ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Poverty Line: Getting It Wrong Again

There has been an upsurge of public discussion on a number of inter-related issues revolving around official assessments of poverty, the linking of welfare entitlements to poverty status, the reasonableness of officially stipulated money-metric poverty lines, the relative virtues of universalisation and targeting of welfare benefits, and the fiscal sustainability of increased public spending in the cause of poverty redress. The present essay offers a very brief evaluation of the methodology of poverty identification advanced by an Expert Group of the Planning Commission in 1993, and undertakes more elaborately what is essentially a critical assessment of the 2009 Tendulkar Committee's approach to specification of the poverty line.

The Human Rights Movement in India: In Search of a Realistic Approach

Frameworks of human rights - cast largely in terms of the individual's relationship with the state - are facing an unprecedented challenge today. After tracing the evolution of the civil rights movement in India in the age of colonialism and its trajectory towards maturity in the post-Independence period, the author emphasises the need to focus particularly on economic, social and cultural rights in a third world context such as India's, and more so in the present age of globalisation, arguing that this will in turn pave the way for the achievement of civil and political rights.

The Categorical Revolution: Democratic Uprising in the Middle East

The protests over the past year across the "Middle East" are perhaps saying that the region first and foremost belongs to its people and that the categories of "oil-rich", "oil-less" and "main route" are at best exciting materials for a historian's archive. While unfolding this "categorical revolution", this article explodes two key myths: (1) that of the terminology of the Middle East, and (2) Islam's incompatibility with democracy.

Measurement of Poverty: In Retrospect and Prospect

Attempts to measure poverty in India date back to pre- Independence, but it was only from the late 1950s onwards that a systematic effort has been made to define the poverty line and then estimate the population of the poor. A survey of the evolution of the poverty line with a focus on the recommendations of two important committees - the 1993 Lakdawala Committee and the 2010 Tendulkar Committee - which effected important changes in the measurement process.

Microfinance Industry in India: Some Thoughts

The proposed legislation for regulation of the for-profit microfinance sector has a number of problems. It makes the Reserve Bank of India the sole regulator of the sector when this is the domain of the states rather than the central bank. The proposal will permit a back-door entry for the MFIs to collect savings which is not a healthy idea. Any proposal should be drawn on the experience of the states and the for-profit MFIs should be regulated as moneylenders.

Democracy and Health: Evidence from Indian States

This study examines the validity of the democracy advantage thesis with reference to India's states and shows that the impact of democracy on health, in terms of infant mortality rates, is mixed - good to moderate in a number of states but poor in most of the populous states. It explains why and how democracy is believed to make a difference to a country's health and human development performance. Further the article highlights the significant variation in IMRs across states and the good to moderate performance among a number of states.

Atrocities in Norway

What is this environment in Norway in which a man like Anders Behring Breivik can go on a carefully planned killing of 77 people? Breivik developed his ideas at a time when fringe groups and thinkers were able to develop a feeling of Islamophobia in Norwegian society. Conservative political parties in Norway too argue that Islamist forces have entrenched themselves as enclaves in society. However, after the horror of 22 July, there have been concerns about Islamophobic sentiments in public media and forums. Perhaps in the end the wake-up call that Breivik sought may have the opposite effect of what he intended.

The Idea of India: 'Derivative, Desi and Beyond'

The dalit discourse in India presents a sharp contrast to the "derivative" and the "desi" discourses governing nationalist thought and the "idea of India". The dalit discourse goes "beyond" the two in offering an imagination that is based on a "negative" language which however transcends into a normative form of thinking. The dalit goes beyond both the derivative and desi inasmuch as it foregrounds itself in the local configuration of power, which is constitutive of the hegemonic orders of capitalism and brahminism.

Soft Power in Indian Foreign Policy

This essay addresses first how the concept of soft power emerged, how it has evolved and then examines one significant effort by India to project soft power to the east. It thereafter looks at some major features of Indian foreign policy, discusses how soft power might or might not relate to them, and zeroes in on how Indians, including the Indian government, may distinguish between "public diplomacy" and soft power in their conceptions of Indian foreign policy.

The Politics of Independence in Bangladesh

Historians still do not have all the records they need to fully understand the freedom struggle of Bangladesh and offer a proper appreciation of the role of all the participants. Political parties remain justifiably attached to their founders; partisans attached to India and Pakistan also have their memories, points of view and all merit attention. To recover the deeper history of independence, however, scholars need to study its popular dimensions, and, in that light, it is most obvious that radical student leaders and countless lesser lights in the people's struggle for independence still do not have the place in history they deserve.

Vietnam: Voting for Continuity in a Time for Change

If doi moi (renovation) was a turning point in Vietnam's history, the 2011 Congress of the D'ang Công Sán Viêt Nam (the Communist Party of Vietnam) has sent a clear message to the party leadership that it cannot rest on the modest success of past reform. The congress called for the immediate attention of the one-party government to basic economic, administrative and social problems. What will the impact of the congress be on the short- and long-term political and economic policies and strategies of Vietnam?

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