A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.
A new study released by Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting shows that just 57 billionaires in India now have same wealth ($ 216 billion) as that of the bottom 70 per cent population of the country. Globally, just 8 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 per cent.
Suzanne Goldenberg reports: The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests. They range from investor-owned firms –household names such as Exxon and BP– to state-owned firms.
The digital economy is a design for atomisation, for separation… Imposing the digital economy through a “cash ban” is a form of technological dictatorship, in the hands of the world’s billionaires. Economic diversity and technological pluralism are India’s strength and it is the “hard cash” that insulated India from the global market’s crash of 2008.
George Monbiot in The Guardian: The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself… It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise, owned by a big corporation. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours.
Devinder Sharma writes: After a month of demonetisation, the picture in the rural areas remains too bleak. I know of villages where the farmers had to return empty handed even after seven days of queuing up. As a TISS study points out, nearly 81 per cent of the villages do not have access to banking.
Colin Todhunter writes: Data from the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index indicates that 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries, but now it has the second worst position. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.
Shankar Gopalakrishnan writes: Demonetisation’s biggest impact will be on the distribution of resources within the economy, whatever happens to the economy as a whole. Demonetisation’s a giant vacuum, sucking up the resources of the weak and delivering them to the powerful, while acting like it’s doing the opposite. More importantly, this transfer will be permanent.
In scientific discovery, the first three paradigms were experimental, theoretical and (more recently) computational science. This new book of essays inspired by the Microsoft researcher Jim Gray argues that a fourth paradigm of scientific discovery is at hand: the analysis of massive data sets. Read John Markoff’s review of the book in The New York Times.
Live Mint reports: The richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Switzerland based Credit Suisse Group AG. In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016.
Acclaimed journalist P. Sainath reports from rural Maharashtra: The “Modi masterstroke”, a term contrived by assorted anchors and other clowns on television to hail an unbelievably stupid action, is spreading agony and misery in its wake across the countryside. If there’s been any stroke, it’s the one the heart of the rural economy has suffered.
GM mustard, if approved, will open the floodgates for other such crops making India one of the largest users of GM crops in the world. Given that its agriculture is largely in the hands of MNCs, India will end up bartering its freedom for the benefit of a few and the misery of the rest.
When we get our story wrong, we get our future wrong. Much like the Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade deal”, everything we’re told about capitalism and our economy is a pack of lies. Time for a new story, says preeminent scholar and critic of corporate globalization, David Korten, the best-selling author of ‘When Corporations Rule the World’.
Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.
Colin Todhunter writes: The real story behind GM mustard in India is that it presents the opportunity to make various herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard hybrids using India’s best germ plasm, which’d be an irresistible money spinner for the developers and chemical manufacturers (Bayer-Monsanto). GM mustard is both a Trojan horse and based on a hoax.
“Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way.”
Gopi Sankarasubramani writes: The issue at hand is the impending approval of GM mustard in India. GMOs introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained – any farm will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. With it, we risk permanently losing our 10,000 year-old inheritance of sustainable agriculture.
Nehmat Kaur writes: The National Green Tribunal covered new ground for the ‘polluter pays’ principle by invoking it in two landmark judgments recently. Activists are hopeful that this will help deter corporations from functioning with impunity, under the cover of governmental apathy. The judgments in both cases acknowledged governmental inaction in dealing with environmental damage.
We will soon have artificial intelligence that can accomplish professional human tasks. Our lives will be totally 100% tracked by ourselves and others. Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends already in motion, and are impossible to halt without halting civilization, says Internet pioneer Kevin Kelly.
G. Sampath writes: The smart city paradigm signals a momentous shift that takes the agenda of privatisation beyond the takeover of public utilities, and inaugurates the formal privatisation of governance itself. An exclusive focus on technology in discussions of the smart city paradigm can blind one to its real driver—the global crisis of capital accumulation.