ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Championing the Village Movement

The Web of Freedom: J C Kumarappa and Gandhi’s Struggle for Economic Justice by Venu Madhav Govindu and Deepak Malghan; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp 388, ₹ 817.

What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

Non-Food Expenditures and Consumption Inequality in India

This paper contributes to the ongoing debate about economic inequality in India during the post-reform period. It analyses consumption inequality through the hitherto neglected lens of non-food expenditure. Using household level consumption expenditure data from the quinquennial "thick" rounds of the National Sample Survey, the paper shows that inequality within food and non-food groups has declined, even as overall expenditure inequality has increased over time. The analysis suggests that the rise in overall expenditure inequality is due to the increased weight in the household budget of non-food spending, which tends to be more unequal than food spending. The paper also shows that inequality is very different across broad non-food items. Durables, education, healthcare, and consumer services show the most rapid increases in real expenditure, and also display the highest levels of inequality. Finally, the paper offers some possible mechanisms for this phenomenon and suggests policy measures to deal with this form of inequality.

Dynamics of Income Inequality in India

This article analyses the evolution of income inequality in India in the period 1922-99 using the World Top Incomes Database. Inequality decreased steadily in the planning period, driven by a fall in real incomes at the top of the distribution. This decline reversed itself in the early 1980s. The 1990s saw an increasing divergence between the rich (top 1%) and the rest of the country.

Relations of Production and Modes of Surplus Extraction in India: Part II - 'Informal' Industry

This paper uses aggregate-level data, as well as case-studies, to trace the evolution of some key structural features of the Indian economy, relating both to the agricultural and the informal industrial sector. These aggregate trends are used to infer (a) the dominant relations of production under which the vast majority of the Indian working people labour, and (b) the predominant ways in which the surplus labour of the direct producers is appropriated by the dominant classes. This is Part II of the paper covering the "informal" industrial sector; Part I, on agriculture, appeared last week.

Relations of Production and Modes of Surplus Extraction in India: Part I - Agriculture

This paper uses aggregate-level data, as well as casestudies, to trace out the evolution of some key structural features of the Indian economy, relating both to the agricultural and the informal industrial sector. These aggregate trends are used to infer: (a) the dominant relations of production under which the vast majority of the Indian working people labour, and (b) the predominant ways in which the surplus labour of the direct producers is appropriated by the dominant classes. This summary account is meant to inform and link up with ongoing attempts at radically restructuring Indian society. Part I, published this week, covers agriculture, while Part II, to be published next week, inquires into the "informal" industrial sector.

The Technology Question in Lohia

The creation of a mass-produced, mass-consumption lifestyle, which defines "economic development", has always implied the loot, displacement, exploitation and murder of a periphery for the development of the centre. The intense social conflict produced by this resourcehungry, capital-intensive mode of development is visible in the militarisation of Bastar. But very few political thinkers have made these costs the centrepiece of their critique of capitalism. Rammanohar Lohia, like Mahatma Gandhi, was one who did so. Lohia's understanding of the centre-periphery relationship in the capitalist world system led him to struggle with the question of appropriate technology, one that accorded priority to equality over productivity, and encouraged decentralised governance and autonomous, connected villages.

Subverting Our Epics: Mani Ratnam's Retelling of the Ramayana

Mani Ratnam's film Raavan depicts the contradiction between the adivasis and the State through the framework of the Ramayana. The film, however, deviates from the message of the Ramayana, and raises the disturbing possibility that our myths of morality and bravery are someone else's stories of rape and conquest. The recasting of Raavan as the wronged subaltern and Ram as the scheming agent of imperialism brings to mind similar reinterpretations of other Hindu legends by Phule, which completely subvert the orthodox interpretation. In the context of the ongoing struggle between the tribals and the State, one hopes that the movie Raavan might stir this debate up once again.
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