India’s income inequality in 2017 may be worse than what it was during the British Raj. According to a new paper titled ‘Indian income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?’ penned by renowned economists Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel, India witnessed a sharp rise in the incomes of top 1 per cent post 1980s.
labour & employment
Radhika Desai writes: Read what Marx says. Pay no attention to those who tell you Capital is hard: they are merely saying ‘read my book first’. You have limited time: spend it on reading Capital. Remember, Capital was serialised in a workers’ paper. You are today’s workers and Capital is your invitation card to history.
Recently, a powerful feature by The Guardian reported on the US’ accelerating farmer suicide crisis, part of a global farmer suicide crisis, which most acutely manifests in India. Layton Ehmke, farmer-turned-journalist, writes on how there’s no way to make a living growing food in America, and how poverty and shame are driving some to suicide.
From Down to Earth: GDP does not reveal the ground truth about progress in development. The top 10% of Indians control the wealth basket while the common people—more than one billion—slide down along ‘Hunger Index’. While the government flaunts a surging economy, prevalence of hunger in India is at the “high end of serious category”.
The world’s top 1 percent held 45.5 percent of all household wealth in 2000. Now, they hold 50.1 percent, according to research by Credit Suisse. The Mukesh Ambani family, the only Indian family in Asia’s top 10 families, is also the richest in the continent, as its net worth rose $19 billion to $44.8 billion.
From Faridabad Majdoor Samachar: “On the train, a person was calling out loudly: From tomorrow, all over India, everyone’s salary will be 18,000 rupees. Equal. No one will be thief, and no one king. Long live the government.” A timely and evocative missive from a monthly workers’ newspaper distributed widely in the industrial belt around Delhi.
If you think farmers have suffered unknowingly, you are mistaken. It’s in fact part of a global design. For GDP to grow, the prescription is to reduce the dependency of a large proportion of the population on agriculture. The entire effort is to create conditions that force people to abandon farming and migrate to cities.
From GGI News: In 1996, the World Bank directed India to move 400 million people out of agriculture. Former PM Manmohan Singh had repeatedly expressed the need to shift 70% farmers. Only then will cheap labour be available for infrastructure development. The economic design is well laid out. Agriculture is being killed for economic growth.
From Sanhati: A history of the 240 year-old Raniganj Coalfield– the story of its workers –the many lives that have been spent in its shadows, displaced by coal and depending on it for survival –would be a tale every bit as expansive as the Mahabharata. This two-part article gives a short glimpse of this history.
From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now. The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.
Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.
Huffington Post reports: India ranks 132nd out of 152 countries on a new index that measures the commitment by a country towards reducing inequality. The index is composed of 21 data points with varying weights; including health and education, share of tax revenue in the GDP, share of tax exemptions, minimum wage and maternity benefits.
From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.
There is a difference between an apple sold on a bandi and in a supermarket. It can happen that the price in the supermarket is lower, but it’s not difficult to understand that the ‘value’ added to it in a super market is more. Thus, the lesser the value added, the more sustainable it is.
From AlterNet: Last year it was eight men, then down to six, and now almost five. The world’s richest five men now own over $400 billion in wealth. On average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people. The super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow.
Best-selling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari writes: As we enter the post-industrial world, the masses are becoming redundant. Biotechnology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence may split humankind into a small class of ‘superhumans’ and a huge underclass of ‘useless’ people. Once the masses lose their economic and political power, inequality could spiral alarmingly.
From TheWire: Public memory in India is amnesiac. Still, it is difficult to forget that Narendra Modi rode to power in 2014 on the plank of promoting development, aptly captured by ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’. Three years down the line, it’s time to take stock. These findings seriously question the Modi government’s record so far.
From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.
A 100 actions of protest will be held across the country between May 1 – 7, 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the ADB, highlighting the gross human rights violations, loss of livelihood, and environmental destructions caused by the ‘development model’ being pushed by ADB and its ilk, using public money.
From The Wire: Compared to farm, fishery and factory work, Himalayan porterage is rarely the subject of labour scholarship. For that matter, the forest protection and conservation labour of Adivasis and Dalits too rarely occupies the labour scholar’s interest… The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.