Monday, July 22, 2019

The Union Budget 2019-20: Increasing Desperation for a Long-Awaited Miracle?

Surajit Mazumdar
The final Union Budget for 2019-20 placed before Parliament on 5 July 2019 (hereafter the Budget) was remarkable in the extent to which it seemed to adopt an ostrich-like approach, premising itself on a denial of known facts about the Indian economy and the contemporary global scenario. Many of these facts were simply ignored while others were misrepresented or deliberately concealed, as a ‘vision’ of an economy mid-way through a glorious journey to a 5 trillion-dollar size was laid out through the Budget and the speech accompanying it. This ‘vision’ completely discounted in any substantive sense the fact that the Indian economy is currently facing a major slowdown of demand growth. It simply refused to acknowledge the evidence of nearly a decade that ‘fiscal consolidation’ and improving the ‘ease of doing business’ have simply failed to revive ‘animal spirits’ and generate a private investment led process of economic expansion. If the speech were to be believed, the agrarian crisis and the mounting problem of joblessness have been almost solved in the last five years and therefore aren’t even worth mentioning. The Budgetary exercise also seemed to be completely unmindful of the fact that the world experienced a global crisis over a decade ago whose consequences are still being experienced, including through an unravelling of the international ‘consensus’ on globalization which is generating ever increasing uncertainty about the future of the world economy. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Lofty vision, narrow practice: The case of Draft NEP 2019

Saqib Khan
The recent furore over the three-language formula has seen an intense scrutiny of the recently released Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 [1]. The NEP remains an important action-plan for education and it provides a direction to the development of education in India [2]. This article is a modest attempt to highlight some of the key aspects and concerns from the Draft. In some ways, the Draft NEP 2019 takes the agenda of the 2016 Draft forward, while making a departure from it in few other aspects [3]. While it suggests some important changes in the school education system, it is in the higher education system that the ideological and political moorings of the Draft are clearly visible. The article argues that the restructuring of the higher education system as recommended seems to be a push towards centralization and further privatization, and the Draft assigns larger role of private activity in overall funding of education than public investment. While the Draft has a grand vision to transform Indian education system in an equitable way, its recommendations seem to go in an altogether different trajectory and there seems to be a mismatch between the two.