Sunday, March 31, 2019

2019: ‘Kesari’ or Jallianwala Bagh?

Rajinder Singh Majhail

In 2012 we had started a campaign in Punjab to commemorate the centenary of the Gadar Movement the following year. We visited many educational institutions; one of them was Saragarhi War Memorial School in Amritsar. The Principal of the school was known to one of our friends. When we met him he smiled and said the school was unable to support our initiative;  moreover, he pointed out there was a difference between the ‘war’ represented by Gadar and Saragarhi. This has remained with me. In 2019 we are again campaigning to commemorate the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Meanwhile the mainstream focus is on ‘Kesari’, a commercial film based on the war of Saragarhi. In 2017, Rs 44 Crores were spent on the construction of Saragarhi sarai in Amritsar.A number of videos were made available on YouTube and even UNESCO made a big budget documentary on this war completely ignoring the Gadar Movement or people’s struggles associated with Punjab. On the heels of these institutionalised endeavors by the late imperialist and local majoritarian-nationalist official establishments comes the film- just before the general elections in India. The question we need to ask: why has the battle of Saragarhi (1897) been dug up?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Government health expenditure in India

Surajit Das

Indian government spends only 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health (in 2015, excluding expenditure on water supply and sanitation), which is one of the lowest in the world (Source: World Development Indicators of the World Bank). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the world average public spending on health was 3.5% of GDP in 2015. According to the World Bank data, in the Euro area and in North America, the public expenditure on health is more than 8% of GDP on an average. Even the poor Latin American countries & Caribbean and Sub-Saharan African countries spend much more than India (3.8% and 1.8% of GDP,respectively)on health. China has recently increased government health expenditure from less than 1% of GDP in 2000 to 3.2% of GDP in 2015. Many people have raised this issue of abysmally low government expenditure and extremely high out of pocket expenditure on health in India time and again but, there has been no marked change in the government health expenditure to GDP ratio in our country. There has been some improvement in private sector led health services in India in the recent past; however, most of the Indian population cannot afford to avail these services because of exorbitantly high cost, given their low level of income.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

‘Gully Boy’ deserves both celebration and reflection

Rahul Vaidya
Amidst the manufactured fury and ‘josh’ of cinematic jingo-nationalist glory all through January (‘Uri’, ‘Thackeray’, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’) and then somber moment of Pulwama terrorist attacks and counter (surgical) strikes being turned to new levels of political frenzy; was the recent release and commercial success of Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ (directed by acclaimed director Zoya Akhtar).  No wonder that remarkable success of this film did little to shape the public conversation at large. The film which takes on serious issues of class, urban ghettos, patriarchy, and counter-cultural forms of expressions of the underground in a serious manner and gravitas was clearly at odds with cheer-leading Hindu Majoritarian consumer middle class mobs that matter for box offices. Cinematic critical acclaim and commercial success aside, this film deserves a larger conversation and debate and here is my attempt to pen down a few thoughts in this regard.

Monday, March 4, 2019

No Choice but Multiple Choice? The Questionable Decision of the JNU Administration

Surajit Mazumdar                                                                                                                   
Consider, to begin with, a fictional story. Imagine that there is a multi-specialty hospital with several different departments, each manned by qualified doctors with their appropriate specializations. The hospital board then appoints a new Director, who is himself a qualified surgeon. This Director then issues a circular stating that in order to raise the standards of medical care and to speed up treatment, in every department of the hospital, surgery will now be the compulsory mode of treatment for all patients and ailments. Further, the circular states that any medication, counselling or physiotherapy will only be prescribed to prepare the patient for surgery and as part of post-operative care. In response to initial murmurs of protest, additional instructions are issued stating that since every doctor has at the least a basic M.B.B.S degree, no one can contest their ability to perform surgery and any refusal to use this procedure will invite strict disciplinary action. All objections based on sound medical procedure that surgery should not be prescribed for every case, are overruled. In fact, even before there could be any discussion about it, a tender notice is issued inviting bids from contractors to build operation theaters in every department.  As justification for his decision, the Director cites his own experience of having conducted a number of successful surgeries and the wonderful technologies that have now become available for them. He asserts that his experience and knowledge, along with his position as Director, makes him a “Competent Authority” to issue the said circular. He also says that there is no legislation or authority dealing with medical care that explicitly debars him from issuing such a circular. Instead, he is vested with greater responsibility than anyone else in the hospital to ensure that medical care of the highest standards are offered and accordingly enjoys special discretionary powers.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Interview with Sandeep Wathar

Sandeep Wathar, an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at VPDPGH College of Engineering and Technology, Karnataka is against war. He was attacked by members of the ABVP and BJP on 2 March 2019 inside the college campus for his alleged ‘anti-national’ social media posts. Sandeep had criticized the BJP government for fomenting war hysteria. As a junior faculty in his thirties, his position is vulnerable. His appeal for solidarity from wider society compelled us to conduct the following interview. It is a brief testament to what fascist victimization looks like in every corner of India today.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Corporate Performance and NPAs

Santosh Kumar Das

The current NPA problem suggests two distinct characteristics. These are, the non-performance of large loans, mainly corporate loans as primary reason behind accumulation of NPA in Indian Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs), and substantial volume of NPAs accumulated by the Public Sector Banks (PSBs). As per recent data, large borrowers constituted more than 54.6 per cent of the total loans disbursed by the SCBs and 83.4 percent of the large loans have turned NPAs. These large borrowers are found to be the source of high NPA in the banking sector.

There has been a perception that the non-performance of large loans, mainly corporate loans is because of weak corporate performance. Predominantly, it is the weak corporate performance that has constrained the corporate sector to serve its debt. Therefore, it is a genuine case of weak corporate balance sheet leading to loan defaults. A study of the balance sheet of the borrowers, in this case the companies or firms however do not suggest any serious crisis in the corporate sector which could have constrained them in paying back their borrowed loans.