The Political Economy of the Modi Regime C. P. Chandrasekhar

At the end of its five-year term, the NDA government’s claim that the Indian economy has experienced rapid growth during its tenure sounds shallow. The GDP numbers many observers argue are wrong and possibly fabricated. The GDP figures have since 2011-12 been computed using some new data sources and a changed methodology, showing the economy in much better light when compared with the series with 2004-05 as base. But the change was so drastic that for the official statistical agency could not for long put out a “back series” that allowed comparison of performance across time. Scepticism about the GDP…

Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture and Food Security: An exploration of interrelationships Vikas Rawal, Vaishali Bansal and Doordarshni Thokchom

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as the condition that exists “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food security is at the core of Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Commission), at its Sixteenth Regular Session, acknowledged the key role biodiversity for food and agriculture plays for achieving the 2030 Agenda for…

Budgetary Sops Will Do Little to Fix Unemployment and Poverty in India Sunanda Sen

The recent interim budget clearly reflects concerns that a majority of India’s people, especially in the agricultural and informal sector, have experienced hardship despite the on-going and relatively high growth in the economy. Palliatives designed to lessen these hardships include an annual grant of Rs 6,000, which is to be paid in three instalments to farmers owning land upto two hectares. Palliatives for the poor also include a rather unworkable plan of a contributory pension scheme of Rs 3,000 per month for workers in the informal sector. In addition to these two steps, the budget also offers substantial tax relief…

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…

Agricultural Tenancy in Contemporary India Vaishali Bansal, Yoshifumi Usami and Vikas Rawal

The problem of tenancy -- informal, insecure, exploitative, and often unfree and interlocked contracts for leasing land that have been both growth-retarding and unjust -- has been central to the agrarian question in India. Along with an uneven and distorted penetration of capitalist relations in the Indian countryside, there have been significant changes in the extent of use of tenancy, in the class configuration of tenants and lessors, and in the form of tenancy contracts over the last few decades. With the state unwilling to effectively implement land reforms in most parts of India, tenancy relations have continued to be…

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…

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.)

Budget 2018-19: No money where the mouth is C.P. Chandrasekhar

Billed as the last full budget of this second NDA government, Budget 2018 was not expected to surprise. The leadership of that government may be pleased with having played, during its nearly 4-year tenure, with programmes varying from “Make in India” to Swach Bharat Abhiyan, experimented with demonetisation, and launched the Goods and Services tax regime. But while none of these immediately benefited the “common man”, some of them like demonetisation hit the vulnerable, and the GST disrupted production and damaged the operations of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). There was also evidence that agriculture had been neglected…

The Budget and the Farmers: The government’s dilemma in 2018 Jayati Ghosh

It is widely expected that this Budget is going to be oriented towards farmers, at least in declared intent. The Finance Minister has already declared this – and even if he had not, the political pressures for it are now obvious. Persistent agricultural distress has been intensified by demonetisation; farmers have been openly protesting in various parts of the country; and the number of farm suicides has started climbing once again. But for this government, all that was not seen as much of a problem when elections were not around the corner. Now that there is a real chance that…

The Crisis in Agriculture C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The dilution of government intervention in the form of minimum support prices, procurement and public distribution is undermining the medium-term viability of agricultural production in India. crisis_in_agriculture (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line on October 23, 2017.)