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

Articles By Deepankar Basu

An Empirical Investigation of Real Farm Incomes across Indian States between 1987–88 and 2011–12

Using the unit-level data from various rounds of the Employment and Unemployment Survey of the National Sample Survey Office, the first consistent time series of the average real farm income per cultivator for 18 major Indian states for 1987–88, 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2004–05, 2007–08, 2009–10, and 2011–12 is presented. Using this data, two sets of issues are studied. First, how did real farm income evolve across these 18 Indian states? Which states have high levels and growth rates of real farm incomes? Is there any evidence for convergence of real farm incomes across Indian states? Evidence for unconditional convergence is found, which suggests that the states with relatively lower farm incomes have, on average, grown at relatively faster rates. But the tendency towards convergence has not been strong enough to change relative rankings of states (by real farm income per cultivator) in any significant way. Second, did the market-oriented reforms of agricultural marketing systems increase real farm incomes? It is found that market-oriented reforms did not increase real farm incomes.

Assam’s Politics and the NRC

A response to “Assam’s 2019 Verdict and the Anti-CAB Mobilisations” by Akhil Ranjan Dutta (EPW, 28 December 2019) points to long-run strategies that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its parent organisation have used to consolidate power in Assam. Re-imagination of the “indigenous” has helped it build alliance with regional forces, but anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests exposed the vulnerability of this formula. The futility of the National Register of Citizens exercise in resolving the immigration conundrum in Assam should convince one that the answer to cultural anxieties lies in the political sphere.

Assam: BJP’s Consolidation, Congress’s Lost Opportunities

In the recent Lok Sabha elections, Assam’s Hindu vote consolidation shows as the highest in the country. The elections also brought into the limelight the irrelevance of ethnicity-based regional parties and the inability of the opposition to convert the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests into votes. How and why this happened is examined here.

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.