ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Inequities in Health, Agrarian Distress and a Policy of Avoidance

The absence of first level healthcare facilities and the high cost of treating even routine illnesses are the immediate problems in the existing healthcare system as also the fact that high costs do not necessarily imply reliability of treatment. No insurance scheme or altruistic healthcare providers can address these problems. The solution lies in strengthening the public healthcare system.

Social Science Research in Vernacular Languages

In social science research, when the society studied uses a language which is dissimilar to the language used by the researcher, language as well as context become determinative. Elitist tendencies within research establishments have led to a lack of good quality journals and publications in vernacular languages. This essay builds an argument for social science research in the vernacular languages. It examines the theoretical discourse on "meaning making", which lies at the foundation of the argument.

Sri Lanka Becomes a Dictatorship

The rushed passing of the 18th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution by parliament - allowing for greater powers and removal of term limits for the executive presidency - has precipitated the descent of Sri Lanka into a dictatorship. Both the ruling and the main opposition parties - not to mention the lax supreme court - are responsible for the current state of affairs. Seeds of hope, however, exist in the democratic consciousness of the Lankan people and in the fact that politicians from the left and the minority Tamil community have raised their voice against the amendment.

Gandhi's Satyagraha in South Africa and the Tamils

Gandhi's newspaper, the Indian Opinion, was launched in South Africa in three languages - Gujarati, Tamil and English - in 1903 on the eve of the satyagraha struggle. Tamils constituted the largest percentage of the Indian diaspora among the indentured labour as well as the "Passenger Indians" who came in search of better opportunities. This essay situates the Tamils in South Africa and their response to Gandhi's call for satyagraha by examining the available issues of the Tamil edition between 1903 and 1914.

How I Learned To Do Incorrect Research

In 1969, the author started fi eld research on rural poverty in western India. He began as a dependency theorist, but the villagers taught him to rethink his assumptions. He discovered that villagers (even landless labourers) have agency in their own lives and that the cumulative weight of their decisions and actions could reshape regional and national policy in the colonial and post-colonial periods. He found that growing an expensive cash crop does not impoverish small farmers. These discoveries went contrary to conventional wisdom, contrary to a strong consensus among social scientists around the world, contrary to the teachings of Marx, Lenin, and big-name dependency theorists. Despite his confi dence in the data, he needed a reality check. How could he test whether he had misunderstood the lessons from the villagers?

Of Omissions and Commissions:India's Competition Laws

In 2009, India repealed its 40-year-old Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, and brought into force most sections of the 2002 Competition Act. After a brief introduction to the basic economic principles underlying modern competition law, this article reviews the country's experience with the MRTP Act. It argues that the way it was structured, amended, interpreted and enforced ensured that it could not really serve as a competition law. Consequently, it did not bequeath a body of expertise that could help in the implementation of its successor, the Competition Act, which is very demanding in terms of economic analysis. The strengths and weaknesses of the new law, the reasons for its delayed implementation, and the first few decisions of the Competition Commission of India are discussed.

Talks between the Maoists and the State: Learning from the Andhra Experience

With a number of individuals and groups seeking to organise peace talks between the Maoists and the State, the events in Andhra Pradesh between 1997 and 2005, when the Committee of Concerned Citizens played a similar role, are extremely relevant. The CCC made a broad-based effort to move the debate away from the violence-counter violence question and to centre stage the democratic aspirations of the people in the violence-torn rural areas of Telangana. Although the effort came to an abrupt end after talks between the government and the Naxalites broke down in early 2005, the experience of the CCC and the core principles of the action it pursued during those eight years can give pointers to the challenges and possibilities that civil society actors face in the current confl ict.

Judicial Failure on Land Acquisition for Corporations

Despite the 1984 amendment of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the judiciary has continued to allow farmland to be acquired freely, with "public purpose" being given the widest possible scope. In the period of globalisation such acquisition has promoted private corporate interests, the state, in turn, becoming an estate agent of the companies. The article focuses on land acquisition under Part II for the state and its instrumentalities and agencies and compares this with Part VII of the Act, which relates to acquisition for a company. The way forward is for the judiciary to compel all acquisitions for companies to follow the Part VII route.

Commercial Microfinance and Social Responsibility: A Critique

Working within the logic of maximising investor returns, the strategic focus of Indian microfinance institutions seems to have shifted from serving the poor borrowers to chasing profits. The commercial transformation of MFIs has been accompanied by changes in the structure of ownership, management and nature of their stakeholder commitment. This essay discusses some of the critical inadequacies in the approaches advocated and currently practised by the commercial MFIs in order to restore the sector's focus on poor borrowers.

A Left Approach to Development

Against the "means-based approach" to development that the bourgeoisie projects, the left must project a "rights-based approach". Since "rights" are guarantors of welfare gains, every winning of rights likewise strengthens them. The acquisition of rights on the part of the people, including rights to minimum bundles of goods, services and security, amounts therefore to winning crucial battles in the class war for the transcendence of capitalism. If the left were to put on its agenda a struggle for people's rights and adopt a rights-based approach to development as opposed to the means-based approach of the bourgeois formations, it would not constitute a retreat into abstract humanism but would be an integral part of the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital.

Primary Accumulation, Capitalist Nature and Sustainability

The relationship between capital and nature gravitates towards a policy of primary accumulation. This article provides an analysis of the imposition of capitalist property rights over natural resources in India as processes of primary accumulation. These processes are evidenced by the construction of large dams and mines, in addition to the proliferation of free market environmentalism. Moreover, the scope for primary accumulation remains substantial in view of the hydel potential and new circuits of accumulation emerge under the auspices of free market environmentalism. Are the desiderata of ecological sustainability and human development realised under the logic of primary accumulation and a neoliberal commitment to economic growth?

The NREGA, the Maoists and the Developmental Woes of the Indian State

The United Progressive Alliance government's much touted fl agship programme under the National Rural Employment Act is aimed at countering some of the developmental woes of the Indian state in the backward regions. The Maoists are active in some of the most backward areas and the government has been accusing them of stalling development. Hence, the current solution as operationalised by the government is to fl ush out the anti-developmentalists by force and then proceed with development. We examine these issues through a case study of the NREGA in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa. The districts chosen were from the fi rst 200 where the NREGA has been implemented from 2006 onwards and are also under the infl uence of the Maoists.

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