By Manali Chakrabarti

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return
— God, Genesis 3:19

We asked Didi if we could accompany her on one of her routine visits to the temporary schools she ran for the children of migrant workers. This is an account of that visit.

Didi is seventy-five years old, and has several chronic health issues. On top of that, her sciatica was playing up that day. She had a spine support, a knee band and an ice pack tied on the knee. We knew that the brick kiln where we were headed was beyond the city limits, so we were concerned–would she be able to take the strain? But then we were tagging along; she had to go anyway.

The car came, and we were off. Didi sat in the front next to the driver, and we piled into the back, jostling with piles of new T-shirts, apparently gifts for the children. The driver (who has also been a close associate in all of Didi’s activities for decades) was telling her about how risky it has been lately to drive around the city. Apparently the city administration has been confiscating private vehicles in large numbers and putting them on election duty. Yes, the five-yearly national carnival was just a few weeks away.

This note is not about Didi, but a brief introduction is in order. For over four decades, she has been relentlessly working with children of ‘migrant’ workers and their parents, and her primary interest is education. (While interacting with hundreds of children and others who know and love here, the fact never comes up that she is the daughter of a former president of this country.) Numerous associates have joined her, some stayed, some left, but Didi has continued. A,b,c,d,1,2,3,4, ka,kha, ga, gha, and their combinations, counting and numbers: Didi wants to make this accessible to all, in a loving, fun way. And because of her love for all children, she knows who has eaten, who has not, whose mother is not keeping well, whose father is an alcoholic, whose land has been mortgaged, who has lice in their hair…

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— RUPE

[Read complete article (as revised March 6, 2019) in PDF format]

According to the currently dominant ideology, privatisation is identified with greater ‘efficiency’ (the meaning of which term is kept vague). Privatisation may take different forms: the handing over of existing public sector assets to private investors; permitting private investors to enter sectors hitherto reserved for the public sector; opening up the exploration and mining of mineral wealth to private investors; promoting insurance schemes in place of universal provision of basic services; contracting out to private firms jobs hitherto done by the public sector; and so on.

But whatever the form, the dominant ideology claims that privatisation delivers the goods more effectively, and more cheaply. Private firms are said to be driven by the profit motive to lower costs and compete with other firms. Even if the activity to be privatised is a monopoly, it can be awarded to a private firm through competitive bidding, in which the State can specify the fulfilment of various criteria/targets as part of the contract. A firm which does not fulfil its contract can be penalised or replaced with another firm. In this way, we are told, the building of a public sector institution, with an experienced workforce developed over years of stable employment, is no longer necessary. The magic of the ‘market’ will do the job.

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‘Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century’ – A Review[1]

— Rahul Varman[2]

 We apologise for the long delay in publishing this review. Nevertheless, it remains relevant. — RUPE

 Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century by John Smith, Monthly Review Press, 2016.

Even in the days of Brexit and Donald Trump, the dominant theme of the corporate media remains that the rising tide of ‘globalisation’ will lift all boats. Some go so far as to claim that the UK and the US are not for globalisation because it  favours the developing nations. Others do recognise the division between the exploited multitude and the exploiting elite, but they pose such divisions at a global level, independent of the division between developed and developing nations. Even those who discuss imperialism have focussed on the spheres of finance and/or the realm of extractive industries, and may ignore the sphere of manufacturing.

Smith’s work argues that globalisation is all about imperialism, that is, the systematic exploitation of people and resources of the so-called developing nations of the South[3] by the corporate interests and the states of the North. More importantly, he contends that the shift of global manufacturing to the South is at the heart of the “imperialism of the twenty-first century.” Given the significance of Smith’s work, I have attempted here, not so much a review, but a detailed presentation. The purpose is to persuade a potential reader to go through the original, as well as to aid those who may not be able to access or read the whole book (in part II some of the details and the data are provided; those looking for the basic argument may skip it). Continue Reading »

— Hemindra Hazari[1]

India’s private sector banks were held up for years as the standard of efficency and corporate governance to which public sector banks should aspire. But now it emerges that private bank after private bank has in fact been harbouring bad debts, fudged accounts, corrupt deals, gross mismanagement, overly paid CEOs and delinquent boards.

These revelations should not be treated as an unrelated series of incidents. It is time to question the theoretical underpinnings of the Reserve Bank of India’s hitherto ‘hands off’ style of regulating these banks. And time for us to realise that what goes on inside the banks concerns not only the banks, but the economy as a whole. Continue Reading »

As readers of this blog know, in January we published a lengthy interview with Fred Engst) carried out by Onurcan Ülker. This interview was translated into Hindi by Sachin Kumar, researcher in the economics department of Patna University. It is to be published by Gargi Prakashan. We thank Sachin Kumar for translating this important interview, and for making it available to our site.

We are also happy to know that the interview has been translated into Chinese and is being shared in China. Below we attach both translations.

– Editor.

Hindi Translation

Chinese translation

by Manali Chakrabarti[1] and Rahul Varman

Background
For every problem today, the establishment seems to have one solution: privatisation. Whether it is airlines, railways, banks, health, education or water, the ruling elite waves the magic wand of privatisation and asserts that only because ‘vested interests’ are not allowing us to have this magic pill, we are being left behind on the road to ‘development’. In this light we share this small instance: the handing over of a guesthouse facility to a private corporate firm, in an elite publicly funded institute campus. Though this is a small instance compared to the scale on which the rulers are privatising entire sectors like health and transport, it provides an insight into some of the implications of privatisation. Continue Reading »

On the occasion of May Day, 2018,  Aspects no.s 70 & 71 are now available on www.rupe-india.org.

No.s 70 & 71: India’s Working Class and Its Prospects, Part One
It is 200 years since the birth of Karl Marx. To mark this occasion,  Aspects of India’s Economy  has published a special issue, in two parts,  on the working class of India. The first part of this collection covers the specific features of the Indian working class, in the light of Marx’s theory; the conditions that lead to bondage and migration of workers from Odisha to the brick kilns of Telangana; and the conditions of brick kiln labour in Maharashtra and Orissa.

Shortly to appear on the site: The second part, Aspects no.s 72 & 73, covering: India’s working class under neoliberal rule;  the Kanpur leather industry and its workers; the conditions of garment workers in Delhi and Bengaluru, and the explosions of mass unrest there; the effects of contractualisation and informalisation in organised sector manufacturing, and the scope for struggle in this situation; and experiences of organising workers in Chhattisgarh.