Capitalism can never ameliorate the condition of the masses but will only result in declining food security and nutritional standards and rising unemployment, according to Utsa Patnaik, economist.

Delivering the V.P. Chintan memorial lecture organised by the Indian School of Social Sciences on Tuesday, Ms. Patnaik said that capitalist accumulation had never taken place within closed economic systems. “The historical conditions for the industrial transformation of today's advanced nations lie in the primitive accumulation they practised vis-à-vis other nations through direct seizure of resources by means of force.”

Since the advanced countries today are even more dependent on the qualitatively superior productive capacity of tropical lands, they make increasing demands on these lands to produce, apart from traditional tropical exports, a new range of perishable products from fruits and vegetables to flowers. This has resulted in falling per capita output of food grains, she said.

In India, with its great success in global integration, per capita cereals supply had fallen below even the average level in the poorest countries of the world, the group of least developed countries. The annual demand in the country had fallen to 174 kg, one of the lowest in the world and the same level as existed 60 years ago, Ms. Patnaik pointed out. Similarly, the standard set for official poverty estimates was slowly lowered over the years. During the period of economic reforms (1993-2005), poverty rose sharply in both rural and urban areas. Presiding over the function, V.B. Athreya, former Head of Department, Economics Department, Bharatidasan University, translated the summary of Ms. Patnaik's lecture into Tamil.

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