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Civilians and Citizenship: Perspectives on Civil War in South Asia

We need to go beyond conceptions of civilians caught up in civil war as direct participants or supporters of insurgent parties or innocent victims and objects of humanitarian intervention. We need to see them as citizens whose choices and predicaments influence the course of such wars. When such a paradigmatic approach is adopted, new normative and theoretical concerns arise. A discussion of issues that emerged at a workshop on civil war in south Asia.

Financial Sector Regulation in India

Financial sector reform has taken a new meaning all over the world. Until the global crisis, reform of the fi nancial sector meant deregulation. Today's truth is that, globally, reform of the fi nancial sector means reregulation and improving the quality as well as effectiveness of regulation. In moving forward, we must take into account both the global realities and the Indian context. In effecting change, India must be aware that (a) the fi nancial sector and its reform is not an end in itself, (b) the risks are amplifi ed if the reforms in the fi scal and real sectors are not in consonance with the pace of reform in fi nancial sector regulation, and (c) the highest priority should be accorded to effi cient intermediation of domestic saving and investment with a wide participation of the people of India. The three major proposals/ decisions on the fi nancial sector announced in the Union Budget are also discussed here.

The Insulation of India's Constitutional Judiciary

The Indian judiciary is insulated from vibrant checks and balances. Its "democratic" insulation arises from its use of contempt law to restrict criticism, its permissive view of libellous speech directed against "other" public officials, and, controversially, the use of English as the official language of the courts. Its "political" insulation arises from its ability to determine its own composition, and the inability of the political establishment to effectively remove allegedly tainted members of the judiciary. Both these forms of insulation embolden the judiciary on the one hand, while directly and indirectly restricting participation on the other, and further threaten to exacerbate the severe problems of judicial administration, delay and corruption in India.

Lessons from the 2008 World Food Crisis

The global food price spikes of 2008 should not have come as a surprise. There were a number of long-term trends that were working towards the surge in food prices, which was fi nally occasioned by some proximate causes. While global prices have eased since then - though not in India - there are lessons to be drawn from the 2008 crisis. There is a need to increase food production without raising prices to consumers. This calls for signifi cant public support for food production. Yet, the poverty and much more limited fi scal capacity of developing countries as well as the liberalised agricultural trade regulations over recent decades constrain them from being more supportive of food security efforts. In addition, international public support has fallen off since the 1980s as agro-business corporate interests increasingly infl uence public policy, trade regulations and access to technology.

Mediating between Violence and Non-violence in the Discourse of Protest

As long as the present generation of the powerful, whether the rulers in Washington or in New Delhi, persists with the practice of depending on its armed infrastructure to lord over the political space and establish hegemony over civil society, and fails to learn that such a policy invariably escalates a cycle of violence, the language of discourse in the relationship of the powerful and the powerless will be dominated by violence. In India today, how can there be a non-violent resolution of the major confl icts that are plaguing our society?

The Diffusion of Activities

One of the striking features of the recent period has been the diffusion of manufacturing and service activities from the countries of the core to the periphery. The logic of competitive striving for the export market among the many "labour reserve" economies in the periphery leads to the accumulation of ever-growing reserves and a constraint on domestic absorption. To believe that the contradictions that emerge will disappear if only the economies with current surpluses appreciate their exchange rates is a fantasy. Such an appreciation, if it is not to reduce the level of activity in the appreciating economies, must be accompanied by an enlargement of the fi scal defi cit in these economies, which means both an abandonment of the tenet of "sound fi nance" and increased domestic absorption entailing a retreat from the strategy of export-led growth.

Positions on Assam History

Ever since the advent of capitalist modernity, nation and nationalism have conferred a sense of identity on large numbers of people all over the world. While not proposing a rendering of the history of a region to the exclusion of the bigger currents of Indian history and culture, this article makes a case for greater emphasis on the regional history of Assam.

Is There a Case for School Vouchers?

The efficacy of any educational reform process lies in the extent to which it improves systemic features like the quality of teacher training and academic support, and it provides adequate resources to fulfil the imperatives of universal elementary education. Till such time as these issues are addressed, vouchers for education - the new mantra - can serve little purpose save that of reducing the State's responsibility and interest in building the capacity of educational institutions at the national, state, district and local levels.

Saving Agricultural Labour from Agriculture: SEZs and Politics of Silence in Tamil Nadu

The differential responses to the implementation of special economic zones across states offer an opening to understand how policy implementation gets shaped by the regional political economy. Despite being home to a large number of SEZs, Tamil Nadu has been one state which has not witnessed resistance to SEZs in general, and land acquisition in particular, on a scale comparable to states with a similar history of SEZs. This paper offers a few plausible explanations for this phenomenon. It points out that there are clear structural reasons for the willingness of farmers to give up their land and move away from agriculture.

Drought by Design: The Man-made Calamity in Bundelkhand

Despite its rich resources like forests and minerals, Bundelkhand is a region of distress and crisis. A study fi nds that the distress of the region simply cannot be explained by the absence or irregularity of rainfall. There are long-term structural problems which have had a cumulative effect over the years. Reasons for the present unviability of agriculture should be sought in the historically determined social relations of production, the intimate correlation of caste and landownership in the region as well as the neglect of traditional water management systems and the push towards cultivation of water-intensive commercial crops.

The End of 'Cheap Ecology' and the Crisis of 'Long Keynesianism'

It is the crisis of negative Keynesianism that is at the heart of the current critical point, and which is leaving its global institutions - the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - with no solution other than transferring the costs to the South (and to the South within the North). By adopting this logic, the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen followed exactly in the footsteps of these institutions. The failure of the Copenhagen climate talks is indicative of the depth of the crisis of "long Keynesianism" that has exhausted its positive and negative ways of dealing with the "unsustainability" of global capitalism.

Democracy, State and Capital: The 'Unthought' of 20th Century Marxism

Is democracy in India a sham, as the Maoists and indeed many other leftists claim? If so, how do we understand the experience of many oppressed groups who have found this democracy enabling in many ways? A possible way out of this endless debate is to see democracy not as a fully-formed end product of liberalconstitutionalism but as its untamed other - the mass politics which escapes and exceeds the Law and the injustices of Order. It is from here that the greatest challenges to capitalism and the State arise. The Maoist strategy, by merely trying to mimic the State, is actually inimical to this democratic upsurge and therefore needs to be resisted.

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