Labour, Capital and State in Neoliberal India: Some Reflections on Recent Developments
This essay attempts to examine some of the core features of the world of work in contemporary India, with global capitalism as the backdrop. Among the important dimensions of the current neoliberal capitalism, the paper highlights two of these, namely ascendancy of finance capital and significant decentring of production from the North to the South and their implications for labour regimes. First, given that the core of financialized accumulation rests on circulation and speculation (through a large number of instruments) and that finance is globalized, real economy everywhere tends to come under huge pressure. Second, the share of surplus in world output during the neoliberal era has seen a noticeable increase, which through multiple channels, contributes to tendencies towards under-consumption and compression in the growth of labour demand. Third, given that finance capital has a strong antipathy to government expenditure, fiscal deficits, etc. in the context of neoliberalism, where finance is footloose and internationally mobile, nation states generally abide by the whims and fancies of finance which further exacerbates deflationary tendencies through curtailment of expenditure. Fourth, policies for the protection of labour in general social policies have become victims of the above-noted major features of neoliberal globalization. These themes are discussed in this essay with special focus on the world of work in contemporary India.
KeywordsFinance capitalism Global value systems Labour reforms Social protection Trade unions
Professor L.K. Deshpande is widely recognized as a distinguished economist, a great teacher, a remarkable institution builder and a wonderful human being. I have had the privilege of knowing Professor Deshpande for over two decades and am, indeed, grateful for his wise counsel and abundant affection over the years. I feel deeply honoured to contribute to a volume which celebrates the life and work of Professor Deshpande. As my token of gratitude, I have chosen to engage with a theme central to Professor Deshpande’s scholarship, namely the well-being of labour.
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