ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Life beyond Debt

The Greek crisis and referendum have laid bare the politics behind economic strictures.

In the end, the margin by which the Greek people voted against austerity measures surprised most people outside Greece. The results of the referendum, called by the Syriza government, to decide whether the Greek government should accept further austerity measures in lieu of another loan to repay the previous one, have thrown a spanner in the well-laid plans of the “Troika” of the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Most importantly, the Greeks have shown the world that it is possible to take the fight to financial “terrorists.” The manner in which the Greek government was sought to be crushed by this Troika and the manner in which the Greeks have resisted remind one of a famous line from one of Saki’s short stories, “the people of [Greece]…make more history than they can consume locally.”

The crisis Greece faced and the solutions it was forced to adopt are not new. Scores of countries in Latin America and Africa have walked this plank before. High debt burdens and the consequent debt trap, where the country needed to borrow just to repay the interest on the debt, were the staple story of the Third World through the 1960s to the 1990s. However, it is perhaps for the first time that countries in Europe and the core—even if they are the periphery of the core—are showing symptoms of the same crisis. Greece is only the most extreme case of the economic problems which have plagued Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, to name the most prominent ones, within the Eurozone (the European Monetary Union).

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