V. 33: No. 7-8 July-August 2005 #386-387
Introduction, p. 1
"On Some Currently-fashionable Propositions in Public Finance," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 3
"'To dance in chains', Aesthetics and Ethics in History of Development of the Modern Drama," Margit Koves, p. 17
"Theorizing Food Security and Poverty in the Era of Economic Reforms," Utsa Patnaik, p. 50
"Obituary - Biplab Dasgupta," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 82
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I.S. Gulati was an outstanding personality of our time. A member of a Sikh refugee family in Delhi in the post-Partition period, he had to take up a minor job in the government for the survival of the family. He completed his university education with brilliant results even while holding this job, went abroad for higher studies, and subsequently occupied with great distinction a number of academic and official positions. The last of these was the Vice-Chairmanship of the Kerala State Planning Board under whose aegis during his tenure the bold and remarkable experiment in decentralized planning was introduced in the State at the initiative of E.M.S. Namboodiripad and as a sequel to the Peoples' Plan Campaign that EMS had started. Gulati was not a Communist, but a person of great humaneness and unsullied integrity. His life constituted, quintessentially, a journey through the contradictions of post-independence Indian development and his coming closer to the Left was an eloquent comment on the dialectics of the present epoch in India. In carrying Prabhat Patnaik's I.S. Gulati memorial lecture, delivered recently at Thiruvananthapuram, as the lead article in the current number of Social Scientist, we pay our respects to the remarkable person that was Iqbal Gulati.
Prabhat Patnaik's paper is concerned with showing the complete theoretical banality underlying the whole host of neo-liberal propositions on public finance that are now being so assiduously promoted by international finance capital through its agencies like the IMF and the World Bank and through the spokesmen of our own national government which is in thraldom to it. This theoretical banality is not in the context of any Marxian or radical political economy; it is established in relation to the tenets of "mainstream" bourgeois economics itself, which only underscores the view that in the present epoch sheer ideology replaces theory, and "hired prize fighters" (to use Marx's words) replace honest thinkers even in the realm of bourgeois social sciences.
Utsa Patnaik has been writing for some time, including in the pages of this journal, about the severe underestimation of rural poverty in the official estimates. Her argument has been that since poverty is defined with respect to a calorie norm, and since we have
p. 2 Social Scientist
data on expenditure on the basis of which we can directly calculate the magnitude of poverty, we should simply do so. Instead what the official estimates do is to take a particular benchmark level of expenditure above which everyone had the required calorie norm in some base year, call this benchmark level the "poverty line", update this line to the present year by using a consumer price index, and then count everyone below this line as "poor". The magnitude of underestimation of poverty which this indirect method gives rise to can be seen from the fact that as against the official figure of 27.09 percent rural poverty-ratio in 1999-2000 for the country as a whole, the direct estimate (those having less than 2400 calories per day) gives a figure of 74.5 percent! In the paper in this volume she looks at the poverty line of each state and the calorie intake corresponding to that line. It turns out that in 9 out of 15 major states, the poverty line is put at such an absurdly low figure (thereby underestimating poverty so grossly) that the calorie intake corresponding to the poverty line is less than 1800 per person per day which is the lowest permissible level for working human beings, according to the FAO.
Georg Lukacs's History of Development of the Modern Drama, written early in his life, has not received the attention it deserves in the international literature notwithstanding its profound influence on his immediate circle of friends. A part of the reason lies perhaps in the problematical-relationship of Lukacs's early writings, marked by a romantic anti-capitalism, to his later, Marxist, works. Margit Koves, in her paper, examines Lukacs's Drama-book and discusses the validity of the usual perceptions of it.
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