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Mobile Phones for Maternal Health in Rural Bihar

Health programmes that are using mobile phones to improve maternal health in rural India are examined. Presented by its promoters as a universal, accessible and “smart” empowering technology, how mobile devices transform gender inequalities on the ground is analysed. By using empirical data collected on a global mHealth programme deployed in Bihar, how mHealth devices negate the multifactorial dimension of gender and health inequalities is explained, and also how these devices can reinforce inequalities on the ground is examined.

The Convergence of Peasant Struggles Worldwide

A plethora of problems face Southern and Northern family agricultures in the current neo-liberal era of financial capital domination worldwide, and has paved the way for the revival of peasant struggles for their social emancipation and legitimate right of access to land and food. Obviously, such struggles also concern all categories of workers and people because what is at stake is the challenge to reach food sovereignty and to build our societies at the local, national and global levels, on the principles of social justice, equality and real democracy.

Caste, Religion, and Health Outcomes in India, 2004-14

There has been little investigation into whether the “social gradient to health”—whereby people belonging to groups higher up the social ladder have better health outcomes than those belonging to groups further down—exists in developing countries like India. The relative strengths of economic and social status in determining the health status of persons in India is evaluated using the National Sample Survey Office data set for 2004 and 2014. This is evaluated with respect to two health outcomes: the age at death and the self-assessed health status of elderly persons.

Emerging Politics of Accountability

The implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 in Bihar is studied to examine the progression and deepening of institutional change. The institutional progression is inextricably linked to change in the political regime and the resultant shifts in policy priorities. The RTI Act has opened up a new space for accountability between state and society, its use is often linked to local politics, and a new form of elite agency has emerged, whose practitioners this article categorises as “agents of accountability.” These agents are different from the category of elite agency discussed in scholarly literature, such as the “expansive elite,” pyraveekars, gaon ka neta, “political fixers,” or naya netas.

Levelised Cost of Electricity for Nuclear Power Using Light Water Reactor Technology in India

The development of nuclear power generation in India is proposed to be enhanced with international cooperation, for sourcing fuel and setting up commercial nuclear power plants. The cost of power produced at such plants is examined. The levelised cost of electricity for light water reactor technology in India is estimated for once-through cycle and twice-through cycle options. A reference point for international cost comparisons is provided, and a sensitivity analysis for key input parameters is carried out. The base case, levelised cost of electricity is estimated to be 13.93 cents per kilowatt-hour and 14.13 cents per kilowatt-hour for once-through cycle and twice-through cycle options, respectively.

Changing Dynamics of Inflation in India

Using the latest consumer price index (combined) series, it is found that the dynamics underlying India’s inflationary process have changed substantially. Significant reduction found in the inflation persistence reflects anchoring of inflationary expectations. Moreover, it is the headline inflation that reverts to the core and not vice versa, as was assumed so far. It implies the absence of any significant second-round effects. These features need to be taken into account for any policy analysis. Attempting to forecast inflation using various econometric techniques, it is found that a combination of alternative models based on mean square errors improves forecast accuracy as compared to any individual model.

'Provincialising' Vegetarianism

Large-scale survey data are used to question the most public claims about food habits in India. It is found that the extent of overall vegetarianism is much less—and the extent of overall beef-eating much more—than suggested by common claims and stereotypes. The generalised characterisations of “India” are deepened by showing the immense variation of food habits across scale, space, group, class, and gender. Additionally, it is argued that the existence of considerable intra-group variation in almost every social group (caste, religious) makes essentialised group identities based on food practices deeply problematic. Finally, in a social climate where claims about food practices rationalise violence, cultural–political pressures shape reported and actual food habits. Indian food habits do not fit into neatly identifiable boxes.

Politics of the Informal

This article contests the view that women’s public space results from their ability to step in as peacemakers, or as part of civil society groups, during conflicts between state and non-state actors, or from the ability to hold leadership positions in electoral politics or in civil society groups. Instead, women’s public space emerges from church welfare services, reformation of inheritance laws and traditional village authorities, and women’s ability to identify problems in state, civil society, and insurgent politics while maintaining a critical distance. The informal associational lives of women are equally public and political. The informal does not merely legitimise the political role of women; it is political because it is an active, creative, and strategic public space

Learning to Live in the Colonies and Camps

Involuntary migration of Tamil repatriates and refugees from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu began in the late 1960s and continued for several decades. The relief and rehabilitation offered to them by the Government of India was far from adequate, and life in the camps and colonies was hard and often unbearable. The unsuitable living conditions forced the migrants to learn how to deal with adversity and to assert agency in the midst of despair and hopelessness. Although life in the camps and colonies was difficult, migrants managed to carve out a space for themselves.

Implementation of Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act

Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act mandates non-minority private unaided schools to keep aside at least 25% of their entry-level seats for children belonging to disadvantaged sections to create a more integrated and inclusive schooling system. But its implementation experience has been far from satisfactory. More than half of the states and union territories have not implemented this provision (as of March 2016). Further, experiences of the states that implement this provision display considerable gaps. The Implementation of Section 12(1)(c) has also faced a plethora of litigations. The issues are discussed in-depth and recommendations for improving implementation have been provided.

Colonial Construction of a Frontier

​ An examination of the emergence, shifts and perceptions surrounding the Inner Line Regulation in the North East Frontier reveals that the Inner Line seems to be more of a civilisational frontier than a territorial one. Regulation of the Inner Line has played an important role in postcolonial political construction of the highland–lowland duality and in the creation of a contested social space in the Sibsagar–Naga Hills.

‘Illegal’ Bangladeshis in Akhand Bharat

Both the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party respond aggressively to the issue of “illegal” Muslim Bangladeshis, the largest “illegal” migrant group in India. Such a response is rooted in the racial underpinnings of Hindutva ideology, which right-wing political formations have attempted to bring into mainstream discourse, especially after the BJP came to power at the centre in 2014.

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