THE Modi government is completing three years in office amid much fanfare and propaganda about its achievements during this period. Aiding this propaganda is the advance estimate of GDP which projects a growth-rate of 7.11 per cent for 2016-17, a shade lower than last year’s 7.93 per cent, but apparently impressive nonetheless. Despite the fact that the chief statistician has clarified that these figures are based on data for only seven moths (April-October) of the current fiscal year, and that the effects of demonetisation are not captured by this figure, the hype goes on undeterred.
AT the last spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, had confidently stated that the world economy was on the path of recovery, a view echoed by most official soothsayers of the system. And yet within days of Lagarde’s remark, fresh data showed that the US economy whose tentative recovery had been the cause of this optimism, was once more slowing down.
THAT the large non-performing assets (NPAs) on the books of banks, especially public sector banks, is the only blemish in India’s continuing economic story, is the official view. Speaking recently at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reportedly declared that NPAs were “one very big challenge” facing the government, and resolving that problem was its “top priority”. Parallel to this, others such as top-level Reserve Bank of India officials, have been floating trial balloons, in the form of recommendations on various methods of addressing the NPAs.
GLOBALISATION has brought acute distress to the working people all over the world. This distress is not confined only to the period of the post-housing-bubble crisis; nor is it confined only to the workers of the advanced capitalist countries. Joseph Stiglitz’s finding that the average real wage of a male American worker in 2011 was somewhat lower than in 1968 clearly suggests that this distress has had a long duration.
SOME weeks ago when the official “quick estimates” of GDP for the third quarter of 2016-17 (October-December) had been released, putting the GDP growth in this quarter (over the corresponding quarter of 2015-16) at 7 percent, which broadly conformed to the CSO’s prediction before demonetisation, a veritable chorus had gone up that the critics of demonetisation had been proved wrong, that the measure did not have the recessionary effect they had claimed it would.
INDIA’S foodgrain economy which, after a period of decline following liberalisation, had shown some signs of a recovery, is once again on a declining trajectory. The recovery itself had been a limited one, taking per capita foodgrain output only to the level where it had roughly been before the onset of liberalisation, and from which it had slipped in the interim; but even that limited recovery has now been reversed.
COMRADE BT Ranadive used to reminisce that in pre-independence Bombay (as it was then called) there would occasionally be impressive workers’ strikes at the call of Communist-led trade unions which were powerful in the city at that time, at which Hindu and Muslim workers would stand shoulder to shoulder. Not surprisingly however, given the colonial context, these strikes were not always successful, and, when that happened, they would often be followed by communal riots.
TRUE to form, the BJP government is all set to change the texture of the Indian State into a snooping and terrorising institution whose bonding with corporate capital will now get even closer and beyond any public scrutiny. And the content of the change it is unleashing is as damaging to democracy as the manner in which it is doing so.
THE Reserve Bank of India has just come out with a document titled Macroeconomic Impact of Demonetisation: A Preliminary Assessment, which, while conceding that demonetisation did have an adverse impact on output, suggests that this impact would have got over by mid-February, because of the re-monetisation that has occurred in the interim. As the document puts it, “…the impact of the liquidity shock was assessed to largely dissipate by mid-February…”
IN his speech to BJP workers in Delhi after the assembly election results had been declared, Narendra Modi announced that his policy henceforth would be to empower the poor by providing them with opportunities, instead of handing out doles to them, which, he believes, is what the various “pro-poor” welfare programmes amount to. Newspapers were quick to underscore, and in general laud, this shift in approach from “welfarism” to “development”. Since government policy is set to reflect this shift from now on, its implications are worth examining.