Sunday, July 15, 2018

On High Oil Price and Government Policy

Surajit Das

Petrol and diesel prices have reached almost Rs. 80 and Rs. 70 per litre respectively in the country today, which is definitely a cause of concern. Since oil enters into the production and transportation of almost all commodities and services, directly or indirectly, the overall price rise is expected with rise in domestic price of oil. Total consumption of petroleum products in India is around 200 MMT (million metric ton) and crude oil production in India is around 36 MMT per annum – the rest we import. Gross import is around 250 MMT plus LNG import was around 6 MMT in 2016-17 and export was around 65 MMT. The domestic price increased mainly because of sharp rise in the international price of oil from US40$ (in the second quarter of 2016) to almost US 80$ per barrel (in May 2018) as well as because of rise in the tax rate on oil from 37.5% (as on 1st September, 2012) to more than 50% (on 19th June, 2018) for petrol and from 20% to almost 40% for diesel, on an average, in India.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Report on the Young Workers’ Convention held in Kolkata on 12 June 2018

Ritaj Gupta
On 12th June 2018, Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU)’s Kolkata District Committee organized Young Workers’ Convention with the aim of bringing together blue and grey collar employees on a common platform to share their problems, exchange opinion and formulate an understanding to find a way out. This is a report about the convention:  

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Transformation that Never Was: 4 Years of BJP Rule and the Economy

Surajit Mazumdar

In 2014, the Narendra-Modi led BJP received the special combination of overwhelming support from corporate India and from some sections of the people on the promise of delivering ‘Achhe Din”. Of course, the meaning of this slogan differed across the great economic divide in Indian society that the growth process of the last two and a half odd decades had created. Corporate India sought a revival of the dramatic investment and profit growth that had been witnessed in the boom years that preceded the global crisis – but which had since slowed down considerably, particularly from the beginning of the current decade. For the vast majority of India’s working people, the same slogan evoked no such memories of a rosy past since it never existed. For them, the transition from the boom to slowdown only made worse their already grim economic situation. Reasonable employment and income earning opportunities only became scarcer and the uncertainty associated with them increased. It is a breaking out from this trap that they therefore sought.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Remembering Marx after Two Hundred Years

Satyaki Roy

Why do we remember someone and forget others? And that too after two centuries, when our memories often slip into slumber, they tend to forget names who are nothing but occurrences in an infinite chain of exchange. Over a passage of time most relationships dip into rituals. More life becomes instantaneous, the more it is optimization of memory that makes individuals productive. We generally remember names that live beyond time, when their thoughts stretch beyond the contemporary and the past throws light on the present we see. A man born two hundred years ago is still remembered not because of any baggage of wistful loyalty. He is contested, debated, sought for in moments of crisis, in explaining the present. He is alive to some knowingly or unknowingly as an inspiration for change and to some as an occult trouble maker who creeps into the minds of those who are oppressed and exploited and do not accept realities as their predestined fate.

When he died in 1883 Frederick Engels’s speech at London Highgate Cemetery began with this line. “On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think".
Engels ended his speech saying:  
"Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, whether conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were a cobweb, ignoring it, answering only when extreme necessity compelled him. And he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow workers -- from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America -- and I make bold to say that, though he may have had many opponents, he had hardly one personal enemy.
His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work".

Monday, May 14, 2018

Liberating Women's Sexuality will be the True Liberation

Women's day celebration every year signifies the struggle, which women have undergone to claim their rightful place in our society. Even though we have made substantial gain towards an equal society, still we have a long way of struggle in attaining this. This celebration opens up the space for critical engagement in deliberating the patriarchal hurdles in making gender equality a reality. This assumes more significant in contemporary times as Neo-liberal capitalism and conservative right-wing forces emerging as a significant impediment in attaining any form of gender equality. The inequality of the sexes has been apparent in our society for a very long period creating a hierarchical relationship, which still has a perceptible impact in the socio-economic domains. Gerda Lerner, eminent gender historian, in her magnum opus "The Creation of Patriarchy" said that men and women differ biologically, but due to interactions and outcomes in cultural sphere, patriarchal values and implications emerge and impact upon their lives. Gender based discriminations are unique from other forms of discrimination as the basis for prejudice against women are not visible and transparent as they happen in the private sphere of family. Even in public sphere, exclusion of women was shielded quoting their so called “natural disabilities”, such as inferior reasoning, enslavement to passions, biological disadvantages etc. Lerner further emphasized that during 19th century, after the development of science and technology, based on rationality, the religious arguments weakened and ‘scientific’ arguments were developed to prove women’s inferiority and male supremacy. Darwinian theories strengthened the belief system that species survival was more central than the individual self-fulfilment. Scientific defence of patriarchy was propagated, assigning women maternal role, excluding them from economic and educational opportunities, that best suited for species survival. Menstruation, menopause and pregnancy were considered as diseases or abnormality, which made women inferior.