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…

Wisdom, For The People Prabhat Patnaik

  Ashok Mitra’s achievements in both academia and public life made him exceptional Ashok Mitra who passed away on May 1, was a person of renaissance versatility. A major writer of prose in Bengali, he published several volumes of essays and was a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award. A brilliant economist, he wrote two exceptional works, The Share of Wages in National Income and Terms of Trade and Class Relations, that would stand the test of time. As an economist working for the government, he held the posts of Chairman of the Agricultural Prices Commission and Chief Economic Advisor…

Capitalism, Poverty and Praxis Prabhat Patnaik

Capitalism is an economic system driven by its own immanent tendencies, which the State that presides over it normally supports, sustains and accelerates. One such tendency is its encroachment upon the surrounding petty production economy, resulting in an income squeeze upon, or the dispossession of, the petty producers. Dispossession here refers not just to an appropriation gratis of the assets of petty producers; it also includes cases of obtaining such assets at less than “market prices”, and also cases where only certain sections of those engaged in the petty production sector are paid, while others are not, in the process…

A Tale of Two Discourses Prabhat Patnaik

The Hindutva bubble has clearly burst. Not that efforts will not be made to form another bubble before the 2019 elections, but the one that had formed in the run-up to the 2014 elections and had carried the BJP to power is over. In the last few days, there have been mass demonstrations by peasants, traders, doctors, teachers, students and even school children. What is striking about these demonstrations is not just that the fear that had gripped people in the recent years is over and that they are willing to take to the streets to express their anger, but…