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Albo Declares Japanese Trip A Success After Tracking Down Rare Iggy Pop Live Album In Tokyo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 7:00am in

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared his first international trip a success after he managed to track down a rare Iggy Pop live album whilst perusing the record stores in Tokyo.

”Was such a great trip, Japan is a wonderful place, you should see all the different types of Kit Kats they have there,” said the PM. ”But, was also good to get down to brass tacks and have a chat with Boris, Joe, Narendra and Fumio.”

”Great bunch of guys, Joe was telling me about the time he saw Iggy and the Stooges in Raleigh North Carolina.”

When asked what implications the Quad gathering will have for the people of Australia, Prime Minister Albo said: ”They were very fruitful discussions that will very much benefit the country.”

”I talked trade with all leaders and fingers crossed we will start trading records relatively soon.”

”Narendra Modi in particular is a big You Am I fan so I promised to send him a few of my bootlegs that I’ve gotten over the years and who knows maybe we can appoint Timmy Rogers as a Special envoy to Mumbai.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

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Book Review: Water and Public Policy in India by Deepti Acharya

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 11:43pm in

In Water and Public Policy in IndiaDeepti Acharya explores the conceptual and theoretical frameworks behind the notion of a right to water, drawing on the evolution of water policy frameworks in India. This book enriches discourses around water justice through a water governance perspective, writes Kalrav Joshi.

Water and Public Policy in India. Deepti Acharya. Routledge India. 2021.

Water and Public Policy in India coverThe ideological origins of the idea of ‘a human right to water’, which led to the institutionalisation of this notion, remain structurally flawed and deeply problematic for the interests of ‘water-poor’ states. Disseminating and channelling this top-down approach at the behest of global organisations will not resolve any of the embedded complexities – it is a fantasy that cannot achieve targets for the humanitarian water management process and prevents equality for the ‘have-nots’.

In light of the hegemony of the idea that water is a right, Water and Public Policy in India explores the conceptual and theoretical frameworks underpinning the ‘right to water’ and advocates using this term in place of ‘human rights to water’. According to author Deepti Acharya, the latter term is a top-down approach, whereas the former is not only comprehensive but also based on a rights-based approach. This helps in policymaking and analysis, along with setting priorities for water policy to ensure no individual is deprived of sufficient water supply. By underlining India’s national water policies, Acharya argues that this can introduce a new water policy framework at the global level.

At the international level, the concept of the ‘right to water’ has been introduced and advanced through two major discourses. The first discourse contends that this idea has arisen and developed along the course of regulation. The fundamental contention here is that worldwide organisations have distinguished water as a right and have guaranteed access to water through global interventions.

The second discourse, advanced as a component of the water justice movement, dismisses this case by arguing that genuine change has been brought about by water researchers and water activists who have pressurised states to guarantee the right to water for all. Situating these arguments in modern political thought, Acharya defines the ‘right to water’ as a ‘process that is interlinked with many aspects, including rights, duties and priorities’ (34).

Dripping tap

Image Credit: Photo by Shridhar Vashistha on Unsplash

Positioning ‘water scarce’ states at the centre of its analysis, the book argues quite convincingly that the concept of the ‘right to water’ is only achievable when there is an established, efficient system and a just water supply, backed by rights, duties and priorities. The book interrogates the required mutual understanding between governments and individuals necessary to secure the ‘availability, accessibility and affordability’ of water for everyone. Acharya writes: ‘To maintain this condition, it is important to ensure and preserve water through policy structures’ (35).

One of the most compelling and engaging parts of the book, which is at its core, is its analysis of India’s national water policies that were drafted in 1987, 2002 and 2012 respectively. The details are revealing. The book is critical of the approaches taken by the Indian government in making national policies and identifies missing elements like the monitoring of equal water supply, specific mentions of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes and arrangements to ensure the sustenance of water resources will guarantee the right to water to every individual.

The book vehemently argues that the concept of the ‘right to water’ was completely ignored in national water policies in India. Though the entire concept of the ‘right to water’ was at a nascent stage in India, it is noteworthy that national water policies were strategy-centric, focusing on a needs-based approach for distribution and management. However, they barely focused on water justice and therefore were bound to fail given these circumstances.

The formation of national water policies in India evolved from a top-down approach to a participatory one by the national water policy of 2012. Despite this paradigm shift in policymaking, the question of public-private partnerships remains the biggest concern. The book also identifies concerns regarding the making of policy, the language used and policy implementation without a sense of the values key for the development of water discourses. The book is also an attempt to look beyond the conventional ways of relying on the legislature and the executive in policymaking, arguably positioning the Indian judiciary and civil society as key expounders of the ‘right to water’.

One of the book’s chapters focuses on the Indian understanding of the ‘right to water’ and its contours. It chronicles this right from the time of British colonial rule, where water was the subject of management and control by the central government, to the post-independence (constitutional) setting that more or less protected water as a right. Though colonial rule might have resulted in the formation of a public system of water management, it is notable that this system did not endorse water as a right. In fact, it was the subject of management, an exploitative way to have control over the rights of individuals in using water resources.

The book introduces the major traditions in the concept of water justice with a series of critiques from different ideologies including neo-Marxism, eco-feminism and post-liberalism. It moves between the academic and practical aspects of the great looming public policy challenges in the environmental space, including the power dynamics that the process is always subjected to. Questions are raised, often swaddled in data and ethics, and met with key frameworks that should pave the way for a better, egalitarian world with the equal allocation of water as a resource.

The book attempts to introduce a new water policy framework that offers a set of principles and benchmarks on which the idea of a ‘right to water’ can be based, titled the ‘Water Policy Analysis Guiding Framework’. This is a useful and important tool to analyse the contents of water laws, planning strategies and water policies that focus on realism and emphasise reality checks. Furthermore, the book intervenes by suggesting ideas and formulations for policymakers and planners. These include enriching water policies by establishing and institutionalising honest think tanks, encouraging water-related studies inclined towards water justice, undertaking rigorous academic work that can become a support system for policymakers and redefining people’s participation in water-related discourses and planning, among many other proposals.

The book could have explored a number of questions in more detail. To what extent does this concept of a ‘right to water’ pose a challenge to the existing hegemony around water governance and justice? In which ways do such interventions reflect the paradigm shifts and the looming crisis around water shortages? How is it relevant to the debates in international development and regional empowerment? Does using appropriate terminology make the concept of a ‘right to water’ more effective and less problematic? The book is nonetheless of critical importance to scholars and researchers of public policy, environment, water and law – particularly in the context of South Asian studies. It raises moral, geographical, political, social and economic questions regarding the consequences of policy formulation – economic and geographical exploitation – embedded within top-down notions of sustainable development and governance.

Acharya’s book critically evaluates the notion of the ‘right to water’ by considering a range of theories, ideologies and the practical implications of one of the most looming issues of our times. It is a significant attempt to understand discourses on rights as it pinpoints and discusses the threats for water freedoms and water equalities and it enriches water justice discourse through a water governance perspective. The question is how long the world will take to institutionalise this concept. There is a long way ahead.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

 

India’s ‘Open Prisons’ Are a Marvel of Trust-Based Incarceration

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/05/2022 - 6:00pm in

During all of the 11 years that Arjiram spent in a conventional Indian prison, the numbardar — the man who conducts the daily roll call — never once called his name.

“He used to just count our heads,” says Arjiram, who was convicted of murder. The sense of anonymity was so intense, he says, “I began to even forget my name in the closed prison.”

Indignities like this defined Arjiram’s experience while he was incarcerated, piling up one by one in a years-long process of dehumanization. His experience was typical of prison life in India: he lived in cramped, unclean facilities, lacked basic amenities, and shared bug-infested blankets on crowded floors. “To ward off dark memories of the closed prison, I started feeding ants during my roll call at the open prison to keep myself from a disturbed state of mind when memories from the closed prison would persist,” he says. “Feeding these ants gave me a sense of purpose and a lesson in treating every creature with respect.”

Arjiram and his wife at Sanganer open prison. Credit: PAAR

Then, in 2014, Arjiram’s life as a prisoner transformed in an instant when he was transferred to a different type of correctional facility: Sanganer open prison.

Though the people held at Sanganer open prison are technically incarcerated, they can leave the facility during the day and travel within the city limits. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Arjiram’s sense of self-worth grew. “It didn’t feel like I was in a prison,” he says. “I could go out and work and come back, and the best thing was they trusted me.” After being faceless and nameless for over a decade, he felt like a person again.

According to the country’s National Crime Records Bureau, there are about 88 open prisons in India, the largest share of which are in the state of Rajasthan, where the model is being pioneered. India’s open prisons are defined by minimal security. They are run and maintained by the state, and those incarcerated within them are free to come and go as they please. At Sanganer, the prison is open for up to 12 hours each day. Every evening, prisoners must return to be counted at an end-of-day roll call.

Designed to foster reform as opposed to punishment, the system is based on the premise that trust is contagious. It assumes — and encourages — self-discipline on the part of the prisoners. On a practical level, letting incarcerated folks go to work also allows them to earn money for themselves and their families, build skills, and maintain contacts in the outside world that can help them once they’re released.

open prisonThe outside of Sanganer open prison. Credit: PAAR

This model has deep roots in India. One of the earliest open prisons was established so its inmates could help to construct a dam in Uttar Pradesh in 1953. Over the next couple of decades it evolved as a rehabilitation-oriented system, promoted in particular by Sampurnanand, the governor of Rajasthan in the 1960s.

Today, while open prisons are not the norm across India — they house less than three percent of the prison population — they are growing in number and represent a remarkably progressive approach to incarceration. The model puts India among an elite group of countries that offer open prisons, such as Finland, a place often celebrated for its forward-thinking justice system. But Finland is a small, wealthy country of just over five million people and relatively little violent crime — it registers only a few hundred murders each year. India, on the other hand, is home to 1.4 billion people and tens of thousands of murders, rapes and assaults. Its sheer size makes its open prison system improbable, but it works.

Admittance to India’s open prisons is similar to how parole works in many countries: prisoners are transferred from conventional prisons into open ones based on a range of criteria, such as behavior, motivation to reform, and physical and mental fitness.

They’re not only for those convicted of petty crimes. Hari Singh (not his real name) was convicted of murder and, after serving time in a closed prison, was moved to Sanganer open prison five years ago. Before his incarceration, he worked in construction. “Now I ride an e-rickshaw and earn 600 to 700 rupees ($8 to $9 USD) per day,” he says. “I spent eight years in the closed prison where we are shut out from the world and there was constant worry about everything. Here, we lead a stress-free life — kamao aur khao (earn and eat).”

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In addition to allowing inmates to support themselves, open prisons require far less staff, and their operating costs are a fraction of those in closed prisons, which average monthly costs of 7,000 to 10,000 rupees ($92 to $130 USD) per prisoner. And while there is little reliable recidivism data available in India, Scandinavian countries with open prisons have among the lowest recidivism rates in the world.

But the most visible benefit of open prisons is in the humane conditions they provide for those who reside there. As in many countries, prison overcrowding is a major problem in India, with profound implications for physical and mental wellbeing. Open prisons help to solve this.

“Color is the one thing we miss in a traditional prison,” says Pooja Chabra, who was transferred to Sanganer open prison from a closed prison in 2015. As soon as she moved into Sanganer, Chabra started planting flowers. “I planted some marigolds outside my residence in Sanganer open prison,” she says, “which suddenly provided color to my otherwise colorless life.”

open prisonPooja Chabra with her flowers. Credit: PAAR

Chabra found more than just color at Sanganer — she found love. It was there that she met Kishan Devagowda, who was also incarcerated. “I am living the second phase of my life here and these are possibly the happiest years of my life,” says Devagowda.

Single women are not typically allowed in open prisons, but some have found ways to get themselves transferred into them regardless. In some cases, a group of single women will declare that they are a family. “We decided to become each other’s family — life changed from that moment onwards,” says Geeta Sharma, who was sent to Sanganer open prison along with her “family” of other single women.

India has other types of open prisons, as well. The open prison at Cherlapally, Hyderabad in Telangana is spread over 120 pastoral acres. Those who reside there are paid to tend crops, fish and raise chickens. While offering somewhat less freedom than Sanganer open prison, the prison in Cherlapally nevertheless allows the people there to build skills, have family come visit and generally live a more normal, less confined life.

“The prisoners work on the farms and the poultry,” says a deputy superintendent at Cherlapally open prison who asked to remain anonymous. “They learn new techniques of cultivation which will enable and prepare them for livelihood after their release.” The Telangana State Prisons Department even set up an outlet called “My Nation” in the recently held All India Industrial Exhibition at Hyderabad. The outlet sold articles such as bedsheets, towels, doormats, steel cupboards, stools, and cleaning and bakery products made by the prisoners, all of whom were paid for the work.

Smita Chakraborty founded the prison reform organization Prison Aid and Action Research (PAAR) in 2018 after more than a decade of working with incarcerated people. Perhaps more than anyone else, she has pioneered the concept of open prisons throughout India. “If they can think of a parole system,” she says, “they can think of an open prison system, too.”

This advocacy has been successful, and India’s share of open prisons is growing. In 2017 the country’s Supreme Court ordered the central government to arrange discussions with authorities across India to build more open prisons. Since the ruling, 30 new open prisons have been established throughout the country.

A prisoner at Sanganer open prison with his son. Credit: PAAR

Chakraborty points out that fewer than one percent of those in India’s open prisons are habitual offenders, and the vast majority are nonviolent and pose little threat to society. What’s more, hardly anyone “escapes” from an open prison. The trust-based model appears to foster a meaningful level of mutual respect between the state and those under its supervision.

If anything, the open prison model has been criticized for being too conservative, particularly in regards to which prisoners it will accept. What some critics see as unnecessarily strict eligibility criteria mean that many prisoners who likely pose no threat remain stuck in closed prisons. As of 2021, India had the capacity to house 6,213 people in its open prisons, but only 3,075 were residing there.

If solving this problem lacks urgency, that may be because of the public’s relative indifference to the plight of prisoners, who are often viewed as socially irredeemable. But as open prisons become an increasingly visible part of India’s justice landscape, that may change. “There is a possibility that this concept could emerge as one of the major reforms of the 21st century,” says Ajit Singh, ex-director general of prisons in Rajasthan.

The post India’s ‘Open Prisons’ Are a Marvel of Trust-Based Incarceration appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Werleman’s Worldview: The Groups Promoting Hindutva and Human Slavery in the US

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/05/2022 - 9:08pm in

CJ Werleman explores another aspect of the extreme Hindu-nationalist project persecuting religious minorities in India

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Between 15,000 and 17,000 people are lured into the United States each year by false promises of decent paying jobs and better lives, according to the US State Department. Only to learn upon their arrival that they are unwitting victims of human trafficking or what is often described as modern slavery. 

While the criminal practice is particularly rife in industries that lack government regulation or oversight, it also exists in the unlikeliest of places – including those of religious worship.

This was revealed last November when US federal authorities raided the temple of a prominent Hindu sect in New Jersey. It did so after learning that it was luring low-caste laborers from India to conduct work on the temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and other temples in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. It paid them as little as $1.20 per hour in a state that demands a minimum wage of $12 per hour.

Lawyers for the trafficked labourers said in a lawsuit that Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha – a Hindu sect known as BAPS – had exploited possibly hundreds of low-caste men for temple-related construction projects, which required each man to perform 13 hours a day of labour, including lifting large stones, operating heavy machinery, digging ditches, shovelling snow, and building roads and storm drains.

The lawsuit stated that their passports were confiscated and that they were also subjected to forced confinement, threats and other forms of abuse.

“At the Robbinsville temple, and elsewhere, the defendants intentionally caused the workers to reasonably believe that if they tried to leave their work and the temple compounds, they would suffer physical restraint and serious harm," the lawsuit said.

What makes this case particularly interesting is the close relationship BAPS enjoys with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the far-right, ultra-nationalist party he leads – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

BAPS, which now has more than five million devotees worldwide, was founded and based in Modi’s home state of Gujarat – the site of an anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002, when Modi was the state’s then chief minister. For these reasons, Gujarat has been called a “laboratory for Hindutva” – a Hindu nationalist ideology that aims to transform India into a Hindu-only nation by expelling 300 million Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. The state is also BJP’s electoral stronghold.

BAPS has more than eight temples and 1,000 members in the US and Canada.

Martha C Nussbaum, an Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, has accused it of “inculcating militant Hindu nationalist ideology among its followers”, in her book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future.

In 2018, Modi entrusted BAPS to build a temple in the United Arab Emirates, saying in front of 1,700 dignitaries at its launch in Abu Dhabi that it “will act as a catalyst for the flourishment of humanitarian values and harmony between the two countries" and “become a medium for India’s identity”. 

According to The New York Times, BAPS also donated the equivalent of $290,000 towards Modi’s promise to build a Hindu temple atop the ruins of the ancient Babri Mosque, which was destroyed by Hindu nationalists in 1992, setting off a wave of communal violence – the embers of which still burn fiercely today. When India’s Supreme Court granted permission for the construction of a temple on the site last year, Modi proclaimed: “The wait of centuries is coming to an end.”

His words symbolised his “total domination over India”, observed Arati Jerath, an Indian pollical commentator, at the time.

These ties explain why India’s right-wing ecosystem has leapt to the defence of BAPS by falsely claiming that a US-based construction company is responsible for the human trafficking taking place at half a dozen of its temples in America.

But the allegations laid bare against BAPS in the lawsuit could not be clearer. It has been charged under several US federal and state laws, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and wage laws.

The lawsuit also brings into view the relationship between BAPS and prominent right-wing Hindu organisations in the United States – including the Hindu American Foundation, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad America.

Last year, Byline Times revealed how some of these organisations – particularly those promoting vicious Islamophobia – are lobbying US law-makers to adopting pro-Indian Government policies and talking points related to Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act, a discriminatory law targeted at Muslims.

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In 2015, Hindu American Foundation executive director Suhag Shukla delivered the keynote speech at a BAPS women’s conference – and then paid it $5,500 to host a Diwali celebration in Washington's Capitol Hill in 2019, according to the foundation's US financial statements.

Notably, the Hindu American Foundation's founding board member, Dr Mihir Meghani, authored the ideological manifesto Hindutva – the Great Nationalist Ideology, which serves as a guiding light for Narendra Modi and the BJP. It calls India the “land of Hindus”, while arguing that the Muslim presence in the country is an outcome of “Islamic invasions” and “forced conversions” – despite both claims being ahistorical and rooted in hate.

In recent weeks, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (the US affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing, all-male, Hindu-nationalist paramilitary outfit), and the Vishva Hindu Parishad America (which the CIA identifies as a “religious militant organisation”) partnered with BAPS to promote Hinduism at an exhibition in New Jersey titled 'Darshana: A Glimpse into the Hindu Civilisation'. This is despite the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and RSS openly declaring that Hindu nationalism – or Hindutva – is not the same thing as the religion of Hinduism.

Thus, Hindu nationalist organisations are not only operating largely under the radar in the US, but are also mischievously promoting Hindu nationalism under the guise of the Hindu faith.

Revelations that BAPS is profiting from the trafficked labour of low-caste Indian migrants is yet another layer in the extreme Hindu-nationalist project persecuting religious minorities in the world's largest democracy.

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Michael Hudson Talks with Katie Halper and Aaron Maté About the Broader Ramifications of the US/NATO Conflict with Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/05/2022 - 11:55pm in

Michael Hudson expliains how the US hopes to benefit from its proxy war with Russia.

Indian Heatwave May Exacerbate World Wheat Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/05/2022 - 2:55am in

India’s extreme heatwave has arrived at a particularly delicate time for its current wheat crop and is expected to reduce yields.

Fresh Signs of Mosquito Insecticide Resistance in South Africa

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/05/2022 - 8:54pm in

South Africa could soon join the list of countries that have relegated malaria to history - although this post highlights the worrying possibility that a spike in malaria cases might occur, as a consequence of insecticide resistance

Dissecting Capitalism Season I: A Recap

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/04/2022 - 3:37am in

By Shyam Soundararajan | Dissecting Capitalism is a recurring webinar series in the South Asia Working Group that aims to organize a webinar series on the dominant ideology/economic system – capitalism. It aims to explore the tenets of capitalism over the fabric of time and examine its influence on the economy and social classes.

Over the course of 8 webinar sessions in November and December 2021, this project has brought together scholars from various fields of academia such as economics, philosophy, social policy, and law to dissect capitalism through their unique theoretical and empirical lenses. This webinar series was organized by Sattwick Dey Biswas, Aneesha Chitgupi, and Shyam Soundararajan. 

Before YSI South Asia hosts Season II of Dissecting Capitalism: Its past, present and future, here is a snapshot of the topics covered under Season I

Illustration by Aneesha Chitgupi

1. Globalization as a Threat to Democracy

The introductory session of the Webinar Series featured Professor Daniel W. Bromley, a Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This session was centered on globalization, international trade and democracy and was based on the book, “Possessive Individualism: A Crisis of Capitalism”. 

Through this session, Professor Bromley was able to provide an interactive lecture on why globalization is a threat to democratic coherence. Through this lecture, Professor Bromley was able to unveil and demonstrate the hidden reality that globalization weakens the ability of national governments to confront economic crises. 

Overall, this session displayed the problems that capitalism has imposed upon national governments, namely the inability to confront economic problems due to the issue of losing “global competitiveness”. View here

2. Multidimensional Poverty around the world: Unmasking Disparities

This session featured Dr. Sabina Alkire, the Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford. This session was centered around the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which measures poverty using a variety of factors. 

Through this webinar, Dr. Alkire was able to explain more about the MPI by explaining its methodology. After this, Dr. Alkire presented the findings of the October 2021 global MPI report. In addition to this, Dr. Alkire discussed and dissected various disparities across ethnic groups and populations. 

Overall, this webinar presented the impact of capitalism and its various endemic traits on poverty around the world. By discussing the MPI, Dr. Alkire was able to demonstrate how capitalism actively contributes to major poverty trends around the world. View here

3. Compressed Capitalism and Late Development in India

This session featured Professor Dr. Anthony P. D’Costa, an Eminent Scholar in Global Studies and Professor of Economics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This session was centered around the changes faced by the Indian economy and the population following the 1991 economic reforms. 

Through this session, Professor D’Costa presented an alternative approach to understanding the development dynamic of India. Through the use of capitalist dynamics in developing countries and compressed capitalism, Professor D’Costa showed that wealth inequality present in India is an inherent trait of late capitalist societies.

Overall, this session explained how some of the defining flaws of a capitalist society in a developing country are not an anomaly but rather a key tenet of a late capitalist society. The findings discussed in this session led to a broader understanding of some key tenets of capitalism. View here.

4. Designing a Pro-Market Social Protection System: A Literature Review

This session featured Professor Dr. Einar Øverbye, a Professor in International Social Welfare and Health Policy at Oslo Metropolitan University. This session was centered around the common argument that the welfare state is detrimental to the economy as it disincentivizes work. 

Through this session, Professor Øverbye was able to explain and deconstruct the arguments surrounding the idea of welfare states disincentivizing work and reducing efficiency. By deconstructing the disincentive argument, Professor Øverbye was able to put forward his argument in support of designing a pro-market social protection system. Moreover, Professor Øverbye was able to demonstrate the importance of good design in a social system, thus unraveling the challenge surrounding the construction of a pro-market social protection system. 

Overall, this session explained how good design in social structures can overcome some fundamental flaws associated with a system. This session also covered the role of a welfare state in a capitalist society and was able to discuss the contribution of key tenets of capitalism to a pro-market social protection system.  View here.

5. The Law is an Anagram of Wealth

This session featured Professor Dr. Benjamin Davy, a visiting professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, and the School of Architecture and Spatial Planning, TU Wien University. Based on the book, “Land Policy”, this session addressed the relationship between land uses, land value, and land law.

Professor Davy was able to explain and demonstrate how the concept of material wealth depends heavily on the legal system present in a country. By using land laws and values, Professor Davy was able to explain how the economic structure of a society is affected by the law, thus leading back to the title of the session

Overall, this session showed attendees how material wealth, a key component of capitalism, depends on the legal system of a country. This inter-disciplinary session was also able to display the link between two seemingly unrelated fields of the social sciences, namely economics and law. View here.

6. John Stuart Mill’s Imperialism, Protestant Work Ethic, & Global South

This session featured Professor Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, the John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This session was co-organized with Diana Soeiro, an organizer at the Philosophy of Economics Working Group. This session was based on the core ideas of Professor Anderson’s upcoming book, which is focused on the history of the Protestant work ethic through the history of economics. 

Through this session, Professor Anderson was able to show how John Stuart Mill’s economic theories on workers and his liberal ideas were contradictory to his stance on Imperialism. Professor Anderson was able to trace Mill’s contradictions to tensions innate to the Protestant work ethic. By doing this, Professor Anderson was able to transition to a more global discussion of the Protestant work ethic, which would be able to address the challenges faced by workers in the Global South in today’s economy.

Overall, this session presented yet another interdisciplinary focus on capitalism through philosophy and work ethic. By linking Mill’s contrarian positions to tensions in the Protestant work ethic and by globalizing the topic to factor in worker challenges in the Global South, Professor Anderson was able to provide some key insights on the often-ignored role of work ethic and philosophy in capitalism and globalization. View here.

7. Why Poverty is More Than a Lack of Income: Thoughts from China

This session featured Professor Dr. Robert Walker MBE, Professor at the Institute of Social Management/School of Sociology, Beijing Normal University under China’s ‘High-Level Foreign Talents’ program. This session was centred around the contemporary understanding of poverty beyond income and the case of China, which attempted to eradicate poverty in the 2010s. 

Through this session, Professor Walker was able to highlight the disparity between policy and political reality when it comes to the concept of poverty.

By including the case of China, which eliminated absolute poverty to discover the presence of relative poverty, Professor Walker was able to shift the argument of poverty beyond the idea of low income and was able to provide psychological insights on poverty. 

Overall, this session presented the need to rethink the mainstream understanding of poverty. Discussions surrounding China’s attempts to eradicate poverty presented an undocumented side of China affected by the country’s shift towards a semi-capitalist society. This session also provided an interdisciplinary outlook on poverty in China, which allowed attendees from the South Asia Working Group to be cognizant of poverty conditions in other Asian regions.  View here

8. Beyond False Dilemmas in Economic Policy

The final session of the first season featured Dr. Sanjay G. Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research. This session was centred around the discussion of false dilemmas in economic policy.

Through this session, Dr. Reddy was able to present his economic argument for dissolving and dismissing false dilemmas rather than resolving them. By using the false dilemmas of “for or against growth” and “domestic markets or globalization”, Dr. Reddy proved the logical fallacy in such dilemmas and presented alternative questions that were worth pursuing.

Overall, this session provided closure for the first season of “Dissecting Capitalism” by discussing false dilemma, a prominent element found in the discourse and dialogue surrounding capitalism and the need to rethink it. By discussing the “for or against growth” dilemma, Dr. Reddy was able to discuss a core argument presented by people opposing the need to rethink capitalism. Ultimately, this session allowed the attendees to dissect capitalism through the notion of false dilemmas present in today’s economic world. View here

Over the course of 8 webinar series held across 2 months, the South Asia Working Group was able to embark on a journey of exploration, learning and profound thinking. Moreover, the attendees were able to actively discuss core ideas of capitalism and dissect capitalist structures and norms, which enhanced discussion within the working group. 

While this season did cover mainstream ideas of capitalism and other economic factors that are affected by capitalism, it did not cover the link between capitalism and heterodox fields such as climate economics and agricultural economics. This is something that Season II aims to cover. With a wide range of topics from economic thought to climate change to legal theory, Season II aims to build upon the foundations of the first season and further continue to explore the tenets of capitalism.

Season II will feature Jayati Ghosh, Barbara Harris-White, Shailaja Fennell, Katharina Pistor, and K V Subramanian. Join us live!

Register now

The YSI South Asia Working Group provides a platform for young scholars from South Asia -or those interested in the region- to select an issue they wish to work on, collaborate and discuss for better conceptualization of the problem and, debate, critique and improve upon solutions. We also invite scholars to suggest the most pressing problems and challenges to better guide the path for this working group. Join us!

About the organizers:

Sattwick Dey Biswas is an affiliated Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Policy, Bangalore, India. In 2019, he has earned Doctor rerum politicarum at the School of Spatial Planning, TU Dortmund University, Germany. He has published his doctoral thesis as a book titled, “Land acquisition and compensation in India: Mysteries of valuation” (2020) with Palgrave Macmillan. He is interested in the areas of Land Policy, Social Policy, and Political Economy. 

Shyam Soundararajan is a high school student from Dubai, UAE. His research interests include economic development, poverty and wealth inequality. He has published articles in the Harvard International Review and has contributed vastly to his school’s social science curriculum. Shyam aspires to major in Mathematical Economics with a minor in South Asian Studies.

Aneesha Chitgupi is a research fellow at the XKDR-Forum -Chennai Mathematical Institute. She received her PhD in 2020 from Institute for Social and Economic Change affiliated to University of Mysore. Her thesis analysed the economic determinants of India’s external stabilisation under the balance of payments framework.  Her current research interests are public finance, government debt and liabilities management.

Jaishankar Calls Out Europe’s Selective Concern on Rules-Based Order

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 2:55am in

Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar shared views on rules-based order with world diplomats at a conference Tuesday in Delhi.

Boris Johnson’s Hypocrisy over India Bulldozes the Rights of those Persecuted Under Modi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/04/2022 - 10:02pm in

The Prime Minister is determined to look the other way as Narendra Modi oppresses Muslims and erodes democratic rights in India – while allying with Putin's regime, reports Adam Bienkov

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On a visit to India, Boris Johnson called for the world to unite against those who "seek to undermine democracy" and stand up to all "autocracies and autocratic coercion".

These were fine words. However, they were undermined by the fact that he made them while standing alongside India’s deeply autocratic Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In recent years, Modi’s regime has led what Human Rights Watch describes as a “crackdown on civil society and the media” in which his Government “prosecutes activists, journalists, peaceful protestors, and other critics” on fabricated charges.

Such "autocratic coercion" is at odds with Johnson's own rhetoric.

In recent weeks, his spokesman has insisted that he is determined to stand up for the rights and freedoms of all journalists around the world. However, according to Amnesty International, Modi’s Government has “used repressive laws to silence [its] critics” in the press while “curbing freedom of expression both offline and online”.

According to its assessment, “human rights defenders, including activists, journalists, students, lawyers and actors, continue to face intimidation and harassment".

As a result, the independent monitoring group, the V-Dem Institute, judged last year that India had slipped back to becoming an "autocratic democracy" under Modi.

This has had a deep impact on those seeking to hold his Hindu nationalist BJP Government to account.

Under his premiership, Indian journalists and activists have faced bogus charges of “sedition” which carries the possibility of life imprisonment. Meanwhile, the offices of media outlets that criticise the Prime Minister have been raided by Indian authorities, in what human rights groups believe are deliberate attempts to intimidate critics of the regime.

Human rights activists themselves have also been heavily targeted by Indian authorities, with the chair of Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel, last year arrested on charges of “creating communal disharmony” after tweeting about prejudice against Muslims in the country.

Bulldozing Human Rights Boris Johnson waves from a JCB at the new JCB Factory in Vadodara, Gujarat, during his trip to India. Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Images

The fate of religious minorities in India came centre stage during Boris Johnson's visit.

The UK Prime Minister was filmed climbing aboard a bulldozer at JCB’s factory in Gujarat. The company is chaired by the major Conservative donor Lord Anthony Bamford and has been the host of multiple photo opportunities for Johnson and other Conservative politicians in recent years.

However, Johnson's latest photo opportunity was overshadowed when journalists highlighted the fact that the same bulldozers he was promoting were being used to demolish the homes of Muslim communities in Dehli.

The images caused outrage in parts of the country, with critics accusing Johnson of being “tone deaf” to the concerns of those targeted by Modi's Government.

According to Amnesty India, the “UK Prime Minister’s inauguration of a JCB factory in Gujarat is not only ignorant but his silence on the incident is deafening. As Indian authorities clamp down on human rights daily, the UK Government must not remain a mute bystander".

Yet, remaining a mute bystander is exactly what Johnson appears determined to be doing.

Asked about the JCB row, Johnson told broadcasters that, while he was willing to raise some difficult issues with the Indian premier, “the fact is that India is a country of 1.35 billion people and it is democratic, it’s the world’s largest democracy".

Johnson’s willingness to look the other way has also extended to India’s alliances with Vladimir Putin’s regime.

As Johnson this week boasted to his own MPs that he has “led the world” in standing up to the Russian President, he has refused to take a similar stand with India.

Modi's Government has resisted repeated calls for it to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the horrors faced by those coming under attack from Putin’s forces.

Meanwhile, a new report by the Royal United Services Institute this week suggested that Moscow is laundering components for its weapons from countries, including the UK, through arms sales to India.

But when asked whether Johnson would push Modi to cut ties with Russia, his spokesman told reporters this week that “we don’t think it’s constructive at all to lecture India on how to approach the challenges it faces”. He added that Johnson would not be “pointing fingers” at Modi for his relations with Putin.

Sure enough, India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters on Friday that Johnson had not put any pressure on the country over Ukraine during their talks.

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Blind Eye for Electoral Advantage

Boris Johnson's willingness to look the other way has both financial and political motivations.

The UK and India have close and longstanding economic ties, which almost any government would seek to maintain. Johnson's determination to sever ties with the UK's closest economic partners in Europe has also heightened the need for the UK to build closer economic ties elsewhere.

However, Johnson's particular determination to avoid "pointing fingers" at Modi also stems from the Conservative Party's attempts to win over voters with Indian heritage in the UK.

Historically, British Indians have been closely aligned with the Labour Party, due in part to perceptions of anti-migrant prejudice within the Conservatives. Polling in 2010 found that just one-in-four British Indians backed Johnson's party, compared to 61% who backed Labour. By last year, that link had been severely weakened with only four-in-10 backing Labour, compared to three-in-10 backing the Conservatives.

There are multiple demographic and political causes for this shift. However, it is a shift that the Conservative Party has been keen to exploit.

In recent elections it has targeted British Indian voters with literature highlighting Labour's criticisms of Modi.

In 2016, it also sought to exploit anti-Muslim prejudice among some in the British Indian community, with leaflets sent to British Indians suggesting that Labour's then London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan was attempting to take away their family jewellery.

At last year's Conservative Party conference, the Conservative Friends of India event was the most prestigious of any taking place over the weekend. As guests dined on British Indian cuisine, large numbers of Johnson's ministers queued up to address the crowd.

Many Conservative strategists see socially conservative British Asian voters, who have historically not backed their party in large numbers, as an untapped resource. For this reason, among others, Johnson appears willing to look the other way as Modi continues to erode democratic freedoms in India.

This is all completely at odds with the rhetoric of Johnson's Government.

Speaking last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on the West to “stand up” to despots and cut its “strategic dependence on authoritarian regimes". However, just one week later, Johnson left the UK for Saudi Arabia – where he urged the country's dictator Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to supply Britain with more oil.

This two-faced approach to tackling global tyranny and autocracy is one that has already cost the UK dear.

Britain's long dependence on Russian money and the Conservative Party's political funding from individuals linked to Russia, meant that the UK was too slow to stand up to Putin. By trading political advantage for democratic principles, Johnson and his predecessors allowed the Russian President's agents and assets to operate in the UK without restraint for too long.

Narendra Modi is not Putin and India is not Russia. However, Boris Johnson's willingness to avoid "pointing the finger" while Modi erodes his citizens' basic democratic rights, suggests that he has not learned from any of the mistakes the UK has made in recent years.

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