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William Baumol (1922–2017)

William Baumol made seminal contributions in many areas of economics, in understanding externalities, the economics of performing arts, entrepreneurship, and the notion of fairness, to name a few. He identified the “cost disease” of rising relative costs of services such as education, healthcare, and opera singing, where the human component is the key to the delivery of the service. Baumol had a profound understanding of the history of economic thought that sought to explain the real world.

Public Sector Bank Mergers

The slowdown in the economy and the resultant rise in bad loans have led to criticism of public sector banks and questioning of their raison d’être. While there is a rush to find a quick solution by merging PSBs, it would be wise to examine the ground realities closely. India needs a mix of efficiently run PSBs and aggressive private banks to achieve growth and development along with social justice.

Climate Change and the Significance of Religion

There is a growing sense that religion has a part to play in shaping our responses to climate change. Merely understanding climate science, or dealing with it through the frame of technology is clearly insufficient. Religious engagement with climate change is both necessary and inevitable. But there is much to discover about how religious beliefs, institutions and practices around the world engage with the idea of climate change, and to what effect, thereby offering rich research agendas with which religious scholars and others might profitably engage.

Have We Learnt from Singur?

No one seems to be interested in the ground realities of Singur now, after a decade of the tumultuous 2006–07 in West Bengal. This kind of unconcern for the peasantry is not new among the Kolkata-based academicians and intellectuals, who represented West Bengal to India and the world since the colonial period. The Trinamool Congress government’s enthusiasm to generate capital and employment, either through legal means or by the play of market forces, seemed to be mere populist political rhetoric for contesting election battles in West Bengal.

Winners and Losers of India’s Mutating Petroleum Policy

In the last 25 years, the Indian petroleum sector has gone through several structural changes. Each stage of these reforms has favoured private sector companies, signifying a loosening of government control on the sector that had been asserted through investing in public sector oil companies in the 1970s.

A Dirge for Kashmir

Kashmir’s summer of 2016—and since—has been marked by events that will not be easily forgotten: the killing of Burhan Wani; the intensified people’s resistance that it triggered; the killing of over a hundred people by state forces; the indiscriminate use of the Public Safety Act; and, above all, what is being called “the world’s first mass blinding.” This is the gist of a recently-released report by a fact-finding team.

Communal Violence in Bhadrak, Odisha

Ram Navami celebrations in Bhadrak, Odisha have always been organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliate organisations and are also associated with memories of communal violence in the town. This year, the festival was celebrated aggressively against the backdrop of the BJP’s landslide victory in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and the town witnessed another communal clash. Even so, the majority of Bhadrak’s residents have refused to fall prey to the machinations of communal politics.

Data Discrepancies

A study of water sources for16 villages around Bengaluru points to the discrepancies between house listing data and village amenities data, both from Census 2011, but drawn from different sources, suggesting that users should be cautious while drawing interpretations from census data on rural water.

A Judge as a Philosopher

The sheer audacity of Justice P N Bhagwati’s vision, philosophical rationale and futuristic imprint of judicial activism appear to be unparalleled. It provides a beacon of hope to us that much desired changes in the Indian legal system are possible. This can happen if conscientious judges with wider horizons can marshal ideas that are duly guided by taking the Constitution as an organic beacon of hope for betterment of the society at large.

Minefields in Investment Relations

The Government of India and the Government of Andhra Pradesh are facing an arbitration suit due to the cancellation of bauxite mining approvals in Visakhapatnam. A case has been filed by the investment authority of Ras Al-Khaimah, a member of the United Arab Emirates, that set up a joint venture company in the state to refine bauxite. This is the latest in a series of legal actions by foreign investors in the country. The claim, being made under an India–UAE bilateral investment agreement and the investor–state dispute settlement mechanism therein, will test India’s efforts to attract foreign investments and impact centre–state relations.

 

India Badly Needs Public Health Education

This article calls for the need to introduce undergraduate courses and degree programmes in public health across local colleges and universities in India. Undergraduate degrees in public health should be promoted in order to have an optimum number of public health professionals who can successfully meet the health challenges posed by rapid economic development.

Is Disinvestment of Air India Appropriate?

An analysis of Air India’s financials reveals that the national carrier is on the path to profitability. Strategic disinvestment at this time will prove to be suboptimal. It is shown that debt obligations of the carrier can be serviced, given its improving performance. The airline’s revenues also entail large amounts of foreign exchange inflows. With global crude oil prices expected to remain subdued, strategic disinvestment of Air India at this juncture is not desirable.

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