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Torture Redress Mechanisms in Nepal and Bangladesh

Human rights organisations have been active in documenting widespread torture in Nepal and Bangladesh, taking very different paths towards accountability—Nepal stressing civil compensation and Bangladesh, criminal liability. Accountability in both countries, however, is limited, with the poor and marginalised, who are particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, fearful of reporting incidents and seeking justice. This paper explores the appropriation and unfolding of rights vocabularies in two distinct political, institutional and legal contexts, and suggests that human rights organisations should place protection of victims and legal assistance alongside advocacy for accountability.

Why Urban Waste Continues to Follow the Path of Least Resistance

A lack of imagination and linear municipal solid waste management practices have resulted in promoting incineration, which is fraught with adverse environmental and health consequences, as a solution to getting rid of our urban garbage. This paper points out that while enhancing the abilities of cities to work towards zero waste ought to be the goal, local populations now bear the unhealthy effects of unsound waste management processes, and local governments bear their operational and financial burden, all to no good effect.

Health Payments and Household Well-being

Health policy pronouncements in India currently advocate insurance-based financing mechanisms towards universal health coverage, sidelining the role of comprehensive healthcare provisioning through the public sector. This study, however, suggests that health insurance has been unsuccessful in protecting households from poverty and impoverishment resulting from out-of-pocket payments, and that insurance in fact subverts the effectiveness of the traditional health financing system. Free or low-cost healthcare provisioning by the state remains the best way to enhance the health and well-being of households, provided the inadequacies and inequalities across districts are addressed, and low-cost medicines and diagnostics made available to all.

National Policy on Education 2016

Any contemporary education policy will need to address the democratic and economic aspirations of the younger citizenry and must declare those concrete steps that would endure the realisation of those aims. But that has not been the case with the National Policy on Education 2016. The new education policy, as proposed, chooses not to address the fundamental issues plaguing the education system but instead, it propagates a corporate, neo-liberal, neo-cultural, a Sanskritised, global and market-oriented education system which is governed by a wholly separate and centralised bureaucracy, where state government power and oversight is minimal.

Paddy Yields in Pre-industrial South India

This paper assembles data on per hectare paddy yields in South India from the 10th to 19th century and notes the existence of very high paddy yields during this period. The methodology used to arrive at the estimates is specified step-by-step and in detail, and the difficulties in making these estimates are indicated as well. This allows other scholars to rework the data and arrive at alternate estimates using different assumptions to those used here. It may also serve to stimulate further interest and initiate more work on this subject.

Ambedkar as a Political Philosopher

Existing studies on B R Ambedkar largely focus on his substantive religious, sociological, political and constitutional concerns, and not on the concepts he deployed for the purpose or modes of his argumentation. His body of work demonstrates that he formulated a number of concepts to take stock of the social reality that he confronted, and/or reformulated existing concepts by critically engaging with the body of scholarship available to him. With regard to the conception of the political, he advanced a comprehensive and consistent design of what it means to live as a public and how best to do so in a setting very different from the West.

Ethics in Ambedkar’s Critique of Gandhi

Among the political thinkers of modern India, Gandhi and Ambedkar have elicited an intellectual enthusiasm among scholars who remain arrested in debates on the pre-eminence of one thinker over the other. The Ambedkarite critique of Gandhi is centred on the latter’s fast unto death in opposition to the MacDonald Award of separate electorates for Dalits. Formalistic readings of Gandhi are not in the interest of the robust, associative and inclusive intellectual tradition at the core of Ambedkar’s emancipatory project. Ambedkar was a pathfinder who chose critique as a method of ethical persuasion to gently pull in and retain members of caste society in the interlocutory framework of conversation.

Performance of Mobile Phone Sector in India

The mobile phone sector in India was stagnant for a few years because of an uncertain policy and regulatory environment. There was a reduction in the net addition to subscribers, an increase in the urban–rural divide, hyper-competition, and inefficient use of spectrum, which meant poor services, low investment, high debt, and a fall in revenue and profit. However, the sector’s performance has been improving after the announcement of the new telecom policy in 2012 and other regulatory changes.

War, Words and Communities

World War I (1914–18) was a catalyst in changing and redefining political, cultural and national issues across the globe. This article argues that communities in India, based on caste/class structures, refashioned their social–political identities vis-à-vis the war. Never a party to the cause of the war, these communities’ redefinition of their self-identity was part of their desire to carve out a legitimate place in the modern public sphere filled with discourses of martial race, loyalty, discipline and nationalism. The focus is on the contours of the Lingayat community’s imagination and formation of its identity during the war and efforts to occupy a place in the military and political establishment.

Measurement Issues in Comparing Fiscal Performance of States

Interstate comparison of fiscal performance requires the use of appropriate concepts and proper measurement of state income, fiscal deficit and debt. GSDP at market prices and a comprehensive concept of debt consistent with the fiscal deficit of a state government are the right concepts to use for the purpose. Neither the rating agencies nor the finance commissions have used the right concepts so far. Illustrative estimates for Gujarat show that this can lead to misleading target setting and wrong perceptions about the fiscal performance of the states.

Diasporic Resources, Community Interventions and Development

Diasporic leadership was as important as diasporic resources in effecting the transformation of Chakar village in Punjab, now recognised as a model for rural development. Credibility, trust and constant mentoring by emigrants from the village inspired community participation, conflict-resolution, the creation of new institutions and the sustainability of development works.   

Land Acquisition and Beyond

Farmers have a complex relationship with their land: losing it means losing an entire way of life. A survey of the original inhabitants of Maan, a village near Pune where land was acquired for an information technology park and industrial estates, found that the process of acquisition was both attractive and scary for the farmers involved. Almost 70% of the respondents were willing to sell their land under different conditions. They were bitter about the escalation of land values after acquisition. What farmers want is a share in the future appreciation of land.

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