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


S.V.Narayanan
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. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Agrarian Distress Leads Farmers to Streets


Santosh Verma
SA Aiyar wrote an article in the Times of India (8th April, 2018) and its title was Farmer agitations reflect clout more than distress’. Aiyar’s article argues that Indian peasantry is not in distress, but it is farmers’ “clout”. The Cambridge Dictionary puts the word ‘clout’ as ‘power and influence over other people or events’. It seems, Mr. Aiyar pushes the argument that the farmers in the recent march from Nasik to Mumbai were showing their muscle power to the government. So, if they can show up power and influence in such a way, they cannot be in distress. He further ribs into it and says that farmers purposely do agitations to get freebies and once their demands are met they go for another agitation. People who breathe neo-liberalism can’t realise the tenuous situation in agriculture in the era of WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is forcing governments to roll back whatever meagre subsidies and price support farmers are getting. These all are resulting into increase in cost of cultivation and rising dependence on market for both pre and post-harvest situations. It invites fluctuations in the prices of agricultural produce pushing the farmers into a cobweb of uncertainty. In the post-harvest situation, when prices in the market fluctuate, non-availability of procurement services and warehouses lead the farmers into distress sale that ignites the agrarian distress. It is not as such that only small and marginal farmer are facing long term downward cascading effect, but the relatively larger farmers also are under bridling effect of distress. Given the circumstances, one can certainly imagine the deteriorating situation of agricultural labourers who widely depend on wages for their livelihood. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Syrian Conundrum: First Theatre of the New Cold War?


Abdul Rahman
Today it is very clear that Syrian Arab Republic is one major victim of the great power rivalry in the international politics and probably the first major theatre of the new cold war. The protests started with the limited objective of establishment of democracy in March 2011’s Syrian version of the “Arab Spring” has turned into a non-ending civil war. This civil war has divided the country physically into different zones controlled by different armed groups belonging to different sects or having extra territorial loyalties to different countries such as USA and Turkey. The balkanised state of Syria has seen the emergence of multiple stake holders where apart from the Assad regime no one else has a clear cut legitimate agenda to follow hence the conundrum. The April 7 Chemical attack on Douma (Eastern Ghouta) and subsequent air strikes on April 14 in different parts of Syria by the USA, UK and France adds to this conundrum. The slogan of saving innocent lives looks like an excuse to weaken the attempt of the regime to end the civil war soon. How is that saving the innocent lives?