Venue : Shri Ram College of Commerce (University of Delhi)
Date : 28th and 30th March 2014.
SUB THEME :
1. Sectoral imbalance: If we look at the sectoral disribution of workforce and GDP, the skewed distribution inherited from our colonial past seems to have widened with time. It stands today at all time high with productivity trends in agricultural sector continously sliding down in relation to the national average. The historically vitiated trend of bypassing any ‘industrial age’ continues unabated with manufacturing growth never able to sustain itself for any significant period. Now, there is a growing call from some economists that we should not even strive for industrialisation as the key to our growth lies in the services sector. The near complete neglect of agriculture, still providing livelihood to more than half of our workforce, and a fledging and volatile manufacturing sector growth have only reflected growing intensification of the historical sectoral imbalance.
2. Income and wealth imbalance: The sharpest imbalance has emerged in the area of income and wealth distribution. The inequality in this regard stands at an unprecedented level, showing no sign of mitigation, rather it is growing very fast. The current growth regime has only served to accentuate it. In this country, the growing number of billionaires is more than matched by the largest number of poor and undernaurisehed in the world, notwithstanding the official poverty estimates. The obsession with the ‘growth economics’ has not left any space where any serious attempt to critically examine the inequality accentuating impact of the current growth regime.
3. Ecologocal imbalance: Today most of the ‘development projects’ are being questioned on the grounds of ecological impacts. Whether they are mining projects, nuclear power projects, dams on important rivers, or industrial corridors being developed around key routes connecting mega cities – there is growing popular resistance to the ecological destruction they bring. The unbriddled and unregulated exploitation of natural resources has seriously undermined the livelihood of future generations. Moreover, the chaotic urbanisation which has been brought by the highly unequal growth regime has seriously undermined the well being of rural as well as growing urban population. When a large number of people are displaced from their traditional rural habitat, they are forced into urban slums. There is, however, no questioning of the unsustainable character of the current growth regime in the mainstream academia, except the admission of inevitability, and hence finding an ‘optimal’ level of destruction in consonance with the growing demands for profits.
4. Technological imbalance: Our historical deprivation of technological knowledge, largely a legacy of our colonial past, has only grown with time. The failure of the state led heavy industrialisation in generating adequate and suitable technological environment in the fifties and sixties was only followed by giving up this attempt in the nineties with the onset of new economic policies. The presumption that the foreign capital will bring with it the best technological practices from the world kitty has been belied. The technological upgradation which has taken place in our economy can said to be, at best, partial. The FDI flows under a liberalised and subsidised environment have come to this part within a global institutional framework favouring restriction of technological diffusion. This has led to creation of islands of high technolgies amidst large swaths of backwardness where such capital avoids moving in. Further, the refusal of the state to support indigenous development of better and suitable technology, reducing support to development of scientific infrastructure, and handing over of such institutions to ‘public-private partnership’ models only undermines any possibility of bridging the technological gap.
5. Labour and work force imbalance: By now, it has become a well acknowledged observation that even the high growth regimes are experiencing, what is popularly pronounced as ‘jobless growth’. High rates of growth are accompanied by equally high rates of productivity growth, leaving employment generation poorly addressed. Apart from this out and employment growth imbalance, there are multiple layers of imbalances produced within the work force: a small section of highly skilled well paid workforce coexists alongside meagrely paid semi and un-skilled work force, informal segment of work force is continuously expanding at the cost of formal sector work force, there is a growing mass of migrant labourers always on move in the search of work. All this has resulted in a continuously deteriorating condition of work and workers, statutory provisions safeguarding workers’ interest are regularly flouted, in order to create an maintain a business friendly environment. Such imbalances are making condition of reproduction of work and workers extremely precarious. In such a situation, any reduction in growth rates for whatsoever reasons creates havoc with the labour force. Given increased instability of contemporary growth regimes it becomes a serious concern calling for addressing such labour and work force imbalances.
6. Inflationary imbalance: What we have witnessed that often such growth instability is accompanied by secular inflation, indicating parting away of inflationary tendencies from real production, undermining any ‘cost-push inflation’. There is a need to address this imbalance between production and inflation, in an economic environment characterised by a liberalised trade regime, liberalised commodity markets allowing for speculation, even more liberalised credit market. In such circumstances, conservative monetary policies attempting to curb inflation often end up attacking income and employment generation. Their preoccupation with preserving real interest rate often comes in a way to stimulating demand and income and employment generation. Conservative monetary policies in a highly liberalised financial context have aggravated the inflationary imbalance failing to address the problems of stagnation of the real economy.
7. Balance of payment imbalance: Despite increasing the volume of export, the current growth regime has increased the BoP volatility. Imports have grown equally rapidly, if not faster. Current transfers and other invisibles have not solved the problem either. It has also led to increasing imbalance between the real economy and the capital flows, latter dominating the movement of BoP, often putting domestic currency under severe strain. By choosing not to intervene and regulate such flows, the government allows unbridled speculative capital flows often creating severe strain on the real economy. Together with monetarist/neo-monetarist central banking regime, it has taken away any regulatory power from the state, keeping it on tenterhook to mould its activities to cater to the needs of capital inflows.
8. Academic imbalance: This entire evolution has been accompanied by an astounding academic imbalance, which has fed, and in turn has been fed by, all other structural imbalances. There have been attempts in the mainstream academia, actively supported by the policy and administrative establishment to get rid of all critical perspectives. Consciously, every institution has been forced to fall in line with neo liberal orthodoxy. It has led to a situation where course curricula and research programmes have moved away from heterodox tradition of economics teaching and research, only to be heavily loaded with a monolithic neo-classical (of various hues) perspective. It has seriously undermined our critical learning of the key issues, the future of any meaningful research, and any possibility of critical engagement with the real problems afflicting our economy and society.
9. Political imbalance: Given the unpopular nature of these policies, they have invariably come to affect the democratic functioning of various institutions. Dominance of neo liberal thinking has led to a restructuring of functioning of economic and political institutions in such a way that instead of being democratically accountable, they are run on the advices of ‘experts’, away from any democratic accountability. In every sphere there is curtailment of ambit of decisions where people can decide collectively about their future. There is complete disregard of democratic aspirations of people wherever they come into conflict with the current policy regime, increasingly the discontent being handled by use of force. It is not surprising that this growing political imbalance is reflected in the rise of a repressive state machinery, a security centric state, and big business’ increasing clamour for a ‘strong state’. But every now and then, this is creating political instabilities of different magnitude and nature. Instead of addressing this politically and democratically, it is further moving in a direction accentuating already huge political imbalance.
The list mentioned above is merely indicative and not exhaustive. The participants are encouraged to explore beyond what is mentioned here. It is in the light of these contradictory developments that this conference seeks to examine the sustainability and implications of such growth trajectory, associating itself with many efforts to bring dignity to human existence.
Please send an abstract of your paper/brief proposal of workshop by 10th February, 2014.
The final submission of full paper/detailed design of the workshop should be done by 10th March, 2014.
Date of the conference cum workshop: 28 – 30th of March 2014
Selection of the received papers will be subject to screening by a selection committee. The authors of the selected papers and the participants of workshops coming from Indian destination will be provided travel allowance and free accommodation as per the UGC norms. A few selected participants from universities abroad may also be provided travel allowance and free accommodation.