Who’s to blame for the insecurity faced by American workers? A recent paper... by Devashish Mitra and Priya Ranjan, shows… offshoring can increase wages and reduce unemployment… (as) it cuts costs and so raises demand... Mary Amiti and Shang-Jin Wei suggest there’s empirical evidence for this, or at least against the view that offshoring destroys jobs… (So), what is (to be blamed)? Feminization... A Levy Economics Institute paper says: “The growing incorporation of women into market work during 1982-97 contributed to the decline in the aggregate wage share.”... Why (do) American men blame offshoring and foreigners for their (perceived) trouble, not women or exploitative capitalists?
View from the armchair
Recently, I came across two good articles on urbanization and development. The article— ‘World Goes to Towns’ in The Economist is a part of their survey on cities, which covers many facets of increasing urbanization. (Its) main argument is that urbane metros will be the engine of progress for the whole modern civilization. By 2020, nine cities across the world will touch the figure of almost 20 million inhabitants.
In Mint, Atanu Dey and Reuben Abraham argue (similarly) in their article, that urbanization is the natural path of human advance and the earlier we get there, the better will it be. The (title) of their article (is apt): ‘Can India afford its villages?’... (I find there’s a) flaw (in this article)—(it has) a visibly rationalistic attitude which treats the village as a mere unit in the economy, to which some resources must be allocated and (suggests) all problems in societies are merely those of allocation of resources.
Look at the Nandigram and Maan/Vagholi SEZ issues that enraged West Bengal and Maharashtra. Valuation of a village or land can’t be in monetary terms, a mistake economists are (making) again and again.
There is no debat(ing) the fact that the living conditions of villagers must be improved, but it is not at all convincing that (worse) living conditions means villages. What about the slums in Mumbai or Delhi? Those (show) urbanization minus urbane conditions.
The main question here is not of living conditions of course. (It), as raised by the writers, is of productivity. Productivity and urbanization are different things. If we turn all resources to cities on the pretext of low productivity of villages, we will merely force the rural population to migrate to cities. Even if new city-centres come up to accommodate these immigrants... we would have found no answers to the problem of low agricultural productivity. The results would be completely disastrous for the whole economy.
Another curious phenomenon which negates this city-centric resource planning is that most of the SEZs come up not on infertile land in remote places far off from cities, but are, in fact, proposed in close proximity to existing cities. The logic behind (such) proximity is clear. There is little infrastructural development in the countryside. If we want to develop this infrastructure, again we must shift resources to villages, not cities.
The point I want to make is that we have failed miserably in taking to villages, the kind of opportunities (that) could have launched them on a path of progress. The answers to this failure, though, do lie in centralized and corrupt politics, apart from the stratified societal structure. The fact remains that we Indians are in constant denial (of) our historical facts—we do not accept the realities— and hence have not evolved a scheme for development which could be said to have evolved from the grass roots. I wonder if technology could be the answer (for) the villages. I feel, by equating villages with underdevelopment, we (may be) throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Aren’t we overlooking a lot of complex emotive-social realities (which is an issue in the political realm, not economic)? Aren’t we taking a ‘chopper view’ of villages and development?
— Ganesh N. Kulkarni