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The Crisis of the Left

There is a theoretical ambiguity in the Left that underlies the crisis that it now finds itself in. On the issue of industrialisation, the real issue is whether it occurs through subservience to the logic of capital or it occurs without compromising the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital. Subscribing to the view that the only immediate choice is between "development" and an attempt to overthrow the system negates any scope for Left politics. The scope for Left politics arises by rejecting this binary choice, by transcending the problematic that the only immediate choice is between subservience to the logic of capital and attempting to overthrow the system. Transcending this problematic is precisely the resolution of the theoretical crisis of the Left. And the possibility of politics that is created thereby will also resolve the practical crisis of the Left.

Dealing with Effects of Monsoon Failures

The deficiency and uneven distribution of rainfall during the 2009 monsoon has brought several issues to the fore: rising water demand from various sectors, regional effects of a drought and the failure of the India Meteorological Department to provide credible forecasts at the disaggregate level. A multi-pronged strategy to permanently deal with monsoon deficiency requires exploring newer drought tolerant and climate-conducive crop varieties, enhancing employment opportunities to non-poor households, and developing a new model that improves the efficacy of the IMD forecast.

Verdict 2009: An Appraisal of Critiques of the Left

Critiques of the mainstream left in India have questioned its political strategies and priorities, in the light of the left parties' defeat in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, following which the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has conducted a review - identifying its weaknesses and errors. The argument that the left should not have withdrawn support to the ruling alliance in 2008 over the nuclear deal and should have privileged its struggle for livelihood issues, ignores the impact of imperialism on national sovereignty. That there were organisational shortcomings and mistakes by the Left Front-led West Bengal government is undeniable, but a rejection of the "democratic centralism" model of functioning by the CPI(M) does not automatically follow. Also the notion that a "left sans the CPI(M)" is viable flows from a flawed argumentative basis.

Can Democratic Centralism Be Conducive to Democracy?

Democratic centralism has generally been accepted as the principle for building communist organisations, whereas it was only meant to address the organisational demands of a particular historical context in Tsarist Russia. By institutionalising centralism and leaving democracy undefined, this organisational form has fostered authoritarian tendencies and undermined the growth of new ideas in the working class movement. This is seen in India where the engagement of the communist parties with democracy has remained ad hoc and untheorised. This article argues that democratic centralism has been an obstacle for the communist parties to be able to creatively respond to new situations and conditions.

Need for a New Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy

Policymakers must see that there is an inconsistency between the new emphasis on inclusive growth and the rigid fiscal strategy they want to follow. Fiscal prudence should not be discarded but the conentional focus on a narrow interpretation of fiscal and revenue deficits harms the cause of balanced growth. There is also a need to reorient government expenditure and to mobilise resources by ending and even rolling back the increasing regressivity in direct taxation. We need, in other words, a new fiscal strategy for the medium term.

Curry Bashing: Racism, Violence and Alien Space Invaders

The fact that the majority of Indian students in Australia live in cheaper, more dangerous suburbs, often travel late at night, and so on, all complicate the question of whether racism has been at play in the recent attacks. Yet, this does not mean that the question of whether Australians are (still) racists is an invalid one. It is clear that this is still an issue that Australia has not yet completely dealt with. This essay also argues that the Australian identity has become partly construed in terms of the question of whether Australians are racists or not, something that builds on a past of Anglo-Saxon "white" nation building and a future which is strongly multicultural and Asia-oriented.

The Rise and Fall of the Bilingual Intellectual

This essay interprets the rise and fall of the bilingual intellectual in modern India. Making a distinction between functional and emotional bilingualism, it argues that Indian thinkers, writers and activists of earlier generations were often intellectually active in more than one language. Now, however, there is an increasing separation of discourses - between those who operate exclusively in English and those who operate in the language of the state alone. The decline of the bilingual intellectual is a product of many factors, among them public policy, elite preference, new patterns of marriage, and economic change.

Khairlanji: Insensitivity of Mahar Officers

The Khairlanji incident of 29 September 2006 in which a mob of caste Hindus lynched the entire family of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange shamed humanity, but justice has remained elusive. A majority of the police and medical officers, across ranks, handling the case, were dalits. But they showed a negligent attitude towards their official duties and social indifference to the plight of the Bhotmange family. The Nodal Officers, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, recorded the attitude, particularly of the civil surgeon and the district superintendent of police to be "aloof and indifferent to allowing the crime and subsequent manipulation of evidence".

Where Is the Geography? World Bank's WDR 2009

The World Development Report, a flagship report of the World Bank, is a document written by economists who treat politics as an inconvenient reality, though it is a thoroughly political document. The 2009 edition of the WDR, Reshaping Economic Geography, is critically discussed here, first, from a geographical disciplinary perspective. This article then demonstrates how the report erases politics by drawing on two national experiences, India and China, highlighted in the document as global hotspots of growth. The Report effectively promotes a checkbox style to development, exhorting policymakers to see themselves as managers of "portfolios of places".

Kashmir after Shopian

New Delhi's triumphalism over last year's assembly elections in Kashmir and subsequent inaction run the risk of damaging the triumph of democracy in Kashmir. The large-scale protests over the recent incidents in Shopian and Baramullah should serve as a wake-up call for the political establishment to creatively and imaginatively build on proposals for autonomy, as well as political and administrative reforms which were incubated by this very dispensation during its previous term in office. These proposals, enjoying a fair degree of consensus, will address the more pressing demands of peace, dignity and security while also providing a model of federalisation for the Indian union. Will the government of India show some initiative at last, or will it allow conditions to drift as usual?

Financial Sector: National Priorities Amidst an International Crisis

This essay focuses on five pending reform items in the financial sector, namely, moving monetary policy to inflation targeting; modernising the delivery of financial services to the priority sectors and vulnerable and weaker sections; introducing capital account convertibility; moving to a streamlined financial regulatory architecture; and restructuring the banking industry.

Feasibility of Implementation of Right to Education Act

This article argues that even an allocation of 6% of the gross domestic product to the education budget would not be sufficient to fund universal school education until the very distant future if the government school system is used as the only instrument. The only way to meet the Right to Education obligation is to rely on low cost private schools as a significant instrument of the government education policy. On the contrary, the proposed rte bill introduces provisions that would oppose low cost private schools. Therefore, the legislation for rte needs to be modified and framed with specific provisions for private-public partnerships.

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