World Bank Dispossessing Rural Poor Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

The World Bank's Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, launched in 2013, has sought agricultural reforms favouring the corporate sector. EBA was initially established to support the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, initiated by the G8 to promote private agricultural development in Africa. The New Alliance has been touted as "a new model of partnership" for agricultural transformation in Africa. The Bank has used the EBA to address the land issue in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The effort is strongly supported by the US and UK governments as well as the Gates Foundation, all strong proponents…

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…

Has Privatization Benefited the Public? Jomo Kwame Sundaram

In most cases of privatization, some outcomes benefit some, which serves to legitimize the change. Nevertheless, overall net welfare improvements are the exception, not the rule. Never is everyone better off. Rather, some are better off, while others are not, and typically, many are even worse off. The partial gains are typically high, or even negated by overall costs, which may be diffuse, and less directly felt by losers. Privatized monopoly powers Since many SOEs are public monopolies, privatization has typically transformed them into private monopolies. In turn, abuse of such market monopoly power enables more rents and corporate profits.…

The Modi Years Prabhat Patnaik

In its attack on civil liberties, its restructuring of the State to effect an acute centralization of power, and its pervasive purveyance of fear, the Modi years resemble Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. But the resemblance stops there. In fact the two differ fundamentally in several ways. First, there were no lynch mobs, and street thugs, terrorizing people and giving them lessons in “nationalism” during the Emergency. It was only the State that repressed people then; but now we also have gangs of Hindutva hoodlums, who force critics of the government to apologize for their “misdemeanor”, with the additional threat of arrests…

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…

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…

The Abysmal State of Economic Decision Making Prabhat Patnaik

The minutes of the Board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India just prior to the announcement that currency notes of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 denomination were being demonetized are now available in the public domain, thanks to an RTI query. And what they reveal is the abysmal state of decision-making on economic policy that prevails under the Modi government. To be sure, economic decision-making has always been informed by class bias; but that is not what I am referring to here. Even when a decision is taken on the basis of the interests of the ruling classes, the argument for…

Belt and Road Initiative vs Washington Consensus Jomo Kwame Sundaram

With the Washington Consensus from the 1980s being challenged, President Donald Trump withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and China pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), most notably with its own initiatives such as the multilateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the political and economic landscape in East Asia continues to evolve. Jomo Kwame Sundaram was interviewed about likely implications for developing countries in the region and beyond. Belt and Road Initiative  What do you think of world growth prospects and China's Belt and Road Initiative? Although there are some hopeful signs here and there, there…

Promoting Privatization Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Privatization has been central to the ‘neo-liberal’ counter-revolution from the 1970s against government economic interventions associated with Roosevelt and Keynes as well as post-colonial state-led economic development. Many developing countries were forced to accept privatization policies as a condition for credit or loan support from the World Bank and other international financial institutions, especially after the fiscal and debt crises of the early 1980s. Other countries voluntarily embraced privatization, often on the pretext of fiscal and debt constraints, in their efforts to mimic new Anglo-American criteria of economic progress. Demonizing SOEs Globally, inflation was attributed to excessive government intervention, public…

Housing Market Mayhem C. P. Chandrasekhar

Late in February 2019, the GST Council, prodded by the Centre, decided to modify Goods and Services Tax rates applicable to the housing sector. The declared intention was to reduce prices that home buyers would have to pay for their property. The modification, which takes effect as of 1 April 2019, involves doing away with input tax credit for residential property construction for sale and significantly reducing the GST rate applicable at the final stage of sale of housing. At present the GST rates stand at 12 per cent for normal residential housing and at 8 per cent for “affordable…