Friday, August 30, 2019

Sixty Years Ago: Food Movement of 1959


Suchetana Chattopadhyay 

In post-independence and post-partition Congress-ruled West Bengal, the echoes of famine continued to be heard. During the 1950s, the collusion between rice mill-owners, jotedars (Kulaks) and food hoarders created an artificial food crisis. These proprietor class segments controlled rice distribution; they also exercised a strangle-hold over the villages and formed the rural backbone of the Bengal Congress. The government refused to take any measure which went against their interests. As hunger assumed famine like proportions, the people organised themselves into a ‘Committee to Combat Famine’ under the leadership of the undivided Communist Party of India. Other left parties also endorsed this initiative. From the second half of the 1950s, between 1956 and 1958, food movements became an annual occurrence. The Food Movement of 1959, however, was a turning-point in the history of class struggle in West Bengal. Food insecurity by this time had reached frightening proportions in rural and urban areas and distress was acute among the marginal and landless peasantry, the workers and lower middle-classes.

Monday, August 26, 2019

How to Revive Growth in India?


Surajit Das

Today, across the board, business confidence is low in India in general. The business confidence is dependent on the expected rate of profit on investment. Investment is the addition to stock of capital for the existing firms or start-ups. Depending on the lending rate of the banks and other term-lending institutions and on the credit rating of the investors, there is a cost involved in investment. There are uncertainties in every business. If the expected rate of profit is not higher than the cost of borrowing, after payment of profit tax and after adjusting for the risks premiums, then the investor would not invest. Now this expected rate of net profit depends on many things including perceived degree of uncertainties, the effective profit tax rate, the expected future prices and, above all, on the expected demand. The expected profit tax rate is of course dependant on the tax policy of the government. The other factors depend on the size of the market (local or global), which depends, ceteris paribus, on the purchasing power of the people. For example, if the European or American economies do not do well, they being our main export destinations, cannot import more commodities and services from us. Similarly, if the size of the domestic market does not expand, the expected future prices would not increase, the expected net profit rate (given the tax rates) would be lower and the business confidence would come down. Since income earned from one sector generates demand not only for that sector but, also for all other sectors in the economy (and also the import demand), if profitability or investment or income comes down in one sector, it would have its negative impact on the entire economy. Lower business confidence, in absence of any government intervention, would lead to lower investment and lower income, which, in turn, would lead to further reduction in business confidence. This is like a vicious cycle trap. On the contrary, when the confidence is high, everything would grow. Even the financial sector becomes more confident about the viability of the proposed real sector projects and provides loans easily and in difficult times they also naturally become relatively more sceptical. Therefore, the lowering of growth rates and downturn of the economy should be taken very seriously for preventing a recession like situation. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Abrogation of Article 370: End of Kashmir’s Autonomy


Sourav Baksi
‘Sitam sikhlaayega rasm-e wafa aise nahin hota
Sanam dikhlaaenge raah-e khuda aise nahin hota’-1
Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The quote needs to find a place in today’s world which means ‘Tyranny giving lessons in the fidelity of love’.

The so called ‘bold and historic’ movement of 5 August 2019 requires a deeper analysis and understanding on its impact without elaborating upon its legal terms as that has been decoded in several enriching articles. What is the meaning of this lightning strike on a time honoured constitutional settlement?