ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

CommentarySubscribe to Commentary

Education Budget Lacks Imagination

The education budget for 2017–18 lacks imagination. There is a systematic defunding of important services and a renewed focus on tertiary educational institutions by the central government. The centre’s share of financing the education sector has decreased, placing the burden of implementation and funding on state governments. Further, promises made last year found no mention in this year’s budget which speaks volumes for the government’s educational development strategy.

Privatisation Is Not Reform

The decision to privatise Air India comes at a time when the government’s “reform” credentials are being questioned by big business. All information publicly available points to a continuing improvement in the performance of the airlines. Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the last year for which official financial results are available, the airline showed a steady improvement in terms of its operational profit/loss as well as its passenger load factor. The corporate business press is lauding the government’s privatisation decision, hailing it as the resumption of “reforms” which has come to mean more disinvestment and privatisation. It is hard to understand how mismanaging public assets and then selling them is “reform.”

‘Development’ and ‘Modernity’ in the Global South

The terms “development” and “modernity” have been used widely and diversely during the past several decades, and continue to be evoked extensively in the present time. Development is projected as the path to modernity, a unique and inevitably desirable state for all human societies.

The NDA’s Presidential Choice

The nomination of Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind as the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for the presidential election serves multiple objectives of the Sangh Parivar. It highlights the division between Ambedkarite and other Dalit groups, serves the NDA’s outreach to Other Backward Classes, and helps paper over the recent Dalit-led assertions against the government over caste-based atrocities.

Old Plans, Handouts, New Spin

In May 2017, the union cabinet approved the construction of 10 more 700 megawatt pressurised heavy water reactors. A careful reading of this largely public relations spin on existing plans suggests that it chiefly hopes to persuade the Nuclear Suppliers Group to accept India as a member and attract capital that aims to profit from supplying components for nuclear power plants. Given our track record, the prospects of it adding to the role of nuclear power in India appear bleak.

The Malnutrition Market

Health activists have critiqued the Maharashtra government’s proposal to provide a ready-to-use therapeutic paste to malnourished children across the state, despite strong evidence of the benefits of cheaper, more appropriate and locally produced foods. The move is one more example of how malnutrition, a condition that results from the widespread deprivation and inequities exacerbated by a market-driven economic system, is being converted into an opportunity to expand markets and make profits.

Notes from the Other Side of a Forest Fire

Although widely used as a tool in forest management across the world, causing fires is illegal in Indian forests. This article points out that the present understanding of fire as essentially disruptive has its antecedents in a colonial perspective that came from seeing the forest primarily as a source of timber. However, the practices of indigenous communities as well as the insights of ecological studies point to the importance of using fire in controlled ways to manage dry and deciduous forest ecosystems.

Death of Distinguished Lawyers

While remembering the death of two distinguished senior advocates—Anil Divan and Tehmtan R Andhyarujina—this article remarks that there is a class of lawyers called “senior lawyers” who are recognised as the best in knowledge, acumen and forensic ability. Unfortunately, the quality of this category has been debased by the high courts (some worse than others) and, alas, the Supreme Court itself.

There Is an Alternative

As the euphoria of a victorious defeat subsides, there is a sense of determination within Labour ranks as well as a degree of real hope among those in the broader electorate who wish to see Tory rule and austerity come to an end sooner rather than later. The way ahead will not be easy, not least because of the still very deep divisions of Brexit both within the Labour Party and beyond.

MGNREGA as Distribution of Dole

According to the evidence presented in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and studies elsewhere, 11 years of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have not been able to make much of a dent in rural poverty. This article also suggests some innovative ways to help improve the outcome of the scheme.

A Pittance for Our Children

For the last 15 years, allocation to the child budget has remained stagnant at around 3% of the union budget. This analysis points out why this amount is proving completely inadequate in safeguarding the health, nutrition, education and protection of India’s 434 million children.

Divide and Educate

Indian education is becoming increasingly divisive. Cuts in public funding for primary education and child welfare are laying the basis for new inequities in higher education. The funding of public universities is grossly unequal; the expansion of private universities is causing further imbalance. The class profile of the academic community is being redrawn. Social and human factors apart, these trends threaten the prospects of adequate human resource development for India’s economic growth.

Pages

Back to Top