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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 34, August 19, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Aug 19, 2023

Friday 18 August 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Aug 19, 2023

Man-made mass violence, economic crisis, pandemics and disasters caused due to climatic /environmental reasons all lead to social dislocation and economic disruption, and displacement of populations. Over the past years India has seen demonetization that hugely impacted the informal sector causing the closure of thousands of businesses triggering economic distress, a few years later we saw the giant Covid-19 lockdown creating a wave of mass migration for the labouring poor due to job loss, we have seen repeated cycles of violence triggering rising sectarian tensions, and waves of extreme climatic events that involve, extreme rain, typhoons, floods, landslides, e support are constantly in the news cycle. All manner of official and privately commissioned economic surveys, polls, projections, and impact studies are used by the government in its public messaging. Recent speeches by the Prime Minister [1] present economic data on achievements or projections on the coming future. The political opposition and social movements raise questions on Governmental or official claims sometimes with some counter data [2]. Economists working with national and international financial institutions and also private ratings agencies keep making economic assessments of the state of our national economy. But they all seem to be missing a wider picture with their weak assessments of social-political and environmental risks and costs of deepening divides [3] and social dislocation happening in India – When will the economists mainstream the evaluation and measurement of social and environmental crisis? The information exists in limited circles, but we don’t hear of it much. Will the taxpayers in India know the economic price they paid for the long internet shutdown in Kashmir [4] or what they will pay for the ongoing violence in Manipur [5] – what does it cost to re-house and feed the 70,000 displaced persons in refugee camps; the price of thousands of weapons stolen from state armouries. Who will tell us the economic cost of the recent communal violence in Haryana? [6] What about the highways washed away in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand [7]; the people displaced due to rains in Punjab? What will it cost the exchequer to rebuild the bridges? The courts recently stopped the illegal ’instant justice’ bulldozing of homes in Nuh, Haryana? [8] Can somebody calculate the costs of those over 1000 homes & business locations that were demolished in Haryana? It is time we create a new culture of public-spirited research that can become an informational and educational tool in our society. Voters and also economic investors should get to know the price of mob violence and the ecological disaster that are both flourishing in our midst.

August 19, 2023 —HK

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