CALL FOR PAPERS 21st Annual Conference of the Indian Political Economy Association December 8-9, 2017

 

Concept Note with Sub Themes- Annexure III A

Annual Indian Political Economy Conference, 2017

 

Theme of the Conference: Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

 

Sub-themes

·         Unemployment and Poverty: Major Challenges facing India

·         Agrarian Crisis and Macroeconomy

·         Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities

·         Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Change Accord

·         GST

·         An Integrated social science approach to the Problematic of Development

·         Democracy, Development and Social Justice

·         Making Macroeconomics Relevant Again

 

 

Unemployment and Poverty: Major Challenges facing India

 

In recent years, India has acquired the distinction of being one of the fastest growing large economies in the world. Despite this, however, India has been ranked a lowly 131 (out of 181 countries) in the Human Development Report 2016. It is important, therefore, to examine why India has not been able to translate its success in economic growth into sustained improvements in living conditions for its people.    

 

There are several dimensions to the challenge that India faces in this respect. First is the very nature of India’s recent economic growth, which is largely based on the successes of certain segments of the services sector. At the same time, the growth of agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the country has been far from impressive.

 

India has the potential to benefit from the so-called ‘demographic dividend’ (that is, an expansion of population in the working-age years). However, studies have shown that the generation of employment in industry and services in the country has been inadequate (especially in comparison with the supply of ‘potential’ workers). The growth of public investment and of public spending in the social sectors has stagnated in India from the 1990s onwards, and this has been a major constraint for the economy.

 

At the same time, evidence shows that, between 2004-05 and 2011-12, there has been some reduction of poverty and improvement in the growth of rural wages, especially of women, in India. These positive changes have been attributed to a rise in public spending, especially on programmes such as the MNREGA. Studies have also shown improvement in the effectiveness of programmes such as PDS during this period.

Agrarian Crisis and Macroeconomy

 

It was long recongnised that agricultural sector plays an important role in macroeconomy of capitalist development that distinguishes the nature of developing economy from that of developed one. The supply-demand linkages with the modern sector, factor endowment and resource linkage makes a commensurate growth of agricultural sector a necessary condition for a sustainable growth of modern sector. The assiduous policy intervention in India agriculture since mid sixities was precisely predicated on this understanding, and has succeeded in achieving a long term growth rate of 2.7 percent through public investment in technology, procurement, storage, fertilizers, etc. Adoption of neoliberal reforms in 1991 marked a different phase of policy to subject the sector to vagaries of market forces. The agricultural sector in turn underwent a change in the process of growth in the last four decades, poingnantly, manifesting in terms of a change in agrarian structure, where small peasantry are left out by and large in agriculture, while medium and big farmers have diversified and migrated out without diluting their ownership in land, in a dispersed way across states. Agriculture is predominantly  conducted by petty commodity producers, owning or operating small parcels of land.  This class of peasantry is being crushed periodically under frequent price crashes, rising cost of production and falling profitability. It is well known that unbridled competition would ruin producers, as market structures turn exploitative under monopsonist market exchanges. The agricultural labour constituted by landless as well as petty peasants, both are losing employment steadily with in the sector, with increasing mechanization adopted to face the competition. The private finance, fertilizer dealers, commission trading agents, processing mills, cold storages now entail new agricultural institutions that rack huge rents from poor farmers, that leave no accumulation for the latter. Unsupported by effective policy regime, this class of farmers are bearing yolk of agricultural growth, risking their lives and livelihood.

The current agrarian crisis is interestingly not associated with any agricultural crisis and hence has apparently positive macroeconomic outcomes of in terms of inflation. However, State under liberal democracy, is compelled to respond to the distress. Hamstrung by neoliberal ideology that will not perm

 
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