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…

Fractured Institutions and the absence of an inclusive Political System Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir

An assessment of implementation of 17 goals and 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is required since SDGs are what the world over is concerned with while Bangladesh is in an exceptional circumstance. The SDGs sound bold, yet fraught with contradictions with its internal logic. The global framework builds upon its precedent, the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in which development is articulated as if such is achieved through technocratic means, free of politics. Besides inherent logical inconsistencies of the SDGs, these present further challenges to link the means of implementation to the outcomes due to the former…

The Boundaries of Welfare Prabhat Patnaik

The Narendra Modi government has now carried its penchant for undermining institutions to the national budget itself. Not only has it treated what should have been an interim budget, as its tenure lasts barely two months into the new financial year, as a full-fledged budget, but it has also palpably refrained from applying its mind to several key budgetary schemes. The aim has been not to launch some seriously thought out schemes for the poor but to create hype-worthy news. Consider the three main “sops” of the budget. Twelve crore “small landholding families” are to be given Rs 6,000 each…

Social Responsibility of Intellectuals in Building Counter‐Hegemonies Issa Shivji

Intellectuals pride themselves as producers of knowledge.  They  are  also articulators  of  ideologies,  a role  they  do  not  normally  acknowledge. Respectable universities worth the name call themselves sites of knowledge production. I say “respectable”  because  these  days  many  neo‐liberalised universities  have abandoned  the  role  of  knowledge  production  in  favour  of packaging  disparate information  and  branding  their  “products”  (students)  to make  them saleable  on the  market.  That is a story for another day.  Today I don’t want to talk about packaging factories.    Today  I  want  to  address those  intellectuals  who  still consider  themselves  producers  of  knowledge rather  than  assembly  line supervisors…

Neither Interim, nor Substantial C. P. Chandrasekhar

In a pre-election budget speech filled with propaganda about the supposed developmental achievements of the Modi government, substitute Finance Minister Piyush Goyal read out a text that both window-dressed the revised estimates and violated all norms that should apply to an Interim Budget. Principally, the speech lays out three sets of changes on the expenditure side with the hope clearly of winning votes at election time: one to provide for a Rs. 6,000 crore cash transfer in a year to “landholding” farmers with holding size upto 2 hectares; a contributory pension scheme for unorganised workers with monthly income upto Rs.…

The Motivated Murder of India’s Statistical System Jayati Ghosh

The attacks by the Modi government on many of India's institutions have been noted, but the destruction of India’s statistical system was not adequately recognised or condemned. That is, not until the latest revelations on how the Government is refusing to release the NSSO’s employment survey for 2017-18 led to the resignation of the last two remaining independent Members of the National Statistical Commission. This attack on official statistics is obviously important, because it denies citizens access to reliable data on what is going on in the economy and assess the government’s performance. It is sad, because India had managed…

Here’s what Modi’s 2019 budget can – but won’t – do about India’s jobs crisis Jayati Ghosh

The Brahmastra, or ultimate weapon, of 10% reservation in government employment for economically weaker sections (EWS) has been cynically deployed already, but even that does not seem to be delivering the desired public approval. Perhaps the general public has wised up to the fact that central government jobs have in fact declined over the past four years (by more than 75,000 since 2014) and so a small reserved portion of a shrinking pie does not seem all that attractive. However, even in the limited time available, there is much a committed government can do to tackle unemployment. And these could…

The Strange form of “Disinvestment” C. P. Chandrasekhar

As the term of the current NDA government nears its end, with signs of popular dissatisfaction over its performance on the economic front, the urge to ramp up expenditure to woo the electorate intensifies. But a number of factors have combined to render that task difficult, with the failure of the government’s misplaced disinvestment programme being among the most important. Disinvestment receipts are crucial to the government this year for two reasons. First, while direct tax collections in 2018-9 are according to official figures on track to reaching targets, indirect tax collections have fallen short after implementation and periodic revision…

To be Bravely Critical of Reality: An interview with Tamás Szentes

Tamás Szentes, Professor Emeritus of the Corvinus University of Budapest (the former Karl Marx University), elected full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is ‘one of the grand old men of development economics.’[1] His first celebrated book in English, The Political Economy of Underdevelopment (published first in 1971, republished in nine languages and ten different countries, totalling altogether 16 editions in the first fifteen years of publication) was praised in ROAPE in 1974 as ‘a serious and comprehensive attempt at providing a true political economy of underdevelopment.’ For a while he was one of the contributing editors of ROAPE, and between 1967 and 1971…