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…

We Can Eliminate Hunger and Poverty Quickly with Greater Commitment Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Why do people go hungry? Mainly because they do not have the means to get enough food, whether by producing it themselves or by purchasing it. There is more than enough food to feed the world. All those who currently go hungry can be adequately fed with about two percent of current food production, much more of which is wasted or lost. The main problem is one of distribution or access, rather than production or availability. Inequality and poverty, and increasingly, ‘natural disasters' and armed conflict in the world are at the core of the problem of world hunger. While…

Focus on Inequality Prabhat Patnaik

The World Bank and the IMF have started a new trend of late, of taking “progressive” positions in their publications even while insisting on the same old “conditionalities” in policy negotiations with particular countries. In accordance with this new trend these institutions have now got concerned with issues of poverty and inequality; and the World Bank has just brought out what is supposed to be the first of a series of annual publications tracking progress towards poverty removal and curtailment of inequality. This publication is called Poverty and Shared Prosperity. While I do not wish to review this publication here,…

How to End Hunger Hilal Elver & Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Last September, world leaders made a commitment to end hunger by 2030, as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It sounds like a massive undertaking. In fact, the world already produces enough food to feed everyone. So why does the problem persist? Poverty and hunger are intimately connected, which is why the SDGs target elimination of both. For someone living at the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.90 per day, food would account for some 50-70% of income. The Bank estimates that almost four-fifths of the world’s poor live in rural areas, though those areas account for…