Delhi Airport Metro as a Case Study

– Rahul Varman[1] (rahulv[at]iitk.ac.in)

According to the currently dominant ideology, the private sector is more competent, efficient, and technologically capable than the public sector, and thus public-private partnerships save public money. The World Bank says:

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be a tool to get more quality infrastructure services to more people. When designed well and implemented in a balanced regulatory environment, PPPs can bring greater efficiency and sustainability to the provision of public services such as energy, transport, telecommunications, water, healthcare, and education. PPPs can also allow for better allocation of risk between public and private entities.[2]

This ideology has been embraced by India’s rulers. In February 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared, “the government has no business to be in business”:

The private sector brings in investment as well as the best global practices. It brings in top quality manpower and transforms the management. It further modernizes things and the entire sector is modernized. It also leads to rapid expansion of that sector and creates new job opportunities also. Monitoring is equally important so that the entire process remains transparent and according to the rules. That is, we can further increase the efficiency of the entire economy through monetizing and modernizing.[3]

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Suno India has interviewed Rahul Varman on questions related to his piece on this blog, “The Larger Issues Underlying the Claim of Cairn Energy on Air India” . Suno India asks:


what happens when a giant multinational corporation like Cairn Energy plans to take over the assets of a country- its airlines, shipping vessels and more? What causes a government to be forced into paying billions of dollars in a penalty to a gigantic telecom corporation like Vodafone? What methods did Union Carbide Corporation use, to try and escape the devastating consequences of its negligence in the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster?

Prof. Rahul Varman from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur whose various research interests include the political economy of corporations, globalisation and the working classes and small firm clusters explains how the power of corporations is still largely under the radar and why this is a problem. Prof. Varman uses recent examples to illustrate the various ways in which corporations dodge taxes and escape responsibility. He tells us about the problematic framing of the public versus private sector debate and how politicians, the judiciary, Parliament and media have created an environment where corporate accountability is completely thrown out of the window.

Listen to the interview at: https://www.sunoindia.in/beyond-nation-and-state/the-unbridled-power-of-corporations-and-why-we-should-be-worried/

Opening to Foreign Investment in Government Bonds

It is now the 75th year since the end of British rule in India. The upcoming anniversary promises a rich vein to be mined for official publicity. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has directed the print, electronic and digital media to display the newly minted logo of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” “so that citizens are made aware of India’s rich history and commitment to a bright future.” As the drumbeat of official Amrit celebrations gets steadily louder, each Central ministry is doing its bit; every public sector unit is scurrying to complete its quota of patriotic activities before it gets privatised. All this, no doubt, will rise to a climax on August 15, 2022 in the form of a grand sound-and-light spectacle celebrating an independent, atmanirbhar, and fully vaccinated India.  

Meanwhile, the Indian authorities are putting the finishing touches on a financial regime that will perpetuate an unprecedented level of control of India’s economic policy by foreign investors, overruling any lingering considerations of the needs and demands of the Indian people. It is important to grasp that this move has no other rationale whatsoever, even by the most conventional textbook economics. The simple mechanism through which this regime is to be instituted is large-scale foreign investment in government bonds. Below we outline how this works. (We have written about this once before, but it is worth looking at it again.[1])

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Part III of III

Pushed Over the Edge

With the massive depression of demand that has taken place due to the lockdowns and the Government’s refusal to spend, many rural households that were earlier struggling to keep from falling would have been pushed over the edge.

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Part II of III

Rise in Agricultural ‘Employment’, Falling Incomes

On the one hand, the recent period was marked by an unusual development: more persons now found ‘employment’ in agriculture than in the previous year. For decades, every survey of employment has shown a decline in agriculture’s share in total employment, as people hitherto working in agriculture shifted to other sectors. Textbook economics considers this shift out of agriculture a positive development, as agriculture is not able to provide gainful employment to all those who are employed there at present. Many of those employed in agriculture are considered to be in ‘disguised unemployment’, i.e., they are hardly adding to production, but remain in agriculture for lack of any other option

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Part I of III

India’s peasantry is under attack.  But this attack comes not only in the form of measures explicitly targeted at them, such as the three farm Acts; equally destructive are policies that systematically depress demand in the economy as a whole. These undermine the survival of the peasantry, and loosen their hold on their lands. 

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The election of a Pradhan in a small village in UP

— Manali Chakrabarti

The following account is almost verbatim from what was related to us in a close-group discussion[1]. Given the sensitivity of situation we will keep the protagonists and the various characters anonymous. Also, because there is nothing unique about this account; it is merely an example of what is probably happening on a larger scale in elections across the State and beyond. 

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We are happy to announce the publication of Bharata Raitangam Pai Daadi, the Telugu translation of The Attack on India’s Peasantry (Aspects no.s 75 & 76). The translation is by P. Jamuna, and the publishers are Charitha Publications. The price is 120/-

The pdf of the book can be accessed here.

The print version is available at

Navodaya Book House,
Opp Arya Samaj Mandir
Kachiguda X Rds
Hyderabad 500027
Mob:+91-9000413413,
Office:040-24652387
Email:NavodayaBookHouse@gmail.com
Web: http://www.TeluguBooks.in

or with the publisher

Charitha Publications 
12-13-830/13/B, SSR Apartments, plot no:13, 
GOKULNAGAR, Tarnaka, 
SECUNDERABAD – 500 017
PHONE NUMBER: 9866559867

On bulk orders by booksellers a 50% concession will be given by the publisher. For non-bulk orders, a concession of Rs.20/- per copy will be given on copies ordered directly from the publisher. 

Two Dharnas

Two Dharnas

For months on end, Indian peasants have tenaciously sustained mass protests at two very different sites. Not only are the locations of the protests vastly different, but so too are the sections of peasantry involved; the issues on which they are struggling; and the specific authorities to whom their demands are addressed. The two sets of agitators even look very different. And yet there are links too between the conditions of these two sections of peasants.

The peasants at Delhi
One site of protest, about which most newspaper readers are aware, and about which we have written earlier on this blog, is at the borders of Delhi. Since July 22, a limited demonstration by a select group of these agitators is also taking place at Jantar Mantar, a short distance away from Parliament. These are men and women peasants of relatively developed regions, largely Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, in that order. Their immediate demand is the scrapping of the farm-related Acts which were rushed through Parliament by the Central Government in September 2020.

The rulers claim that these Acts have been brought in for the benefit of the farmers, and that the farmers are being misled or instigated by anti-national elements. The reality is, the peasants are agitating because they know that, with these Acts, the system of public procurement of foodgrains will be dismantled step by step; giant private corporations will take over the procurement, storage and distribution of agricultural commodities; these corporations will shift the pattern of cultivation acccording to their profitability; and large numbers of small peasants, without the guarantee of purchase of their crops at remunerative prices, will lose their lands to large farmers or to private corporations, even as they lack alternative avenues of employment.

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Tamil Translation of Crisis and Predation

CAP Tamil cover

A Tamil translation of RUPE’s book Crisis and Predation: India, Covid-19 and Global Finance has been released today by the publisher, Chinthan Books.

The title in Tamil is “Nerukadiyum sooraiyaadalum”. The book has been translated by Praveen Raj B., who also runs the Tamil RUPE blog (https://tamilrupe.wordpress.com). It is 354 pages long, and is priced at Rs 350. For copies please contact:

Chinthan Books, 327/1 Dewan Sahib Garden, T.T.K.Road
Royapettah, Chennai-600014. Contact number: 94451 23164

The book can also be ordered from https://www.commonfolks.in/books/d/covid-19-nerukkadiyum-sooraiyaadalum

 

Punjabi Translation of “The Kisans Are Right”

A Punjabi translation of “The Kisans Are Right”, parts 1, 2, and 3, has been published under the title Zameenan ’te Sansar Vyapi Corporate Dhaava. The publisher is Surkh Leeh Publications, Nakhie Wali Pahi, PUDA Colony, Gandhi Nagar, Rampura Phul, Bathinda, Punjab 151103, Landline: 01651-227295, Mobile: 94785-84295. The price is not given.