Saturday, February 9, 2019

Rhetoric and Reality of Indian Foreign Policy under Modi: ‘Neighborhood First’?

Abdul Rahman

Modi led central government is approaching the end of its five-year term. At the time of its coming to power it had promised a significant change in India’s position in International politics. During elections campaign Narendra Modi gave the impression of a ‘tough’ leader who would keep “India First” and would never compromise on the issues of national significance‘unlike in the past’. The protection and promotion of ‘national interest’ was to be the sole motto of this government. After the election results were declared BJP got majority in the Lok Sabha making it the only party to do so in the last three decades. All these facts and declarations inflated the expectations of the analysts and common people from the government. In the initial months a kind of blitzkrieg of media campaigns helped in consolidating this image.Throughout his term Modi visited unprecedented number of countries (according to official data around 84 till 2018) apparently to pave the way for greater and meaningful engagements with them. Each time Modi visited a country Indian media went gaga about it selling the government version about its historicity and importance. On certain occasions such visits were prioritized even over critical moments at home. For example, immediately after announcing the demonetization Modi left for Japan in November 2016. However, despite all these hullabaloo and pomp the effects of all those visits on India’s status in international politics and in its economic development are invisible. However, most of the foreign policy commentators are yet not ready to call the bluff. Given the high expectations and high voltage campaign of a successful foreign policy carried out by this government it is pertinent to take a stock of the real situation now. In this context, present article is the first in the series of four articles attempting to analyze four different and defining aspects of India’s foreign policy-India and its Neighbors, India and China, India and the USA and Indiaand its anti-Imperialist Commitments-during Modi regime to put the record straight and clear.

In this article we are going to examine India’s neighborhood policy.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Unbelievable GDP Numbers After ‘Demonetisation’

Surajit Das 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Govt. of India has released one press note on 31st January 2019 on the first revised estimate of India’s national income for 2017-18. According to this, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased by 7.2% in 2017-18 and by 8.2% in 2016-17 (second revised estimate). These annual numbers are important because the quarterly GDP estimates are based on many unrealistic assumptions and extrapolations and therefore are controversial. It is important to note that the growth rate of GDP in 2014-15 and in 2015-16 have been 7.4% and 8% respectively. Therefore, CSO claims that the country’s growth rate remained, more or less, unaffected by ‘demonetisation’.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY) – Lesser than a Solution

Santosh Verma 

During the past three and half decades, various governments at the centre introduced several crop insurance schemes for the farmers to lessen the risks (partial or full) involved due to natural calamities and crop diseases. In 1985, in its very first attempt, the Government of India (GoI) launched Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme (CCIS) with a mandate to a national coverage. In 1999, CCIS was replaced with a new scheme called National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS). To implement this scheme, w.e.f. April 1, 2003, the Government designated Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd. (AIC), a public sector company, as its implementing agency. Further, another scheme, Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) was launched to cover the farmers in 20 states with a mandate to provide insurance against inconsistent climatic conditions (drought, flood, untimely rainfall, variations in temperature, frost, etc.)from the Kharif season 2007. With the purpose of insuring farmers, another attempt was made, when GoI introduced Modified National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) from the Rabi season 2010-11. The Scheme was launched on pilot basis in 50 districts of the country. Again, from the Rabi season 2013-14, the GoI started a new farmers’ insurance scheme – National Crop Insurance Programme (NCIP) through merging the MNAIS and WBCIS. But, on the request of the state governments, NAIS continued till the Rabi season 2015-16. Onwards the Kharif season 2016, the BJP government replaced NAIS and NCIP with the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and a restructuring of WBCIS was also made. So, the newly launched scheme, PMFBY, is just a continuation of earlier existing schemes with a few minor restructuring.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Some ‘Reservations’ on the Modi Government’s Reservation for ‘Economically Weaker Sections’

Surajit Mazumdar

Since independence and even earlier, India has been characterized by an enduring duality in which the reality of an inegalitarian and oppression-ridden society has co-existed with a widespread and even growing urge for equality and justice. The inequalities prevailing in Indian society are multi-dimensional in which new ones emerging with time are intertwined in complex but mutually reinforcing ways with those handed down from the past. Caste and gender discrimination are knitted into the fabric of a society whose economic domain is also marked by sharp inequalities in control over resources and exploitative relationships. Most Indians are subject to at least one among several inequalities and oppressions, an overwhelming majority of them to more than one acting in tandem and a considerable part to all of them.  In the absence of changes that would address the structural roots of these, affirmative action in the form of reservations in education and public employment - for members of social groups who are disadvantaged by the social realities from accessing the limited opportunities for these - has been the only substantive response of the Indian state to the demands for equality and justice. The creation and development of this reservation policy and its implementation has also been impaired by the resistance from the more privileged sections of Indian society and their power.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Why the workers are angry?

Satyaki Roy 

For the past three decades the working people of our country had suffered the most in terms of their share in high growth that India experienced barring recent episodes of slowing down due to demonetization or hasty tax reforms introduced by the current government. It is now becoming a cause of concern primarily because such declining share of the vast majority of the working population ultimately leads to rising inequality and therefore even international agencies such as World Bank and IMF, those had been otherwise great votaries of liberalization recognize the simple fact of demand constraint setting in,ultimately creating barriers to profitability and growth. The worker is also a buyer and working people’s share of consumption expenditure in additional unit of income is generally greater than that of the rich, so relative decline of the workers’ buying capacity has its impact on the market, it dampens expectation of profit for private investors and hence investment and growth. In the advanced capitalist countries ‘technology unemployment’ is on the rise, use of artificial intelligence, internet of things and robots are going to replace repetitive jobs which has hardly hit particularly middle level jobs and the low skilled workers are at a disadvantageous position worldwide. Various studies suggest that in the next two decades 47 per cent of jobs in the US and 57 per cent in the OECD are at the risk of automation. There is also the effect of cheapening of finance which leads to higher capital intensity and lower requirement of labour employment in production.