Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

There is a relentless drive by the rulers to privatise public transport.

  • We are now seeing the private take-over of individual trains of the Indian Railways.
  • The Metro Rail policy of 2017 makes private participation mandatory in order to receive funds.
  • The recent Motor Vehicles Act Amendment, 2019, is designed to push privatisation.
  • The workers of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) are facing autocratic repression in their struggle against privatisation; the chief minister has declared he will dismiss all 48,000 of them, and issue permits for all the routes in the state to private firms.

The authorities cannot state the real rationale for privatisation, namely, that it is merely a way of creating handsome profit-making opportunities for private capital. Hence they have to propagate all sorts of nonsense to justify this drive.


Read Full Post »

The answer to both questions is: No. The real figures are only a fraction of these figures.

Who is putting out such high figures?
The heads of the automobile industry. Auto industry bodies claim that the automotive sector accounts for 7 (or 7.5) per cent of India’s GDP, 49 per cent of manufacturing output, and 37 (or 40) million jobs“directly and indirectly”.

Why are they propagating these false claims?
By inflating the contribution of the auto industry to GDP and employment, the auto barons hope to squeeze out even more concessions and subsidies from the Government.

These are the figures Anand Mahindra uses to demand tax concessions of the Centre, saying that “kick starting the auto industry with a few short-term measures will serve a greater national purpose”. The same figures are trundled out by the Maruti Suzuki chairman to demand that state governments do their bit to rescue the auto industry. Bodies representing automobile manufacturers, component makers, and car dealers have cited the same figures to the Finance Minister while pressing for a stimulus package. A Google search for these figures turns up innumerable citations in the media (for example, here,here,here,here,here, and here). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Suvrat Raju

In the last week of June 2019, as this article was being written, tensions between the U.S. and Iranian governments escalated sharply. On June 20, 2019, in response to aggressive U.S. actions, including the mobilization of troops, naval forces, and aerial provocations, Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone flying  near the Iranian border.[i]  The U.S. government used this as an excuse to threaten to bomb Iran.[ii] The United States might implement this threat in the near future, setting off a wider conflict.

The origins of these tensions are often traced to the U.S. dispute with Iran on its nuclear programme. However, both the Iranian nuclear issue and the current war-tensions should be more properly viewed within the context of a four-decade-long effort by the United States to undermine the Iranian government and assert U.S. hegemony over West Asia.

In this article, I  will review the history of the Iranian nuclear issue from this perspective. This history is instructive because it sheds light on political trends both within the United States and Iran; it also reveals how arms-control issues have been used by Western nations to destabilize governments that they view unfavourably. I will conclude with some comments on the positions adopted by the Indian government, and a brief outlook on where these events might lead. (more…)

Read Full Post »

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…


Read Full Post »


[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.


Read Full Post »

‘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…)

Read Full Post »

— 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…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »