ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communal Politics in Assam

The formation and continuous electoral success of the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF, which is now known as the All India United Democratic Front) has made the state a playground of communal politics. Its success has broken down the traditional Muslim vote bank of the Congress Party. As a result, since the 2006 Assam assembly elections, the Congress Party has adopted a soft Hindutva approach to polarise the non-Muslim voters against the AIUDF. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party's open Hindutva line appeared more attractive to non-Muslims of Assam in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Whatever Happened to Women's Studies

More and more women's studies centres and courses in gender studies are being introduced in India but the academic relevance, recognition and role for women's/gender issues within the broader space for social sciences are still very marginalised. One major challenge is posed by the dominant patriarchal thinking within academic institutions and their administrative wings, which interfere or control the functioning of these centres while being mostly unaware of the thoughts and developments within the discipline.

Demographic and Health Trends in India (2005-06--2015-16)

A brief exposition of the trends in health, fertility, status of women, nutrition and child mortality between 2005-06 and 2015-16 as have emerged from the National Family Health Survey in 17 states.

Public Policy Research in South Asia

Evidence-based, rigorous, relevant and up-to-date research is vital to the public policymaking process; it enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of policy decisions. This article reflects on the nature of demand for such research in the South Asian region and contends that though the quantity and quality of evidence and knowledge for policy research is important, it is equally important to assess the factors that affect its demand. Hence, the preferences and requirements of the policymaking community should be taken cognisance of, otherwise the uptake and use of evidence and knowledge in policymaking would be impeded.

The Environment Caught in Combat

This note traces environmentalism enmeshed in the Cold War politics of the 1970s and discusses its growing relevance in India. Moving away from military strategies and elite political leadership, it examines the environmental movements that had taken off, not only in the Western world, but significantly, in the many colonies of the Empire. The disruption of the relationship between local societies and the natural environment is also critiqued in the context of the expansion of the modern Indian state; arguably one of the foremost legacies of colonialism.

Reversing the Twin Ideals of Right to Education

The Right to Education Act mandates no detention and continuous and comprehensive evaluation at the elementary school stage. These twin provisions aim to address the problems of high dropout rates, inequity, educational load, and lack of democratic educational environments for children. Ever since they were implemented in 2010, the two mandates have been criticised by many stakeholders as neither practicable nor desirable given the realities in India. These claims are not researched and yet, there are moves towards overturning the no-detention provision. Extreme positions for and against the provisions have been taken, without adequate discussion and thinking on implications, especially on schoolgoing children.

Combating Dengue in India

The limited official data available on dengue in India fails to define its epidemiological profiles. However, it reveals how little has been done in the surveillance of this disease at the level of the states, and gives an idea of the quantum of effort required to fight dengue. The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme faces some classic pitfalls in India with its implementation not mandatory in the states. Arguments about the number of cases and hospitalisation, both with wide ranges, persist. Applying integrated action plans at the district level in the states would have helped. Improvement of the system of public health services, strengthening skills of medical personnel, active surveillance components with a well-functioning surveillance system, enhancement or creation of suitable water distribution network and garbage collection are critical components of an integrated plan.

High Returns from Higher Education

Education has been a key government policy to drive economic empowerment in rural India. However, evidence on returns to education has been mixed. Research has measured education as school enrolments while overlooking completed education.

Higher Education and the Scheduled Castes in Maharashtra

This article, based on a study conducted in fi ve Maharashtra districts, examines the factors that are signifi cant in Scheduled Caste students' access to higher education. It looks at the problems they face during the admission process and takes stock of the diffi culties they confront after securing admission. The article fi nds that SC students strongly feel the absence of guidance and support in academics and in making career choices.

New Assumptions, New Estimates

The report of the Ministry of Finance Committee, headed by the chief economic adviser, on revenue neutral rates for the goods and services tax provides a new set of estimates. Based on a different set of assumptions, the report suggests that moderate rates of tax are feasible. While this is an attractive conclusion, it is important to scrutinise the assumptions it rests on.

Wages and Non-wage Benefits in Organised Manufacturing

It is conventionally claimed that protected by “pro-worker” labour laws, organised sector workers receive a disproportionate share of the fruits of economic growth. And these “rigid” labour laws are believed to hinder output and employment. An evaluation of wages and earnings data (1981–82—2011–12) suggests that organised sector workers’ real wages have grown slower (0.82% per annum) than per capita income growth (3.6% pa) in India— despite high productivity growth— while their non-wage benefi ts have declined at (-)0.18% pa.

Strident Politics and Grey Economics

The politics over the neutrality principle revolves around issues of freedom of expression, right to equal access, innovation, and monopoly power exercised by some players in the internet market. Supporting net neutrality has become a matter of political correctness. Even actors who have been found trying to violate neutrality have vowed to protect the principle. Here, three areas in economics of the internet are explored: market structure sustainability of good networks, impact of neutrality on consumer, and investment in network infrastructure. A number of grey areas in economics are found, which show that the neutrality principle may not always be good, or effective, or may even be redundant.

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