ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Service Sector Growth in India from the Perspective of Household Expenditure

This paper aims to examine India’s recent service sector-led growth from the perspective of household expenditure. Using household-level expenditure data from three “thick” rounds of the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey (1993–94, 2004–05, and 2011–12), we present evidence of two empirical trends. First, a significant portion of demand for services comes from poor households; and second, a puzzling trend has emerged since 2004–05—the shrinking of the difference in the share of monthly expenditure spent on services between rich and poor households. We present a simple model of consumer behaviour with a hierarchy of preferences, lexicographic ordering, and consumption thresholds to evaluate this puzzle.

The Structure and Content of Das Kapital

Karl Marx’s magnum opus, Das Kapital, presents an analysis of the long-run dynamics of a mature capitalist economy. The analysis is conducted at two primary levels of abstraction—“capital in general” (where competition between individual capitals is abstracted from) and “many capitals” (where the phenomenon of competition between individual capitals is introduced)—and the presentation is organised into three volumes. In terms of structure, the analysis in the first two volumes is located at the level of “capital in general,” and the analysis in the third volume is located at the level of “many capitals.” In terms of content, the first volume analyses the production and accumulation of surplus value; the second volume investigates the problems of realisation of surplus value; and the third volume analyses the mechanisms that lead to the distribution of surplus value into income streams of different fractions of the ruling class—as profit of enterprise, commercial profit, interest and rent (and monopoly profit more generally). The three volumes together give a comprehensive picture of the workings of a mature capitalist economy and highlight its long-run, contradictory tendencies.

Farmer Suicides in India

In an effort to understand the trends of farmer suicides, this article uses data from the National Crime Records Bureau to estimate the suicide mortality rate of farmers and non-farmers for India and its states. The methodology used corrects for an error present in previous studies and alters some commonly held views about the level and trend of farmer suicides in India.

Employment Elasticity in India and the US, 1977-2011

This paper analyses the phenomenon of jobless growth in India and the United States through the lens of employment elasticity. We decompose the level and change of aggregate employment elasticity in terms of sectoral elasticities, relative growth and employment shares. Estimates of these decompositions are presented with employment and output data from relevant sources for both economies. In India, the agricultural sector was the key determinant of both the level and change of aggregate elasticity till the early 2000s. In the US, the service sector is the most important determinant of the level, but manufacturing remains an important driver of changes in aggregate employment elasticity.

Marx's Critique of Political Economy

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital by Michael Heinrich (translated by Alexander Locascio), New Delhi: Aakar Books for South Asia, 2013; pp 240, Rs 295, paperback.

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.

BJP's Youth Vote Dividend

An examination of age-wise voting and preferences in the 2014 elections reveals that the Bharatiya Janata Party benefi ted from youth and first-time voters showing a high preference for the party relative to other age groups.

Poverty-Hunger Divergence in India

The usual explanations for the divergence between calorie intake and consumption expenditure in India ignore the enormous squeeze on food budgets arising from dispossession (leading to loss of access to common property resources), rising migration (involving a loss of access to non-market food items) and the forced turn to the private sector for social sector services that are more expensive than public sector provision. It is the resulting squeeze on food budgets that has led to calorie intake declining even as per capita consumption expenditure has risen.

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.

Political Economy of Contemporary India: Some Comments

Two of the most important characteristics of contemporary Indian reality are primary accumulation of capital and the continued existence of a huge pool of surplus labour. Partha Chatterjee's attempt (EPW, 19 April) at explaining these important features, though insightful, is fraught with numerous theoretical and empirical problems.

The Left and the 15th Lok Sabha Elections

The electoral debacle faced by the left parties in the 15th Lok Sabha elections is due to the fact that the state governments led by the left followed the very same neoliberal policies that the parties opposed and were able to halt at the central level.
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