The NYAY Scheme of the Congress Prabhat Patnaik

My attitude to the NYAY scheme of the Congress is similar to my attitude to a benevolent monarchy. While a benevolent monarchy is better than a tyrannical one, any monarchy is repugnant compared to a republic. Likewise compared to the current neo-liberal regime any scheme of transfers to the poor is welcome. But NYAY amounts to a largesse by the government, an act of charity towards the bottom quintile, not the institution of a universal economic right to decent living. I find targeted transfer schemes like NYAY repugnant compared to a regime of universal rights. Poverty and unemployment in society…

Why is South Asia performing so badly on the SDGs? C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh

The SDGs were obviously incredibly ambitious – far more so than the Millennium Development Goals that they succeeded – and so it was indeed a remarkable achievement that governments of almost all countries signed up to them. There were no less than 17 very significant and substantive goals, each containing multiple targets, and each target relying often on more than one indicator. And these goals and targets are not simply extrapolations of past trends (as several of the MDGs were). Rather, some of them present formidable challenges, since they require a reversal of the prior trends, such as reducing inequalities,…

How to deliver a real minimum income guarantee to India’s citizens Jayati Ghosh

The Congress Party’s recent declaration that if voted to power, it will seek to ensure a minimum income to 20 per cent of the poorest households in the country is laudable in intent. It also brings back policy attention to the penury and insecurity that continue to plague much of India’s population, and particularly the most destitute. But as presented, it is completely unworkable – and if the Congress Party is really serious about this goal of eliminating poverty, it will have to think of a different way of reaching it. Consider the broad outlines of the scheme that was…

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…

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…

Rising Incomes, Falling Wages Jayati Ghosh

It seems that everyone loves to talk about inequality, and how much they dislike it. From Christine Lagarde in the International Monetary Fund to the Indian Prime Minister speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, everyone is united in condemning inequality globally and in their own countries. But ironically, the ones – especially those in the public gaze – who are most vociferous about this also seem to be those who ultimately refuse to take any measures to deal with it, even when such measures are obvious and available. It is almost as if allowing people to vent…

To Eliminate Poverty, Better Understanding Needed Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

As the United Nations' Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) comes to an end, more self-congratulation is likely. Claims of victory in the war against poverty will be backed by recently released poverty estimates from the World Bank, entrusted by the UN system to monitor poverty. Mismeasuring Poverty The latest Bank data on global poverty suggests that 767 million people, or 10.7% of the world's population, live in extreme poverty, compared to some 42% of the world's population in 1981. Earlier figures suggested that most progress was due to East Asia, especially China. The Bank's international poverty line…

The Rights of the Child and the G20 Summit Sir Richard Jolly & Gabriele Köhler

Nineteen rich counties and the EU are preparing for the G20 Summit. What brought this group together initially was their GDP size and their concern with the 2007/2008 massive financial crisis. After a brief flirtation with Keynesian ideas about governments’ responsibility in economic crises, they now cohere in their (misguided) belief in neoliberal policy making. As we know, the austerity and deregulation policies adopted by the majority of the G20 governments are extremely harmful. Decent jobs that are paid properly and come with social security guarantees for incidents of illness or accident, and for old age, have been replaced by…

World Bank fudges on inequality Jomo Kwame Sundaram & Anis Chowdhury

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – collectively drafted and then officially agreed to, at the highest level, by all Member States of the United Nations in September 2015 – involves specific targets to be achieved mainly by 2030. The Agenda seeks to "leave no-one behind" and claims roots in universal human rights. Thus, addressing inequalities and discrimination is central to the SDGs. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality is the World Bank's first annual report tracking progress towards the two key SDGs on poverty and inequality. Annual reporting on poverty, inequality This particular report evaluates progress towards…

A Universal Basic Income in India? Jayati Ghosh

There is a lot of buzz globally around the idea of a Universal Basic Income (or UBI). It is perceived as one way of coping with technology-induced unemployment that is projected to grow significantly in the near future, as well as reducing inequalities and increasing consumption demand in stagnant economies. Certainly there is much to be said for the idea, especially if it is to be achieved by taxing the rich and particularly those activities that are either socially less desirable or are generating larger surpluses because of technological changes. Indeed, that is precisely the proposal of the French Socialist…