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Achilles' Heel of Public Policy

An inadequate information base and limited institutional capacity for policy formulation seem to be important factors constraining India's public policy pursuits. A look at the major recommendations of the Report of the High Level Committee on Reorienting the Role and Restructuring of Food Corporation of India illustrates that this has not changed in more than six decades of independence. Though a good understanding of the issue is essential for any policy formulation to be effective, an evaluation shows that there are good reasons to be sceptical about the committee's comprehension of issues, methods and interpretations.

Macroeconomic Aspects of Goods and Services Tax

The introduction of the goods and services tax may indeed be the biggest reform of taxation so far, but the proposal, as it stands, has led to confusion. Certainly, the myriad taxes producers face will be simplified. But the benefit will go to large-scale producers while the small-scale ones will be at a greater disadvantage than before. The cascading effect will be reduced but not eliminated. With resort to revenue neutrality, prices and costs will not decline. A "revenue neutral rate" will, however, be difficult to calculate and will be controversial, given the variety of taxes being replaced. The adoption of a fixed revenue neutral rate for all stages of production and distribution will lead to a rise in the prices of basic and intermediate goods, as also of services, making the introduction of GST inflationary, unless this problem is specifically addressed.

Unconstitutionality of Anti-Terror Laws

The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015 does more than violate fundamental civil liberties; it is a dangerous instance of the state transgressing the constitutional limits of its lawmaking powers. The federal distribution of powers between the centre and states under the Constitution ensures that only Parliament can legislate on matters such as terrorism that relate to the security or sovereignty of the nation. States cannot arrogate this power to themselves by devising harsh anti-terror laws that apply only within their respective territories. The unconstitutionality of the Gujarat Bill is not just a sum of its numerous illegal parts, but rooted in a deeper, more fundamental failing, namely, that the Gujarat assembly did not have the power to pass such a law in the fi rst place.

Questions of Constitutionality

The National Judicial Appointments Commission system for appointing judges is unconstitutional for four reasons. There is potential for its misuse as appointments to the higher judiciary will be controlled by the executive branch of the government. It suffers from the vice of arbitrariness as there is no way to determine who an "eminent person" is. The veto powers given to any two members also make it susceptible to misuse. Finally, there are concerns about maintaining the independence of the judiciary because the high courts and the Supreme Court examine the validity of actions taken by the executive branch as well as the legislature.

The Importance of Being 'Rurban'

A categorical distinction is facing rough weather--that between urban and rural. If we take just agriculture, there is so much of the outside world that comes in not just as external markets but as external inputs. Further, many of our villages barely qualify as rural if we were to take occupation alone. So the earlier line that separated the farmer from the worker in towns is slowly getting erased. By now agriculturists are ready to accept that their future lies elsewhere, perhaps in cities and towns, perhaps also in household and informal industries. If they cannot make it to those places, at least their children should.

The Charlie Hebdo Affair and the Spectre of Majoritarianism

This article draws parallels between the seemingly disconnected responses from the Muslim and the Western worlds to the Charlie Hebdo affair to argue that these demonstrated the disciplinary power of the globally ascendant idea that public sentiments of the majority are sacred and ought to be protected by state and society alike.

'Leave God Out of It'

The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, and their compatriots in other parts of the world, who lost their lives for daring to laugh at holy cows, are martyrs to the cause of humour.

Reforming Labour Markets in States

Presenting a critical review of the issues in labour market reforms in India, this article places them against the backdrop of trends in labour force participation and formal/informal employment in the organised/unorganised sectors. Critically assessing the theoretical literature on labour market flexibility in the advanced economies, discussions in the Government of India's Economic Survey and the evidence in India, it asks if the reforms aimed at making the labour market more flexible will succeed in raising the economic growth rate and generating more employment, as advocates of labour market reform would have us believe.

Can the Chinese Connection Speed India's Development?

China and India are the world's second largest and third largest economies, respectively. Yet, the engagement between their economies remains modest at best and people-to-people contact is minuscule. Will the various Silk Roads proposed by China including the Bangladesh-China- India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Maritime Silk Road offer India benefi cial ways to engage with China and the world? How could Sino-Indian economic connectivity help India in achieving its goals of rapid, equitable, balanced, and sustainable development? This essay outlines how the complementary capabilities of India and China can unleash innovation and creativity in both countries, addressing common people's concerns as well as rejuvenating the economies of countries in the neighbourhood.

Scrapping the UGC

This article argues that none of the reasons and objectives stated by way of justification for the replacement of the University Grants Commission by the National Higher Education Authority are genuine. There is no compatibility between the nature of problems identified and the functional capability of the institutional solution proposed. This proposal exhibits a lack of comprehension and analysis of the fundamental problems of higher education. It is a poorly disguised cover to turn this sector into a handmaiden of the corporate sector.

Is Feminism about 'Women'?

Feminism requires us to recognise that "women" is neither a stable nor a homogeneous category. Does intersectionality as a universal framework help us to capture this complexity? This paper argues that it does not. It addresses this question through the intricacies of the terrain that feminist politics must negotiate, using the Indian experience to set up conversations with feminist debates and experiences globally. Feminism is heterogeneous and internally differentiated. We need to pay attention to challenges to the stability of given identities-- including those of "individual" and "woman." These challenges constitute the radically subversive moments that are likely to be most productive for feminism in the 21st century.

Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian Working Class

There is surprisingly little work by historians on Jawaharlal Nehru's relations with India's labour movements. This historical survey of his positions, actions and relations vis-à-vis working class politics identifies a clear break in 1947; the earlier Nehru was far more actively engaged with labour issues than the Prime Minister Nehru. The article ends by suggesting possible ways to understand Nehru's engagement with working class issues both before and after independence.

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