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New Generation Start-ups in India

An increasing number of new generation start-ups in the technology/knowledge-intensive industries have created something of an "euphoria" in major cities of India. This paper discusses the salient features of the start-up ecosystem that has emerged in our country, its adequacy for start-up promotion, and the measures needed to strengthen this. As a prelude, the paper traces the origin and phases of start-up growth in India, and its employment contribution, relative to the organised sector. The paper concludes with an emphasis on the need for a steady increase in new generation start-ups as a means of productive employment generation, economic transformation and growth.

How Should India Reform Its Labour Laws?

This paper examines the current policy debate around the reform of labour laws in India, which has been stimulated in part by the success of the "Gujarat model of economic development." Gujarat's deregulatory reforms have included changes to the legal regime governing employment terminations, which could form a basis for a change in national-level labour laws. Evidence linking labour law deregulation to growth, however, is weak, whether the focus is on India or the experience of other countries. Building labour market institutions is a long-term process which requires investment in state capacity for the management of risks associated with the transition to a formal economy.

Review of Local Area Banks and Policy Implications for Narrow Banks in India

In the recent past there has been renewed discussion on the possibility of setting up narrow banks to focus on including the population left out of the formal financial sector. Reviewing the experience of local area banks and the landscape of financial inclusion, this paper identifies internal contradictions in the approach to narrow banks -- primary objectives, structures, limitation of size and geography, mainstream banking standards, evaluation of performance. Despite these issues, the existing banks are indeed performing (under severe constraints), and do not give cause for anxiety on solvency and stability.

Persistent, Complex and Unresolved Issues

Challenges in the provision, accessibility and corresponding treatment gaps in mental health services in India and other low- and middle-income countries have been the subject of considerable discussion in recent times. Moving away from frequently acknowledged macro concerns, a few recurring, persistent problems remain insufficiently analysed. This article aims to capture the complexity and distress caused by the co-occurrence and interrelatedness of poverty, mental ill health and homelessness. It examines the ramifications of this nexus in domains including health systems and access to healthcare, productive living and full participation, social attitudes and responsiveness, and the development of human resources and leadership in the social sector. It also discusses the failure to engage with these issues which results in greater vulnerability, distress and social defeat among the affected populations.

Bio-medicalisation and Gandhi's Vision of Health

Modern medicine has created a dichotomy: modern medicine on the one hand, and alternative systems on the other. This paper views this dichotomy and liminality in the context of Gandhi's vision of health. It delineates the elements and structural coordinates of this alternative healthcare system, and tries to understand how, over time, a synthesis has occurred between the epistemologies of Nature Cure and Modern Medicine. It also looks at how Gandhi's vision of health has undergone a change at two levels, that of "space" and structural relations. This paper also tries to understand how the archaeology of discourse and medical perception evolves, changes and coexists under the canvas of larger political-economic situations.

Regulating Off-grid Electricity Delivery

Given the increasingly prominent role and scope for off-grid solutions in complementing grid-based electrification in India, especially to electrify habitations where grid electricity is yet to reach, it would be crucial to set up appropriate regulatory arrangements for the scaling up of off-grid interventions in India. In view of this, the paper attempts to analyse the role of possible regulation in the off-grid electrification sector and explores the type of regulatory incentive structures that could be put in place in order to allow the off-grid sector to do well.

What Holds Back Manufacturing in South Asia

The recent South Asian (other than that of Bangladesh) experience of a growing merchandise trade deficit and the challenge of job creation have forced attention back on the role of manufacturing. Bangladesh has been able to successfully capture a large share of the global exports of ready-made garments, driven by low labour costs. Sri Lanka has become a major producer of middle- to high-end lingerie, though its overall export performance has weakened in recent years. In contrast, India and Pakistan have been proportionately less successful as exporters of manufactures. What are the commonalities and differences among these countries in the South Asian region? What set of policies will help the growth of manufacturing in these countries?

Policy Options for including Petroleum, Natural Gas and Electricity in the Goods and Services Tax

This study analyses the impact of keeping crude petroleum, natural gas, motor spirit (gasoline/petrol), high-speed diesel (diesel), aviation turbine fuel and electricity out of the value-added tax scheme. Specifically, the paper finds that keeping these items out of the input tax credit mechanism (either partially or fully) would result in cascading. Through an input-output framework, this study proposes some alternatives to the proposed design of the Goods and Services Tax and assesses the implications for cascading and prices. It captures the degree of cascading across 48 sectors under different scenarios and explores alternative policy options to phase out under-recoveries of oil marketing companies on account of sales of diesel and petrol under the administered pricing mechanism.

Crime against Women and Children in Delhi

This paper analyses crime against women and children in Delhi based on two data sources, the National Crime Records Bureau and an empirical data set of the Perceptions Survey of the Delhi Human Development Report, 2013. Using the NCRB data, the paper analyses trends in the rate and composition of crime against women and children from 2004-2006 to 2010-2012, including charge sheets and convictions. Results from the Perceptions Survey highlight the spatial nature of crime in the state, the differential experience of crime by social groups, as well as men and women. A key finding is the high vulnerability of children to crime in the city. What emerges from the comparison of secondary and primary data is the simultaneous existence of incidence of crime on the one hand and perception of crime and violence on the other. A combination of various data sources is important to capture both incidence and perception in order to gain a more holistic and in-depth understanding of crime and violence, a vastly under-researched topic in the social sciences.

Lower Pollution, Longer Lives

India's population is exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Using a combination of ground-level in situ measurements and satellite-based remote sensing data, this paper estimates that 660 million people, over half of India's population, live in areas that exceed the Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate pollution. Reducing pollution in these areas to achieve the standard would, we estimate, increase life expectancy for these Indians by 3.2 years on average for a total of 2.1 billion life years. We outline directions for environmental policy to start achieving these gains. 

Constituent Assembly Debates on Language

Even though India's Constituent Assembly debates were informed by remarkable seriousness, scholarship, and integrity, most of the linguistic decisions taken by the Constituent Assembly, in many cases insightful, were located in consensual democracy and the domination of the elites in that body. The multilingual and multicultural ethos that is constitutive of Indian society was ignored. The focus was so much on containing the existing political safeguards available to the religious and backward minorities that the rights of linguistic minorities were compromised. In trying to prepare a blueprint for a liberal and secular democracy, the makers of the Constitution were forced to reconcile several contradictions.

Health Aspects of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in India

Impact assessments are conducted with the objective of safeguarding human health and the environment. The Environmental Impact Assessment notification of 2006, subsequent amendments and associated guidelines provide the framework to document untoward effects of proposed industrial and developmental projects on the environment, and to manage them. It is also implicitly understood that the notification covers human health concerns arising from the proposed projects. Are health concerns being adequately accounted for when projects are provided clearance? Through the use of a standardised framework, several gaps were found in health-related aspects of the notification and the two evaluated EIA reports analysed here. Further reflection is called for on the purpose of EIAs to prevent human health from becoming a casualty on the path to "development".

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