We are happy to report that the RUPE publication, India’s Working Class and Its Prospects, has been translated into Tamil and published by Alaigal Veliyeetagam. The Tamil title is “India ulaikkum varkkamum athan ethir kaalamum” (Rs 330, 328 pp). It was released during the Chennai Book Fair (February 16-March 6).

The volume contains articles by a number of contributors on a range of topics:

— a discussion of the specific features of India’s working class,
— the conditions that result in bondage and migration of brick kiln labour,
— the leather industry and its workers,
— the conditions of garment workers,
— the effects of contractualisation and informalisation in the organised sector, and the scope for struggle in this situation;
— and the experience of organising workers in Chhattisgarh.

Contributors include:

Tathagatha Sengupta and G. Vijay,
Manali Chakrabarti and Rahul Varman,
Archana  Aggarwal,
Alok Laddha and T. Venkat,
Sudha Bharadwaj,
and RUPE.

For copies, contact:

Alaigal Veliyeetagam
5/1A, Natesan Nagar 2nd St,
Ramapuram, Chennai 600089
Mobile: 9841775112
Email: alaigal89@gmail.com  

Copies of the English original are available with RUPE (rupeindia@yahoo.co.in)

Class Contradictions Characterise Each Phase

Wu Song[1]

The Communist Party of China (CPC) turned 100 in July 2021. In November 2021 it passed a resolution on its history. Twice in the past, in 1945 and 1981, it has passed resolutions on its history, which marked important junctures in the party’s development. So it is an appropriate occasion on which to reflect on its journey.

There is renewed interest among progressive forces worldwide regarding China. This is on account of developments both internal and external to China. Among the developments which have aroused interest are the following:

(1) Setting itself the goal of “Common Prosperity”, the CPC’s latest history resolution claims that China has recently “brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and created a miracle in the human history of poverty reduction”.

(2) Even as it has globalised, the Chinese state appears to have retained control over certain important elements of the economy.

(3) Among progressive circles, there is also interest in China’s claim to “ecological advancement” through what the history resolution calls “green, circular and low-carbon development”.

(4) Further, the Chinese government has recently taken steps against some well-known billionaires, leading to a crash in their companies’ share prices and consequently in their wealth.

(5) China has also become the target of US great-power strategy, with imperialist attempts to build a global anti-China coalition and to foment secessionist unrest in different regions of China. Progressive forces, on an anti-imperialist basis, have opposed this targeting of China. Some of them hope that China, with its increased economic and military strength, will emerge as an alternative pole against US global hegemony.

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The Problem Is Actually At Home

What impact will the war in Ukraine have on India’s economy? To understand this, we need to look at the state of the economy before the war.

It is already clear that India’s rulers will ascribe all the adverse developments of the coming period to the Ukraine war, an “act of God”, as it were. That provides them a ready alibi, and diverts from the already alarming condition of the people before the impact of the war. Indeed, as we shall see in an article to appear later on this blog, a sort of economic war has been underway in India, with countless victims, yet it is shrouded by a remarkable silence. The principal responsibility for the suffering of the people thus cannot be shoved onto world events; it lies principally with India’s rulers themselves, who have led the country into the present abyss.

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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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