ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Special Articles

Income and wealth inequality in India have reached historical highs under the billionaire raj. These extreme inequalities and their close link with social injustices can no longer be ignored. In this paper, we propose a comprehensive wealth tax package for the ultra-rich to tackle concentration at the very top of the distribution and create valuable fiscal space for crucial social sector investments. Such proposals could deliver phenomenally large tax revenues while leaving 99.96% of the adults unaffected by the tax. Further, we show that this would entail support to the poor, lower castes, and middle classes, to the detriment of only a tiny number of ultra-wealthy upper-caste families.

While M K Gandhi was a critic of hierarchical caste and untouchability, he defended hereditary occupation. For Gandhi, learning how to make a living from our parent(s) at home allows us to spend most of our time on spiritual pursuits rather than for money. Gandhi recognised that the varna system of his day was not performing this function. Achieving swaraj required reintegrating all Indians into the varna system as Shudras, teaching them traditional crafts like khadi.

The existence of a positive gender unemployment gap in urban India is examined. Urban Indian women experience higher unemployment rates than men despite lower labour force participation rates, with the gap rising over time. Regression estimates show the presence of heightened unemployment risks for women even after controlling for demographic characteristics. Differences in demographic characteristics explain little to none of the unemployment gap, speaking to the presence of extensive discrimination in labour markets. The one demographic characteristic that impacts unemployment is higher education, with rising educational attainment of women contributing to a rising unemployment gap between 2011–12 and 2022–23. The burden of unemployment is faced largely by young, highly educated women, a cohort already experiencing significant constraints in the urban Indian labour market.

An examination of the changes in caste-based wage inequalities in India reveals an improvement in the relative wages of deprived caste groups. However, the improvement is slow and the deprived castes still earn significantly lower wages. The decomposition analysis shows an increase in the unexplained component, which, coupled with the narrowing of the wage gap, suggests that the improvement in wages may largely be a consequence of an improvement in educational and health outcomes due to affirmative action rather than a decline in labour market discrimination.

The impact of the monetary policy rate, inflation, and government loan maturity on the cost of financing public debt from 1991–92 to 2022–23 is examined. It is seen that the MPR has a significant impact on the CFPD during this period. There is evidence of two structural breaks in the CFPD series. These breakpoints are identified in 1995–96 and 2002–03, which relate to liberalisation and market determination of interest rates on government borrowings and the implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2003, respectively.

Pashmina wool produced on the high altitudes of the Ladakh and Tibetan plateaus laid the foundation of the once coveted cashmereshawl industry. An exponential rise in the production of the fibre, led mainly by China’s increased production, altered the industry’s dynamics in the postcolonial era. Additionally, there were rising ecological concerns over large-scale rangeland degradation. The paper retraces the social, cultural, political, and ecological transformations across Tibet and eastern Ladakh, which historically have been the pre-eminent pashmina-producing areas of the region.

An attempt has been made to substantiate whether India’s persistently higher general prices could be considered an outcome of its perennial fiscal retrogression. Applying the vector error correction model to the secondary data compiled from 1971 to 2019, the study found the provisions undertaken to finance India’s prolonged fiscal distress as a prime mover of its inflationary experiences. In addition to the discordant effect of the monetary seigniorage on the country’s general price level, excessive reliance of the fiscal authority on the government-dated securities to balance its continuous fiscal apprehension has also been found to supplement the problem significantly.

Perceptions towards institutional delivery among rural women in the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh are examined to show that 42.5% intended to go for home delivery. Socio-economic, maternal factors and the health belief model can influence women to opt for institutional delivery. High-quality maternal service can prevent the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. Quality care depends on socio-economic, obstetric, and motivational factors. To enhance institutional maternal delivery, maternal health programmes should focus on strengthening health staff, transport facilities, and medical facilities in rural and remote regions.

Regardless of the regime types at the state level, the range of welfare schemes implemented, the number of beneficiaries covered, and the magnitude of financial support extended have significantly increased in recent decades. The paper seeks to locate the broader issue of the tension between welfare and development policy framework by taking the case of Andhra Pradesh in the last 10 years, especially the YSRCP government that came to power in 2019. The paper examines whether the spiralling political corruption and excessive centralisation of political power in one person are related to the full speed with which welfare benefits are expanded. It argues that a new type of patron–client relationship is developing between the politician and the voters as welfare schemes are designed and implemented to transform citizens into clients expected to vote for the ruling party in gratitude for the welfare benefits received.

The institutionalisation of India’s legal profession began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries during the East India Company era, evolving from loosely defined roles to a structured profession through the establishment of courts and legal education. This evolution transformed law into a much sought-after career, subsequently resulting in a demand–supply mismatch leading to significant unemployment. The historiography of the formalisation of the legal profession typically neglects this aspect, which this paper seeks to remedy by examining the legal profession’s growth and by addressing unemployment among law graduates in the Madras Presidency.

Poverty, an enduring societal challenge, necessitates a comprehensive understanding that surpasses traditional measures. This paper explores the intricacies of multidimensional poverty in India by assessing alignment with Sustainable Development Goals. Using the National Family and Health Survey data (NFHS-4 and NFHS-5), the study scrutinises changes in multidimensional poverty, severely multidimensional poor, and vulnerability to multidimensional poverty. A noteworthy national reduction in MPI signals progress in poverty reduction and SDG attainment. Nonetheless, disparities persist among states and social groups, with elevated poverty in marginalised communities and rural areas. Alarmingly, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal see a rise in the population vulnerable to multidimensional poverty.

Timely antenatal care visits significantly improve women’s reproductive health. However, there are women in low- and middle-income countries that report below four ANC visits, and a lack of education plays a significant role in this. Therefore, using nationally representative samples drawn from the National Family Health Survey-5, the intersection of education and social factors was examined, specifically caste and religion, and showed how they shape socially marginalised women’s access to four or more ANC visits in India. A positive association between the level of education attained and the utilisation of ANC among socially marginalised women across geographies and social groups was explored. However, social factors such as “caste” play a crucial role and create inequalities in opportunities in accessing complete ANC among marginalised women. Our analysis further elucidates that the coverage of four ANC visits was significantly poor among women of rural residence even after controlling for educational level. Living in rural areas emerged as a significant hindrance for socially marginalised women in accessing full ANC compared to urban women, even when women belonged to the same caste and religious groups.

Apathy towards local commons has led to the exclusion of marginal communities as well as the degradation of resources, which is further being threatened by the transfer of ownership to the dominant groups. The political ecology of commons informs that ownership patterns, allocation of benefits, and tenurial rights are immersed in contested structures, thus ensuring access rights will always be challenging. The fragile linkages of the environment and the marginalised sections need to be protected. Hands-on provisioning of commons for the poor is essential. Hence, the state’s role in the facilitation of access needs reimagination and action.

The plight of Rajasthan’s microenterprises amid the COVID-19 crisis is examined, as they experienced existential threats due to their limited size and scale of operation. Based on primary data....

Women’s access to land is limited in India and there persists considerable gender gaps in landownership. This paper compares the extent of women’s ownership of land using the National Family Health Survey and the All-India Debt and Investment Survey. AIDIS 2019 has for the first time collected gender-disaggregated data on landownership. We examine, with the help of descriptive evidence, logistic regressions and matching analysis, the comparable indicators of women’s ownership using the two data sets. There are considerable differences between the two in terms of the proportion of women owning any land. At the national level, the share of females (15–49 years) owning land as per the NFHS is almost six times higher than the AIDIS estimate. Contrarily, the discrepancy is not high in terms of the proportion of households which have female agricultural landowning members. From the binomial logistic regression, we find that the same set of individual and household characteristics explain the outcome of whether the woman owns land differently in the two data sets. NFHS estimates are contrary to the existing evidence on the regional patterns in ownership by women. Issues in data collection methodology, such as the options provided for recording ownership status, could be at the root of the inconsistencies in the NFHS data, necessitating a thorough re-examination by the survey organisation.