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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). (more…)

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— 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. (more…)

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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

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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. (more…)

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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.

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How Workers Die

Five workers in Sonepat, Haryana, burnt to death, including a woman worker with her child on her chest. Sixteen jumped from the third floor to various serious injuries. But nothing appears in the news. This is not some random incident, either. Workers work almost as bonded labourers for a pittance. In the entire area, there is no ESI, no Provident Fund, no labour laws, no pretence of safety measures, no union, only ‘acche din‘.
 
Below we reproduce a fact-finding report done by members of four workers’ organisations (Inqilaabi Mazdoor Kendra, Nagrik Akhbaar, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Mazdoor Patrika and Grameen Mazdoor Union, Bihar) who visited the area on 20 March. English translation by Manali Chakrabarti.
See also Hindi version of report (PDF)

Fiery Death of Workers in Real Paint Factory in Rai Sonepat : A Fact Finding ReportSeveral workers met painful death due to a fire which broke out in Real Paint Factory in the Rai industrial estate in Spnapat Haryana. According to official sources the number of casualty in the accident is four. A fact finding team constituting of representatives of Inqilaabi Mazdoor Kendra and Nagrik Akhbaar, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Mazdoor Patrika and Grameen Mazdoor Union, Bihar went to the site of the accident on 20th March, 2018. The team prepared the following report based on their physical inspection of the site and conversations with workers working in nearby units.

The Rai industrial estate is situated in Sonepat district of Haryana. It is on the G T road, between Delhi and Sonepat, around 47 kms from ISBT Kashmiri gate Delhi. The factory which caught fire was situated on plot number 291. 292, 293 on Rai industrial estate. The factory used to manufacture industrial paint for automobiles. On 20th March when the investigating team reached the site, smoke was still emanating from the factory. (more…)

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The contrast could not be starker.

On the one hand, on March 3, BJP-led alliances won the Tripura and Nagaland elections, and the BJP managed to form a government in Meghalaya as well, despite not winning there. The national media, which normally ignore the northeast, seized on the election results of these tiny states as earth-shaking events, worthy of banner headlines and relentlessly ‘breaking news’ broadcasts.

The results reaffirmed once more that Modi still had the magic to win elections. We were duly treated to political maps of the country with states ruled by BJP and its allies highlighted in saffron, and speculations about how soon the remaining islands of non-BJP rule would join the rest. Maps of successive years conveyed that the saffron wave was unstoppable. It seemed the media were out to reassure foreign investors who are anxious about the country’s long-term political ‘stability’. (They want such stability in order to push through unpopular measures, such as privatization and forcible acquisition of land.)

Meanwhile, many who abhor the fascistic policies of the present Government were cast into gloom by the latest results. They fear precisely what the foreign investors desire: that India will be in the grip of these forces for a long time to come. Indeed, the victory ‘celebrations’ of hoodlums in Tripura, including the destruction of statues of Lenin, were intended to convey the message that there is a basic change in the Indian political scene, and Hindutva rule has come to stay. Among those who are (justifiably) horrified at this prospect, discussion has been focussed on what sort of electoral alliance would be most effective in defeating Modi in 2019.

On the other hand, a little over a week after the Tripura results, the press was forced to take note of a very different phenomenon. Some tens of thousands of peasants were marching to Mumbai to fight for their demands (an unconditional loan waiver, a stop to forcible land acquisition, implementation of the Swaminathan recommendation regarding support price for crops, adequate compensation for hail-affected crops, award of forest rights to claimants under the Forest Rights Act, recording the names of tillers on unclaimed farm lands, revamping the public distribution system, and a pension for farmers.) (more…)

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