It now seems possible that Greece will exit the Euro, and it is worth talking about what this may mean.
The Greek government is driving a hard bargain with its creditors, not giving in to their various demands, particularly on Pension and Benefits cuts for retirees, and higher tax on goods sold. While this seems unreasonable and everyone seems to be blaming the Greeks for the trouble, at the core, there is a fundamental difference of priorities. The austerity strategy that the Greek government is resisting is a failed one, and it has resulted in a contraction of the Greek economy and worsened the Debt crisis rather than improving the situation. So, the fundamental position of the Greek government, that the debts will be paid but not by crippling the economy for generations to come and not by causing deeper social unrest, is more reasonable than it seems. The creditors position, in line with the currently dominant worldview, is the one that dominates the media, but its time seems to be running out.
We know, Debts must be paid! This is one rule that we seem to think should apply to everyone, particularly the poorer nations. However, it does not seem to apply to banks, which may squander money and when convenient, just turn up for the bail-outs! It does not apply to richer nations, which can run debts to whatever unsustainable levels just by spending the money on military, and then demand creditworthiness - or, otherwise, send the military to other countries so that they fall in line! Surely, the underlying principle governing the national debts, what must be paid and how it must be paid, is political, and the Greek government is fully justified in considering its political priorities.
One can see the word coming - Populist! Anything that is done for the poor people in any country is always populist! Democracy is indeed a game of words, and words only. Because one could give all the money to the erring banks and let their executives go scot-free, and yet sound tough and patriotic, while if one stands for the poor pensioners and try to protect the little they have got, they get the populist label. Austerity, as we have seen in the recent years, is never for everyone, just for those who do not have much. Greeks are just being asked to do what everyone else seems to accept without questioning.
Greeks have a big problem if they have to exit, as their economy will collapse and capital flight would occur. However, they may have weighed in all the options and this alternative may not look too bad compared to the others on the table. For Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister, accepting the alternative deal means political suicide, letting down people who had voted for him and who trusted him to get the best deal for them. If he acts like the other left politicians (like the British Labour party), he would be forced out of office fairly soon, both by the disillusioned voters but also by those bankers and industrialists who he would have saved (like the Labour Party). And, this is not opportunism, but the very Churchillian politics of doggedness that we have come to admire so much. He has a mandate, and if he does anything else, just because The Economist or the Murdoch Press say so, he would be betraying his mandate.
But, then, here is his saving grace - the Greek exit is not just a problem for Greece, but the whole world system that came into being after the Second World War. This would be a nightmare for the EU, and the worst failure of the Bretton Woods institutions, particularly the IMF. The Keynesian common sense of allowing growth and saving the Greek economy would have been abandoned in favour of the narrow Monetarist dogma, and its rejection by the Greek people will be a first, and indeed not the last. Greek government would survive, and the country would move away from Europe and closer to the world of China and Russia. This may indeed become a big rescue act for the nascent BRICS Bank, which is far more amenable to Keynesian ideas of growth and development (because they have to). In the end, this is political twist at the tale of this economic saga, and the European leaders perhaps know that they can ill-afford such a situation.
There may be some in America and Britain who would quietly celebrate this as the end of EU, but this is, in effect, the end of the world they know. While this may not be the start of another catastrophic war, this is an institutional failure in the end, a classic case of post-war institutions not being in sync with democratic public opinion. We have had several systems in history which was constructed to maintain the world as is, and they broke down to give way to chaos and war. We have arrived at such a point. The choice is not just for the leaders of Greece, but for all those on the table who has an interest in averting a wholesale breakdown.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
As India's democracy reaches a critical juncture, with a very real danger of a authoritarian take-over, Rabindranath Tagore's birth anniversary is a perfect occasion to revisit the founding idea of India once again. There are many things in his politics that we may need to dust up and reconsider: Tagore's political ideas, because of his inherent aversion of popular nationalism and enthusiasm about Pan-Asianism and universalism, were outside the mainstream of the Indian National Movement, seen as impractical and effectively shunned. He was seen mostly as the Poet and the mystic, someone whose politics remains in the domain of the ideas rather than action. Tagore himself, after a brief passionate involvement in politics during the division of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, withdrew from political action: He never belonged to the political class, despite his iconic status and itinerant interventions, such as returning the Knighthood after the massacre of Amritsar in 1919.
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
I spent the last week at the Ideas for India conference in London. This conference had different strands, and brought the diaspora Indians, India watchers and a number of delegates from India together. Because Rahul Gandhi chose to attend - a rather last minute thing which changed the published agenda somewhat - the media narrative revolved around his 40-odd minutes of talk. And, of course, a sense of discomfort hung over the whole conference: A wholly new thing for me and it shows how much India has changed. Somehow, the people in India seemed to think that no conversation about India should happen anywhere else in the world, a strange thing for a country which is anxious to assert its global importance. Additionally, anything outside the official channel is seen as conspiracy. Gone are those days when the presumptive opposition candidate, the current Prime Minister, could freely interact with the diaspora Indians and slam Dr Manmohan Singh's lack of initiative; today, this wou
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.