Chartbook #159 “India’s moment” and the polycrisis

Around Delhi, as Modi’s government prepares to take over the reins as G20 chair, the talk is of “India’s moment”. But what kind of moment is this? How far is India’s pivotal role conditioned by poly-crisis?

At the end of September I had the great privilege of spending some time with the amazing team of the Center for Policy Research (CPR) in New Delhi headed by Yamini Aiyar.

To say I had a stimulating time talking to folks like Yamini, Pratap Mehta, Navroz Dubash, Mekhala Krishnamurthy and the many people they introduced me to, would be an understatement. I think you can tell from the energy of this keynote on the global policy crisis and “India’s moment”.

The session with Shivshankar Menon and Sushant Singh I refer to in my keynote, is here.

In the keynote I riff on Keynes and the passage that dominated so much of our thinking in 2020-2021: “anything we can actually do we can afford”. It seems a lifetime ago that I wrote this Chartbook on that theme.

Chartbook on Shutdown: Keynes and why we can afford anything we can do.

Shutdown is out next week. Order it here (if in the US). Shutdown is pacy. It is the shortest and most fast-moving book I’ve written. There are a lot of weighty themes that spin off from it – critical macrofinance, Treasury markets, fascism, universal owners and vaccine geopolitics etc, etc. A lot of stuff to mull over at more length in the newsletter…

Think about the limits of what we can “actually do” we have run up against since 2020.

With Pratap Mehta the following day this became a wide-ranging discussion about liberal politics and government in the age of polycrisis. Truly a privilege to be in such company.

Amongst the other panels at the Dialogues I recommend this totally fascinating conversation about the situation of Indian agriculture and whether or nor the Indian countryside is facing a stalled transition.

The on-going air pollution crisis is an extraordinarily revealing lens through which to view India’s politics and political economy.

Finally, the idea of the emancipatory but unlivable city was articulated in this fascinating session on the “Cities of Delhi”

The positive energy around the CPR Dialogues, including the swarms of delightfully enthusiastic undergraduate students, was deeply impressive. All the more so since such a shadow hangs over the entire enterprise. In early September CPR was subjected to a gratuitous and intimidatory raid by the Indian tax authorities on specious allegations. Days later Oxfam India and a Bengaluru-based media foundation IPSMF were subjected to similar raids, which involve lock-ins of staff and the impounding of cellphones and computers.

CPR responded by stating that it holds itself to the “highest standards of compliance” and remains committed to “rigorous research” on policy making in India. Long may that remain the case.

In the keynote I ended up imagining a conversation between Keynes and Clausewitz on the theme of “what we can actually do we can afford”. In a situation of war, what we can “actually do” is defined in large part not just by the fog of war, but by the actions of our enemies.



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