“The government had borrowed money from the IMF during the pandemic and yet did not spend it in order to keep the fiscal deficit in control! This internalisation of keeping the fiscal deficit under control prevented the government from increasing spending when people were dying and staving during the pandemic,” remarked Dr Thomas Isaac, former Finance Minister of Kerala, while speaking at the two-day conference: The Dynamics of the Global Recession: Repercussions on India and way forward held at the Institute of Social Sciences, organised by the Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), the Economic Research Foundation (ERF), and Focus on the Global South. They also came together to release the State of Finance in India Report 2021–22, published by Yoda Press.
While it is almost a certainty that the world is moving headlong into yet another recession, our government remains in a state of denial. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta while releasing The State of Finance in India Report – 2021 -2022, said India cannot be divorced from what is happening in the world, and we are seeing certain signs of the impact of the recession on the country already. The handling of the pandemic, he said, like demonetisation, is a manifestation of the worst kind of move the government could think of. And what is compounding the situation are the incessant lies. The report is the first of its kind, extending the domain of finance and economics beyond the confines of ivory tower experts and inviting writings from a diverse range of academics, policymakers, activists, social practitioners, and economists who are dealing with the issues on the ground.
The conference focused on themes related to understanding the global recession in the context of the impacts of the climate crisis, the food crisis, and the impacts on the informal economy, and the marginalised and economically weaker sections of society. Focusing on the food crisis Shalmali Guttal from Focus on the Global South, pointed out that market concentration, financialisation of natural resources, shirking of local food systems, linking food systems to global value chains, and speculative markets have all contributed to the current crisis that has resulted in nearly 811 million people being hungry in Asia.
We are witnessing unprecedented stagflation with two sides of the puzzle where addressing one would exacerbate the other! What countries are doing is increasing interest rates, which is only going to give rise to a political crisis in the coming days! We will not be able to move forward unless we accept that this recession is unlike any other, and unless we understand the growth and dominance of finance capital over the real economy, warned Prof. C. P Chandrashekar (JNU).
Richa Kumar concluded the first day of the conference by raising fundamental questions about how the concept of growth has been internalized, prompting the audience to consider shrinking the size of the material economy as well as decentralization.
The conference was addressed by Prof. Rohit Azad, Prabhir Purkayastha, Prof. Surajit Mazumdar, Beena Pallical, Prof. Surajit Das, Pamela Philipose, Arun Kumar, Anamitro Roychowdhary, Santhosh Mehrotra, Richa Kumar, and Thomas Franco.
The second day of the conference will focus on the role of the public sector and the changing character of regulatory institutions, rising wealth inequality, the impact on capital-labour relations, and financing cronies, among others. The concluding session on Surviving the Recession with Re-Imagination will be addressed by Prof. Arun Kumar, Prabhat Patnaik, Aruna Roy, Anjali Bharadwaj (SNS), Jawahar Sircar (TMC), Brinda Karat (CPM), and Gourav Vallabh (INC).