the June 2018 wholesale price index was 5.77 percent above that of June last year; this is the highest inflation rate witnessed since December 2013. The second is a burgeoning trade deficit: the trade deficit in June, at $ 16.6 billion, was again the highest for any month in the last five years. The third relates to the industrial stagnation that has set in: the growth in factory output in May (the…

The Devaluation of the Academia Prabhat Patnaik

We are about to witness a major change. Academics are going to be marginalized in the process of decision-making relating to academic matters. An implicit marginalization has been going on for some time, but now it will get the imprimatur of a parliamentary legislation. A legislation drafted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development seeks to abolish the University Grants Commission altogether. Its fund-distributing role will be taken over by the Ministry itself, while its supervisory role will be implemented by a newly created Higher Education Commission of India. The composition of this proposed Higher Education Commission will be as…

Has there been an MSP hike for Kharif Crops? Prabhat Patnaik

Much has been written by now exposing the fraudulence of the government’s claims of a “historic” rise in the Minimum Support Price for kharif crops. It has been pointed out for instance that while the Swaminathan Committee had recommended that the MSP should be fixed at 50 percent above the cost of production C2 which includes rental on own land, a recommendation that the BJP in its 2014 election manifesto had promised to implement, the current MSP still falls way below that level.The claim that the government has fulfilled its campaign promise,made by the BJP and its subservient media, is…

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…