Social Scientist. v 13, no. 141 (Feb 1985) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

IN THE NOVEMBER 1984 issue of Social Scientist we had carried several articles on the stakes and activities of imperialism in different regions of the world. The current number complements that discussion by looking specifically at the economic aspects of imperialist penetration in one particular region, namely. South Asia. It does not, of course, deal with the details of involvement of metropolitan capital in the region; what it does is to look at the leverage on economic policy-making which imperialism, via agencies like the World Bank and the IMF, has acquired in some countries of this region, using the instrumentality of 'aid* and loans.

Looking at other South Asian countries is particularly important for us not just for the sake of familiarities with the happenings in one's own neighbourhood, but for a more basic reason as well. The economic policy regimes which exist elsewhere in South Asia bear a close resemblance to what the IMF, the World Bank and sections of domestic opinion would like to see instituted in India. As is well-known a fall-out of the capitalist crisis has been a tremendous intensification of pressures on Third World economies, many of which have passed, in varying degrees, into IMF tutelage to introduce an economic policy package ranging from trade liberalization and exchange rate adjustments, in a curtailment of subsidies, removal of domestic controls. solicition of investment from multinational corporations and banks and even privatization' of the state sector. India has not remained immune to this pressure. and a powerful lobby has emerged even inside the country which stridently advocates the adoption of this policy package under the plea that this would generate substantial economic development. Since elements of this package have already been introduced elsewhere in South Asia, their experience should give us an inkling of the possible denouement that may be in store for us should we adopt this policy package. It should also be instructive for unravelling the constituent elements of the conjuncture which brings about such an opening up' of the economy for metropolitian capital.

We are glad, therefore, to be able to publish case studies of two of the countries of the region, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, by distinguished radical scholars belonging to the countries in question. The case studies of course do not address themselves to the same set of questions. But each sketches in its own w^y the trajectory of development which the particular country has followed, and this should be of interest to Indian readers. While the lead article by W D Lakshman recapitulates Sri Lanka's changing economic policy,



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