V. 33: No. 3-4, March-April 2005 #382-383
Editorial, p. 1
"Financial Liberalization, Fragility and the Socialization of Risk: Can Capital Controls Work?" C.P. Chandrasekhar, p. 3
"The Pre-Colonial State," Shireen Moosvi, p. 40
"Gunpowder and Empire: Indian Case," Igtidar Alam Khan, p. 54
"The Second Identity," Ajanta Biswas, p. 66
"Obituary" [Prof. Sumitra Chishti (1933-2005)], p. 74
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The process of "opening up" of an economy to globalized financial flows and the implications of such "opening up" are often discussed on their own, and it is presumed that the baneful effects of such "opening up" can be countered through controls on capital flows into and out of the economy. In the lead article of the current issue of Social Scientist, C.P.Chandrasekhar argues that discussing such "opening up" in isolation from another phenomenon with which it is closely interlinked, namely the re-shaping of the domestic financial structures of third world economies in a manner that replicates the Anglo-Saxon "model", can be grossly misleading. These two phenomena, "opening up" to global financial flows and replicating the Anglo-Saxon financial structure, always go together; financial crises and financial fragility are inherent to each of these phenomena and hence appear in a pronounced form when the two intertwine; both have to be resisted; resisting only the phenomenon of "opening up", through the imposition of capital controls for example, is inadequate in the absence of resistance to the so-called "liberalization" of the domestic financial structure.
The so-called Anglo-Saxon "model" itself however is of recent vintage. The paper, while tracing the history of the emergence of this Anglo-Saxon "model" in the United States, on the ashes of the financial structure put together by Roosevelt after the Great Depression, draws attention to what is one of its central but little-analyzed features, namely the "socialization of risk". When a bank gives a loan, it takes a risk. The feature of the present "model" however is to pass the risk on to somebody else, who in turn passes it on to somebody else, and so on, until it is not even clear who bears the risk. We thus have layers and layers of financial institutions between the ultimate "lender", whose identity even gets progressively more and more blurred, and the borrower, rather like under the "Permanent Settlement" system in Bengal where there were layers and layers of intermediaries between the cultivator and the zamindar. An additional element of socialization of risk, which is of great importance in the case of third world borrowers, is getting the government to guarantee such loans implicitly or explicitly, even when such loans are incurred by the private sector. Effectively then, international finance capital insulates itself against risks and ensures for
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itself a fat rate of return at the expense of the hapless third world people whose taxes go to cover any potential loss to such capital.
Shireen Moosvi's Presidential Address to the Medieval India section of the Indian History Congress held recently at Bareily is not only a magisterial survey, drawing on both historical and historiographical material, of the State in Indian history, but also in particular a critique of several current ideas on the subject ranging from the perception of the Subaltern Studies group to the theory of the "Segmentary State". Just as there was a tendency at one stage to deny the role of class-struggle in Indian history by invoking inter alia the theory of the Asiatic Mode of Production, likewise there is a parallel tendency to deny the existence of the institution of the State, such as prevailed elsewhere, in Indian history. Moosvi joins issue with the range of writings that propagate this tendency.
Notwithstanding the lead provided by none other than Jadunath Sarkar, military history has been one of the neglected areas in Indian historical research, and in particular, the history of the material weapons of warfare. It is gratifying therefore that Iqtidar Alam Khan, one of our eminent and senior historians, has been interested in this area in the context of medieval India. We publish a paper by him, which is based on research enshrined in a recent book and which was also presented at the Bareily session of the Indian History Congress, to bring to our readers a flavour of this subject.
Finally, we publish a piece by Ajanta Biswas on S.G.Deuskar, the firebrand revolutionary of Maharashtrian origin who was domiciled in Bengal and wrote trenchant critiques of British colonial rule around the time of the Swadeshi movement. Deuskar's role in the anti-colonial struggle has not received its due recognition. We are glad therefore to publish this piece.
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