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Human Rights vs Contract Law in Arbitration Mechanisms

The consideration of human rights is often kept out of international investment arbitration proceedings. This can be related to the privileging of contract law in a market society and the differences in values underlying contract law and human rights. The tension between different kinds of laws can be viewed as being irreconcilable or as reflecting a Polanyian “double-movement.”

National Medical Commission Bill, 2017

The National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, which aims to overhaul medical education in India and replace the 83-year-old Medical Council of India with a government-appointed NMC, has several worrying features. While the long-term implications of the bill have not been satisfactorily debated and addressed, the bill itself is in danger of causing similar or even worse outcomes than the previous MCI Act. The NMC Bill remains a questionable remedy, and it has drawn criticism from several quarters, including the country’s medical fraternity.

Growing Financial Hardships of State Universities

Amidst stagnating government grants and out of sync governance structures, affiliated state universities emphasise student-centric funding, putting higher level institutions in a precarious situation. This undermines their functional autonomy and regulatory processes.

‘Surge’ Pricing for Railway Tickets as Tax by Stealth

The Indian Railways’ implementation of the “surge” pricing of tickets for its fast trains is unfortunately an ill-conceived policy and a “tax by stealth” measure. It flouts basic microeconomic rationale and real-world relevance as the railways is a monopoly with no flexible and immediate capacity for a rise in supply of traveller coaches and/or fast trains.

User Charges Onslaught on Public Health Services

Healthcare as a public good should be available free of charge at the point of service delivery. This was the case across India until a flurry of reforms from the early 1990s onwards notified user charges for various health services in public health facilities. Since then, public expenditure on healthcare has seen a decline from a high of 1.5% of gross domestic product in the mid-1980s to a low of 0.7% of GDP in the mid-1990s, recovering to 1.2% of GDP presently. However, out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure has risen dramatically with increased user charges in public health facilities, which leads to further inequities.

Politics of Dominance in Meitei Society

The play of domination and subordination between men and women in segregated spaces conveys a “flexible” patriarchal social structure, which does not impose complete male dominance or complete subordination of women but permits cross-gender role play by women in select spheres.

From Superstar to CM?

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has announced his long-awaited entry into politics. This article charts his rise to superstardom and long dalliance with state politics to analyse his political prospects. It is argued that the leader-centric nature of his party is a mere continuation of Tamil political norms, and that his ambivalent “spiritual” politics must be wedded to material concerns if he is to succeed.

A Reply from the Mahatma

One year ago in January 2017 the chief economic adviser to the Government of India, Arvind Subramanian, in the Economic Survey, 2016–17 included a chapter entitled “Universal Basic Income: A Conversation With and Within the Mahatma.” While there continues to be significant publicity and debate about Universal Basic Income, there has been no focused reply to Subramanian’s conversation from the perspective that M K Gandhi might have taken. Here is a response as the Mahatma might have replied.

Rethinking Undergraduate Economics Education

Worldwide, a concerted and systematic criticism of the way economics is taught began after the onslaught of the 2007 global financial crisis. In India, postgraduate economics education has received more attention than its undergraduate counterpart. After identifying some structural constraints of undergraduate education in India, a set of curricular and pedagogic recommendations to improve undergraduate economics education is explored.

Kanyashree Prakalpa

The conditional cash transfer scheme of the Government of West Bengal, Kanyashree Prakalpa, has been hailed as a much-needed intervention to combat the high rate of child marriage in the state, and has received numerous awards since its inception. The scheme incentivises girls to continue education, while simultaneously delaying early marriages. However, an examination of the working of the scheme highlights the fact that rather than promoting higher education of women, the scheme has ended up entangled in the marriage economy of rural Bengal.

Singapore and the Smoke Haze Crisis

The 2013 and 2015 episodes of smoke haze over Singapore were some of the worst environmental crises in the nation’s history. Severe haze caused by land clearance fires in Indonesia blanketed Singapore for more than a month each time, leading to a dramatic shift in public attention and policies regarding the nation’s engagement with its neighbouring resource-extractive economies. This article reads the development of this crisis through the myth of the “air-conditioned nation,” arguing that it presents an opportunity to reconnect capitalism and regionalisation with their consequences.

Undermining Democracy in Pakistan

With an election due by late summer, the Pakistani military and its clandestine wings have begun attempts to manage, if not control and influence, events leading up to the polls. Journalists and bloggers have been picked up and beaten by “masked armed men,” and mentioning Balochistan or talking and writing about what is happening in one of Pakistan’s provinces is dangerous to life and liberty. The silenced, missing Baloch has become a symbol of the Pakistani state’s intransigence, not much reported in the local or international media.

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