A review of Global Capitalism and the Indian Economy by C.T. Kurien

C.T. Kurien makes no bones about his ardent hatred for Capitalism in his book titled ‘Global Capitalism and the Indian economy’. In his introduction to the book he outlines his ideological stand and does not believe in neutrality towards Capitalism. The book largely deals with the Capitalistic world and its relation to the Indian economy. Since the integration of the Indian economy with the world post-Independence, he outlines the major events that shaped the policies leading to the 1990’s liberalization. He implores us to take a critical view of 1991 since most academicians, policy makers and the media in general are euphoric about the ‘pro-development’ reforms when in reality it is quite the contrary. He questions the usage of popular words ‘liberalization’, and ‘reforms’ during 1991 and how it is often juxtaposed with ‘growth’ and ‘prosperity’.

He skims through the initial Nehruvian economic policies of imposing a ban on various goods, state intervention in all sectors and ensuring the curbing of rampant ruthless capitalism. He also outlines the ugly face of Capitalism where a ‘beggar they neighbour’ policy was followed by the European countries when Britain and its imperial entourage created the ‘sterling bloc’ and Japan aimed at creating an economic empire in East Asia. The face of national capitalism began to assert itself during this period having drastic implications across the globe. A new economic order was in the cards. 

The Golden age of capitalism from the end of World War-2 to the 1970’s was just bedrock for the impending crisis that Capitalism brought with it. A swift narrative from the 1970’s and America humiliation in not able to honour the agreement made during Breton Woods and the end of an era of America hegemony is brilliantly captured. Following the formation of the floating exchange rates in the 1970s, Kurien embarks on the bashing of Capitalistic rhetoric. 

He begins with the implications in India from the 1980’s and how many Less Developed Countries were increasingly facing a ‘debt trap’. America’s Voluntary Export Restraint (VER) during this period led to the supremacy of finance and its separation from the real economy. Speculative activity because of the advent of currency instruments disrupted the real economy and seldom does little to promote growth. From this period ‘market’ redefines itself, meaning the market for securities and currencies rather than goods and services. 

He further goes on a pounding of the idea of ‘free trade’ which is essentially the freedom of capital movements in and out of national territories with the sole quest to realize profits. This in turn is hazardous, especially to the Less Developed Countries which face the brunt of Capitalistic fascism. He urges the need for a litmus test to decide whether foreign capital is permitted to play a role based on the contribution it will make to the net exports.

Kurien is highly critical of the 1991 ‘reforms’ and brings attention to the grossly misrepresented word ‘growth’. To quote a passage from the book “No guarantee that aggregate growth by itself is a good thing. Attention has to be paid on what has been growing. Growth in the value of Indian manufactured foreign liquor is no compensation for a country where millions are starving and dying due to the lack of safe drinking water”.

The book calls to attention the manner in which Capital has disciplined the state instead of the opposite. ‘Leave it to the market’ assertions of the World Bank, IMF and various MNC’s are grossly unjustified as there are no level playing fields. Markets are meant for human beings and not human beings for markets. 

Much of the book deals with the lexicon of capital in the globalized world. Though the book is merely a commentary on the happenings rather than an incisive analysis, it is a simple and easy read for understanding the economics of an increasingly integrated world. The Indian angle is dealt with sufficient analysis and towards the end of the book, Kurien is convincing in his endeavour to highlight the skullduggery of capitalism. He manages to grasp the attention of the reader and avoids the usage of too many economic jargon and figures. 

1 comment:

Danish Wani? University of Delhi said...

A well articulated synoptic overview of Kurien's crusade against India's venture into the neo-liberal orbit. Thank you for your effort. However, Amartya sen & Jean Dreze's "An Uncertain Glory" speak more relevantly & non-ideologically abhout the exclusive concept of growth as defined within the neoliberal domain.