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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:52 am

Britain Robbed India Of $45 Trillion & Thence 1.8 Billion Indians Died From Deprivation
in Imperialism — by Dr Gideon Polya — December 18, 2018


Eminent Indian economist Professor Utsa Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has estimated that Britain robbed India of $45 trillion between 1765 and 1938, However it is estimated that if India had remained free with 24% of world GDP as in 1700 then its cumulative GDP would have been $232 trillion greater (1700-2003) and $44 trillion greater (1700-1950). Deprivation kills and it is estimated that 1.8 billion Indians died avoidably from egregious deprivation under the British (1757-1947). The deadly impact of British occupation of India lingers today 71 years after Independence, with 4 million people dying avoidably from deprivation each year in capitalist India as compared to zero (0) in China.

Professor Utsa Patnaik is professor emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Utsa Patnaik is a Marxist economist and taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from 1973 until her retirement in 2010. She obtained her PhD in economics from Oxford University, UK, and has researched the transition from agricultural peasant societies to industrial societies, and food security and poverty, especially in India [1]. Utsa Patnaik’s latest book, co-authored with Prabhat Patnaik, is “A Theory of Imperialism” (2016) [2].

We all know that the British rapaciously exploited India. Professor Utsa Patnaik has estimated the magnitude of the British robbing of India thus: “Between 1765 and 1938, the drain amounted to 9.2 trillion pounds ($45 trillion), taking India’s export surplus earnings as the measure, and compounding it at a 5 per cent rate of interest” [3-5].

(A) How and by how much did Britain rob India?

After the betrayal and defeat of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British installed their own puppet, Mir Jafar, as Nawab. The British extracted huge concessions from the defeated Bengalis including land, a monopoly of trade with Europe, and exemption from taxation on internal trade. The British subsequently replaced Mir Jafar with Mir Kasim as Nawab of Bengal. The Bengalis under Mir Kasim were finally driven to revolt when he was in turn sacked by the British and replaced by Mir Jafar for a second term. The Bengalis were defeated at the Battle of Buxar in 1764 , and in 1765 the Moghul Emperor Shah Alam was “persuaded” to grant the power of taxation (diwani) in Bengal to the British East India Company. The British in turn sub-contracted rapacious revenue collection to Bengalis.

Some of the revenue would go the Emperor and some to the Nawab, with the remainder being retained by the British. The British described this as “farming” the Bengali peasants (ryots), but over-taxing of Bengalis meant that 10 million Bengalis perished in the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770. The East India Company used about one third of the collected revenue to buy Indian goods and thus the Bengalis were in effect being paid for their goods through the exorbitant taxes applied to them. 15 years later, exorbitant British taxation led to famine in the Gangetic plain to the west of Bengal. Indeed such British excesses led to the British Parliament (unsuccessfully) impeaching Warren Hastings (first Governor General of India and father by adultery of Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza) for crimes such as the violation of the Begums of Oudh – he was of course eventually acquitted [6].

By the 1840s the East India Company had dominion over most of present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh but the British Government was increasingly keen for greater involvement in the exploitative proceedings. In 1847 the British Government introduced a scheme whereby those wishing to buy Indian goods could only do so using Council Bills issued by the British Crown in London. Traders would pay for such Bills in gold and silver and use them to pay Indian producers who would in turn cash them in for rupees at the local colonial office – rupees that been exacted by exorbitant taxation [5].

In his book “Inglorious Empire. What the British did to India”, Shashi Tharoor describes how the British looted and de-industrialized India and thus paid for Britain’s Industrial Revolution and violent global dominance: “At the beginning of the eighteenth century, as the British economic historian Angus Maddison has demonstrated, India’s share of the world economy was 23 per cent, as large as all of Europe put together. (It had been 27 per cent in 1700, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s treasury raked in £100 million in tax revenues alone.) By the time the British departed India, it had dropped to just over 3 per cent. The reason was simple: India was governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India” ([7], page 3 [8]). This deadly and merciless taxation was accompanied by massive de-industrialization of India. Thus before the invasion by the British, India led the world in textiles, agriculture and metallurgy, but rapidly became an exporter of raw materials and an importer of goods manufactured in Britain [6- 8].

Professor Utsa Patnaik’s estimate of Britain’s theft from India amounting to $45 trillion (1765-1938) [3-5] can be compared with estimates based on GDP considerations. According to Wikipedia, India’s share of the world economy declined from 24.4% in 1700 to 4.2% in 1950. India’s share of global industrial output declined from 25% in 1750 to 2% in 1900 [9]. From available data on India’s GDP and India’s share of world GDP since 1700 [10, 11] one can get a very rough estimate of what India’s cumulative GDP could have been from 1700-2003 if the British had not robbed and raped India.

Thus the cumulative GDP (PPP) for India is given below for 6 periods since 1700 (A) at the observed average % of world GDP , and (B) if the average Indian % of world GDP had remained at the pre-British invasion 24.0% in 1770.

1700-1820: (A) $13.1 trillion (20.3%) versus (B) $15.8 trillion (24.0%).

1820-1870: (A) $6.2 trillion (14.0%) versus (B) $10.5 trillion (24.0%).

1870-1913: (A) $7.3 trillion (9.8%) versus (B) $18.0 trillion (24.0%).

1913-1950: (A) $7.9 trillion (5.5%) versus (B) $34.4 trillion (24.0%).

1950-1973: (A) $8.3 trillion (3.5%) versus (B) $$56.8 trillion (24.0%).

1973-2003: (A) $41.5 trillion (5.5%) versus (B) $180.9 trillion (24.0%).

It has taken India 7 decades to partially recover from 2 centuries of rapacious British imperialism. The difference in cumulative GDP is $316.4 trillion (1700-2003) and $44 trillion (1700-1950), the latter estimate of India’s deprivation being consonant with Professor Utsa Patnaik’s estimate that the British had stolen $45 trillion from India between 1765 and 1938 [3-5].

(B) 1.8 billion Indians died avoidably from egregious deprivation under the British.

Imposed poverty kills. Poverty-derived avoidable mortality (avoidable death, excess mortality, excess death, premature death, untimely death, death that should not have happened) can be estimated as the difference between the actual deaths in a country and the deaths expected for a peaceful, decently governed country with same demographics (birth rate and percentage of children) [12]. Below are listed in rough chronological order some shocking salient features of the deadly impact of rapacious British imperialism over 2 centuries in British India, Britain’s Auschwitz.

In the 1769-1770 Great Bengal Famine 10 million out of 30 million over-taxed Bengalis starved to death [6, 13].

Scores of millions of Indians perished in man-made famines between the 1769-1770 Great Bengal Famine and the 1942-1945 WW2 Bengal Famine [6].

Using Indian census data 1870-1950, assuming an Indian population of about 200 million in the period 1760-1870, and estimating by interpolation from available data an Indian avoidable death rate in (deaths per 1,000 of population) of 37 (1757-1920), 35 (1920-1930), 30 (1930-1940) and 24 (1940-1950), one can estimate Indian excess deaths of 592 million (1757-1837), 497 million (1837-1901) and 418 million (1901-1947), roughly 1.5 billion in total or 1.8 billion including the Native States [14].

Scores of millions of distant British keeping hundreds of millions of Indians on the edge of starvation was enabled by relatively small numbers of British soldiers and much greater numbers of well-fed Indian soldiers threatening requisite violence [6]. It has been estimated by Amaresh Misra that 10 million Indians were massacred in the decade after the 1857 Indian Mutiny (Indian Rebellion) as reprisals for 2,000 British deaths [15, 16].

Despite a very high birth rate, the Indian population did not increase between 1860 (292 million) and 1934 (292 million) [17]. This is indicative of massive avoidable deaths from imposed deprivation that can be estimated as 745 million (1860-1934) or an average of about 10 million Indian avoidable deaths from deprivation per year [14].

Addressing the House of Commons in 1935, racist, imperialist and mass murderer Winston Churchill made an extraordinary confession in stating of the subjugated Indians: “In the standard of life they have nothing to spare. The slightest fall from the present standard of life in India means slow starvation, and the actual squeezing out of life, not only of millions but of scores of millions of people, who have come into the world at your invitation and under the shield and protection of British power” [6, 18, 19]. 7 years later Churchill commenced the deliberate starving to death over 4 years of 6-7 million Indians in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam as the British exported grain from India and slashed grain imports [6].

8. In the 1942-1945 WW2 Bengali Holocaust (Indian Holocaust, WW2 Bengal Famine) 6-7 million Indians were deliberately starved to death for strategic reasons by the British with Australian complicity (Australia was complicit by denying starving India food from its huge wartime food stores) [6, 12-14, 19-27]. This atrocity has been white-washed from history and general public perception by successive generations of Anglo journalist, editor, politician and academic presstitutes. Indeed perpetrator Churchill made no mention for this atrocity in his 6-volume history “The Second World War” for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature [6].
According to Professor Utsa Patnaik Indian per capita annual consumption of food was 200 kg in 1900, but went down to 137 kg during World War II and in 1946 [28]. This is consonant with the following data from my book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History”: “The population of India at that time [1940] was about 400 million and total grain production was 50 to 70 million tons annually. The population was growing at a rate of about 5% per year and there was a requirement of net imports of about 1-2 million tons of grain per annum to make up for deficiencies… Behrens’ figures for grain shipments (in tons) for India in 1942-1945 are as follows: 1942 (30,000), 1943 (303,000), 1944 (639,000) and 1945 (871,000). The 1942 shipment involved 2 lots from Australia contracted for at the rate of 15,000 tons per month to supply the Indian Army (the balance of the demand was not shipped that year). 2.4 million men served in the Indian Army during World War 2. This estimate can be “reduced” since not all of these were in the Army at the same time, scores of thousands were in the Mediterranean theatre (250,000 served there), had been captured by the Japanese or had died. Taking the gross Indian annual grain production estimates of about 60 million tons for 400 million people, we see that the average consumption was 0.15 tons per person per year (obviously more for adults and less for children). The annual requirement for about 2 million men in the “reduced” Indian Army was therefore 0.3 million tons. We can arrive at a figure having a similar order of magnitude from the 1942 contracted requirement of 15,000 tons per month i.e. 0.18 million tons for a whole year. If we assume that an Indian Army soldier required 50% more food than the average Indian we would estimate that the annual grain requirement for a 2 million strong Indian Army would be about 0.45 million tons. The average yearly importation in 1942-1945 was 0.46 million tons and thus we can see that the grain actually imported was merely enough to feed the Indian Army” (pages 156-158, Chapter 15 [6]).
Shashi Tharoor in “Inglorious Empire”: “The British left a society with 16 per cent literacy, a life expectancy of 27, practically no domestic industry and over 90 per cent living below what today we would call the poverty line” ([7], page 215 [8]) . As indicated in (6) above, the life expectancy of 27 years corresponded to about 10 million Indian avoidable deaths from deprivation per year.

Things got much better after Indian Independence. The 1.8 billion avoidable Indian deaths from deprivation under the genocidal British over 2 centuries is not that surprising when one considers that despite modern medicine, antibiotics, and the essential absence of famine, avoidable deaths from deprivation in the period 1950-2005 in India totalled 0.35 billion [14]. Annual avoidable deaths as a percentage of population fell from a genocidal 2.4% per year in 1947 under the British to 0.35% per year in 2005, but the population of India increased from 380 million in 1947 to about 1,100 million in 2005. Today 4 million Indians die avoidably from deprivation each year as compared to zero (0) in China that, unlike capitalist India, has overcome endemic poverty [11].

The 3 Laws of Thermodynamics that underlie Chemistry, Physics and industry are (1) the energy of a closed system is constant, (2) the entropy (disorder, lack of information content) strives to a maximum, and (3) there is zero molecular motion in a pure crystal at absolute zero degrees Kelvin (-273. 15 degrees Centigrade). Polya’s 3 Laws of Economics are based on the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics and posit that (1) Price (P) – Cost of Production (COP) = Profit (p), (2) deception about COP strives to a maximum, and (3) No work, price or profit on a dead planet [29]. The major cost of production (COP) in the British Raj was the passive mass murder of 1.8 billion Indians through deadly impoverishment, and in keeping with Polya’s Second Law of Economics, the British strove to deceive the world about this horror.

The capitalist perpetrator deception continues in a neoliberal One Percenter-dominated world that is existentially threatened by nuclear weapons (a nuclear winter from nuclear war would wipe out most of Humanity and the Biosphere), poverty (15 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year, 4 million in India) and man-made climate change (about 1 million people die from climate change each year but this set to increase to an average of 100 million deaths per year this century if urgent, requisite action is not taken) [30- 32] . Poverty kills. History ignored yields history repeated [6]. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Please inform everyone you can.


[1]. Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik, “A Theory of Imperialism”, Columbia University Press, New York, 2016.

[2]. “Utsa Patnaik”, Wikipedia: .

[3]. Utsa Patnaik in Arindam Banerjee and C. P. Chandrasekhar, editors, “Dispossession, Deprivation, and Development. Essays for Utsa Patnaik, Columbia University Press, 2018.

[4]. “How much money did Britain take away from India? About $45 trillion in 173 years, says top economist”, Business Today, 19 November 2018: ... 92352.html .

[5]. Jason Hickel, “How Britain stole $45 trillion from India and lied about it”, Al Jazeera, 18 December 2018: ... 30851.html .

[6]. Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008 that is now available for free perusal on the web: .

[7]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “Inglorious Empire. What the British did to India” by Shashi Tharoor”, Countercurrents, 8 September 2017: ... i-tharoor/ .

[8]. Shashi Tharoor, “Inglorious Empire. What the British did to India”, Scribe, 2017.

[9]. “Economic history of India”, Wikipedia: .

[10]. “Angus Maddison statistics of the ten largest economies by GDP (PPP)”, Wikipedia: ... _GDP_(PPP) .

[11]. Angus Maddison, “Contours of the World Economy 1-2030AD”, Oxford University Press, 2007.

[12]. “Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, including an avoidable mortality-related history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web : .

[13]. Paul Greenough (1982),“Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: the Famine of 1943-1944” (Oxford University Press, 1982).

[14]. Gideon Polya, “Economist Mahima Khanna, Cambridge Stevenson Prize And Dire Indian Poverty”, Countercurrents, 20 November, 2011: .

[15]. Amaresh Misra, “War of Civilisations: India AD 1857”.

[16]. Randeep Ramesh, “India’s secret history: :A holocaust, one where millions disappeared”, Guardian, 24 August 2007: ... deepramesh .

[17]. Populstat, “India. Historical demographical data of the whole country”: .

[18]. Winston Churchill, speech to the House of Commons about Indians (1935); 1. Hansard of the House of Commons, Winston Churchill speech, Hansard Vol. 302, cols. 1920-21, 1935.

[19]. N. G. Jog, “Churchill’s Blind-Spot: India”, New Book Company, Bombay, 1944 (Winston Churchill quoted on p195).

[20]. K.C. Ghosh, “Famines in Bengal 1770-1943” (National Council of Education, Calcutta, 2nd edition 1987).

[21]. T. Das, T. (1949), “Bengal Famine (1943) as Revealed in a Survey of Destitutes of Calcutta”, University of Calcutta, Calcutta, 1949.

[22]. Gideon Polya, “Australia And Britain Killed 6-7 Million Indians In WW2 Bengal Famine”, Countercurrents, 29 September, 2011: .

[23]. “Bengali Holocaust (WW2 Bengal Famine) writings of Gideon Polya”, Gideon Polya: ... -holocaust .

[24]. Amartya Sen, “Famine Mortality: A Study of the Bengal Famine of 1943” in Hobshawn, E. (1981) (editor), Peasants In History. Essays in Honour of David Thorner (Oxford University Press, New Delhi).

[25]. Cormac O Grada (2009) “Famine a short history” (Princeton University Press, 2009).

[26]. Madhusree Muckerjee (2010), “Churchill’s Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War II” (Basic Books, New York, 2010).

[27]. Thomas Keneally (2011), “Three Famines” (Vintage House, Australia, 2011).

[28]. Prianshi Mathur, “Did you know that back in the Raj days, British looted Rs 3.2 lakh crore from India?”, India Times, 16 December 2018: ... 58731.html .

[29]. Gideon Polya, “Polya’s 3 Laws Of Economics Expose Deadly, Dishonest And Terminal Neoliberal Capitalism”, Countercurrents, 17 October, 2015: .

[30]. “Climate Genocide”: .
[31]. “Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe”: ... al-warming .
[32]. “Nuclear weapons ban , end poverty & reverse climate change”: ... eapons-ban .

Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: ... transcript

) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ... nians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: ... gal-famine ; Gideon Polya: ; Gideon Polya Writing: ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: ... therchild/ and . ... privation/
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:40 pm

A million Communists rally in India pledging to oust Modi
February 5, 2019 9:59 AM CST BY BEN COWLES

A million Communists rally in India pledging to oust Modi

One million people gathered in Kolkata’s largest public park Sunday pledging to oust Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing BJP party from West Bengal in the upcoming elections.

The city’s Brigade Parade Ground was turned into a sea of red as people from across the state poured into the enormous square brandishing scarlet banners to attend a demonstration organized by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front.

“The anti-people policies need to be changed and alternative policies need to be pushed if our country is to be saved from further disaster,” CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury told the crowd.

“We do not want to defeat Modi just because we don’t like him. We want to remove him because we don’t like his policies. We have to fight for an alternative secular and democratic government,” he said.

The Left Front, an alliance of socialist parties in West Bengal, also took aim at the All-India Trinamool Congress (TMC) party, whose founder, Mamata Banerjee, is the current chief minister of the state.

Yechury said the TMC’s opposition to the BJP was a sham and that the two parties were “two sides of the same coin.”

“It is important to defeat the TMC in the state in order to defeat the BJP at the center,” he said.

“Any attempt to stall the march of this ‘red sea’ will create a tsunami in the political scene and will sweep away anti-democratic and communal forces like Modi and his communal brigade and their covert ally, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and her party in Bengal.”

Morning Star ... oust-modi/
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:00 pm

A huge land grab is threatening India’s tribal people. They need global help
Mari Marcel Thekaekara
Adivasi have lived in the nation’s forests for millennia. But now, under the spurious guise of conservation, millions face eviction

Mon 25 Feb 2019 09.29

‘Adivasi tribal people make up 9% of India’s 1.2 billion population.’ Photograph: Alamy

About 8 million indigenous people in India are in danger of being evicted from forests that their ancestors have lived in for millennia. This grave injustice follows a shocking supreme court ruling that rides roughshod over the rights of India’s indigenous people, known as Adivasi, or tribals.

According to the 2011 census, these tribal people number 104 million – almost 9% of the country’s then 1.2 billion population. It is the largest indigenous population in any country in the world, occupying 22% of India’s geographical terrain.

A number of Indian wildlife and conservation organisations, including Wildlife First, the Wildlife Trust of India, and the Tiger Research and Conservation Trust have accused the tribal people of destroying the forests’ biodiversity and have petitioned the court to clear them from the land. Yet the 2006 Forest Rights Act gave Adivasi rights to live on and protect the land that they had been cultivating within forest boundaries.

Millions of forest-dwelling indigenous people in India to be evicted
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The debate about wildlife versus forest dwellers is an old one. But most Indian NGOs understood years ago that the Adivasis were not the enemy, and they have been fighting on the same side. Having lived with my family in a forested area for three and a half decades, I know that the people live in harmony with nature and that evicting tribals will leave the forest unguarded and vulnerable – and make it a haven for poachers.

The Forest Rights Act undid historic injustices perpetrated on the communities of forest dwellers for centuries. It has empowered tribal councils to reject planning applications by mineral companies, such as UK-based Vedanta, to mine for bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills.


But under the act, tribal people had to file a claim with state governments to secure the title deeds to their lands – and thousands of claims by Adivasis have been rejected all over India. The country’s highest court has now decreed they are “encroachers” and should be evicted.

States have been told to begin evictions by July if tribes cannot produce documented evidence proving ownership. How can people who did not have paper, who did not know they had to have written entitlement to live on land their ancestors occupied, be expected to produce relevant title deeds?

There was no state lawyer defending the rights of the Adivasis in court against these conservation groups. It is shameful that a government whose duty it is to defend its poorest and most vulnerable citizens failed to supply a defence attorney against the petition. Why was this? Is the government complicit in this massive land theft? It would appear so.

Fertile food-producing lands have been forcibly taken from hapless farmers and gifted at throwaway prices to billionaire industrial groups. And this isn’t the first time villagers have been removed from land in the name of development.

A case in point is the infamous Narmada eviction. On 12 December 1979, in spite of widespread protests, the Indian government decided to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river – and to construct 30 major, 135 medium, and 3000 small dams. This, they announced, would provide water to about 40 million people, along with irrigation, and electricity to people in the region. To achieve this, 200,000 people were displaced, of whom a majority were Adivasis.

Now in a total travesty of justice, the original forest-dwelling communities, with the smallest ecological footprint, face being ousted from their homelands in the name of saving the environment.

The conservation groups opposing tribal rights are misguided. They say that granting forest rights to tribal people created fragmentation and a huge threat to biodiversity. In fact, tribal people protect many plant species such as roots and tubers as a food source.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples, says: “This judgment is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in India, land theft on an epic scale, and a monumental injustice.” He adds: “Will the big conservation organisations like WWF and WCS condemn this ruling and pledge to fight it, or will they be complicit in the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever?”

A public campaign must be started to restore the rights of the tribes people. Human rights defenders in India are furiously fighting the order. So are international groups.

Time is of the essence.

• Mari Marcel Thekaekara is a human rights activist and writer based in Gudalur, Tamil Nadu. In 1985 she co-founded Accord to work with Adivasi people ... ia-adivasi

It is not human sustenance which requires ecocide but capital that demands it. The complicity of enviro orgs can be assumed, such is their class nature.
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:06 pm

Eviction of Adivasis: The Order Should Be Quashed
March 1, 2019


We are shocked and appalled by the Supreme Court order dated 20/2/2019 for eviction of Adivasis and other Traditional Forest dwellers from their Traditional habitats, thus depriving them their right to life and livelihood guaranteed by Article 21 enshrined in Indian constitution. We unequivocally appeal to the Supreme Court to reevaluate this retrograde anti people order which will throw Millions of Adivasis and other traditional Forest Dwellers into the streets., which is against all humanitarian precepts, Natural Justice, the spirit of the Indian constitution and various covenants and declarations of the united Nations charter on the Rights of the Indigenous people. The Supreme Court gave this order on a petition filed by Wild life First which is an extremely callous anti people, regressive conservationist NGO.

It should be noted that the Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers have been co existing with wild animals since millennia in a mutually cooperative symphony and harmony. It is a sheer travesty of truth and historical inustice to blame the Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers for destroying the eco system and wild life. One should clearly see the nefarious game plan of this anti people wild Life NGO Acting on behalf of the corporate sector and other vested interests to handover the forest land to the corporate sector for commercial exploitation. Already the sword of Damocles is hanging over forests and forest dwellers by the new draft Forest Policy and CAF Act, with a clear cut intention to handover the forest lands to the corporate Sector.

It is quite outrageous that the Government of India which is elected by the people to safeguard their interests did not appear or argue in different hearings of this case before this anti Adivasi order was past.

This is not only a serious dereliction of Constitutional duty of the Central Government but also a conspiracy of complicity to handover the forest lands to the corporate sector. The court order violates Section 6 of the Forest Rights Act which says It is a Criminal Offence not to process the claims of Adivasis and other Traditional Forest Dwellers for their rights to the Forest land Under the Forest Rights Act 2006..

The Supreme Court has asked the Chief Secretaries of 16 State Governments including Karnataka to evict the Adivasis and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers whose claims were rejected by the respective Forest Departments. In Karnataka a Total of 2, 27,014 claims were filled Under Forest Rights Act from this 35,521 claims of Adivasis and 1, 41,019 claims of Other Forest Dwellers were rejected.

We hereby wish to firmly state that the claims of forest Lands under the Forest Rights Act is neither a gift nor an act of charity by the Government of India. This Act was a necessary course correction of the Historical Injustice meted out to the Adivasis under the Draconian provisions of the Indian Forest Act and The Wild life Protection Act. We strongly emphasize that the enactment of the Forest Rights Act was not a result of the magnanimity of the central Government, but was the result of years of arduous struggle by millions of Adivasis. It should also be remembered that historically, Adivasis constitute as a key force in conserving India’s forests, rather than destroying it. The forests in India can not be protected without recognising this key role of the Adivasis. The Forest Rights Act rightly recognises this key role and therefore, we remind the Supreme Court not to violate it.

We earnestly appeal to the mass organizations of the Adivasis, political parties and other progressive and democratic forces to express your deep reservations against this anti people Supreme Court order which violates our right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of Constitution of India.

We would also appeal to you to take these concerns of the rights of the Adivasis within all sections of the civil society, media, activist organisations and the concerned individuals within political parties.

V.S.Roy David, National Convener, National Adivasi Alliance (NAA)

J.P.Raju, President Budakattu Krishikara Sangha (BKS) ... e-quashed/
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:24 pm


Constitution is supreme and above all the customs and beliefs: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

Posted Mar 11, 2019 by Jipson John and Jitheesh P. M.

Originally published: The Hindu (March 7, 2019) |
In conversation with the Chief Minister who just completed 1,000 days in office

Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, just completed 1,000 days in office. During this time, his government faced some unprecedented challenges such as the floods in 2018 and the implementation of the Supreme Court order to allow young women to visit the Sabarimala temple. In this interview, Mr. Vijayan speaks of those challenges and his government’s development agenda.

Kerala has witnessed one of the worst floods in its history in 2018. What’s the present status of rebuilding activities? How long it will take to complete the rebuilding process?

The reconstruction bid is really a mammoth and unparalleled task. It will take two-three years to complete the task. During the floods, we gave priority for rescue operations and relief activities. We were able to rescue more than 163,000 people from August 17 to 20. Around 1.5 million were shifted to around 4,000 relief shelters across Kerala. The State government has provided, for 700,000 families, ₹10000 rupees each as immediate financial assistance.

Today, we are mainly focusing on the reconstruction of damaged houses and roads. A total of 13,362 houses were fully damaged in the floods. The first installment of financial assistance has been distributed for the reconstruction of 9,341 houses. The cooperative sector will rebuild 2,000 houses. The government has identified and sought support of sponsors for the construction of rest of the houses.

A total of 1,075 landless families have lost their houses in the flood. We have identified suitable land for them. In the flood 2,42,602 houses were partially damaged. Among these, 1,21,265 beneficiaries have got the first financial installment… I am hopeful that we will complete this process before the end of this financial year.

Did Kerala get necessary help from the Union government for the post-flood rebuilding?

The actual loss incurred by the State in the flood amounts to ₹31,000 crore. This is equal to the total amount of the annual plan of the State. But according to the criteria of the Union government, we are eligible to ask for just ₹5,000 crore. Even this amount is not allocated for us. It also remains that we are not allowed to accept the volunteer help offered by the foreign countries. Our Ministers are denied permission by the Union government from visiting non-resident Malayalees to raise fund for reconstruction. The State government also hasn’t got any written permission from the centre to raise our borrowing capacity.

The implementation of GST and other policies have really curbed the financial autonomy of State governments. The situation also doesn’t not exist to raise our own tax revenue. Today, we need a real rethinking of central-State economic relations in the direction of assuring enough resource allocation and economic assistance for the States. It is only then that our federal structure would work in a manner suiting the interests of both the Central and State governments.

How do you look at the whole Sabarimala agitation? There were allegations that the government failed to consider the sentiments of the devotees while implementing the Supreme Court order…

From the beginning itself the government’s position is that it would uphold the principles of the Constitution and protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The State has submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, stating that whatever may be the court verdict, the government would abide by that and would implement it. So it is the fundamental responsibility of the State government to implement the verdict. Look at the initial response when the verdict came; everybody including the AICC [All India Congress Committee], the Opposition leader [in Kerala], BJP State president and the RSS have all accepted it. Some people even called it a historical judgment. They also said, even before me, that the government has legal obligation to implement it.

Unfortunately, after this, the same people started openly challenging our Constitution. Their ultimate aim was to disturb and malign Kerala’s secular mind and orchestrate a religious riot. Even those who claim themselves as the champions of secularism fell in that trap. But the people of Kerala realised these things and stood firm in the spirit of secularism. People at large kept themselves restrained and resisted the efforts to orchestrate religious riot in the state.

A large number of devotees don’t favour the entry of women in the menstruation age into Sabarimala. Do you think your government has succeeded in communicating your position on this issue with the larger section of society?

Different Left governments holding office before the High Court verdict of 1991 never tried to prevent the entry of menstruating women into Sabarimala. In the same way, Left governments never acted in opposition against the High Court verdict of 1991, which restricted the women entry. The most important thing to remember is that the Communist party was never part of the legal discourse on this issue. It was actually the devotees themselves who approached the honourable judiciary to either ban the women entry or lift the restriction. After the Supreme Court verdict, we have consistently said that it is not the job of our party or the state government to ‘recruit’ women to Sabarimala.

On the other hand, we have taken a clear stand that it is the duty of the State government to give necessary protection for anybody who visit Sabarimala based on the Supreme Court verdict and their individual faith. We have seen massive participation of general public, including women, in the LDF’s political meetings on the Sabarimala issue. We have also seen huge participation of women belonging to different faiths in the “women’s wall” for gender justice. All of this shows that we have been successful in communicating our stand with the common people.

How effective was your government’s response in maintaining law and order in the wake of protests and frequent hartals over the Sabarimala issue?

The government has taken strict action against the perpetrators of violence across the State. Protest has even reached to the level of throwing bomb at a police station. Media persons were also brutally attacked. Most of the culprits arrested in these cases are Sangh Parivar activists. The most bizarre thing that we see today is that the same Sangh Parivar organisations campaigning that devotees should not do any offering to temples including Sabarimala are on a fund collection drive to deal with their cases. In Kerala, they tried to use the same technique they practice in other parts of the country.

This is the technique of orchestrating religious enmity and riot in order to garner political gains. But Ayappa devotees themselves and the people of Kerala at large have realised their motive now. We should not forget the fact that the same time when these forces were engaged in violence in the name of Sabarimala, the pilgrimage was going on smoothly.

The BJP leadership has officially conceded and confirmed that they are winding up their protest due to lack of enough support. It means that they failed to achieve what they aimed at. This defeat of Sangh Parivar is a result of the collective resistance shown by the people of Kerala.

What is your take on the argument that the restriction on women’s entry in the Sabarimala temple is part of religious custom? How do you view the Supreme Court judgment?

The renaissance movement and social reformers have taught us that superstitious beliefs and customs should be challenged and opposed. Modern Kerala is a product of the selfless social service of great visionaries. The nation’s Constitution is supreme and above all, the customs and beliefs. In the verdict, the Supreme Court has clearly spelled out that any violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution can’t be allowed. All governments, come into power based on the constitutional principles, are obliged to uphold the constitution as supreme.

The Left government is into its third year. How do you assess the government’s performance?

We have actually announced a 35-point programme and succeeded in completing most of them in time. The basic emphasis was on the development of infrastructure. The GAIL pipeline project, the LNG terminal, Kochi Metro, Water Metro, National water way, Kannur International Airport, Vizhinjam port, Hill Highway and coastal highway projects are some of the major projects we have concentrated on.

Four flagship missions (Ardram, Life, Haritha Keralam, Public education protection drive) launched by this government are implementing with success. As part of this, we can see a major jump in educational and health sectors. Before we complete our term in office we will provide home for every family in Kerala. No one will remain homeless.

Our effort is to create enough jobs in our State itself for the qualified and educated youth. In order to achieve this goal, we are utilising the opportunities in the IT filed. The government is also taking measures to create new jobs by strengthening the public sector and the traditional sector. The amount of social welfare pensions increased as highest rate in the country level .This could be emulated by other States also.

In a historic move we have appointed, for the first time, Dalits and other backward caste people as priests in the Devaswom Board-owned temples. I would like to add that the Kerala government has done more than any government could do in 1,000 days. In the coming days our main focus will be on post-flood rebuilding and also on production and industrial sector.

The Left generally talks about and aim at an alternative development path. As Kerala is the only Left ruling State now, could you talk about the alternative policies you could introduce?

When the central government tries to disinvest the public sector enterprises, we try to empower them. We have been successful in making the public sector enterprises under Kerala government profitable within one year after coming into power. Along with this, we are taking over public enterprises which are disinvested by the Central government in Kerala. When the Central government try to privatise the education sector, the schools in Kerala have been upgraded as the best in the country.

When the central government withdraw from the social sector, the Kerala government actively intervened in social welfare measures and also provide social welfare pension at the highest rate in the country.

Newspapers report that the number of jobs created has decreased in the country after [Narendra] Modi came to power. But in Kerala, our government gave appointment to 1 lakh youngsters through the public service commission. We also created 20,000 new posts in the same period.

Our government has also succeeded in increasing wage and other benefits in more than 80% of the labour sector. We could also implement a Bill giving employees the right to sit and work, intervened in raising the salary of nurses and also intervened in the plantation sector. The four missions that we have set up basically aim to bring structural changes with an alternative development outlook.

On January 1, Kerala saw a 627-km long Women’s Wall. What was the reason behind the government’s decision to have such an event?

It was not actually the government’s decision to organise the women wall. Instead, the idea emerged in a meeting of different community and progressive organisations convened by the State government. Immediately after the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala, there was a dangerous and regressive effort, in the name of custom and belief, to tarnish the progressive achievements of Kerala. Against the court verdict of upholding gender equality, there were efforts to bring in public women and claim themselves as impure. Gender and caste-based defamation reached into the level of violent attacks.

There took place incidences of attack, in public, against women. These events necessitated organised resistance against these forces. It was in this context that the State government initiated a meeting of progressive organisations. In this meeting, representatives of 170 organisations participated and the idea of women wall emerged. The basic objectives of women wall were the slogans of protecting renaissance values, ensuring gender equality, not allowing Kerala to become a lunatic asylum. Kerala wholeheartedly welcomed this initiative and around 5.5 million women joined in the wall from Kasaragode to Thiruvananthapuram.

The CPI(M) is in favour of reservation for economically backward classes among the forward castes. The other argument is that economic reservation is against the spirit of our Constitution. What’s your take?

Reservation is necessary in the Indian context in order to empower the historically marginalised castes. At the same time, there are thousands in the general category too who face economic difficulties. Reservation for the socially backward castes should be continued as such. But relief should be provided for economically backward sections of the upper castes.

The Supreme Court has maintained that reservation should not cross the 50% mark. We can’t accept any move from any quarter that would reverse the constitutionally guaranteed reservation. Such efforts would result in enmity between different communities or even result in clashes between communities.

Introducing reservation for economically weaker sections of the general category should not affect the existing reservation. In the appointments to the posts under Travancore Devaswom Board, we have ensured that it would not affect reservation of the existing communities or violate the 50% cap.

Aggressive right-wing nationalism registers significant growth in different parts of the world. In India too we see such an upsurge or emboldening of such forces. How the organised Left would resist this?

The Kerala society maintains a unique secular mindset. This secular social formation is a result of numerous struggles led by the communist movements and other progressive forces. Because of this historical legacy, Kerala still keeps away these right wing forces. Discredited with having no popular support in society, they try to show their might and influence people through their muscle power. We have seen violence and aggression in the Sabarimala protests. But unlike other States, the Hindu rightwing forces were not able to gain much influence in Kerala due to the strong resistance offered by the Left.

In a pan-Indian context, the communist movements and the Left pursue many folded battles against neo-liberalism and communalism. It is because of this strong stand on these two fronts that we are continuously targeted and attacked by the ruling classes in different parts of the country. In West Bengal and Tripura, you could see it in open eye. Recently, CPI(M) leader Brinda Sahni who was in the frontline of land struggles in Bihar was brutally killed by those who protect the interests of the landlord classes. All this shows that we pose a real political challenge to the communal forces in the country.

You talked about creating employment opportunities? Has your government succeeded in creating enough jobs for the State’s youth?

The principle aim and policy of this government is to create enough employment opportunities for the educated in Kerala itself. It is in tune with this aim that our government involves in IT and other sectors. As part of this, around 2,000 new start-ups have begun operation after this government came to power. We have a policy of using science and technology for social progress and human welfare. The prospects of health, tourism, etc. in job creation is also being explored.

We are making a new jump in the production of electrical vehicles. Materialisation of the Virology Institute and Life Science Park opens up new possibilities based on knowledge. Making profitable the public enterprises and reviving the traditional industrial sectors have increased job opportunities in the State. We have also got a strong cooperative sector. The possibilities of increasing the productivity of agriculture and fisheries sector also offer opportunities for the State.

The agriculture sector was one of the main areas to focus on post-flood rebuilding. How do you deal with the challenges agriculture faces?

Our objective is to attain self sufficiency in agriculture. We have launched Harita Keralam mission as part of this. We were moving into self-sufficiency in the field of milk, vegetable and egg production. Unfortunately, the havoc caused by the flood stalled our efforts in this direction. Heavy rainfall and flood caused structural changes in the soil character. So we need detailed a study of these issues before beginning cultivation. We have launched an action plan to protect the biodiversity. Flood level is also digitally marked.

On the basis of this, we could start production activities suitable for our environment. Along with the objective of increasing agricultural production, we also aim to increase the scope for agricultural related business activities in the State. We have great scope for value addition and processing of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish etc. This will ensure more income for the farmer.

It is the wrong trade policies of the central government which cause for price collapse and international competition. Removing import restrictions on rubber caused for huge slash in its price for domestic farmers. The Union government didn’t take any action in the direction of creating price stability fund for rubber. But in our State, we have created such a fund worth of ₹500 crore. The fall in pepper price is also a result of such wrong policies pursued by the Central government.

The Lok Sabha election is on the door step. How do you analyse the political situation? What is your party’s main agenda in this election?

We have a situation in the country where the BJP and the RSS try to crumble the basic edifice of our country. The assault on constitutional bodies and autonomous institutions is unprecedented. We have a situation where four senior judges of the Supreme Court came out against interventions in the functioning of the apex court.

We also know what is happening with the CBI. It is a serious matter that an autonomous body like the Central Vigilance Commission played a part in the Central government’s intervention in matters of the CBI. In higher education institutions and research institutes, people without enough qualification and people with complete obedience to the ruling establishment are appointed.

Myths are being presented as science and facts become causality. Even the right to privacy of the individuals is breached. So in this context, the coming election assumes much significance in protecting the basic idea of India.

The current government is one of the most anti-people governments in the history of this country. Minorities, Dalits, peasants, students, writers, working class have suffered the worst consequences of the Modi government. They have turned into active protest against this government. The general sentiment in the country is now against the BJP and the RSS. Recent assembly elections and bye-elections in different States show that. The same will be reflected in the coming election too.

As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, our primary aim is to defeat the BJP. Both the BJP and the Congress are equally enthusiastic about implementing neoliberal policies in the country. If you look in this way, then we could understand that two parties are both sides of the same coin. Both these parties also use communal sentiments in different ways and degrees. The BJP pursues communal politics more aggressively and also, as they are led by the RSS, there is great danger of fascism involved in their politics. Because of this, our primary aim is to defeat the BJP. For which we will adopt political tactics according to the prevailing political situation in each State.

For the Left, politics is a way of conducting ideological struggles. We could build a better world only through such struggles. Our political activities have been oriented towards this objective. It is the communist parties and Left movements which have led the struggles of peasants, workers and students in the last years.

These struggles have really influenced in shaping popular mood against the RSS and the BJP. We have also registered electoral success in places where we are able to widen and consolidate our support base through these struggles. So we are very confident about the future.

Don’t you think that the coming general election will also be a test of your government in Kerala?

The Lok Sabha election is an opportunity to evaluate the Union government and also the national politics. I have already explained what the State government has done for the people of Kerala. The people have realised from their experience the difference between present Kerala and what was the situation two and a half years ago.

In the same period, we have also actively involved in checking regressive efforts aimed at backtracking the achievements of the State. Along with maintaining the progressive nature of society, we have also succeeded in maintaining people’s unity. So the people of Kerala know well about which political force is leading Kerala towards progress. Because of this, we are confident and hopeful about the election result. ... i-vijayan/
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:04 pm

Potato farmers cry foul as PepsiCo sues them
Priscilla Jebaraj NEW DELHI , APRIL 25, 2019 00:11 IST
UPDATED: APRIL 25, 2019 00:11 IST

New worry: Farmers claim that the law does not prohibit them from cultivating the variety and sharing the seeds .

They face demand for ₹1.05 crore in damages for growing Lays variety, want government to step in
Just days after multi-billion dollar conglomerate PepsiCo sued four Gujarati farmers, asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each as damages for ‘infringing its rights’ by growing the potato variety used in its Lays chips, farmers groups have launched a campaign calling for government intervention.

The case is coming up for hearing in an Ahmedabad court on Friday.

Warning that the case could set a precedent for other crops, farmers groups are pointing out that the law allows them to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties.

The farmers want the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) to make a submission in court on their behalf and fund legal costs through the National Gene Fund.

When asked for a response, a PepsiCo India spokesperson said: “Given the issue is sub judice, it would not be proper to offer detailed comments.”

T.K. Nagarathna, the PPV&FRA registrar who has jurisdiction for vegetable crops, said that the case had come to the notice of the Authority and it was looking into it. “We can take action based on the court order,” she told The Hindu.

“These farmers are small, holding around 3-4 acres on an average, and had grown a potato crop from farm-saved seed after they accessed the potato seed locally in 2018,” according to a letter sent to the PPV&FRA by farmers groups. They alleged that PepsiCo hired a private detective agency to pose as potential buyers and take secret video footage, and collect samples from farmers’ fields without disclosing its real intent. PepsiCo then filed suit, the letter said. It added that at least nine farmers in three districts have been charged since 2018.

On April 9, an Ahmedabad commercial court judge granted an ex-parte interim injunction against the farmers and appointed a commissioner to prepare an inventory, take samples and send them to a government lab for analysis. The case is coming up again on April 26.

Protective clause
PepsiCo has invoked Section 64 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights. However, farmers groups cite Section 39 of the same Act, which specifically says that a farmer is allowed “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”.

Farmers groups warned that the case could have a snowballing effect on other crops. “These are among the first cases of alleged IPR infringement against farmers in India in a post-WTO world. Wrongly decided, these could set a wrong precedent impacting farmers’ livelihoods quite adversely,” said Badribhai Joshi of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, in a statement. ... epage=true

fuck property rights
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:14 pm

On Alarming Drought Situation
Saturday, June 8, 2019
The Central Committee meeting of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), now in session at New Delhi, has adopted the following resolution:

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), now in session at New Delhi, notes with grave concern that large parts of India have been reeling under severe drought conditions. According to Skymet (private weather monitoring agency) this is the second driest pre-Monsoon season in the last 65 years. In 2012 cumulative rainfall deficiency had risen to 31 per cent. This year it is reported that there is a lag of 25 per cent in the pre-Monsoon rains.

According to reliable early warning systems, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of the country’s population or 500 million people are severely affected. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand and adjacent districts in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu are worst hit.

The water storage in dams has dropped to a critical level and the Centre has issued a drought advisory to some of these states. The State governments of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan have declared many of their districts as drought-hit. The Central Government led by BJP is not forthcoming in providing relief to states. The current extraordinary drought situation must be declared a national calamity and relief measures must be taken up on a war footing.

Severe scarcity of drinking water and fodder for livestock has created extreme distress and crop cultivation has been severely hit. Large-scale distress migration is taking place. Instances of starvation deaths are also being reported. The situation is going to further deteriorate. Central and concerned state governments must immediately release pending MNREGA wages, waive school fees and provide urgent relief.

The CPI(M) calls upon all its units to organize protest actions by uniting the people demanding concrete and appropriate measures and relief, along with democratic minded Kisan organizations and other mass organisations.

(Hari Singh Kang)

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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:16 pm

How Imperialism Starves the Global South: An Interview With Utsa Patnaik
by Max Ajl (@ajl_max), Utsa Patnaik on March 12, 2019

An interview by Max Ajl conducted as part of the activities of the workshop on ‘Agriculture and Imperialism’ November 2018, Beirut, Lebanon, organised by the Thimar Collective with funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The interview is co-published with the Review of African Political Economy website.

MAGood morning and thank you very much for being with us today. Can you start by telling us how you began your study of economics and what your initial research was?

UPI got interested in economics at an early age because there was quite a lot of Marxist literature in our house - Karl Marx’s Capital, the Marx-Engels volumes and Lenin’s writings. My father though an engineer by profession was interested in Marxism. Because I read this literature as a teenager, I thought of learning economics. I joined the Delhi School of Economics for graduate studies. We had excellent teachers at that time including Professors Sukhamoy Chakravarty, Amartya K. Sen, K.N. Raj. Then I completed DPhil in economics at University of Oxford in England on the subject of the development of capitalist farming in India, returning in 1973 to teach at the new Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, where I taught for 37 years before retiring in 2010.

MARight now, many might know your name from your studies on the drain of wealth and your work on imperialism, but your earlier work was much more focused on peasant differentiation and rural sociology. Can you talk us through some of the themes you went through in your earlier work on the rural world?

UPAt the time of my doctoral research a great many changes were taking place in Indian agriculture, after decades of stagnation under colonial rule. From the early 1950s the government was spending freely on rural development and peasants were protected, prices for their products were assured. There was a process of private investment in agriculture, both by the better off agrarian classes as well as by outsiders because agriculture was profitable for the first time. Essentially, this was a process of development of capitalism in agriculture which aroused my interest especially since I had gone through Lenin’s The Development of Capitalism in Russia. More than half of that book is devoted to showing how with the growth of market economy, a process of differentiation within the peasantry in Russia led to the emergence of a rich peasant class. I found the theoretical framework very relevant for the Indian situation where exactly the same process was also taking place. Publishing some of my research findings in The Economic and Political Weekly, led to a debate which came to be known as “the mode of production” debate. It drew contributors from various parts of the world, including Andre Gunder Frank, Hamza Alavi, and of course Indians – Ashok Rudra, Jairus Banaji, Paresh Chattopadhyay. (I was later asked by EPW to edit the papers of this debate – it was published under the title Agrarian Relations and Accumulation).

The accepted analysis of the Indian agrarian scene at the time was that it was dominated by feudal relations of production namely surplus was extracted from the peasants as rent by landlords, and interest by moneylenders. The traders also ripped off the peasantry by pocketing the large difference between the low price at which they bought the peasants’ produce and the price at which they sold it.

I was arguing that these relations still predominated but there was a new process which is going on which had to be accounted for – people were switching from the old modes of extracting surplus to a new mode namely hiring labor and generating profit. This is essentially what the growth of capitalist agriculture was about, and I was looking into its agents. They came from former feudal landlords because they had been compensated for whatever land was taken over under government land reform. They controlled thousands of acres, some of them – and only a part had been taken over by the state, but that part had not been confiscated. They were compensated with cash and bonds, so they had plenty of money to invest and many had started to invest. The other element contributing to the growth of capitalist farming was a segment of the rich peasantry. The landlords did not take part in any kind of labor on the fields, but the rich peasantry participated in actual work, though they relied predominantly on hired labor for carrying on operations. In some parts of the country like Punjab, the rich peasant element was dominant while in other parts the landlord element was dominant - India had enormous variations in class structures.

MAAround this time or subsequent to these debates you also engaged in debates about dispelling notions of a Chayanovian approach to the peasantry?

UPYes. Basic to the mode of production debate was exactly that issue: the idea of differentiation under market forces is the opposite of Chayanov’s model of a homogeneous peasantry in Russia. He traced the large differences in farm size, only to differences in family size. If you normalized by dividing the land owned by the family size, farmers would end up with a similar amount of land per head, according to Chayanov. Whatever dynamism there was in his model had to do with demographics - the changing family size, and the number of mouths to be fed compared to the number of workers. The motivation of production for every household was to satisfy the family’s consumption needs and he assumed that it actually succeeded in doing this. When the family size expanded, it obtained more land and the farm became bigger. When the family size contracted because it broke up into nuclear families then each family had a smaller sized farm. Chayanov applied in 1915, the framework of utility from income versus disutility from work (developed by Jevons and Menger) to talk of the production ‘equilibrium’ reached by the peasant. It had nothing to do with any idea of class at all, the notion of class is diametrically opposite. Class analysis begins with the fact that all societies inherited great inequality in how land and other assets were distributed – a very small minority of the landowners owned a very large proportion of the land and other resources like livestock, implements. Landless persons had to rent in land from them or labor for them for wages. Within the peasantry with some land, the poor peasants and even some middle peasants had too little land for their needs. This inequality in the possession of land, livestock etc. necessarily meant that there were very different classes within the agrarian population. You could not think of it as a uniform homogeneous mass.

Chayanov’s framework was revived from the 1960s by academics discussing ‘peasant equilibrium’ and peasant ‘efficiency,’ by building models using the utility calculus, that assumed a homogeneous peasantry as Chayanov had done, but without referring to his work. In 1966 , Amartya K Sen published a paper, a mathematical model, and its assumptions and argument were completely Chayanovian. I wrote a critique of Chayanov’s theory and also related the Sen model to this earlier work. The title of the paper was “Neo‐populism and Marxism: The Chayanovian view of the agrarian question and its fundamental fallacy.”

MAYou have also developed a strong criticism of the advance of neoliberalism in India. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you saw that process?

UPThe main criticism of neo-liberalism is it destroys our food security and undermines livelihoods of small producers. The economic history of India and other countries under colonial rule, showed there were certain alarming economic trends of deepening food insecurity and unemployment at that time which were coming back again under neo-liberalism. If you did not study this history and simply looked at present day neo-liberal policies (of free trade and cutting back public spending, ‘austerity’) you would never be able to identify those trends. The most important was the inverse relation under free trade colonialism, where exporting more from agriculture always reduced our food security. The mechanism was income deflation. The consumption of the peasantry in India was severely restricted by very high taxes and rents so that peasants were forced into growing and selling export crops. Grain-producing land was diverted to tropical crops, exported to satisfy the metropolitan demands that were insatiable because their cold lands can produce only one crop, and can never produce the crops that our lands can produce. Our lands are very productive because we can grow at least two crops per year, and in some areas of India up to three crops.

There is heavy, continuous and one-sided demand that the North always has on our lands, for the simple reason that agriculture is constrained by climate, and so is very different from any other sector. You can produce shoes and textiles anywhere in the world, but no amount of capitalist technological change, will allow North America to produce sugarcane or Germany to produce coffee. They can never import-substitute in these goods, but this reality is never mentioned in their economic literature. They want an international division of labor in which we specialize in growing tropical non-grain crops to export to them while they export to us the grain they can produce in great amounts. Not in the past – Britain was dependent on India then, even for part of its wheat imports. But with rising productivity, Europe and North America now have large surpluses of grain and dairy products, but their rich populations don’t want to eat only bread and dairy products or fresh vegetables only in summer. They want coffee, tea and cocoa, they want tropical products and fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers in the middle of winter. But they are incapable ever of diversifying their own production to these crops. So today they demand the products of our lands, to an even greater extent than before. A lot of things fall into place once you understand that -why they have always wanted and got access to our lands, but we don’t need access to their lands. That is what the WTO is all about, the repeated mantra is: open up your agriculture.

The people who support free trade policies might be puzzled and say, “What’s wrong with that? You’re earning foreign exchange for exporting more, your farmers are getting more income!” The problem that they do not see, is that even though our lands are more productive they are limited in area, we cannot actually satisfy the huge appetite of rich advanced countries populations and also feed our own population. It’s just not possible. Through studying history, I find the inverse relation obtained not just in the India-Britain dynamic. If you look at Java under the Netherlands, or Korea under Japan, you find the same inverse relation. I gave the data in my book The Republic of Hunger (2007) for Java and for Korea. For the people in Java rice availability went down sharply as the Dutch diverted land to tropical export crops. From 1910 and 1945, Korea was a Japanese colony. The Japanese took over half of Korean rice output by the 1930s so the Korean peasantry was pushed down to near-starvation level. In every single developing country, I found this inverse relationship. In India, from 205 kilograms per head food-grain output and after exports, 197 kg available for consumption (average for 1909 to 1914) the availability went down to 159 kg (average for 1933 to 1938) and dropped further to 137 kg by 1946, our worst year. Daily per head calorie intake went down by 650 calories. Grains supplied a little more than three quarters of the daily calorie intake as well as protein intake of the average Indian even as late as 2005 and there was even higher dependence earlier. Poor populations cannot afford enough milk and other animal products and depend heavily on cereals and lentils. Even in Lebanon, I find that apart from vegetables, people are reliant as basic food staples on cereals, lentils and beans.

If we invest a lot in improving our agricultural productivity – then, yes, in theory we could do both, we could export as well as maintain production for our own needs. But the neo-liberal policy regime is predicated on governments cutting back on expenditure - that is one main policy pillar, apart from free trade, which is the other. There is a basic contradiction: governments are asked (by international financial institutions) to cut spending, and so not only India, all developing country states have been cutting very sharply their rural development expenditures, and research on new crop varieties. As a result, you cannot raise land productivity, and at the same time you are asked to export more and more to fill supermarket shelves in the North. Income deflation plus free trade – these colonial policies are being replicated in new modern forms. Our food grain output per head was bound to go down and mass incomes were also being squeezed by income deflation so demand per head was falling. From the early 1990s, I was the only person who was warning repeatedly that free trade and cutting public spending are dangerous because our food security will be badly affected.

That is precisely what has happened, from 182 kilograms per head output and after exports, 174 kg. availability in the early 1990s we went down to 159 kg. availability by 2008, the same level as in the 1930s seven decades earlier!

For 40 years after independence, between 1950 and 1990, we tried to delink from the global market. We said that the food security of our population is of the greatest importance, so we are going to have barriers to trade and not allow the export of food-grains even if global prices are high as long as domestic needs are not satisfied. Import of food grains would not be allowed just because global prices are low, because such imports would undermine the incomes of our farmers. It was a balancing act – to ensure that you protect the consumers within your country as well as the producers. It was pretty successful. We managed to raise our basic food grain output per head to about 182 kilograms, by the early 1990s. It was still much lower than the 205 kilograms of 1909-14, but it was certainly a lot better than the 135 kilograms of 1946. And 3 million people had died in the 1943-44 Bengal famine, an engineered famine which I wrote about recently (in Economic and Political Weekly, October 20, 2018 issue).

When you see this history of the inverse relation, and then suddenly 40 years later, the North is telling you to open up to global trade – immediately the question arises: Why are they so keen that we should we dismantle our protectionist structure? Why do they want our agriculture opened up? The answer is simple: their need for our products has not gone down. On the contrary, there is even greater demand now, with greater diversification of diets in rich northern countries. Earlier we were protected by the fact that exported goods had to be carried by ships. If you left from India or China, even going through the Suez Canal it was a 14 to 21 days journey by sea, so fresh perishable items could not be transported. When I was a child, airfares were very high. My father worked for the independent Indian government and when he was posted to London in 1954, the government sent us by ship, and when we returned in 1958 it was again by the sea route. All this changed by the early 1970s as air-fares and air-freighting became much cheaper. You find the rise of the transnational agri-business companies and food companies and big supermarkets emerged, a phenomenon which did not exist in the 1950s and 1960s. In London it used to be neighborhood shops as we have in our own country: small family owned shops. These changes meant that the advanced countries wanted to access our agriculture for an even larger range of products than before, because they could now fly out fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables, and today it would only take 15 or 16 hours from India to Chicago or to New York.

MAYou’ve covered a lot of ground and I want to follow up on a few points. One clarification: you say that the nadir of domestic food grain consumption was in 1946 and that it had dropped precipitously from 1909-14 to 1946?

UPIn fact, it was dropping even earlier. But we don’t have any reliable data for the whole of India for the earlier period, because our census and agricultural data started to be systematically collected only from around 1891. The present day grain consumption in the Arab countries varies from 260 to 280 kilograms. So probably we had that level in the early19th century and it dropped to 205 kilos per capita by 1905, but we don’t have hard data for the earlier period.

MAAnd at the point of independence it started to gradually increase, more or less linearly?

UPYes, because specific policies were followed to make sure that land did not get diverted to export crops at the expense of domestic food security and the government set up a system to encourage food grain production by saying that farmers could sell any amount they wished to the state agency – the Food Corporation of India – at a minimum support price which covers not only their cost of production but gives them a livelihood. No linear increase, there were fluctuations as in the severe 1965-6 drought but the trend was upwards. There were periods when global prices were much higher than the minimum support price in India but somehow our farmers were not maximizers. They were quite happy not to go in for exports but to sell to the government agency. You know, farmers are not truly maximizers, they are not full of a capitalist mentality. What they want is a decent income and income stability. Even when global prices rose fast as in the 1970s, our farmers continued selling to the government agency. The system worked really well from 1965 right up to the 1980s.

MAAnd when did these policies start to be dismantled? In the mid-1980s?

UPWell for Latin America and Africa it started in the early 1980s but for India it started from 1991, because that is when you have a complete about turn in policies. It is clear now that this about-turn was being planned by the financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF for some time. After our 1991 general elections a minority Congress government came to power with Dr Manmohan Singh as the Finance Minister. He had been in the South Commission earlier and had been taking good positions, but he made a complete about turn after he became Finance Minister. We must recall the history, how it was that the IMF and World Bank were able to pressure India to change its policies. This was because of the First Gulf War. Large numbers of Indians who were working in Kuwait had to be evacuated back to India and their savings were not accepted by Indian banks, a very big mistake which the banks made because they thought that the value of the Kuwaiti currency would plummet and that it would be worthless. They should have accepted the savings of the Indians who came back. This and the cost of the evacuation plus some other factors meant that we were running low on our foreign exchange reserves. That was the excuse for the World Bank and the IMF to come in and say, “India is in a very bad financial position.” They’re always looking for an opportunity to put structural adjustment on the table. It was not such a big crisis as it was made out to be. Import controls and a very small loan from the IMF would have covered the shortfall. But India went in for a loan that was really made an excuse for a complete policy about turn. The new Finance Minister devalued the rupee by a huge 30 percent and imposed sharp cuts in public spending from the budget, to the extent that we had fall in per capita income the next year. Income growth is highly dependent on government spending in developing countries, if you cut back so sharply it has an immediate impact. The axe fell mainly on agricultural development spending and the social sectors like education and health, which is the same story in every developing country. These are sectors where it is difficult to organize protest. Progressive intellectuals, I think, were taken unawares. They were not aware that this plot was being hatched for quite some time in Washington. Suddenly we had this reversal of policies without any discussion in Parliament at all and the people were told that it was necessary otherwise India would be bankrupt – which is all nonsense! But that is where it started, from mid-1991.

MAThis was a period of imperialist advance worldwide. Can you connect what happened in India to your macroeconomics of imperialism? Especially that contained in the recent book that you co-authored?

UPIt is a complex phenomenon. In post-war Europe and America policies were quite different from what they were from the 1970s onwards which saw a big policy shift. Post-war Europe was engaged in reconstruction, the dominant theoretical discourse then was strongly influenced by Keynesianism. The post-war reconstruction boom was helped by American aid to war-ravaged Europe. The idea that you had to build up lost employment and purchasing power through government spending, dominated. It is only after the oil price shocks of the early 1970s that policies changed, West Asian oil money was deposited in the Northern banks producing an enormous increase in liquidity and the power of finance grew very suddenly, very fast. Financial interests have traditionally always had a very clear agenda – an income deflating agenda.

Firstly, they have an inflation targeting agenda, and to do so, they carry out an income deflating agenda. I think it’s not too difficult even for non-economists to understand, that those who make their money income by lending money to others, which is what financiers do, have different set of interests as Karl Marx had explained long ago, from those who make their money from investing in production. A capitalist manufacturer wants an expanding market and he wants cheap credit for carrying on production and for investment –capitalists want to borrow at low interest rates. The financier wants exactly the opposite, he wants high interest rates because he is making his money as interest return from lending, not from producing anything.

However the nominal interest rate is not what interests financiers, they want to make sure that the real interest rates are high. If the inflation rate goes up their real rate of return will fall.

To illustrate, suppose the interest rate is five percent and the rate of inflation is five percent then for the person lending money the real interest rate, is zero. The interest rate has to be higher than the rate of inflation. In order to maximize the real interest rate they always want the inflation rate to be very low. That is why you hear of inflation targeting all the time, when finance dominates industry. But, there is more than one way of targeting inflation. The best way is to increase production especially in agriculture, as fast as demand is increasing, then prices will not rise and this method benefits, it does not hurt people. But the path that financial interests choose is always to restrict demand for a given production level - they don’t want mass demand to rise. Even when unemployment exists they always advise governments that you can’t spend more, putting forward wrong arguments. But the real reason is that higher public spending will set in motion the Keynesian multiplier, in turn mass incomes will rise, so demand would rise, inflation may rise especially for primary goods, and they hate inflation because it means their own returns will fall. A manufacturer would like his output price to go up relative to his input price because he profits from that. But the financier absolutely hates inflation and when finance dominates industry you get these income deflating policies badly affecting people, which are uniformly applied by the IMF and World Bank across the world as ‘austerity measures’.

In many countries, they have pushed for actual legislation to prevent governments from spending more, they will say first that you have to keep your fiscal deficit down to 3 percent and countries have cut it down to 3 percent. Then they’ll say that you have to balance your budget that is, cut spending even more so that fiscal deficit is zero. And probably then they would want surplus budgets namely negative fiscal deficit! It is very clear, this deflationary agenda of ‘austerity’ which has been pushed by financial interests successfully now all across the world. And it has had a disastrous impact on employment and living standards for the mass of the working population.

In India too the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act was passed 2004 under pressure from global financial interests. It has an additional objective for them, to squeeze mass demand so that land and resources are shifted away from local consumption to meet the consumption demands of advanced countries.

MAYour theory of imperialism sees this as differentially applied, particularly vis-à-vis depressing the prices of tropical agricultural products.

UPThere are multiple layers of contradiction. On the one hand domination of finance means that ordinary people in the advanced world too are hit by it because you have higher unemployment. The rise of the Right in the advanced world is because the Left has not understood the agenda of finance and has not sufficiently opposed neoliberal policies. To a very large extent it has got intellectually hegemonized by all the wrong theories that financial interests have put forward. All this hype about globalization, efficiency, free trade - they have succumbed to it. When progressive people do not have a clear theoretical perspective that austerity imposed by finance is hitting the interests of the working people, then in the advanced countries too, you will see the rise of fascist elements as had happened in the classic case of Germany in the 1920s and 30s (where Germany’s creditors had insisted on deflation). The Left there was very strong but not wise enough to unite with others and mount an effective theoretical as well as practical challenge against the rise of fascism. These fascist forces come in and say to the people, you are unemployed or losing income. Who is to blame? It is the immigrant who is to blame, or the religious minority. They divert the people’s anger into the wrong channels – targeting minorities, targeting immigrants, and so on. That is precisely what Trump is doing. That is precisely what is happening in Brazil and in India. I think the theoretical opposition to neo-liberalism has been too weak on the part of the progressive Left. It needed to have a much stronger and uncompromising opposition, but they were all taken in by the hype about globalization being good.

In fact, globalization represents nothing but a new phase of the domination of finance capital domestically within the Northern countries, but also economic re-colonization of the global South. You have discontent and unemployment in advanced countries. The attempt by their governments and by global finance is to shift the burden as much as possible to the developing countries. They are constantly told to devalue their currencies so their products become cheaper for the North. Despite their poverty, their own public grain procurement and distribution for ensuring some food security, is at present under attack in the WTO so that the North’s surplus grain can penetrate their markets. They are pressurized to cut public development spending. Such income-deflating and unemployment raising measures lead to far worse outcomes for them, because the initial level of income itself is so much lower. The advanced capitalist countries start with a much higher income levels, they have some kind of unemployment benefit and social welfare schemes. Finance tries to attack these, but in Britain the doctors have stood out against the dismantling of the National Health Service which used to be practically free, and which was set in place by the Labour government immediately after the war. There is still some protection.

But in developing countries where the population has such a low level of income if you say that you cannot have development expenditure and you have to have private high-cost health and education, market-pricing of energy and inputs for farmers, that you must also remove any kind of price support to farmers and expose them to global price volatility, the result is disastrous. We never heard of farmer suicides owing to debt before the 1990s in India, only from 1997 when the neo-liberal attack on farmers took effect did you hear of debt-driven suicides that by now exceed 300,000. And the sad thing is it is our own government which is the instrument – our finance ministers, our economists, who are so completely hegemonized by the wrong theories peddled by global finance that they are attacking the interests of their own people by implementing these policies. Can you imagine anything more tragic than that?

I think this also underlines the importance of theoretical resistance. We must show up the fallacies in the theories which are uncritically accepted. I’ve tried to do that to some extent by critiquing the incorrect theories that justify past and present globalisation. For example, Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage says that there is always benefit from specialization and trade for both trading countries, but it is a logically incorrect theory. Ricardo himself was a poorly educated, but very clever stockbroker. He was very modest man you know. He said “I am not as learned as Adam Smith. I have not studied philosophy, I have not studied history.” If you read Ricardo, you see he had very good reason to be modest! Because if he had studied philosophy, which includes the study of logic, he could not have put forward the theory of comparative advantage, which assumed that both countries entering into trade could produce both commodities. This is a very simple material fallacy, namely an incorrect statement of fact since Ricardo’s country could never produce tropical goods whose ‘cost of production’ could not even be defined in his country. His basic assumption is not true for any Northern country, so the conclusion of mutual benefit is not true as I have pointed out with numerical examples in my essay ‘Ricardo’s Fallacy’ (in K S Jomo.ed. The Pioneers of Development Economics).

Karl Marx had actually attacked, in Theories of Surplus Value, Ricardo on rent, in fact Marx is scathing about Ricardo’s logical mistakes with respect to the theory of rent. Marx as a trained philosopher would have criticized Ricardo’s theory of trade as well, except that he never completed his intellectual project. He intended to study “capital, landed property, wage- labour; the State, foreign trade, world market”. He set out this project in the Preface to A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy published in 1859. Reading his plan of work you realize he completed less than half of his intellectual project and never formally discussed “the State, foreign trade, world market”. I have no doubt at all that if he had got around to analyzing international trade, he would have spotted Ricardo’s mistake and would have pointed out that the theory was fallacious. It remains very important to critique the wrong theories which have dominated our syllabi, which are taught to this day to our students and completely mislead them. That critique has to be carried out constantly.

MACan we go a touch deeper into Marx’s thought? In A Theory of Imperialism, you discuss how Marx anecdotally and journalistically analyzed colonialism. But this was only very partially carried forward by the subsequent Western Marxist tradition – for example, you state Lenin and Luxemburg put forward analyses that may have been incomplete but were certainly highly attentive to imperialism. But thenceforward it did not appear as very much as structuring element.

UPAs I mentioned earlier there is a basic problem and this is that Marx’s own theoretical project was never completed. He did write about colonialism at length in his newspaper articles, for the New York Daily Tribune, but Northern academics don’t take those articles seriously, the economists especially only look at the three volumes of Capital, (only the first volume was published in his lifetime) which do not discuss international trade at all – Marx never got around to opening up his closed model in Capital to foreign trade though he had certainly intended to do so. So there is a fundamental problem with a lack of completion of his rigorous model of capitalism, of Marx’s own project. Marxists should understand that it was an incomplete project and so you can’t treat Capital as a finished product – Marx never intended to leave it as a closed system, he was forced by debt and illness into premature death. He had a very hard life - how much could you expect one man to do after all! His incomplete project should have been carried forward by others. But you need to be a true Marxist to carry forward his project and unfortunately most of those who call themselves Marxist in Northern universities in my view are not Marxists at all. They see Marx’s published works as some kind of Bible and treat it narrowly and scholastically rather than looking at the realization of Marx’s grand project of human liberation. Humanity does not end where Europe ends, or America ends. Lenin’s contribution as well as Rosa Luxembourg’s work are both of inestimable value because they applied the Marxist method to areas that Marx himself had not touched. Towards the end of his life, Marx realized that his original vision of proletarian revolution in Europe was not going to materialize. And why not? Because the safety valve European capitalism had was emigration. They simply exported their unemployed to the new world. As a result, the potentially explosive social and economic contradictions within Europe were defused. Marx realized that and by the 1870s, he looked towards Russia, he was studying Russian and corresponding with Russian revolutionaries. What he wanted to see was revolution and human liberation wherever it occurred. If the proletarian revolution was undermined in Europe by emigration and colonial wealth coming in, he wanted to see it happening elsewhere. Lenin carried this vision forward and for the first time he integrated the role of the peasantry into Marxism, as well as the role of the colonized and oppressed peoples. Luxembourg also did so very explicitly in her Accumulation of Capital. She was the only one who talked about colonial exploitation with very specific examples, including India and Egypt.

MALenin argues that one of the constituents of imperialism is capital export. But some of your work and others such as Amiya Kumar Bagchi discuss how capital export was actually fundamentally different when it was exported to settler colonies versus capital exported to other locations.

UPLenin was right about the general importance of capital exports, relying on data from JA Hobson. But, the scholarly information they had access to a century ago, was very limited. You cannot expect an individual like Lenin both to lead a revolution in Russia and to research the details of colonial exploitation! Later UN historical trade data series compiled in 1942 and in 1962, showed that it was the tropical colonies that had huge trade surpluses and earned gold and foreign exchange from the world. Researching the details we find that the metropolis took all of the colonies’ foreign earnings, and this allowed the metropolis to export capital to regions of European settlement. The producers of the export goods back in their colonies were never actually paid for their exports because the ‘payment’ came out of the cash taxes collected from the very same producers.

This mechanism once explained is actually quite simple, but until explained, it was not so easy to understand. It is only by studying both Indian and British trade data intensively over many years, that I could see the real patterns emerging. The question I asked myself was, if there was a drain of surplus from India which was huge compared to Britain which was tiny in terms of resources, it had to show up somewhere in the British statistics. So why was not a single historian of British industrialisation including Eric Hobsbawm who was a Marxist, giving even a single reference anywhere, not even a footnote, to the Indian literature on the drain of wealth?

I realized that the British historians were making incorrect estimates of their own trade. Phyllis Deane and W.A. Cole had published in 1967, British Economic Growth 1688–1959, which was standard reading for anyone wanting to know about British economic history. But they were using a wrong definition of trade, a definition which is not in any macroeconomics textbook – which is not used by the World Bank, or UNCTAD, or the IMF, the bodies which present trade data for all countries. Deane and Cole were leaving out re-exports completely and measuring only part and not the whole of Britain’s trade. They added up imports used within their country and exports of their own goods. But the correct definition is total imports plus total exports, including re-exported imports. I reworked the data using Deane and Cole’s own series for the 18th and 19th centuries. By the year 1800 the actual trade was £82 million, but the figure that Deane and Cole give us is £51 million! The correct trade to GDP percentage was 56 percent at that date, not 34 percent as they stated. It is very important for us to look at what Northern academics are doing with their own data, but we remain intellectually colonized and we take it for granted since they are well-known professors from Cambridge they must be correct, but very often they are not.

All major colonizing countries, Netherlands, France, Britain re-exported tropical goods they got free from their colonies. Britain was taxing the population in India, in Burma and Malaya collecting massive revenues, much more than in Britain itself. In India it used about one third of the tax revenues, obtained mainly from peasants and artisans, to ‘purchase’ goods for export from these same producers. But Britain could not absorb all of the huge volumes of free goods. After importing, it re-exported a large part of the free goods to get the food grains and other goods it needed from the European continent and North America, where tropical goods were in high demand.

What Britain was getting from its Indian and other colonies was international purchasing power by taking these goods as the equivalent of tax. It was a very clever system. But the producers themselves did not realize that they were not being paid, because the government agent who bought the goods from them was different from the agent who took their money tax, and the transactions took place at different times, so they did not connect the two and did not realize that a part of their own money was coming back, so that effectively they were not being paid but were being taxed out of their goods. Suppose you are a peasant farmer in Lebanon, and I am the foreign power taking 100 lira in taxes. I use 50 of those lira to buy your fruit for export. You think it is a normal market transaction because you are getting money for your fruit just as you would get from a local trader. But it’s not a normal transaction because actually you are not getting paid. Part of the tax you have paid is merely being converted from cash to goods.

Phyllis Deane wrote a book called The First Industrial Revolution in 1965, in which she had a whole chapter on how important re-exports were because they helped Britain to buy strategic goods from Continental Europe and North America. Then in 1967, two years later she published the joint book with Cole, in which that discussion was cut out completely, and from the data series they cut out re-exports so giving wrong estimates. Were they doing it deliberately, or was it just a conceptual confusion? We will never know. It doesn’t matter, but the fact remains it’s a wrong estimate.

All of the discussion of British economic growth ignores the drain of wealth from colonies completely. Therefore, it is theoretically and analytically an incomplete discussion. In fact, the quality of scholarly work on British economic growth itself is quite poor in my opinion, because they can’t explain why that country was the first to industrialize. Naturally, for they ignore the fact that it already had the largest empire in the world. From the mid-19th Century, after the great rebellion in India, 1857-59, the governance of India passed from the East India Company to the British Crown. They put in place a more complicated looking mechanism of taking our earnings, but essentially still very simple, by using Bills of Exchange. The minister in Britain in charge of Indian affairs was called the Secretary of State for India. By this time Indian goods were going directly all over the world.The Secretary of State for India in Council told foreign importers of Indian goods who needed to pay for their imports, “You deposit your gold, or sterling, or your own currency with me in London in exchange for a bill to an equivalent Rupee value that you can send to Indian exporters for cashing in rupees in India.” So all the gold and foreign exchange Indian producers had earned, the international purchasing power went into the account of the SoS in London, for Britain to use. The exporters in India receiving Council Bills deposited them in banks and were issued the rupees, but not in the normal manner - the rupees for cashing the bills were paid to banks by the Treasury in India, out of the budget. About one-third of the budget went for cashing the bills, a very abnormal use of budgetary funds we do not ever see in any sovereign country. Today in independent India, say I export $1,000 worth of goods to USA. The dollars come to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which of course keeps the dollars, they add to India’s international purchasing capacity. But at the current exchange rate of Rs.70 per dollar, the RBI makes a fresh issue of 70,000 rupees to me not connected in any way whatsoever to the budget. But in colonial India our foreign earnings never came back to the country, additionally even the rupee value was not actually paid to the producers since they were cheated by cleverly using their own tax payments to reimburse them out of budget funds. That is why the export surplus was a correct measure of massive transfer of our foreign earnings to Britain, and our producers got poorer and poorer the more they exported because then they were taxed even more heavily.

Supposing we had been credited even one-quarter of the massive sums we had actually earned in foreign exchange? We had this export surplus from day one, from 1765 onwards. Then we could have imported technology to build up a modern industrial structure many decades before Japan started doing it after its Meiji Restoration in 1867. But not a single dollar, not a single pound sterling from export surplus earnings was allowed to come back. That was the beauty of the system Britain operated from its own point of view, that they got this huge international purchasing power. According to the UN data for three decades ending in 1928, India was earning the second largest export surplus in the world, second only to the USA.

I estimated that the drain of wealth from India to Britain for the period 1765 to 1938 amounted to £9.2 trillion (equivalent to $45 trillion) using India’s export surplus earnings as the measure and compounding at a low interest rate of 5 percent. (My essay titled ‘Revisiting the drain, or transfers from India to Britain in the context of global diffusion of capitalism’ appeared in a book in honour of a senior historian I co-edited in 2017, titled Agrarian and Other Histories – Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri).

Using its political control to take India’s and other colonies’ huge export surplus earnings for its own use meant that Britain could become the world’s largest capital exporter and help to spread capitalist industrialization to regions of European settlement. During the 50 years after 1870 it was importing much more than it exported, from the European Continent and North America - namely it was running current account deficits with these regions. Yet it was exporting vast sums of capital to develop infrastructure to these very same regions, so it was running capital account deficits too with them. (Remember capital exports unlike goods export, are a negative item and normally, a country would need to have a current account surplus to be able to export capital, because the balance of payments always has to balance). The fast rising balance of payments deficit it had with Europe and North America was only possible because it took all its colonies earnings to pay for these deficits. So, today’s entire advanced industrial world actually parasitically benefited from the wealth drained from colonies.

MACan you talk a little bit about the reception of your work and imperialism and your work on drain, in both India and the Western intellectual sphere, especially Western Marxism? If there has been reception?

UPI think the book on imperialism is probably too recent to have been circulated widely enough or absorbed fully by readers. We wrote it because of the urging of our friend Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, who teaches philosophy at Columbia University. He found our ideas interesting and when we said, “We’re writing a big book backed up by data” he said, “Look, your big book can wait, but first you put these ideas down in a small book which is accessible to people.”

He prodded and pushed us into completing A Theory of Imperialism. Academics are finicky, they want to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and have proper footnotes and all the data. He said, “You can do all that later, but just get out a small book to begin with and publish through Columbia University Press.” He was right to think that if you are publishing from India, or Lebanon, or from anywhere in the South, even if your book may be the result of very sincere work over many years, it will be not be taken notice of in the North. We said that we wanted to have an Indian edition, because the US edition will be too expensive for our readers. We had simultaneous publication in late 2016 both from Columbia University Press, as well as Tulika Publishers in Delhi. The Tulika hardcovers sold out very quickly within a year, so they’ve got a second print run of paperbacks now.

In India, yes, it has been quite widely read, and abroad, it has attracted some notice – I think one reason for that is that Prof. Bilgrami also insisted that there should be a commentary on our arguments. Originally, he had asked a number of people to give their comments, including Noam Chomsky, who said that our book would need careful reading which would take more time than he had initially thought. David Harvey, out of three or four people who had been approached, agreed to give his comments. It was useful because like many Marxists in Northern universities he had never been exposed to the more than century-old theory and discussion of the drain of wealth under colonialism. Therefore for him to engage with our specific project was perhaps difficult and meant entering a new terrain. We did not agree with the points that he made but it was still good that he did take the trouble of reading the book and giving his criticisms. Now, I think slowly, our argument may start percolating down because books are not read immediately, nor do ideas get disseminated very fast especially if they are not within the conventional mould.

I must mention that the internet does play a positive role nowadays and ideas circulate faster than before. My estimate of the drain of wealth from India published a year later than our book, in 2017 in the reference I gave you earlier, was positively commented on by Jason Hickel, an academic from London University in Al Jazeera and also by a very senior academic from Australia, Gideon Polya, whose piece was carried recently on the online Monthly Review. Indian business journals and newspapers have interviewed me on my estimate after seeing the internet discussion. I hope academics from other developing countries will explore the link between taxes and trade during their own colonial period.

MAYou mentioned that you are writing more fleshed out version of the Theory of Imperialism. What is that going to look like and when can we expect it?

UPThe first draft is almost entirely written, save a couple of chapters. Now what it needs is a lot of revision. Prabhat does most of the writing as he is very energetic while I am slow, and also for many reasons I am able to devote less time to academic writing. The chapters which still need to be written are my chapters, the economic-history ones! Of course, he has included a lot of my material in the earlier chapters also, because it’s a collaborative effort. In another six months or so, we hope to complete this book. As regards my expanded exposition of the drain mechanism, I am thinking in terms of a short book, maybe less than 100 pages, understandable to non-economists. That will take another year or so.

MAWell, we’re looking forward to both, thanks very much!

This article originally appeared at Thimar. It is crossposted here with their permission.

Max Ajl (@ajl_max)
Max Ajl is a doctoral student in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University, and will graduate in late Spring 2019. His work focuses on and contributes to the study of historical sociology, environmental justice, agrarian change, planning, and heterodox Arab/North African social thought. His research is focused on the Middle East – North Africa area, especially Tunisia. His dissertation is a history of modern Tunisia, focused on the social and ecological origins of underdevelopment, and the trajectory of post-colonial planning.

Utsa Patnaik
Utsa Patnaik taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India starting in 1973 after completing her doctoral thesis at Oxford University until retiring in 2010. She has written, edited and co-edited several volumes including Agrarian Relations and Accumulation – the Mode of Production Debate (1991), The Agrarian Question in Marx and his Successors in two
volumes (2007, 2011), The Agrarian Question in the Neoliberal Era (2013) with the late Sam Moyo and most recently co-authored A Theory of Imperialism (2016) with her husband Prabhat Patnaik.
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:22 pm

The Betrayal Of Kashmir And A Warning For Other States
Published: August 07, 2019 20:15 IST

Across India, people are expressing their opinions on the government's actions on Kashmir. On the streets of Delhi, red flags of the Left parties lead protests against the Government action. Across the road, saffron flags of the Sangh Parivar are held by demonstrators praising Modi. In the rest of India, we have the right to discuss Kashmir, a cacophony of voices resound in TV studios; the only people who have no such right are the people of Kashmir.
Their home is broken and divided, there has been a forcible acquisition of their rights, leaders have been arrested, all communication with the outside world has been deliberately snapped, but still they are not allowed to speak. How would you feel in such a situation? Frustrated, betrayed, angry, helpless, fearful, outraged-which of these, or all of these, emotions would have coursed through your mind, your heart, your body?

On the night of February 4, rumors were rife that something serious was in the offing. Close to midnight, I spoke to the CPI(M) MLA Yousuf Tarigami who said he had been informed that he was under house arrest and that many political leaders were also so informed. After that, there has been no way to contact him as all communications with the state have been cut by the centre.

Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters barring defence, communications and foreign affairs

The voices from Kashmir have been silenced, through the use of curfew, the posting of over 40,000 armed personnel sent from outside the state, the display of bayonets and guns, the imposition of Sec 144. You cannot integrate the people of Kashmir with India, the proclaimed aim of the laws pushed through by the Modi government, by force and coercion. This is not integration - this is occupation.

Blogs and messages from those who were in Kashmir but have subsequently left give sketchy information of the impact of the huge presence of armed personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. Normal life is suspended. Daily workers have lost their livelihood. In one reported case, a 22-year-old man died before he could reach hospital because security forces are under strict instructions to allow no movement without curfew passes - and curfew passes are not available.

Do we want Kashmir be converted into a Palestine under Israeli occupation, or a Saigon of the 1960s under US control? Think of the consequences of what the BJP-RSS Government has done in its drive to fulfill its narrow political agenda.

Over 40,000 troops are in Jammu and Kashmir, sent over the past weeks in the government's meticulous preps for its Article 370 move

It is an outright attack on the principles of federalism and minimum democratic rights. They have dismantled a state without any reference to the people of that state. This is unprecedented. When Jharkhand and Bihar were divided, when Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, when Andhra Pradesh and Telengana were divided, it was after years of dialogue, struggle and debate between differing views. Even today, the people of Andhra are resentful about the division. But it was a long process. India is a union of states with equal rights. If any matter pertains to the state, it has to be discussed by the state assembly and its elected representatives. If any of the boundaries of the state have to be changed, such as occurs when a state is divided, there is a constitutional procedure which has to be followed. But none of this was applied to Jammu and Kashmir.

Are the citizens of this state second-class citizens that their rights of statehood can be snatched away and their state divided? Why should the people of Ladakh be deprived of their own representatives? Now they are reduced to a municipality run by the centre. If it can happen here, no state can have any guarantees.

There is also a great deal of deliberate confusion being created about Article 370. When India became independent on August 15, 1947, Kashmir was not a part of India, it was a princely state under Maharaja Hari Singh. This was an example of a Hindu Maharaja reigning over a Muslim-majority state. While the Raja did not want to accede to India and favoured remaining independent, the population, mainly Muslim, led by the National Conference under Sheikh Abdullah, wanted to be with India. The matter was decided in a dramatic fashion when Pakistan sent raiders backed by their army to attack and takeover Kashmir and nearly reached Srinagar. It was the Muslim population of the Kashmir Valley which fought them back. Forces of the Indian army were only later airlifted to Srinagar. It was after the raiders were defeated that the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession. The agreement included autonomy for the state guaranteed by Article 370. It is this guarantee which has now been betrayed.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti and Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference chairman Sajjad Lone were all placed under house arrest

Kashmir is not the only state which has a specific status or rights. Adivasis have constitutional rights over their land and forests under Schedule V and VI of the constitution of India. No one can buy land owned by Adivasis in these areas. Article 371 has several special provisions for different states. In Himachal Pradesh, a non-domicile cannot buy land in the state. In different forms, there are special rights for domiciles in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya. In Manipur, there is the issue of inner line permits to travel within the state. There are historical reasons why these provisions were necessary. Yet, even today, there is a feeling of resentment among different sections who believe their cultures, language and ways of life are not being protected and are sought to be bulldozed by a homogenizing ideology such as that represented by the Sangh Parivar.

It is a cliché that India's unity is linked to the protection of India's diversity but it must be reiterated today. Once a unitary form of governance is imposed, this framework of a federal India, a union of states with their own rights, gets weakened.

As part of a complete communications blackout, phone services and internet connections remain suspended

Article 370 was a solemn pledge by the Indian State to the people of Kashmir. Over the years, the provisions of autonomy have been massively diluted and eliminated through over 44 amendments by successive governments including those led by the Congress. It is this dilution of Article 370 and the subversion of democratic processes which led to a build-up of discontent and resentment among the people of Kashmir which was later used cynically by Pakistan for its own nefarious ends. History shows it was not Article 370 but its dilution and destruction which is responsible for the present alienation of the citizens of Kashmir.

The government's actions have meant another grave loss for India. The central government has shown to the world that it cannot tolerate a Muslim-dominated province, thus proving at a different time and in a different way its allegiance to the "two nation theory" and delivering a blow against secular India. It was Vajpayee-ji who said that his policy for Kashmir was based on the three pillars of "insaniyat, jamooriyat and Kashmiriyat". Tragically today, all three pillars lie shattered, hammered down by those who claim his legacy.

Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha. ... es-2081816
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Re: India

Post by blindpig » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:24 am

Largest ever strike: Indian workers show strength against the far-right government
By Satya MohapatraJan 10, 2020

Unions mobilize for an earlier demonstration Photo: Vksgautam, Wikimedia Commons

On January 8, an estimated 250 million workers across India conducted the largest ever single-day general strike in history targeted against the far-right Modi government that has declared an all out war against workers along with a divisive agenda of religious bigotry. This countrywide strike was called Bharat Bandh, literally meaning Shutdown India. An Indian origin activist in Boston, Arif Hussian noted “The size of this strike is more than the total number of people that voted (219 million) for the ultra-right wing BJP government in the last general election of 2019.”

Indian labor struggle has been rising over the last few years due to the acute contradiction between big business and labor, with the size of the strikes increasing steadily. This is the fourth country-wide strike by workers during Modi’s regime, the earlier three being – September 2, 2015 (80 million); September 2, 2016 (150 million) and the two-day strike on January 8-9, 2019 (150 million).

Organized urban workers called the strike

The strike was called by 10 big central trade unions: NTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC along with various independent federations and associations with a declaration that was adopted in September last year at a mass workers’ conference.

All these trade unions represent unionized industrial workers and service sector workers, many of whom are employed by state owned industries and companies. A significant portion of the unionized service workers, known are scheme-workers, mainly consisting of women, come from different welfare schemes run by the central government.

Rural workers joined the strike

AIKSCC – the umbrella platform of over 175 organizations representing farmers, peasants, agricultural workers and non-farm rural workers decided to join this strike, boosting it further. This wing of the mobilization was titled Grameen Bharat Bandh, “Rural India Shutdown!”

Not only unionized urban workers and rural workers, but contractual workers also joined the shutdown.

In addition to stopping work, the striking workers blockaded road at several places. There were several arrests made across the country due to this strike.

Deep injustices in the Indian economy

This strike took place against the backdrop of India’s economic growth slowing considerably, mostly due to Modi’s own economic policies and missteps. Unemployment has increased alarmingly, with 73 million people unemployed, 4.7 million losing their jobs, and a staggering youth unemployment rate of 28 percent. Industrial output has severely declined with the index of industrial production actually showing negative growth for three consecutive months. Energy demand and generation declined for the fourth quarter in a row in the country, indicating a severe slowdown in the economy. But that slowdown has not put a dent in the profit of the big corporations, which grew by 22 percent last year.

Added to that, the botched implementation of a centralized tax system under Modi has led to a huge revenue shortfall, blowing a massive hole in budgets across states leading to cuts in welfare projects. The price of food is rapidly rising: wheat by 56 percent, rice by 14 percent, potatoes by 67 percent, and onions by 400 percent.

Despite all that, the Modi government is hell bent on pushing through privatization of the state’s resources and banks, and proposing reactionary changes to labor laws to make them further palatable to the capitalists. This would lead to longer working hours and loss of job security guarantees.

Even faced with deadly price rises, the government is obstinately refusing to allow more food to flow through the public distribution system, even though there is record food production. Such a measure would reduce food prices and fill millions of hungry stomachs.

Even with the record food production there is a severity of agrarian distress since peasants cannot recover decent prices from agricultural production, leading to high indebtedness and an epidemic of suicides.

Demands of the workers

Among the main demands of the striking workers are: an increase in minimum wages, universal social security cover, reining in rising prices, policies to curb raging joblessness, rollback of hostile/anti-worker labor law changes, an end to state resource sell-offs and curbing contract and casual work.

Farmers and agricultural workers are demanding better prices for produce, an increase in wages and complete debt forgiveness. Additionally they are demanding reimbursement for the losses suffered by farmers in Kashmir due to Modi’s government’s act of taking away the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of the state and imposing a lockdown severely affected the agricultural sector there.

Strike also raises political demands

Leading up to the strike, massive numbers of people across India have been taking to the streets against a discriminatory modification to the citizenship law known as the Citizenship Amendment Act that excludes Muslim migrants from eligibility to regularize their immigration status, and also of potential loss of citizenship under a National Register of Citizens. Protesters see these laws as an assault on the secular constitution and a threat to Indian unity.

Workers and farmers didn’t confine the January 8 strike to the economic struggle for higher wages and better working conditions, but also extended it to the societal issue by opposing the Modi government’s divisive agenda. Workers and farmers demanded the government drop the CAA and NRC, end attacks on minorities and those protesting against the government, and end its destruction of Constitutional provisions safeguarding democratic rights.

A couple of days before the strike, students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India’s capital Delhi were picketing against a proposed fee hike – an astronomical increase that would force at least half the post-graduate students to leave their studies. A few masked people belonging to the student wing of the ruling party BJP, with the complicity of police and the administration, went on a rampage armed with rods and sticks beating up both students and teachers.

This violence was recorded on film and further ignited students’ consciousness regarding the fascistic nature of the group supporting the government’s Hindutva theocratic ideology. Earlier brutality by the police against students demonstrating against CAA at two other universities — Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University — had already heightened people’s anger.

The trade unions condemned recent attacks on students in Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Aligarh Muslim University. Student organizations in turn showed solidarity in over 60 universities and institutions by observing a strike with thousands joining protest marches after boycotting classes. They not only amplified the striking workers’ demands but also added their own demands against fee increases and commercialization of education.

The historic general strike was a strong rebuke to the Modi government’s attempts to divide people to facilitate its anti-worker agenda. The strike has demonstrated the unity and strength of workers, peasants, and students to push Modi back and build a lasting alliance to direct the spontaneous anger of the people towards the defeat of far-right bigotry. ... rationnews
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