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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".

Healing Shrines, Spirit Possession, Agency of Women

A Rationalist Revisit

This response to Shubha Ranganathan ("The Rationalist Movement against Quack Healing: Critical Questions", EPW, 4 January 2014) argues that to characterise the activities of organisations such as the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti as mere "benevolent paternalism" is misplaced.

'Representation' of OBCs in Higher Education

A Response

This article is a response to Jaya Goyal and D P Singh's "Academic Performance of OBC Students in Universities: Findings from Three States" (EPW, 1 February 2014). It challenges the claim that the Other Backward Classes are not under-represented in education and also the attempt to redefine representation as understood within the context of reservation policies. The author was also a part of the study on which Goyal and Singh based their article.

A Colonial 'Borrowing' from Africa

In response to Babu C T Sunil's article "Sociology, Village Studies and the Ford Foundation" (EPW, 28 December 2013), this article argues that to understand the true politics of the community development programme of post-Independence India, one needs to look at colonial Africa and the politics of halting the advance of communism. The failure of the community development programme also explains, partly, the success of Congress's continued dominance in Indian politics.

Relative Growth Performance of Gujarat

EPW has been publishing a number of articles on the relative economic performance of Gujarat, and on growth and human development in India under the United Progressive Alliance vs the National Democratic Alliance (28 September 2013, 12 April and 19 April 2014). These articles attract critical comment here from Ravindra H Dholakia and Sugata Marjit. Continuing the debate, R Nagaraj, and Maitreesh Ghatak and Sanchari Roy respond to Dholakia, while Ghatak et al respond to Marjit.

On UPA vs NDA; Gujarat vs Rest of India

Myth and Reality

In a lucid article published in this journal (“Did Gujarat’s Growth Rate Accelerate under Modi?”, EPW, 12 April 2014), Maitreesh Ghatak and Sanchari Roy demonstrate that the performance of the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat has not been exceptional. In fact Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar have done better in terms of growth and/or poverty alleviation.

Response to Sugata Marjit

We thank Sugata Marjit for his response to our article. He is right that voter perception is a complex issue and the process through which economic indicators get reflected in voting patterns cannot be reduced to any simple formula. We are, however, a bit baffled by some of the points he has raised.

Beyond the Gender Binary

Given the complexity of the hijra identity, its legalisation requires an informed, non-paternalistic, non-partisan and participatory approach. A response to the editorial "The Third Sex" (EPW, 26 October 2013).

Boat Migration to Australia

A Rejoinder

This critique of "Sri Lankan Boat Migration to Australia: Motivations and Dilemmas" (EPW, 31 August 2013) argues that the article was a study based on subjective views expressed by a limited number of interviewees and was partisan in its fi ndings.

Romance and Marriage in Small-Town India

This response to "The Provincial Self in the Town of Love" (EPW, 21 December 2013) argues that while Shuddh Desi Romance is not a formula film, it is certainly not a "brave" film and in fact the politics of its "romance" is shallow and uninteresting.

Comments on Understanding of Livestock

Any analysis of India's livestock sector must take into account the region-specific growth of the sector, micro-level economic viability of production, and the role of women's unpaid labour, among other factors. All these are crucial to understand whether India's livestock sector will grow sustainably in the future.

The Nandy Conundrum

This is a response to K V Cybil's controversial poser (EPW, 12 October 2013) in the context of Ashis Nandy's comments on dalits at the 2013 Jaipur literary fest. Can Nandy's own writings on humiliation help us reflect on this controversy and what do the social scientists and the teaching community have to learn from this about the practice of social science in India?

Caught in NET

As a continuation of the debate on University Grants Commission- National Eligibility Test, this response argues that NET is only a symptom of the larger disease that plagues the system of higher education in our country. What is at issue is the disregard of secular and progressive ideals and the arrogance that marks such indifference. These must be thoroughly challenged.

Revisiting Subaltern Studies

Instead of responding meaningfully to the arguments in my book Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, Partha Chatterjee ("Subaltern Studies and Capital", EPW, 14 September 2013) has chosen to throw up a smokescreen. He has ignored three tasks of the book - to distil from the key writings of Subaltern Studies the project's essential arguments, to assess the validity of their critique on empirical and conceptual grounds, and to offer an alternative theory, which succeeds where theirs fails. It seems he did not even recognise the reconstructed subalternists' arguments, including his own.

The Brent Crude Benchmark Is Fit and Well

The article in EPW “Reassessing the Brent Benchmark for Crude Oil” by Akshay Mathur (21 December 2013) asserted that the price assessment process for Brent crude is too complex and, at the same time, vulnerable to manipulation. This is not the case today, following concerted efforts over the past few years to improve the way that the Brent benchmark is assessed.

A Response

The price of oil moved from $45 per barrel in mid-2006 to about $145 in 2008, then corrected to $40 before surging to $130 over the next three years. It has been consistently trading at around $100 since.1 In contrast, the movement of oil production2 and its consumption3 between the years 2000 to 2012, stayed within a 10% band.

Mullaperiyar: Missing the Point

R Seenivasan’s article (“Historical Validity of Mullaperiyar Project”, EPW, 25 January 2014) on the Mullaperiyar Project, hereafter MP, is a scholarly, well-researched, informative piece of historical writing. Regrettably, he seems to have failed to understand the thrust of my criticisms of the project. When a critic says that the project was an unnecessary and indefensible onslaught on nature, it is no answer to argue that it represented the best engineering. Given a purely engineering perspective, the project might well have seemed very good in the 1890s.

Caste and the Mainstream Narratives

The changing nature and forms of the caste system are often assumed to be static in mainstream discussions, as the continuing debate on Ashis Nandy's remarks on corruption and the marginalised castes shows. Neither academia nor the state understands the changing dynamics of the nature and forms of caste.

Contextualising Language Studies: A Response

Responding to the commentary on "Chomsky and Wittgenstein: A Short Refl ection", by Ramaswamy R Iyer (EPW, 2 November 2013), this article questions the merit of a comparison of the two thinkers' views on language, and tries to place the discussion in a historical context.

On Cereal Consumption as a Proxy for Real Income

There is very little reliable information on indirect cereal consumption in India and a number of other developing countries. To, therefore, use such unreliable estimates to test for the links between total (direct and indirect) cereal consumption and income will lead to inaccurate results. This places a question mark on the exercise by Krishna Ram (EPW, 20 July 2013).

The Future of Tribals in Telangana State

This response to "A Separate Telangana: Promises and Prospects for Tribal People" by R Ramdas (20 July 2013) looks at the Andhra Pradesh government's initiatives for tribals, as well as their future in the new state to be, Telangana.

Confronting Casteism?

Apathy and the Atrocities Act

Legislation against discrimination like the Prevention of Atrocities Act can be as much a starting point as an outcome of campaigns against discrimination. A comment in the context of the acquittal of the convicted in the Laxmanpur Bathe and Bathani Tola cases.

Critical Look at the Narayana Murthy Recommendations on Higher Education

This response to "Engaging the Corporate Sector: Narayana Murthy Committee Recommendations on Higher Education" (EPW, 20 July 2013) says that while the committee seems to be concerned about the poor quality of higher education, its recommendations or formulae appear to treat higher educational institutions like factories. There seems to be a mismatch between its recommendations and the objectives of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.

Ideology of Pan-Islamism

Taking off from Sumanta Banerjee's book review in the EPW ("The Left and Political Islam", 30 March 2013) on the left's understanding of political Islam, a comment on the ideology, politics, and the internal dynamic of the Islamic community.

In Struggle, Education of the Educator

Welcoming C P Bhambri’s call to debate (10 August 2013) the propositions in the article “‘The Near and the Far’: Why Is India’s Liberal-Political Democracy Rotten?” (1 June 2013), the author of this article argues that expecting a peaceful mass movement aimed at carrying out a “revolution” is only daydreaming. A mass movement that has revolution as its ultimate goal will, almost inevitably, necessarily assume a violent form in the face of state repression. But cruelty and brutality must never be a part of the means of revolution. We educators need to be educated, and our best education can take place only in struggle, for correct knowledge is also a struggle, and can be a deep one at that.