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The Diffusion of Activities

One of the striking features of the recent period has been the diffusion of manufacturing and service activities from the countries of the core to the periphery. The logic of competitive striving for the export market among the many "labour reserve" economies in the periphery leads to the accumulation of ever-growing reserves and a constraint on domestic absorption. To believe that the contradictions that emerge will disappear if only the economies with current surpluses appreciate their exchange rates is a fantasy. Such an appreciation, if it is not to reduce the level of activity in the appreciating economies, must be accompanied by an enlargement of the fi scal defi cit in these economies, which means both an abandonment of the tenet of "sound fi nance" and increased domestic absorption entailing a retreat from the strategy of export-led growth.

Positions on Assam History

Ever since the advent of capitalist modernity, nation and nationalism have conferred a sense of identity on large numbers of people all over the world. While not proposing a rendering of the history of a region to the exclusion of the bigger currents of Indian history and culture, this article makes a case for greater emphasis on the regional history of Assam.

Is There a Case for School Vouchers?

The efficacy of any educational reform process lies in the extent to which it improves systemic features like the quality of teacher training and academic support, and it provides adequate resources to fulfil the imperatives of universal elementary education. Till such time as these issues are addressed, vouchers for education - the new mantra - can serve little purpose save that of reducing the State's responsibility and interest in building the capacity of educational institutions at the national, state, district and local levels.

Saving Agricultural Labour from Agriculture: SEZs and Politics of Silence in Tamil Nadu

The differential responses to the implementation of special economic zones across states offer an opening to understand how policy implementation gets shaped by the regional political economy. Despite being home to a large number of SEZs, Tamil Nadu has been one state which has not witnessed resistance to SEZs in general, and land acquisition in particular, on a scale comparable to states with a similar history of SEZs. This paper offers a few plausible explanations for this phenomenon. It points out that there are clear structural reasons for the willingness of farmers to give up their land and move away from agriculture.

Drought by Design: The Man-made Calamity in Bundelkhand

Despite its rich resources like forests and minerals, Bundelkhand is a region of distress and crisis. A study fi nds that the distress of the region simply cannot be explained by the absence or irregularity of rainfall. There are long-term structural problems which have had a cumulative effect over the years. Reasons for the present unviability of agriculture should be sought in the historically determined social relations of production, the intimate correlation of caste and landownership in the region as well as the neglect of traditional water management systems and the push towards cultivation of water-intensive commercial crops.

The End of 'Cheap Ecology' and the Crisis of 'Long Keynesianism'

It is the crisis of negative Keynesianism that is at the heart of the current critical point, and which is leaving its global institutions - the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - with no solution other than transferring the costs to the South (and to the South within the North). By adopting this logic, the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen followed exactly in the footsteps of these institutions. The failure of the Copenhagen climate talks is indicative of the depth of the crisis of "long Keynesianism" that has exhausted its positive and negative ways of dealing with the "unsustainability" of global capitalism.

Democracy, State and Capital: The 'Unthought' of 20th Century Marxism

Is democracy in India a sham, as the Maoists and indeed many other leftists claim? If so, how do we understand the experience of many oppressed groups who have found this democracy enabling in many ways? A possible way out of this endless debate is to see democracy not as a fully-formed end product of liberalconstitutionalism but as its untamed other - the mass politics which escapes and exceeds the Law and the injustices of Order. It is from here that the greatest challenges to capitalism and the State arise. The Maoist strategy, by merely trying to mimic the State, is actually inimical to this democratic upsurge and therefore needs to be resisted.

Gandhi's Swaraj

This essay briefl y traces Gandhi's ideas about swaraj, their articulation in 1909 in Hind Swaraj, the quest to actualise these ideas, the turns that history gave to them, and the journey that made Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi a lonely man in August 1947.

Notes on the Political Economy of India's Tortuous Transition

Substantial socio-economic changes have taken place in India in the last quarter century. This essay refl ects on the systemic implications of these changes from the point of view of the transition to an enlarged and dominating sphere of capital in the economy. There are a number of checks and balances and road bumps that will make the progress of capital in India halting and hesitant, and the democratic processes, however imperfect, will partly tame its brutalities. The Indian transition is thus bound to be rather tortuous, though in the long run inexorable, and its narrative will be more complex than usual.

What Is Maoism?

What is Maoism? What of its origins and development? What went before its advent? What are its flaws? Where is it going? Where should it be going, given its legacy? The questions are of great import, for Maoism has given birth to a movement which has taken root in India, survived for more than four decades in the country, and the State has now unleashed a massive counter-insurgency operation to crush it. This essay attempts a stepwise approach to finding first answers to the questions - What is Marxism? What is Leninism? What is Stalinism? - and thereby aims to understand what Maoism is all about.

Sovereign State and Mobile Subjects: Politics of the UIDAI

The increased mobility of people and the ever growing complex integration of systems of delivery of services have together led governments the world over to introduce new systems of identification that can be interoperable across a multitude of local systems. Each such initiative has met with anxieties and resistance. The unique identification project that India has initiated has to be seen in that context. Such a project does not necessarily and directly result in compromising the ability of the poor to survive and it does not necessarily mean loss of privacy across the board. However, it does not also automatically signal empowerment as the Unique Identification Authority of India has been insisting. It simply means that the terrain of plausible action, the terrain on which citizens' transactions with the state and the market agencies occur, will change.

Ashoka - A Retrospective

Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty is today perceived as one of the greatest rulers of our history. But over the millennia he was perceived in various ways and a retrospective of his influence is almost a tour through the entire span of Indian history. Why was this extraordinary ruler seemingly ignored by some; why has he become so prominent in recent times? How has his influence permeated through different historical periods and how have his legacy and ideas been appropriated, by whom and in what form? Is it possible to draw ideas from him for our contemporary concerns without doing harm to the historical context?

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