Queen Elizabeth II’s death has renewed the discussions on the crimes of colonialism. British Empire has affected its colonies in a way that they are still not able to recover.
This article deals with India’s political economy. It is an important and a relevant topic today, not because of Queen’s death, but of the contemporary debates on India’s economy.
Ever since Modi came into power in 2014, he has brought some policies focusing on undoing the wrongs done by the British policies. Two particular programs in the economy that are related to the debate here are- Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self-reliant India) and Make in India. Further, the NITI Aayog or National Institution for Transforming India replaced the Planning Commission in 2014.
Modi’s policies are not directly related to British policies. However, they are related to the system adopted by India after the experience of British rule.
India’s Lesson from Colonialism?
The debates and discussions on India’s economy during India’s independent struggle later shaped India’s economy. They continue to do so.
Just a few years after the creation of the Indian National Congress, “economic nationalism” emerged in India. The debates and discussions around economic nationalism started with a critique of colonial economic policies. Economic nationalists offered several solutions to the problems that plagued the Indian colonial economy at that time. Initially, there were arguments for some sort of state support for India’s industry. This was followed by calls for protective tariffs. Finally, close to independence, the nationalists adopted centralization of national planning.
Drain and Deindustrialization
The two main concepts that economic nationalists relied on were drain and deindustrialization.
By drain, they meant that British exported raw material like cotton from India while India imported finished products like textiles from the British. This led to a drain of wealth because the value, services and employment that was added to the finished products in British could be done in India if India had industries. The added value, services, and employment, all benefited Britishers.
The import of finished products also led to deindustrialization as handicrafts declined. People involved in handicrafts lost their livelihood as the British imported cheap machine-made textiles.
After independence, India’s rulers took lessons from drain and deindustrialization. They argued that since colonial India was an open economy, it did not benefit Indians. So, they closed the economy of India. Also, since colonial India had a small state, India after independence focused on making a penetrative state.
Looking at Britain, India, like other decolonized countries wanted to industrialize. Perhaps, they wanted to become like their colonizers. Their argument was that Britishers were able to colonize because they had power. India also wanted to become powerful.
At the same time, USSR’s economic policies inspired India. A backward country where main economic activity was agriculture had industrialized within some years. India had similar conditions. Hence, the government adopted centralized national planning.
Britishers had neglected the agriculture sector. The Indian government led by Nehru also neglected the agriculture sector. Nehru’s government focused on the industry.
What was produced, how it was produced and for whom it was produced- the government decided it all.
Finally, India began opening its economy in early 1991.
Critique of Economic Nationalism
Detractors of economic nationalism argue that India learnt wrong lessons from British colonial rule.
They argue that the British Empire’s policies of an open economy and a small state created conditions for economic development in India. According to them, despite conditions prevailing in India going against industrialization, the access to the global market made possible through colonialism promoted industrialization in port cities in India. Further, they allege that Indian nationalists used “economic nationalism” to justify their fight against the empire. For them, even though it served the nationalists’ politics, it has done a disservice to the economic history of India.
They also rationalize the concepts of “drain” and “deindustrialization”. Their argument is that it was the cost that India paid for the services and skills that it imported from Britain.
They suggest that it is not entirely true that India did not have a manufacturing sector during British rule. For them, economic development was most visible in port cities of India where industries had come up. However, they accept that due to non-interference and the small size of British colonial state, agriculture was affected in rural India. There was no increase in the production of agriculture during colonial rule.
The detractors highlight the point that economic nationalism hurt India’s economy after the independence because Indian businesses feared they could not compete with foreign businesses and hence the result was a closed economy and protectionism.
Also Read: Sri Lanka Crisis Explained
Questions for the Critics of Economic Nationalism
The arguments put forward by the critics of economic nationalism raise some vexing questions.
Even if it is true that the drain and the deindustrialization were the balance of payments for the services and the skills that India imported, why was colonialism necessary?
Further, why the costs were of importing such services and skills so harsh? In the case of deindustrialization, why was no employment provided to those who had lost their livelihood?
At some point, even Britain adopted protectionism to protect their industry from competition. Is it possible to promote industrialization without protectionism?
Also, it is not true that colonial India had an open economy. East India Company maintained a monopoly over trade in India. Further, why did the British think it was necessary for India to have an open economy? It is no secret that it only served the British’s interest because there were no competitors except the British.
It is also interesting that if India paid for the services and skills of modernization in the form of colonization, how did other countries that were never colonized paid for these services and skills?
The UK Economy Braces for 2-Year Long Recession: What Went Wrong?
The UK economy is witnessing one of the worst crises in its history. The downfall of the pound, war-infused energy crisis, skyrocketing electricity bills, collapsing stock market, changing Prime ministers, and whatnot?
Nothing has gone in the UK’s favor since the passing of the Queen. And now the country is bracing for a prolonged two-year recession with contracting third quarters.
But what went wrong in the first place? How did this trigger an economic catastrophe in the UK? And can Rishi Sunak save the UK?
Here is a detailed explainer:
UK Economy: An Overview of the Problem
With the political upheaval and the pandemic, the already suffering economy of the UK reached its brim when the Russia-Ukraine war ignited.
In response to Ukraine’s invasion, Britain halted the import of fuel, gas, or coal from Russia since June for the first time in the past 25 years.
As a result, Russia stopped its critical gas pipeline to Europe, thus creating an energy crisis.
All this led to the UK’s economic downfall.
Today, inflation is at an all-time high of 9.9%, a 40-year high. Energy bills are shot up by almost 80%despite capping. Finally, and most importantly, the pound has become one of the worst-performing currencies, with its value dropping by 24% against the dollar.
The Mini Budget Turmoil
With such disruptive environments in the UK, former Prime Minister Liz Truss came up with the mini-budget. The mini-budget baskets a slew of tax changes, including the elimination of the high rate of income tax for the wealthy and the energy subsidies policy platform.
However, the mini-budget backfired and now has snowballed from an energy crisis into debt, housing, currency, and even a banking crisis.
The pointer mentioned in the mini-budget has been so terrifying that it shook the economy of the UK and plunged the London Stock Exchange horribly.
With such an unstable situation inside the UK economy, Truss changed her mind about company taxes after days of adamantly defending her budget and firing finance Minister Kwarteng.
“I still agree with my policies, but I’ve sacked my finance minister because he announced them, and the market didn’t like them.”She said
A Cold and Long Winters Awaits the UK
The three major events that make the incoming winter snug for the UK are:
- First, Russia has entirely cut off gas, which causes the cost of electricity to shoot up by almost 80%.
- Secondly, on top of the existing gas storage, the incoming winter energy consumption is about to hit a new peak from September to December.
- Third, even if Europe had 90% of its Energy storage complete in September 2022, it could take only 90 days for it to reach dangerously low levels.
Long story short, a gas shortage during a peak consumption time, with no storage option, will further increase energy prices. It has already been shot up at extreme levels resulting in high electricity bills that eventually heated inflation and the economy of the UK.
Even though the UK is receiving help from the US and other countries, gas prices are still very high. Hence the cost of production and inflation has hit a record 9.9%.
“It is going to be tough. But protecting the vulnerable – and people’s jobs, mortgages, and bills – will be at the front of our minds as we work to restore stability, confidence, and long-term growth,”British finance minister Jeremy Hunt twitted
Bond Market Crisis with Collapsing Pound
The UK’s property market, pension industry, and overall economy are at risk of recession. The reason behind this is the decline in the price of UK government bonds and the ensuing rise in interest rates.
10-year bond rates in the UK have gone above almost 300%, going from just about 1% to 4.11% in just nine months.
Even though the bonds yield a 4% interest, the currency has depreciated to such an extent that it has become a disaster for foreign investors. As a result, foreign investors are quitting the UK market, further decreasing the demand for the pound.
Such a crisis in the bond market resulted in currency depreciation further, and the sterling slid against the US dollar. Furthermore, during the Ukraine-Russia war, Russia cut off gas supplies, and oversized reliance on imports further surge Euro.
Rishi, the Third Prime Minister in Three Months
After the resignation of Boris Johnson with 27 ministers, the office was handed over to Liz Truss. When Boris left the office, there was a sensation in the UK that it was time for stability and competence.
However, due to poor politics and policies, Liz Truss abruptly resigned from the post of Prime Minister within 45 days. The shortest and most disastrous spell that slung the economy of the UK and crashed the pound forced Liz Truss to step down from the post.
With the resignation of Liz Truss, the reign was entrusted to Rishi Sunak, the third PM of the UK in the last three months. Sunak’s appointment ended another period of political unrest in the UK.
But many analysts and Westminster observers are still of the opinion that there will soon be another crisis. With the opposition Labor Party presently leading in the polls, all opposition parties are pleading for a general election.
Can Rishi Sunak Save UK Economy?
The political unpredictability has led the UK economy into a two-year-long recession. The previous two prime ministers were unqualified to steer the UK economy’s flimsy ship. Hence Rishi has some challenging tasks to do.
Now, everything will depend on how Rishi approaches the challenging work of rescuing the UK economy from disaster, and it will be interesting to watch how he advances.
Muslim Women’s Empowerment and Inheritance Rights
Despite Islam giving Muslim women the right to inheritance, it is rare to see Muslims follow this Islamic law. The recently released National Family Health Survey 2019-20 (NFHS-5) fact sheet for Jammu and Kashmir states that only 57.3% of women in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir own a house and/or land, alone or jointly (PDF of the survey). J and K is a Muslim-majority region. According to 2011 census, 68.3% of the region’s population is Muslim.
Even though we can read these figures as “at least more than half women own property”, however, given that all women are coparceners in one or the other way, it raises vexing questions.
Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. Despite this fact, the number of women owning property is almost half of that of men.
The data on women’s inheritance in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority South Asian countries is much worse. There are very few women who own property in South Asian countries.
Inheritance Rights, a Taboo?
Women asking for their coparcenary rights is considered taboo here. Further, women also seem to have internalized that asking for inheritance rights will break their relationship with other members of the family, especially brothers. As a result, they sign relinquishment deeds without giving a second thought about it.
Women’s Empowerment through Inheritance
People mostly see the inheritance of property as a matter of money and wealth. However, it goes beyond that, at least for women. Economically speaking, ownership of any kind of property by women is a very important determinant in the quest for women’s empowerment.
In a realist world where everyone is responsible for their own survival, women should not expect their male relatives to care for them. Unless women do not attach economical value to their lives, they will have no power. This is especially true for unemployed women who do not have financial independence. Since inheritance of property is a given- however small value it may have, they do not have to get an education or work to get it. The only thing they need to do is not to sign the relinquishment deed.
Also Read: Why Are Muslim Women Still Behind Bars
Militating Against Women’s Empowerment
Relinquishment of coparcenary rights militates against women’s empowerment. It is high time that women ask for the inheritance rights that the constitution as well as the religion gives them. The right to inheritance also seems one of its kind means to women’s empowerment where people peddling religiosity may not find a reason to oppose it. Women should know that signing a relinquishment deed may lose them a lifetime opportunity for leading an independent and respectful life in this patriarchal world.
Also Read: The women behind #Blacklivesmatter movement
The Debate on Equality of Rights
It is generally accepted that Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. However, the interpretation of the Quran regarding this law is debatable. According to Mohmmad Iqbal, “the share of the daughter is determined not by any inferiority inherent in her, but in view of her economic opportunities, and the place she occupies in the social structure of which she is a part and parcel.” Iqbal goes on to justify the case of inheritance law in Islam arguing that the daughter “is held to be the full owner of the property given to her by both the father and the husband at the time of her marriage.” Further, “she absolutely owns her dower-money which may be prompt or deferred according to her own choice, and in lieu of which she can hold possession of the whole of her husband’s property till payment, the responsibility of maintaining her throughout her life is wholly thrown on the husband.”
Therefore, for Iqbal, if we “judge the working of the rule of inheritance from this point of view, you (we) will find that there is no material difference between the economic position of sons and daughters.”
However, Iqbal made this point in 1930. Since then, there has been a significant change in the economic positions of men and women. If the motive behind inheritance laws, as mentioned by Iqbal, is applied to modern-day conditions, sons and daughters may well get an equal share in inheritance.
Towards Muslim Women’s Empowerment
Inheritance rights bestowed by Islam on Muslim women show Islam’s inherent quest for women’s empowerment.
Even though the West blames Muslims for repressing women’s rights, Islam has its in-built laws for women’s empowerment. These laws, unlike West’s feminist rhetoric, go beyond symbolic empowerment like sartorial choice, and hence materially empower women.
However, it is a shame that Muslims do not follow Islamic laws like inheritance law in letter and spirit. If all Muslims obeyed these laws, the world would become a better place for Muslim women.
“The Worst is Yet to Come”— Recession 2023 & the Looming Uncertainty
Recession 2023 is just around the corner.
The global economic crises are now inducing the certainty of a looming recession. Economists and financial organizations warned of upcoming uncertainty; however, regrettably, the world failed to decode the uprising of the economic catastrophe.
Today’s economies around the globe are confronting an urgent economic crisis and is on the brink of a recession. And, the experts fear the worst is yet to come!
Shear Impact on Leading Economies – US, UK, China, and India
“Global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. My deep concern is that these trends will persist, with long-lasting consequences devastating for people in emerging markets and developing economies,”World Bank Group President David Malpass.
For the first time since 2009, the US declared negative GDP growth two quarters in a row, which officially qualifies as a recession.
The British Pound is at its historic low of $1.038 against US dollars due to rare emergency interventions. Cities and states in China are still in lockdown because of a rise in Covid-19 cases. On the other hand, Indian Rupee is at its 75-year low of Rupees 82.11 against the US dollar, soaring the hike in repo rates to 5.90%.
Srilanka already declared insolvency earlier this year. Russia and Ukraine war had already set the stage for World War III. And the recent resilience of china on Taiwan has tarnished the world economic environment.
All these together indicate the harsh truth: Recession 2023 will worsens the conditions of all major economies and push the globe into undefined circumstances like:
- Central banks hiking the interest rates
- Hike in energy and food prices
- Depreciation of major currencies against the dollar
Central Banks Hiking the Interest Rates
To counteract rising inflation and the impact of a strong currency on the economies, central banks are hurriedly raising interest rates. This happens as the US Federal Reserve keeps up its aggressive interest rate hikes.
On the other hand Reserve Bank of India is also struggling with persistently high inflation, which is made worse by geopolitical unrest, droughts, and supply-chain disruptions.
Hike in Energy and Food Prices
Russia is the world’s third-largest oil-producing country. It provides 7-8 million barrels of crude oil per day, or 14% of global production, to international markets.
The US and UK’s restrictions and many other nations’ decisions to stop purchasing Russian petroleum have exacerbated the crisis.
Russia and Ukraine are the biggest sunflower oil producers globally and the second most frequently used cooking oil. However, sunflower oil cannot yet be exported from Russia due to the tightening of import restrictions.
Plus, due to the increasing demand for sunflower oil in the market, other edible oils are now more expensive, raising the cost of food and other products across borders.
Depreciation of Major Currencies Against the US Dollar
Compared to the US dollar, the Japanese yen has dropped to its lowest level since August 1998. The Indian rupee is hitting its lowest in history, and for the first time in 20 years, the euro is now lower than the USD.
The decline of major currencies indicates the current state of the global economy. Moreover, it provides a crystal-clear forecast of how disastrous the recession 2023 would be if significant steps are not taken to control the situation.
The Decelerating Global Economy: IMF Forecast for Recession 2023
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is warning that over a third of the economy is headed for a recession this year or next. Its world outlook shows growth withering from 6.0% in 2021, 3.2% in 2022, and an estimate of just 2.7% in 2023.
Recession 2023 will be different from all the recessions the world has faced to date. Different factors are driving economic crashes in different countries, for example:
The ongoing turmoil in the national and global market is further sparking the threat of World War III.
Rising Certainty of World War III
Russia has already invaded Ukraine, and in opposition to Ukraine’s protection, the US cleared this support with Ukraine by immediately sending weapons to Ukraine. Such US behavior infuriated Russia, leading to increased attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US and European countries that further expansion of support to Ukraine might lead the situation to a ‘Global catastrophe.’
On the other hand, China assaulted Taiwan due to the recent visit of the US finance minister. The current clash of China and Indian troops erupt seriously, leading to grim conflict on north-east Indian borders.
Additionally, civil wars in countries like Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Mali are raising the certainty of World War III.
Needless to say, World War III will destroy the world economy, resulting in more financial turmoil, starvation, a hike in oil prices, and the depreciation of currencies.
Recession 2023: The Worst is yet to come
Slowing down economies, high repo rates, depreciation of currencies, bankrupted countries, and looming wars between nuclear countries are further solidifying the onset of a cold economic winter.
The circumstance indicates what is coming. The indication of recession, the yell of “the worst is yet to come.“
However, to wrench the global situation on track, policymakers should continue to give needy powerful tailored assistance to respective governments while also putting in place reliable medium-term fiscal strategies.
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