Sunday, February 28, 2021

The main manifesto

A characteristic of any economy is capriciousness. Things go so well one minute but the next minute things just tumble down like a house of cards. Blame it on the capriciousness of human nature ~ much complementing nature’s unpredictability itself. But with the advancement of modern techniques of studying economics and the economy, certain trends do seem to, and some correctly, predict the turn of the economy. Perhaps the first is the political, social and economic policies of Governments that advantageously or adversely impact on economies. PTI reports that talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on March 12, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, now a Professor at the University of Chicago, warned that capitalism is under “serious threat” of a “revolt” as the economic and political system has stopped providing for the people, especially after the 2008 global financial meltdown. PTI quotes Raja saying: “I think capitalism is under serious threat because it’s stopped providing for the many, and when that happens, the many revolt against capitalism,” adding he believes that capitalism is breaking down because it is not providing equal opportunities so he says: “… in fact the people who are falling off are in a much worse situation,”. The former RBI Governor, also the former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund, opines authoritarian regimes arise “when you socialise all the means of production” therefore “A balance is needed, you can’t pick and choose – what you need to do is improve opportunity”. Rajan also said it was possible in the past to obtain a middle class job with “modest education” but the landscape has changed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the resulting austerity. PTI further quotes him saying: “Now, if you really want to succeed, you need a really good education. Unfortunately, the very communities that are hit by the forces of global trade and global information tend to be communities which have deteriorating schools, rising crime, rising social illnesses and are unable to prepare their members for the global economy”. Look at this against the backdrop of a recent report from S&P Global Ratings, which suggests another global credit downturn is possible, with a 50% surge in worldwide debt since the global financial crisis although the analysts said the next downturn is unlikely to be as severe as the 2008 financial crisis. All these projections look very distant from Nagaland, doesn’t it? This is because we are so inward looking, we fail to see how much the state of the global economy impacts on our national economy, which in turn impacts our state economy ~ right down to the village economy. So yes, our political parties must speak unambiguously about so many issues that remain stagnant for decades such as political settlement, peace, security, unity, Article 371 (A), the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the Inner Line Permit, women’s reservation in Urban Local bodies ~ indeed in all decision-making systems, structures and processes ~ the numerous forms of corruption that are becoming highly “sophisticated”, quality of education, quality of development, unemployment, etc. But now our political parties must also speak unambiguously about Nagaland’s economy because none of the above-mentioned issues can be separated from our state’s economy ~ besides, let us also be clear that our economy greatly impacts on all these issues. The fact of the matter is that we don’t have an economy, which we can use as a bargaining chip for anything ~ and guns have always had limited scope as bargaining chips. Our weakness has always been our failure to see the imperatives of an autonomous economy for survival as a people ~ with our heads held high. This has led to over-dependence on Central largesse ~ and we failed to see the strings attached to it, which are getting larger and stronger ~ never mind that ours is a state formed due to political reasons. Yes, we failed to see that politics and economics are conjoined twins. But what has compounded the further crippling of our economic dependence is the fact that right since Statehood, no political party ~ as by extension, no state Government ~ has come up with any blue-prints and any policy that would repair and rejuvenate our economy and set it in the right direction. We must now demand that our political parties focus primarily on our economy these elections. In fact, political parties themselves must now make the economy the main manifesto without being asked to.