Department of Economics, JU Organises 22nd Annual Conference of the IPEA

JAMMU: The 22nd Annual Conference of the Indian Political Economy Association hosted by the Department of Economics, University of Jammu as part of the University's Golden Jubilee Celebrations commenced today with the inaugural ceremony being held in the Brigadier Rajinder Singh Auditorium.

Speaking on the occasion, the keynote speaker, Professor Utsa Patnaik Professor Emerita in the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University drew parallels between what happened to India under Colonial Rule and under the current policies of globalisation and liberalisation.

Prof Patnaik drew the attention of the audience to the manner in which India was drained of her wealth by Britain her colonial rulers by way of taxes which then were used to pay for Britain's imports from India. These imports in turn were largely exported to the rest of the world enriching Britain. However Economic History textbooks written with a colonialist's worldview were careful not to highlight this plunder and as a result, the extent of colonial plunder remains unknown to most Indians.

Prof Patnaik claimed that the same is being replicated by the richer countries this time through a set of policies that India has adopted after 1991 ie liberalisation and globalisation.

The lowering of State investment have led to low demand and low domestic incomes while liberalisation and globalisation has made the farmers vulnerable to global instability. This was accentuated by the gradual phaseout of government procurement. The resulting farmers' distress has led to the rise in farmers movements as well as Dalit movements which are now being supported by the middle class. This according to Prof Patnaik is a new and welcome development. Prof Patnaik called for a rollback of the policies that have come into place after 1991 and called for greater State intervention in the economy.

Prior to this Prof V.B. Upadhyay of IIT Delhi and a functionary of the Indian Political Economy Association explained to the audience about the aims, goals and orientation of the Association. Prof Jasbir Singh of the Department of Economics and the Convener of the Seminar delivered the welcome address. The Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour were Prof Ashok Aima, VC Central University of Jammu and Prof Jigar Mohammad, Dean Research Studies, University of Jammu who also addressed the gathering. Prof Prakash Anthal, HOD Economics proposed the vote of thanks.

The first day saw eight technical sessions with approximately 40 papers being read. The areas covered included water management issues, climate change, foreign policy, public investment, relevance of Marxian analysis and thought etc. The day concluded with a plenary session devoted to the discussion on " Political Economy of Emerging Political, Development and Ecological Challenges at the National and Global Levels" ie the theme of the conference.

This was moderated by Prof H.S. Sidhu. Most speakers focussed on the implications of the neo-liberalist policies and opined that this had led to many problems whose implications are only now being felt and understood. These included jobless growth, rising inequality, environmental degradation, disguised privatisation of public assets and institutions, loss of autonomy for erstwhile autonomous institutions and their reduction into quasi-governmental agencies.

Dr Shallu Sehgal of the Department of Economics conducted the proceedings for the inaugural session while Dr Virender Kaundal of the same Department introduced the speakers of the plenary session before requesting the moderator to take over the proceedings. Today was the first day of the two day Conference which concludes tomorrow.


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