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Food Exports and Food Requirement

Food Exports and Food Requirement JM The intention of the minister of agriculture, and indeed of the government in general, to focus on increasing crop exports, including exports of foodgrain, involves operating with a disregard for the likely decline in food availability for the poorest and the most vulnerable groups in the population.

Budget 1994-95 Anatomy of Irresponsibility

Back to a 1980s type borrowing for consumption is thus the hallmark of the new 'middle way'; and like that of its predecessor, the life of this episode will only be as long as foreign financiers allow it to continue.

Economy in 1993-94 Another Look

Economy in 1993-94: Another Look JM The government's seeming achievements in the management of the economy in the current fiscal year have occurred in a context which substantially alters their real contribution to the overall health and stability of the economy.

Privatisation Magic Wand or Budgetary Cop-Out

Privatisation: Magic Wand or Budgetary Cop-Out? JM THE annual ritual of pre-budget meetings of the finance minister has many purposes, but these mostly have very little to do with the stated objective of generating ideas about how to approach the forthcoming budget exercise. It does not require a great deal of cynicism to discern this; after all, it would be surprising if, even as late as two months before the presentation of the budget, the finance ministry actually has no idea about the future course of action. Thus these meetings have a slightly different, three-fold. orientation: firstly, to give various pressure groups (industrialists, trade unions, and now, farmers' organisations) a chance to vent their steam and express their own desires; secondly, to imply that this is an 'open' government which is open to suggestion from outsiders, including 'experts' drawn from the field of economics; thirdly (and possibly most significantly) to test the water for some of the government's actual intentions, by giving prominence to certain ideas which conform to the government's vision. These meetings thus assume significance essentially because they provide pointers about what the next year's budget may contain, if the government's own intentions are realised.

Discussing Economic Reforms-Achievements and Future Intent

Discussing Economic Reforms Achievements and Future Intent In complete contrast to the main presumption of the finance ministry's 'discussion paper' on the economic reforms, that stabilisation has been achieved and that the path is now clear for long-run 'structural adjustment', the conclusion must be that the policies so far have at best landed the economy into a precarious steady state where inflation has been moderated at the cost of accepting negligible growth and, even then, continuation of the present situation depends critically on the fickle generosity of the rain gods and the aid donors.

Back to Reforms

Back to Reforms JM The nation has so far avoided the devaluation-inflation- devaluation spiral that has wrecked Latin American economies. But the unimaginative policies being pursued since July 1991 have been continuously pointing towards that direction. And the underlying politics of it all suggests that a Latin American-type unconcern for the poor and for future generations is now the norm amongst our ruling elites.

All Arithmetic, Little Economics

All Arithmetic, Little Economics JM What stands out in the government of India's memorandum of economic policies for 1992-93 submitted to the IMF is the absence of imagination and creativity in the realm of economic policy reform. The shifting of macro-economic targets reflects simply some fresh arithmetic rather than any serious attempt to understand why earlier targets were not achieved.

Waiting for the Rains

black is the description of the lowliest of the genus, the sudras. The rules of the caste game are well known: the kshatriyas and the vatoyas aspire to break into the occlusive fold of the brahmin set, and, similarly, sudras too, slave to the inherited inferior complex, aspire to reach the higher ranges of caste most proximate to them The Indians, once they arrive in the States, follow the rationality of the varnashram It is not the first time in history that this has happened. Sixty years ago, resident Indians in Hitler's Germany tried to curry favour with the Nazis: the latter must be kind to them; they too were, after all, Aryans, only somewhat bronzed off, living a couple of thousand years or more under the tropical sun has given them one or two extra coatings of tan; they were nonetheless as enthusiastic staiKlard-bearers of the philosophy embedded in the swastika as the Nazis themselves were; just consider the closeness of the German language to classical Sanskrit. An identical behavioural process is at work in Los Angeles and Chicago and New York and Houston: we Indians, who have made good in the States, are creme de la creme of the varnashram system back home; we belong to the superior castes; our own instinct tells us that the blacks do not quite belong; despite the so-called civil rights revolution of 1954 and all that crap, the blacks are richly deserving of a segregated, caged in existence. It is with a tinge of pride that Indians settled in the United States will inform, in confidence, the white, affluent American householder, their next-door neighbour, that they vote the straight Republican ticket, Ronald Reagan was the man after their heart.

About Bargaining, Expectations and Maybe Worse

The 1992-93 Budget, which has been greeted by the media with near euphoria, is probably the most irresponsible budget ever presented in independent India. And this stupendous free lunch is offered through the device entirely of supposed reactions in the stock market and to the new gold schemes and the partial convertibility of the rupee.

An Alternative Economic Survey

An Alternative Economic Survey JM IT is customary just before the budget to survey the economic events of the preceding year, and juxtapose claims made with the actual outcome. The official Economic Survey is supposed to do just this, but since it does so officially it is less than frank at best of times, and may be worse this year coming as it does before the presentation of, what an influential newspaper has already termed, a Fudget. Publication of this Policy Watch will almost coincide with the release of the official Survey, and it might be interesting to provide an alternative Survey, keeping in view particularly the alternative viewpoint presented in a statement signed by 35 economists last July, shortly after the devaluation and before the last budget.

Industrial Exit Red Herrings and Real Options

Industrial Exit: Red Herrings and Real Options JM THE failure so far to announce a policy on industrial exit is probably one of the most significant lacunae in government policy-making today. When the new industrial policy was first announced in July, and the July budget made provision for a National Renewal Fund, it was rumoured that high-level differences over the exit policy proposed in the draft document had prevented an early announcement of the policy in its entirety. Later, there was a promise to place such a policy before parliament in the winter session. During this session, parliament did pass an important amendment to the Sick Industrial Companies Act, enabling chronically sick public sector companies to be referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), but the exit policy itself was not revealed. However, since the memorandum attached to the finance minister's letter of intent to the IMF for the stand-by loan promises that ''a suitable framework for reducing barriers to exit'' will be for mulated by the time of the 1992-93 budget, some movement is widely expected on this front in February. But rumours continue to abound of sharp differences within government and the ruling party, and no clear indication has yet emerged of what the government's exit policy is likely to be.

GATT, the Dunkel Draft and India

Dunkel has produced a draft which cleverly attempts to narrow OECD opposition by being less than generous to the US vis-a-vis European farm subsidies, but balancing this by being overly generous to the US on other issues, mainly at the cost of the developing countries. The implications for India are ominous and the response of the government of India has been disturbingly defeatist.

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