Guest Post by SANJAY KUMAR
The withdrawal of eighty six percent of currency notes by the Modi government has been an administrative fiasco. It is clear that little economic thought, and only a political urge has gone into the exercise. Informal sector of the economy, which accounts for 80% of the employment and 40% of the national output, has suffered short to medium term damage. All cash dependent transactions, wages, wholesale and retail trade, agricultural purchase and sale, are at a crawl. Workers are not getting wages, factories are closing, mandis are empty. Crores of young and old working people are spending hours in queues at banks and ATMs to withdraw their own money now gone scarce. Press reports count more than eighty deaths. Parliament of the country is in a limbo, because the prime minister thinks it below his worth to reply to charges by the opposition party MPs. While ordinary people are suffering, the Nero like rulers are trumpeting the arrival of the nirvana of a cash less economy as the answer to India’s economic ills.
Even while Mr Modi’s government is solely responsible for this needless and widespread suffering, it would be naive to expect an automatic popular backlash against it. The politics of the ruling party does not fit into the patronage or identity driven models of its competitors. Its closest template is fascist politics, which is a very particular kind of authoritarianism. What distinguishes a fascist regime from other modern authoritarian regimes like military dictatorships is the popular support it is able to garner for its policies and depredations. This is achieved by carefully working upon popular anxieties, prejudices, desires and fears, and refashioning them as grounds for aggression against selected minorities, and a belief in an imminent deliverance under the personalised rule of a leader. Continue reading Buying into Demonetisation- the Popular Ideological Receptors of Creeping Fascism: Sanjay Kumar
In February this year, Iceland jailed four of its rogue bankers for market manipulation and for defrauding ordinary people. No, the heavens did not fall. Thunder and lightning did not strike. The wrath of God did not descend upon the people of Iceland. On 13 February 2015, Reuters had reported:
Iceland’s Supreme Court has upheld convictions of market manipulation for four former executives of the failed Kaupthing bank in a landmark case that the country’s special prosecutor said showed it was possible to crack down on fraudulent bankers. Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, Kaupthing’s former chief executive, former chairman Sigurdur Einarsson, former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg Magnus Gudmundsson, and Olafur Olafsson, the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time, were all sentenced on Thursday to between four and five and a half years. –
In less than four months since this happened, Mathew Yglesias reported in Vox Business and Finance two days ago that the economy had in the meanwhile done quite well:
Yesterday, Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, announced a plan that will essentially close the books on his country’s approach to handling the financial crisis — an approach that deviated greatly from the preferences of global financial elites and succeeded quite well. Instead of embracing the orthodoxy of bank bailouts, austerity, and low inflation, Iceland did just the opposite. And even though its economy was hammered by the banking crisis perhaps harder than any other in the world, its labor didn’t deteriorate all that much, and it had a great recovery.
For those who have seen the brilliant documentary film Inside Job, which exposed the unscrupulous game played by the bankers and the financial oligarchy in defrauding millions of ordinary people and eventually triggering of the financial crisis in the US and the world at large, the story of Iceland’s descent into the dystopic neoliberal world must still be fresh in their minds. Continue reading Iceland Jailed Bad Bankers While Modi Govt Bails Out Defaulting Sugar Mills
Guest Post by AVINASH SHAHI
Arguably, the Narendra Modi-led NDA II government in the country seems least interested in addressing the woes of disabled people. Such indifference is not surprising. When the campaigning for the 16th Lok Sabha elections was at its peak, Mr Modi thundered from the podium that the “country does not want a deaf and dumb handicapped government”. His irresponsible reference to disability could have potentially accentuateed negative attitudes against the disabled. Fearing such a possibility and upholding their right to dignity as disabled persons, this group strongly condemned his statement. Continue reading The Modi Government’s First Year has been disappointing for Persons with Disabilities: Avinash Shahi
The following is the text of a statement issued in Banaras on the 3rd January 2015, by a number of intellectuals
In Support of Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others
We are deeply shocked and outraged by the continuing attempts of the Modi government and the Gujarat police to somehow implicate the human rights lawyers and activists, Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand along with three victim survivors of the state sponsored carnage in Gujarat in 2002 on patently trumped up charges.
This is another attempt to derail justice particularly Zakia Jafri’s appeal which is now before the Gujarat High Court where she has accused the then Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, the home minister of Gujarat along with 59 others which include top politicians, civil servants of conspiracy for mass murder and other serious crimes.
It is extremely significant that the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court, Mr. Raju Ramachandran has told the apex court there was enough prima facie evidence to prosecute Shri Modi. Continue reading Statement Against Continued Harassment of Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others
Guest post by SHAMBHU GHATAK
“You can fool some people some times but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
So goes one of the famous lines of Bob Marley’s song that draws upon statement by Lincoln. Perhaps the same can be said about the new BJP government because it seems that this time there will be nothing new left to be presented during the upcoming Union Budget. Most of the things to be presented by the Finance Minister have gradually been placed even before the actual budget could see the light of the day (on 10 July). In fact, the entire stretch since the Government took power can be termed as a long, extended budget session – a session in slow motion.
Just think about the policy decisions announced or showcased by the new Government so far—allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence sector (to boost technology transfer and employment growth, so to speak); reforming environmental clearance (to avoid discrepancies, end red-tapism and ensure transparency) by making the process online; raising import duties on sugar by more than double and extension of existing sugar export subsidy of Rs 3,300 per tonne (to help the sugar mills) till September besides raising the mandatory level for blending cane-based ethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%; allowing hike in price of non-subsidized cooking gas (LPG) by Rs 16.50 per cylinder (which is partly attributed to the crisis situation in Iraq); and raising train fares by 14.2% & freight rates by 6.5% in the month of June prior to the just-presented Rail Budget, among other things. Continue reading An Endless Budget Session, Even Before it Begins: Shambhu Ghatak
The following is a Statement issued by SAHMAT in Support of Teesta Setalvad and others
We are shocked and outraged by the continuing attempt of the highly vindictive Modi government and the Gujarat police to somehow implicate activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, along with three victim-survivors of the state-sponsored Gujarat carnage in 2002 on patently trumped-up charges.
This is nothing but a desperate bid to delay or derail the justice process, in particular Zakia Jafri’s appeal which is now before the Gujarat High Court. Mrs. Jafri has accused Gujarat chief minister and home minister, Narendra Modi along with 59 other top politicians, police officers and civil servants of conspiracy for mass murder and other serious criminal offences.
It is significant that the Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae in the case, Mr. Raju Ramachandran, has told the apex court there was enough prima facie evidence to prosecute Modi. Continue reading Revenge is the Only Motive of the Vindictive Modi government – A Statement in Support of Teesta and Others