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Continuum of Ignorance in Indian Universities

A response to V Kalyan Shankar and Rohini Sahni ("What Does an MA Know? Postgraduate Learning Deficits and the Diploma Disease in Social Sciences", EPW, 1 August 2015) argues that the main problem with higher education is not the poor quality of intake that universities have to deal with. The systemic problems underlying the deficient quality of teaching in the university are more important and cannot be ignored.

NSSO 71st Round

Same Data, Multiple Interpretations

A comment on the article "Falling Sick, Paying the Price: NSS 71st Round on Morbidity and Costs of Healthcare" (EPW, 15 August 2015) which suggests that the National Sample Survey Offi ce's 71st round on social consumption of health can be read differently.

Raising the Bar or a Missed Opportunity

The history of caste is not the history of saints and sinners. Rather, it is the history of particular social relations--of production and property--and the specific historical context that gave rise to caste and the caste system and reproduced it generation after generation. More thoughts on the Rajmohan Gandhi-Arundhati Roy discussion.

Double Deflation Method and Growth of Manufacturing

A Comment

This comment points out an erroneous assumption in the calculations and central argument of Rajakumar and Shetty ("Gross Value Added: Why Not the Double Deflation Method for Estimation?," EPW, 15 August 2015) that reverses almost all their inferences and conclusions. If construction and service input prices are also considered in the construction of the input price deflators, the double deflation method may further raise the manufacturing real income rather than depressing it. Conditions under which single or double deflation can better approximate the Index of Industrial Production growth rate are also discussed.

Economic Legacy of Colonial Rule Revisited

Continuing the debate on the economic legacy of colonial rule, the author responds to Banerjee et al's critique of his essay, also published in EPW.

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).

The Institutional Lives of Intersectionality

Continuing the debate on intersectionality (EPW, 25 April 2015 and 15 August 2015), this comment raises the issue of the institutional life of intersectionality as illustrated by women's studies in the United States.

T S R Subramanian Report

This article takes forward Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli's criticism of the TSR Committee Report, "Executive's Environmental Dilemmas: Unpacking a Committee's Report" (EPW, 13 December 2014). This piece focuses on the operational aspects of the report and scrutinises the efficacy of the measures it proposes.

Human Resource Development in Health Services

This response to Javid Chowdhury ("National Health Policy 2015: A Narrow Focus Needed," EPW, 28 February 2015) and Anant Phadke ("Slippery Slope for Public Health Services," EPW, 28 February 2015) argues that a course designed to create a mid-level cadre of healthcare providers lacks the vision to address the country's needs.

Historiography sans History

A Response to Tirthankar Roy

Responding to Tirthankar Roy's article "The Economic Legacies of Colonial Rule in India: Another Look" (EPW, 11 April 2015), which reinterprets the economic legacy of British rule in India, this article critically interrogates the relationship between ideology, perspective, and method in an emerging strand of economic history. This strand tries to make history writing on colonialism consistent with the rationalisation(s) of contemporary globalisation. This article traces the ideological basis of "neutrality," explores the conceptual and historical fallacies of the "openness" paradigm, and assesses the methodological inconsistencies of cost-benefit analysis in the historiography of reinterpretations of colonialism in India.

Reconciling Gandhi with Ambedkar

This article carries forward the discussion on the controversy between M K Gandhi and B R Ambedkar occasioned by Arundhati Roy's essay, "The Doctor and the Saint." It takes note of Rajmohan Gandhi's criticisms of Roy in "Independence and Social Justice: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate" (EPW, 11 April 2015) and Roy's response, "All the World's a Half-Built Dam" (EPW, 20 June 2015) to stress that the views of Gandhi and Ambedkar are not as conflicting as they are made out to be.

Struggles around Gender

Some Clarifications

This is a brief critique of some of the positions put forth in Nivedita Menon’s article “Is Feminism about ‘Women’? A Critical View on Intersectionality from India” (25 April 2015). The paper covered diverse and complex grounds, delving into each through layers of connections.


Rejection or Critical Dialogue?

Two responses to Nivedita Menon's "Is Feminism about 'Women'? A Critical View on Intersectionality from India" (EPW, 25 April 2015) appreciate the article's attempt to initiate a debate on "intersectionality." The fi rst piece takes issues with Menon on rejecting intersectionality and argues that feminists should critically examine whether the concept offers any insights into their dilemmas and challenges. The second piece criticises Menon for not clarifying the issues she problematises. This piece also takes on Menon for a not-so-nuanced representation of the women's movement.

Measuring Indian Growth

Why the Data Should Be Doubted Less

The article offers some explanations for the large changes in growth rates in the rebased gross domestic product series, but argues that these do not imply a recovery in the macroeconomic cycle. Changes in estimates of savings and investment also support these conclusions. In addition, firms were under pressure to save costs, and thereby growth of value added increased. This implies that industrial growth was constrained on the demand-side rather than the supply-side, while firms' balance sheets remained healthy.

Response to Arundhati Roy

Continuing with the discussion around "The Doctor and the Saint," Rajmohan Gandhi counters Arundhati Roy's response in four areas--Gandhi and the Blacks of South Africa, Gandhi and caste, Gandhi and Ambedkar, and the subject of joint/separate electorates for Dalits.

Solar Energy

An Irrelevant Debate

The failure of solar installations in India is not primarily due to poor maintenance or lack of money, materials and skilled manpower as argued in "Solar Energy for Rural Electricity in India: A Misplaced Emphasis" (EPW, 13 December 2014). Solar is still not a visible product for the consumer. Rather than see the failure of solar installations in terms of a rural-urban divide, the author could have done well to locate his arguments in the context of the "new economy-old economy" divide.

Revisiting Discrepancies in Sanitation Statistics of Rural India

This response to Arjun Kumar's "Discrepancies in Sanitation Statistics of Rural India" (EPW, 10 January 2015) points out that the article does not mention another gap in official data: omission of households that reside in settlements that are categorised as census towns. This response shows that taking this category into account can alter Kumar's observations.

All the World's a Half-Built Dam

A response to Rajmohan Gandhi's "Independence and Social Justice: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate" (EPW, 11 April 2015).

Growth in GVA of Indian Manufacturing

Two comments on "Growth in Gross Value Added of Indian Manufacturing: 2011-12 Series vs 2004-05 Series" (EPW, 23 May 2015) question the defence of the statistics on growth in manufacturing in the new National Accounts Statistics of the Central Statistics Offi ce.

Reading Arundhati Roy Out of Context

Rajmohan Gandhi's assertion that Arundhati Roy has taken statements made decades ago out of context and not provided the sources for her arguments are turned against him. This response to Gandhi's "Independence and Social Justice" (EPW, 11 April 2015) cites two such instances.

Caste in Indian English Fiction

Footnotes to a Post-Mandal Debate

Taking off from Kalyan Das's article "Subaltern Historiography to Dalit Historiography" (EPW, 14 February 2015), this discussion digs up an old debate in the pages of EPW on the presence of caste and its denial in Indian English fiction, which still holds relevance.

As Green Delhi Turns Grey













Seeds of Doubt Remain

A Reply to CSO’s Rejoinder

In reply to the Central Statistics Office's rejoinder (18 April 2015) to his article (28 March 2015), the author examines the CSO's methodological improvisations to find out if they could have contributed to the higher estimates of growth in the private corporate sector in 2013-14. He concludes that there are reasons to maintain the seeds of doubt expressed in his initial contribution.

On Interest, Investment and Economic Growth

In “The Interest Rate Affair,” Sugata Marjit (EPW, 4 April 2015) points out the deficiency of one particular mainstream macro­economic viewpoint. Marjit’s counterpoint, which we are in broad agreement with, is that a lower rate of interest does “not spur investments” because “[t]he rate of investment depends on other ­factors” (p 14). However, there are logical issues with his neoclassical economic methodology.

No Room for Doubts on New GDP Numbers

The Central Statistics Office argues that the doubts expressed about the fi nal estimates of the output of the non-financial corporate sector are misplaced. A rejoinder to "Seeds of Doubt on New GDP Numbers: Private Corporate Sector Overestimated?" (EPW, 28 March 2015).

The Chilling Effect of Restraints

This response to Indira Jaising and Ritu Menon's "Ethics and Theatrics" (EPW, 28 March 2015) says blaming Leslee Udwin, maker of the controversial India's Daughter and her promoters for not addressing the different contexts of rape is missing the point.

Caste amongst Schoolchildren

A Response

The author's response to Disha Nawani's critique "Caste among Schoolchildren" (EPW, 6 September 2014) says she has missed the crux of his arguments.

On the Legitimacy of the Indian State

Among the concerns of C P Bhambri’s response (“Revolutionary Armed Struggle in India,” EPW, 14 February 2015) to Sumanta Banerjee’s article titled “Hanoi (1965–68), Gaza (2014): Continuity and Divergence over Half a Century” (EPW, 6 September 2014) is to critique the Naxalite/Maoist (henceforth simply “Naxalites”) understanding of the legitimacy of the Indian state. From the tenor of his argument, it is abundantly clear that he regards the Indian state as deeply exploitative and repressive.

Microfinance Remains Relevant

Another response to David Hulme and Mathilde Maitrot's "Has Microfi nance Lost Its Moral Compass?" (EPW, 29 November 2014), which takes a closer look at the role and working of microfinance institutions in India

More on Maratha Politics

A brief look at the history of Congress-Maratha dominance in Maharashtra politics, in response to Suhas Palshikar's "Farewell to Maratha Politics? Assembly Election in Maharashtra"(EPW, 1 November 2014).

Irrigation and Energy Nexus

Solar Pumps Are Not Viable

Groundwater ha s emerged as the mainstay of irrigated agriculture in India. However, ineffective institutional arrangements for its management have resulted in both groundwater over-exploitation and wasteful use of energy. To address the dependence of groundwater use on energy, suggestions have been made to adopt solar-powered irrigation pumps. It is argued that solar pumps are not only economically unviable, but under the present policy context, their use would do little to reduce groundwater and energy use in Indian agriculture.

The Nicobarese 'Letters of Sufferings: In Protest, Respectfully Yours'

I read Pankaj Sekhsaria’s “Disaster as a Catalyst for Military Expansionism: The Case of the Nicobar Islands” (EPW, 3 January 2015) with interest. Throughout, Sekhsaria poses interesting questions and proffers a cohesive analysis of the raison d´état by interlinking incidents (jigsaws) in the Nicobar Islands spanning nearly a decade since the tsunami in 2004.

Revolutionary Armed Struggle in India

This comment on the ever-present tussle between the Indian Naxal movement and the Indian state, as also the role of the Maoist leadership, is a response to Sumanta Banerjee's "Hanoi (1965-68), Gaza (2014): Continuity and Divergence over Half a Century" (EPW, 6 September 2014).

Policy Insights for Vidarbha's Economy

This response to "Generating Agrarian Dynamism: Saurashtra's Lessons for Vidarbha" (Tushaar Shah, Yashree Mehta, Vivek Kher, and Alka Palrecha, EPW, 28 June 2014) agrees in part with the authors but contests their claim that stepping up public investment in agriculture is not the only way of accelerating agricultural growth.

High Interest Rates Are an Amorality in Microfinance

David Hulme and Mathilde Maitrot’s article on amorality of money in EPW (“Has Microfinance Lost Its Moral Compass?”, 29 November 2014) is timely and well-researched to illustrate one of the successes in development turning into an amoral affair. Though similar observations are made time and again by many, including the United Nations, it gains importance when microfinance institution (MFI) sympathisers join the chorus. According to the authors,

Our Moral Compass Remains True

Two responses to "Has Microfinance Lost Its Moral Compass?" (David Hulme and Mathilde Maitrot, EPW, 29 November 2014). The first argues that microfinance institutions in Bangladesh remain client-focused and mission-oriented. The second examines the ever contentious issue of high interest rates.

Counting the Poor

Measurement and Other Issues

Since the submission of the report of the 2012 expert group on poverty measurement, there have been a few comments on it. The purpose of this note is to clarify some of the issues raised by researchers and others on this report. The clarifi cations discussed here are (1) what is new in the approach defining the poverty line; (2) the use of calories; (3) multidimensional poverty; (4) high urban poverty in many states; (5) NAS-NSS consumption differences; (6) poverty measures in other countries; (7) public expenditure and poverty; and (8) poverty ratio eligibility for access to programmes. As most of the researchers have commented on multidimensional poverty, this note also elaborates on the reasons for not considering this measure in the report.

Fallacies of Hindutva Historiography

Would the Hindutva historians, who claim that the Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are true historical records needing no further interpretation, be able to tell us which of their versions are we to read? This response to Rajan Gurukkal's article, "A Blindness about India" (EPW, 6 December 2014), argues that not only is this an impossible claim to make on our ancient texts, such "historiography" will lead to the destruction of the social sciences in India.

The Double Bind of Modern Education and Pedagogy

This response to Krishna Kumar's "Rurality, Modernity and Education" (EPW, 31 May 2014) attempts to make clear and re-thematise the double bind of modern education and pedagogy.

Creative Destruction

Towards a National Think Tank

Responding to three articles that appeared in the EPW (13 September 2014) by Nachane, Shah and Mehrotra, the authors call for clarity and debate on the ethos of the new "think tank" that is to be instituted in the place of the Planning Commission of India.

Misreading the Recommendations

S S Sangwan's (EPW, 26 July 2014) refutation of the Nachiket Mor Committee report, based on a survey in rural Punjab which fi nds that rural residents prefer commercial banks to regional banks, is contested here. It is argued here that Sangwan has misread the recommendations of the committee, which is well aware of the varied banking needs of different populations, and does not emphasise regional banks as a universal solution for greater fi nancial inclusion, as Sangwan claims. The report in fact argues for a mix of banking models supported by technology, in what is termed as "comprehensive fi nancial services".

Caste among Schoolchildren

Despite the potential of the paper, "Critical Thinking on Caste among Schoolchildren in Maharashtra: Case Study of Two Schools in Chiplun" (EPW, 31 May 2014), it is reduced to a reporting of some of the views and attitudes of children on caste-related issues and leaves much to be desired. The paper does not achieve the objectives it set out for itself. It makes sweeping generalisations across sites and across respondents and holds the schools responsible for being unable to develop critical thinking among children.

Emergent Ruralities

A Rejoinder

This rejoinder to S S Jodhka, "Emergent Ruralities: Revisiting Village Life and Agrarian Change in Haryana" (EPW, Review of Rural Affairs, 28 June 2014) points out that the proposition regarding "increased vulnerabilities", especially, among local dalits remains underdeveloped as well as issues like the pressure of inflation on wages, the level of fall in the water table, withdrawal of women from farming, etc, remain underexplored and unquantified in an otherwise well-substantiated, timely study.

A Call for Deepening Democracy in Kerala

This reply to M A Oommen's "Deepening Democracy and Local Governance: Challenges before Kerala" (EPW, 21 June 2014) cites a few situations that give rise to doubts about the further deepening of democracy in Kerala through deliberative democracy.

Political Future of Caste in West Bengal

Contributing to the ongoing discussion (Sinharay 2012, 2014; Chandra and Nielsen 2012; Bandyopadhyay 2012; Chatterjee 2012; Samaddar 2013) in the EPW on the role of caste in Bengal politics, this article argues that the present tendency is to envisage a larger political role of caste on the basis of a faulty exercise of equating the electoral defeat of the left parties with the decline of the left ideology. The argument overlooks the deep hangover of a secular-leftist-political culture in Bengali society and therefore fails to understand the limited scope of caste politics in modern Bengal.

Fresh Thinking Needed

The promise of inclusive and sustainable development can only be achieved if key policy decisions are rethought with clear priorities – on urbanisation and economic growth – with the transformations kept within ecological limits. A discussion on Ramaswamy R Iyer’s article “Environment and Development: Some Thoughts for the New Government” (EPW, 21 June 2014).

India's 'Dutch Disease'

Can SMEs Provide the Medicine?

A V Rajwade (EPW, 3 May 2014) rightly complains about how capital inflows are leading to an appreciation of the rupee, which, in turn, is rendering Indian manufactured goods internationally uncompetitive. Besides tackling this problem, the new government must put in place a micro, small and medium enterprise-focused development strategy to overcome the problem of "jobless growth".