ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can India Be A Beacon Of Hope For The World?

The Government of India is engaged in several concerted actions to address poverty: an ambitious economic reform agenda; announcement and allocation of resources for a range of social protection measures; and a strong commitment to good governance. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Right to Education Act, Food Security Act and systematic investment in public healthcare if properly resourced and implemented, will constitute a giant step in solving the problems of inequality that plague a progressive and healthy India. About 1.5% and 3.5% of the GDP respectively is what it will take to offer education for all, and universal healthcare. India has some of the most enabling economic, political and demographic conditions; and certainly the resources for it; but the question remains as to whether we have the will.

Biological Markers and the Health of Older Indians

Portable, user-friendly diagnostics have increased the use of biological markers in national health surveys. The 2010 pilot wave of the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India used a comprehensive biomarker module to measure more accurately the burden of health risks and morbidity among older Indians in four pilot states. This paper presents results from the biomarker data collected during the LASI pilot wave and compares them with self-reports. When compared with self-reports, biomarker data revealed a greater burden of health risks and a higher prevalence of chronic disease. By showing the systematic variations in health status between LASI's self-reported data and biomarker data, the paper highlights the value of using biomarkers to establish more reliable estimates of health in national surveys. The biomarkers studied include blood pressure measurements, grip strength, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio, all of which provide valuable insights into health trends affecting older adults.

Persistent, Complex and Unresolved Issues

Challenges in the provision, accessibility and corresponding treatment gaps in mental health services in India and other low- and middle-income countries have been the subject of considerable discussion in recent times. Moving away from frequently acknowledged macro concerns, a few recurring, persistent problems remain insufficiently analysed. This article aims to capture the complexity and distress caused by the co-occurrence and interrelatedness of poverty, mental ill health and homelessness. It examines the ramifications of this nexus in domains including health systems and access to healthcare, productive living and full participation, social attitudes and responsiveness, and the development of human resources and leadership in the social sector. It also discusses the failure to engage with these issues which results in greater vulnerability, distress and social defeat among the affected populations.

Mental Illness, Care, and the Bill

Critiquing Bhargavi V Davar's ideas of "psychosocial disabilities", discrimination, autonomy, and informed consent ("Legal Frameworks for and against People with Psychosocial Disabilities", EPW, 29 December 2012), two comments interrogate the essential concepts of mental illness and disability, and access to care within the legal framework of the draft Mental Health Care Bill.

Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition in Vidarbha: A Household Level Analysis

This paper is based on an assessment of agricultural practices and livelihoods of people in Vidarbha, one of the most distressed regions in India. Using the data generated from a baseline survey on a sample of 6,990 households covering six districts, this paper attempts to assess the relationships between agriculture, food security and nutrition for children, adolescents and married women of reproductive age. The study indicates that (i) overall under-nutrition amongst children, adolescents and married women in the study area is substantial and it does not differ significantly between different socio-economic groups, (ii) higher the food crops production, lower are under-nutrition levels, and (iii) the public distribution system contributes significantly to the food security of poor families and it must be extended to include families above the poverty line as well.

Sardar Sarovar Project: The War of Attrition

The Sardar Sarovar Dam reached a height of 121.92 m in 2006 and at this height the dam has enough water to generate most of the promised benefits - irrigation, drinking water, and electricity. However, currently only 30% of the targeted villages receive regular water supplies, less than 20% of the canal network has been constructed and power generation remains well below the generation capacity reached. Even as the dam construction nears completion, rehabilitation of several thousand families is poor or incomplete. This, for a project that has had clearly laid out legal mandates to alleviate human and environmental costs, and has been under continuous public scrutiny and Supreme Court monitoring. The performance of this project does not seem very different from other Indian major irrigation and power projects: while main civil works somehow get completed, infrastructure and efforts necessary to realise benefits of the projects remain incomplete. The experience of people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project is fairly consistent with the experiences of millions displaced by other projects across the country, wherein the State uses the colonial Land Acquisition Act to dispossess people from their homes, lands and livelihoods, and consistently refuses to create just resettlement and rehabilitation entitlements and accountability frameworks to enable restoration of their livelihoods and their dignity. Instead, it promotes cash compensation (often aggressively and violently) to make people give up their homes, villages, land and other natural resources.

World Commission on Dams

Dams have been the epitome of modernisation and development cornering a large share of public resources in many countries. It is only fair that dams are opened to public scrutiny and informed debate on performance, benefits and negative impacts. The World Commission on Dams (WCD) created to address the conflicting positions around the dams debate, gathered a wide cross section of information, experiences and perspectives to unfold the dams story to the public arena. Despite the diversity of views represented by the commissioners, the main conclusions of the WCD final report are consensual. What WCD has provided through its intensive consultative process and its final report is an impartial and informed basis for continued dialogue involving all stakeholders. Greater and more constructive engagement in the WCD process provides the opportunity to end acrimonious encounters, restore confidence of all stakeholders to reach a settlement and reaffirm their commitment and responsibility towards equitable and sustainable development.

Differential Distribution of Social Cost-An Electricity Generation Plant in Telengana

Forced relocation results in profound social economic and cultural disruption in the lives of the affected people. Not only does it deprive them of their means of livelihood but uproots them from shared communal space. Women, service castes, scheduled castes and tribes find their skills redundant in new environs, and bereft of institutional supports, become all the more vulnerable.

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