ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Too Little, Too Late

The last budget of the Modi government comes against the backdrop of severe agrarian and rural distress. It is also the last opportunity to undo the damage caused to the rural economy by this government in the last four years. While the government has finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its response has been limited to empty rhetoric without any financial commitment. Going by the past record of the government, it is clear that it is serious neither in its commitment nor in its intent. The half-hearted measures are not only too little and too late, it is also clear that this budget is unlikely to revive the rural economy.

Non-farm Diversification, Inequality and Mobility in Palanpur

Data from seven decades of survey in Palanpur provide insights into the changing nature of the village economy. Starting as a predominantly agrarian economy, Palanpur has seen non-farm employment emerge as a major driver of growth and distribution of income in the village economy, but accompanied by increasing inequality. There is evidence of greater mobility among the disadvantaged in Palanpur alongside falling inter-generational mobility. Preliminary analysis suggests that the nature of non-farm activities has become increasingly casual and informal, thereby more accessible to households at the bottom of the distribution, but still significantly influenced by access to networks and family ties, particularly for the more remunerative and stable non-farm jobs.

Rural Push in Budget 2016-17

Budget 2016-17 recognises that the rural economy is in crisis; however, it fails to address this with sufficient targeted rural spending. A perusal of budget documents reveals exaggerated expenditure claims, achieved through reclassification of budget heads. There has been an enduring neglect of agriculture, which is further exacerbated by this year's reduced subsidies for fertiliser and food. This will induce further vulnerabilities in the rural economy.

Clarification on PDS Leakages

This note outlines the methodological reasons for the (small) differences in estimates of leakages from the public distribution system in 2011-12, as reported in Himanshu and Abhijit Sen (EPW, 16 and 23 November 2013) and Drèze and Khera (EPW, 14 February 2015).

NREGS in Rajasthan

The performance of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Rajasthan was debated for its stupendous performance in the initial years of the scheme, but also for the relative sharp decline after 2010. Based on a large representative primary survey, this paper argues that the decline in performance of this scheme in Rajasthan is not entirely due to the lack of demand. Instead, the supply-driven top-down nature of the programme has led to a "discouraged worker" syndrome with workers showing disinterest in demanding work and passively waiting for availability of NREGS work. Strengthening the demand-based nature of the NREGS may reduce the need for rationing. Simple temporal tracking of NREGS outcomes at the village level along with proper recording of demand through the Management Information System may well help detect discrimination within panchayats.

On a CPI (Maoist) Apology

In a statement of apparent self-criticism dated 1 September 2011 (EPW, 17 September 2011), the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has offered an apo logy for the posters threatening Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze, Gokul Vasant and Nandlal Singh and members of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. But they have not tendered...

Employment Trends in India: A Re-examination

This paper re-examines the trends in employment and unemployment as thrown up by successive National Sample Surveys from the mid-1970s. The analysis suggests that the euphoria about high employment growth during 1999-2004 was not justified nor does the concern about jobless growth in the subsequent years capture the changes in employment structure. A long-term analysis of employment trends reveals that changes in the employment pattern and workforce structure have been sluggish and do not conform to the standard employment-output relationship. The analysis also flags certain issues which have a bearing on the comparability of employment data before and after 1993-94. Large fluctuations seen after 1993-94 appear to be a result of the movement in and out of labour force of a substantial section of the population which is vulnerable and in the informal sector in a phase of rising overall rates of economic growth. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the results of the recently released 2009-10 survey.

Why Not a Universal Food Security Legislation?

The National Advisory Council has given its final proposals on the proposed National Food Security Act. A government-appointed committee (the Rangarajan Committee) has also given its response to these proposals. Both these proposals agree on the desirability of a universal nfsa but finally propose targeting at the poor as defined by the Tendulkar Committee. This has been justified in view of the constraints set by foodgrain procurement and management. This paper argues that a universal nfsa is not only desirable, it is also a more efficient and feasible way to ensure food security for all. While presenting a critique of some of the assumptions made by these two proposals, this paper also offers an alternative which is near universal and feasible without using below poverty line targeting that has proved to be a colossal failure. This alternative, based on the results of a recent pilot for the bpl Census and which takes on board the concerns of its detractors, can be a way forward to a universal nfsa.


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