Ashok Mitra and Prasenjit Bose represent two generations of the Indian Left. Mitra, 84, is a well-known economist. He was finance minister in West Bengal between 1977 and 1987 and chief economic adviser to Indira Gandhi’s government. Prasenjit Bose, 38, is a former convener of the CPI(M)’s research unit. He criticised the party for backing Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature as President and was removed from the party. Mitra and Bose have had their grouses with the party. Here they discuss what’s left of the Left, in a session moderated by India Today Senior Correspondent Tithi Sarkar at Mitra’s home in Alipore, Kolkata.
Prasenjit Bose (PB): We have been witnessing a global economic crisis for the past four years. This whole triumphalism which we saw in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union; Francis Fukuyama saying that it’s the end of history. How would you look at such a prognosis today, in the light of the global crisis?
Ashok Mitra (AM): I would say that Marx’s ideas about the final stage of capitalism are about to be vindicated by the latest series of developments in the United States, as well as in Europe. The falling rate of profit we have been reading in textbooks, we have been discussing galore; now suddenly we find that what Marx had predicted has come true. The United States is trying hard. The Europeans are trying to pick lessons from what their American gurus are suggesting but to no avail. Employment is falling, the rate of growth stagnates and suddenly we find, despite what lyricists on behalf of capitalism might chant, the world is really taking a shape which was foretold by Marx hundred and fifty years ago.