THE union budget for the year 2016-17 presented to parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 29, has been termed “pro-poor” and “pro-farmer” by the media. Nothing else could be further from the truth. The total expenditure of the government in 2016-17 is supposed to increase by 10.6 percent over the revised estimates for 2015-16, compared to a GDP growth-rate of 11 percent, which means that the budget if anything is deflationary in overall terms even in the midst of a world economic crisis that was alluded to by Jaitley himself.
THREE main factors explain why the effect of the world capitalist crisis that erupted in 2007-08 and is still continuing was not felt by the Indian economy for a long time. Each of these three countervailing factors, however, has now run its course, leaving the government with no means of coping with the ongoing crisis. On the contrary, whatever it can do now will only compound the crisis.
CAPITALISM is a “spontaneous” system, in the sense that it is a self-driven entity propelled by its own immanent tendencies. There is no human agency shaping its dynamics, and even the human beings who are at its helm, viz, the capitalists, do not act on their own volition but are coerced into acting in specific ways by the logic of the system itself, so much so that Marx had called the capitalist “capital personified”.
THE Left upsurge in Latin America appears to be abating. In October 2015 Jimmy Morales, the conservative candidate in Guatemala, defeated the Left-leaning Sandra Torres in the presidential elections. On November 22, Mauricio Macri, the conservative presidential candidate in Argentina, defeated Daniel Scioli, his Peronist rival, by a narrow margin, to bring to an end a long period of Left ascendancy under Presidents Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
SENATOR Bernie Sanders who is a “socialist” by his own admission and is campaigning with some success for nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in the coming elections in the United States, has come out with a proposal for a Financial Transactions Tax, whose proceeds are to be used for making college education free for all students in public institutions. Since the campaign this time within the Democratic Party is focusing on control over Wall Street, Sanders’ proposal which directly affects Wall Street acquires great significance.
THE Narendra Modi government is winding up the National Development Council, an apex body consisting of the prime minister, the concerned central cabinet ministers, and all state chief ministers together with their concerned cabinet colleagues, which supervised the planning process in the country, gave final approval to the various five-year plans, and met periodically to take stock of issues and policy measures relating to economic development.
THE WTO has been a major weapon used by the advanced countries to roll back the structures that the third world dirigiste regimes which came into existence after decolonisation had erected for achieving a degree of self-reliance. The TRIPS agreement for instance which tightens the multinational corporations’ stranglehold over technology was pushed through the WTO. But the advanced capitalist world has of late found an even stronger weapon, which consists of bilateral or regional trade agreements (RTAs) like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
THE liberal defence of capitalism takes two distinct forms in economic theory. One states that the capitalist system operates in a manner that ensures full employment of all resources and produces the bundle of goods it does with “efficiency”, which is defined as a state where no more of any good within this bundle can be produced without having to produce less of some other good.
UNDER the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), education is to become a tradable service. In August 2005, India had made a market access offer in the sphere of higher education under the GATS; this offer will become a firm commitment later this month at the Nairobi ministerial meeting, which is set to bring the Doha Round of WTO negotiations to a final conclusion, unless India withdraws from it.