Monday, May 20, 2019

‘Stimulus’, ‘Structural Reform’ and ‘Austerity’? What Awaits India after the Elections?


Surajit Mazumdar
After the declaration of the 2018-19 third quarter GDP figures by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) at the end of February, some talk began in the media about the Indian economy heading towards a slowdown. As the country headed into the general elections thereafter, this matter got pushed into the background and never really became a central issue in the election related debate on news channels and newspapers. However, slowly, more and more stories and reports ringing alarm bells about the economy have started appearing, particularly in the business news, and a consensus is taking shape that India is heading into a major economic slowdown that reflects the operation of demand constraints. Even the word recession has been used by corporate bigwigs while serving government officials have used the term crisis to describe some dimensions of the current situation. Entering the discourse has also been the view that this is not simply a cyclical downturn – a fair amount of publicity being given to the opinion of a member of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council that India is in danger of slipping into what is called a “middle-income trap”. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Bad News for Rural Wages


Surajit Das 
Deepali

The rural workforce in India is mainly engaged in agricultural activities like ploughing/tilling, sowing, harvesting/winnowing/threshing, picking (including tea, cotton, tobacco & other commercial crops), horticulture, fishing (including inland and coastal/deep sea), animal husbandry, etc., or occupation-wise people are carpenters, or blacksmiths, or masons, or weavers, or beedi makers or plumbers, or electricians, or construction workers, or LMV & tractor drivers or sweeping/cleaning workers etc.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Popular Protests in Sudan: End of the Military Rule?


Abdul Rahman

“Tasgut bas” (Must go, full stop!) is the slogan of ongoing people’s movement in Sudan against the long serving regime led by Omar al-Bashir. Though Bashir has already resigned and has been arrested, the military’s control over the power in Sudan is still intact. The new interim head of the Transitory Military Council General Abdul Fatah al-Burhan may have to move aside and let a civilian government take over for a transition period. This remains the major demand of the demonstrators.    

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Centenary of Jallianwala Bagh


Suchetana Chattopadhyay

13 April 1919 was a Sunday. It was also the first day of the new year in the Punjabi calendar. An unarmed crowd, mostly villagers from the outskirts, had come to the city of Amritsar. Their aim was to celebrate Baisakhi (Punjabi New Year). They had not been told that gatherings had been banned by the British colonial authorities. They assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, an open space surrounded by walls and buildings. An anti-colonial meeting was also being held there. Suddenly the crowd was fired upon by British colonial troops. The soldiers had initially fired in the air to disperse people but were ordered to shoot at point blank range by General Dyer, the commanding officer in charge of enforcing martial law. Dyer ordered the soldiers to shoot where the concentration of the crowd was most thick. The shooting continued for 10-15 minutes. By then all ammunition was exhausted. Upgraded versions of Enfield guns, which had sparked the Rising of 1857 among Indian soldiers and the wider population against colonial rule, were used. Bodies of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lay piled on top of each other. According to official estimates 379 people were killed. Unofficial accounts claimed at least 1000 people were mowed down. In his later statements, Dyer declared the purpose was to teach the Indian population a lesson in fear. He had successfully achieved this aim by pumping bullets into their rebellious hearts.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Women in West Bengal: A comment on the current situation


Nilanjana Paul


'It is the time of fear.

Women’s fear of violent men and men’s fear of fearless women'. 

-‘Global Fear’ by Edurado Galeano


An article published in June 2015 in Vikalp: People’s Perspective for Change entitled “The Tip of the Iceberg” by Abir Neogy highlighted crimes against women in West Bengal since regime change in 2011. Neogy shows that violence against women are propelled by a strong “misogynist political current, informed by patriarchal and propertied social and economic interests.”[1] Her article further showed how the first female Chief and Home Minister of West Bengal denied justice to the Park Street rape victim. Moreover, rape and murder of victims at Kamduni, Madhyamgram and Birbhum have broken fresh grounds on the culture of gang rape in the state. Building on Neogy’s article, this study shows that since 2015 little has been done to address women’s issues. Even the recent declaration by the ruling Trinomool Congress (TMC) that forty percent of its candidates are women in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, only helps suppress the scale of the current crisis.