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Creative Destruction

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

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'

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

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

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.

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