Tuesday, November 20, 2018

War’s End? November 1918 and the Politics of Remembrance

Suchetana Chattopadhyay

The leading states affiliated with the military alliance known as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) held commemorations earlier this month to remember those who died in the First World War. The official framing of the mourning observations was accompanied by impish smiles of the leaders as they looked forward to further increasing the bloated military budgets.  This brings us to certain elementary questions which persist. They simply refuse to go away.  Why was the war started? Who paid for the war with their lives, labour and resources? What was the immediate impact of the war? How is the war being remembered now?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Disheartening condition of teaching profession in West Bengal

A Teacher

West Bengal witnessed a violent Panchayat election this year. Among the several cases of casualty includes the unnatural death of Rajkumar Roy, an Assistant Teacher, who was serving as a Presiding Officer in a polling booth in the Balurghat region. After a long time, West Bengal witnessed a huge participation of teachers, protesting against the alleged murder of Rajkumar Roy. Interestingly, this time, quite a few apparently apolitical teachers’ forum took the lead. Moreover, social networking also played a significant part in giving vent to several issues relating to their profession, and also voiced against the lack of security that they have to witness during every election. Thus, it would be wrong to suppose that the incident of teachers’ protest relates only to this seemingly killing of an Assistant Teacher, during the poll time. Rather, this movement should be viewed as an integral part of the discontentment among teachers, which had been developing for the last few years. To address this issue, a detailed study of the working condition of teachers serving in schools of West Bengal, is needed.   

Friday, October 12, 2018

Shabarimala Protests: A disgustingly Patriarchal and Casteist Movement!

Balu S. 

The desire to create counter hegemonic ideas is something which emanates throughout Gramsci’s writing. A concept which he develops in the process of this mammoth political project is ‘Common Sense’. According to Gramsci, common sense is everyday thinking which helps us in making sense of the things around us. It has a past, tradition and is a product of the history which includes various political discourses. It is also constituted of contradictory components. Common sense is constituted by notions which are formed by dominant interests as well as those which are counter-hegemonic. For example, the desire for a more equal world could be found within the common sense of an otherwise xenophobic and reactionary white working class individual. The Malayali-Hindu common sense also has such contradictory notions. On the one hand, there is a progressive sense constituted by the renaissance movements, exemplified by lower caste movements and later Communist movements against land-lordism. On the other hand, there is continued presence of reactionary components forged by practice of brahmanical rituals and patriarchy. Of course, the presence of reactionary elements varies with one’s caste and class position. It is this reactionary common sense which the current Shabarimala movement is blatantly attempting to strengthen. Not only is this movement communal, casteist and goes against constitutional morality, its historical basis is also extremely flimsy.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Fantasies of Francis Fukuyama

Rahul Vaidya 
The name ‘Francis Fukuyama’ is knotted closely to 90s triumphant neo-liberalism and its fancies and fantasies about itself. Fukuyama was one of the most astute theorists around to articulate this triumphalism and capturing of popular imagination with collapse of Berlin Wall and end of Cold war.  His arguments could be summed up as The collapse of communism in USSR and East Europe is defeat of the last serious ideological challenge to the march of ‘capitalism, free trade and liberal democracy. Furthermore, other communist countries like China have started adopting the road of market and globalization. Fascism was already defeated in Second World War. So end of cold war is ‘End of History’ of ideological battles’. No wonder he was lapped up by Western capitalist media circuits and championed around as an ideological force/ justification to fall in line for whatever resistance of Left remained and follow the ‘march of history’. Many Social Democratic parties worldwide had adopted this line of argument since the days of Euro-communism to varying degrees anyway; so it was no wonder that New Labor and Clintonite Democrats on both sides of Atlantic happily joined this euphoria. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

On Weakening of Rupee vis-à-vis US Dollar

Surajit Das

To buy one US dollar, we have to now pay more than Rs.72 in India, which was less than Rs.64 even in mid-February this year. It is synonymous to say that Indian rupee has been weakened vis-à-vis the US dollar. The value of dollar in terms of domestic currency increases when the supply of dollar falls short relative to the demand for it at aggregate level. The supply of dollar comes from exporting commodities and services and through foreign capital inflow from abroad. The demand for dollar accrues from the import demand and for capital outflow outside the country. However, apart from current and capital accounts of balance of payment mentioned above, there is another channel that can influence the aggregate demand and supply of foreign currency in the domestic market. If the central bank wishes to hold more foreign currency than the current stock or if it depletes the foreign currency reserves, for some reason, then also the foreign exchange market would be affected. If the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) decides to sell some dollars in the Indian market in exchange of domestic currency (Rupee), the aggregate supply of dollar would increase relative to the demand and the price of dollar would come down. In other words, the Rupee would become stronger. On the other hand, if it buys some dollar from the domestic market in order to increase the stock of foreign currency, ceteris paribus, the Rupee would be weakened. And, given any stock of foreign currency reserve of the central bank, in case of a trade deficit or capital account deficit, the Rupee would be weaker and vice-versa.