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Special Articles

The Fiscal Situation and a Reform Agenda for the New Government

The fiscal situation of the central government is worrisome. The problem is largely structural and not cyclical. Indeed, the slowdown of the economy has only partly contributed to the deterioration in 2008-09. The new government at the centre is faced with the formidable challenge of containing the worrisome fiscal deficit, while continuing to provide a stimulus necessary to revive the economy. It also has to institute a restructuring programme towards achieving fiscal consolidation in the medium term. Such a programme should draw lessons from the past and design a plan for the centre as well as the states.

Octroi - A Tax in a Time Warp: What Does Its Removal Imply for Greater Mumbai?

Vestigial octroi posts can now be found in the country only in a few cities of Maharashtra. These "legendary customs walls" yielded an easy finance for the city and town development and thus, many local bodies continued with this tax despite its debilities. The fiscal composure of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai can be singularly attributed to the contribution of octroi, which serves around half of its total revenue income. This paper discusses the fiscal significance of this tax in Greater Mumbai and deliberates on various alternative sources of revenue.

The Ravi Dasis of Punjab: Global Contours of Caste and Religious Strife

The attack in May on two visiting religious leaders of Ravi Dasis in Vienna, presumably by a group of local militant Sikhs, sparked off widespread violence in Punjab. Though most of the violence by Ravi Dasi dalits was directed against public property and reflected their general anger at the Vienna incident, the mainstream media was quick to interpret it as yet another instance of caste conflict within Sikhism, viz, between dalit Sikhs and upper caste Sikhs. Such misrepresentations of caste and religious realities of Punjab today could lead to a communal divide between dalits and mainstream Sikhism. Based on an empirical study of the Punjabi Ravi Dasis, the paper tries to provide a historical perspective on caste and religion in Punjab today.

Contextualising Muslim Identity: Ansaris, Deobandis, Barelwis

This paper argues against a monolithic, essentialised reading of the Indian Muslim identity. Drawing from research in Mubarakpur, Azamgarh, it highlights the various schisms within the Muslim identity. Telling the story of identity through the eyes of lower caste Muslims, the paper shows that caste, class and maslaki affiliations remain important markers of identity within Muslim society. The very notion of "Islamic identity" is itself a matter of fierce interpretative debate among the Muslims. Drawing on evidence from madrasas, the paper argues that the "other" within the madrasa is not a Hindu but a fellow Muslim from another maslak.

Globalisation and Regionalisation: Mapping the New Continental Drift

How far have regional organisations in the south been successful in struggling against neoliberal policies initiated in the northern countries, and actively aided by the international financial institutions? How far have they succeeded in establishing an alternative global regime of development? An assessment of these regional formations in Asia, Africa and Latin America is undertaken to find whether they could fulfil the aspirations for an alternative and just globalisation.

The Giants Awake: Higher Education Systems in China and India

With India and China aiming to build more sophisticated economies, both countries are giving priority to higher education to produce highly educated personnel and high quality research. This paper makes a comparative assessment of the development of the higher education system in the two countries, the challenges being faced and what the future holds for both countries. China has made considerable progress with its top institutions and India has illustrated with the Indian Institutes of Technology and a few other institutions that high standards are possible. Yet, the problem of quality, and the related issues of whether the graduates are qualified for the labour market, remain. It seems that China and India will, at the least, not see significant reform in the overall academic quality of higher education. An effective quality-assurance system can help to ensure standards, but neither country has such a system in place currently capable of overall supervision. The systems will probably become more stratified, with a small number of research universities at the top and very large numbers of fairly unselective colleges and universities at the bottom.

Conflict and Coexistence in a National Park

The aim of this paper is to trace the emergence of a subculture of resistance following a strict management regime of the state institution of forestry in Kanha national park of Madhya Pradesh. It illustrates how the state as an institution has been limited in its capacity to protect these enclosed spaces simply through the policy of "fences and fines". The main tenet of the national park model was the complete removal of humans resident within the park area and to preserve the area in its pristine form in order to protect wildlife. This case study of Kanha examines how relatively powerless groups unite in their hopelessness to protest against a system or institution that has its own agendas in conservation.

Understanding the Education System: An Eco-Behavioural Approach

The eco-behavioural approach to the study of education suggests that the achievements of students would depend on the expectations placed on them, and the support they receive from other participants in various behavioural settings. The approach is theoretically constructed and empirically verified in this paper. Using the methodology of such an approach, one can debate the reasoning behind the policy of reservation in higher education. Such an exercise is attempted in this essay.

Neoliberalising the 'Urban': New Geographies of Power and Injustice in Indian Cities

An adequate understanding of the contemporary neoliberal urban process requires a grasp of its politico-economic ideological framework, multi-scalar institutional forms, diverse socio-political links and multiple contradictions. This paper examines the active engagement of neoliberalism that is not only moulding the concept of "urban", but is simultaneously intensifying unevenness in inter-urban and intra-urban development. It focuses on the National Urban Renewal Mission, the official carrier of neoliberal urbanism, and its various implications. The paper illustrates the process of restructuring in a few cities in different states, most importantly, in Mumbai, the country's budding "international financial centre", with a focus on specific "development" projects.

Market Integration, Transaction Costs and the Indian Wheat Market: A Systematic Study

This paper examines whether the wheat market is integrated across states in India, and concludes that the market is integrated in the long run. This long run integration, however, does not come from the free flow of goods across states in the country, but from the sharing of similar production technologies by farmers across states. The paper also shows that the market for wheat is not integrated in the short run. This implies that at a given time period there exist two prices for the same commodity, since transaction costs are the main barriers to market integration. The paper also estimates such transaction costs using transport and communication infrastructure indices across states, and concludes that there exist large variations resulting in high transaction costs.

Adjustment of Pricing: Evidence from Indian Manufacturing

This paper analyses the pricing behaviour in the Indian manufacturing sector, considering both domestic and external variables. Price adjustment models are developed based on industrial organisation literature and are examined with 28 manufacturing industries at the 3-digit level over the period from 1963 to 2001. Domestic structural factors are found to be important in determining the speed of price adjustment.

The Making of the Middle Class in Western India: Age at Marriage for Brahmin Women (1900-50)

In spite of the recognition of the importance of the middle class, its historical fashioning has not so far been empirically studied. This study is a part of a project that examines the factors that influenced the behaviour of the contemporary middle class in western India using time series data constructed from unpublished sources. A substantially higher age at marriage, which was reached much earlier than other classes, is one of the distinguishing features of the middle class. The current paper examines reasons behind the rapid increase in the marriage age over 1900-50 among the Chitpavan brahmins of Maharashtra. In particular, the project of fashioning the emerging nation, an ideology widely shared, is highlighted as an important factor behind the increase in the age at marriage for middle class women in western India.

Dalits, Praja Rajyam Party and Caste Politics in Andhra Pradesh

The formation of the Praja Rajyam Party in Andhra Pradesh has been received with conflicting attitudes and expectations by the two major dalit castes in the state. While the Malas embraced the party as the champion of social justice, the Madigas opposed it as the party of the Kapus. Rather than seeing the prp in these binary and oppositional lenses, it is necessary to view the party as a new choice for dalits. A brief history of caste politics in Andhra Pradesh is also undertaken in this essay.

Kosambi the Mathematician

Apart from his more popular work on numismatics and genetics, D D Kosambi worked on path geometry, exploring the foundations of general relativity. He also worked on statistics in infinite dimensions, computing, and probabilistic number theory. His whole mathematical career appears as one long clash of values. A rejection of the value of specialisation saw him leave Harvard. The high value he placed on research saw his exit from Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University. His attempt to impart real knowledge of mathematics saw him sacked from Fergusson College, Pune. His insistence on ethical and relevant research led to his exit from the Tata Institue of Fundamental Research where, too, the diversity of his interests was portrayed negatively, though he continued his mathematical research till the end of his life. His mathematical career raises a number of questions regarding science management in post-independence India. These questions are vital today when the state is again making huge investments in science and technology.

An Index to Assess the Stance of Monetary Policy in India in the Post-Reform Period

The Reserve Bank of India has formally adopted the "multiple indicator approach" in the conduct of monetary policy since April 1998. During this period, sole reliance on traditional indicators of monetary aggregates or policy rates is not adequate to reflect the stance of monetary policy. This paper develops a monetary policy index by synthesising the extracted signals from the policy documents and quantitative information embedded in key indicators. The mpi so constructed was used to assess the impact of monetary policy on macroeconomic variables such as interest rates, bank credit, inflation, and output growth during the post-reform period. It was observed that while monetary policy has an instant influence on interest rates, the impact on inflation and output was realised with a lag of around 6 to 18 months.

The Logic of Community Participation: Experimental Evidence from West Bengal

Social capital has been defined as a set of informal norms that promotes cooperation among the members of the community. Where there is repeated interaction, the members are able to get better information about the activities and intentions of other members in the community than outsiders, thereby promoting collective action or community participation supported by peer monitoring and social sanctions. In order to verify the logic of community participation, three sessions of a public goods classroom experiment were conducted with students and villagers at Kolkata and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. The results show that even though the group contributions have in all cases been above 50% of the initial endowment, the contributions by the villagers who were members of the same community-based organisation were always higher than those by the students. This may be attributed to the fact that the villagers, being members of the same cbo have a common history of social interaction leading to better group cohesiveness.

How to Identify the Poor? A Proposal

The Census of 2002 to identify the poor in rural areas of India was the third in a quinquennial series. However, it has been appropriately criticised. This paper elaborates on the criticisms, and proposes an alternative set of criteria and methodology for conducting the next (now overdue) census of the rural population to identify the poor

Labour Market Flexibility: An Empirical Inquiry into Neoliberal Propositions

There have been proposals to make the Indian labour market more flexible by amending the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and Contract Labour Act, 1970. But the Indian labour market has already achieved a substantial degree of flexibility by the contractualisation of factory workers. This paper critically investigates the claims made in favour of introducing greater flexibility in the labour market. The analysis is done through an empirical inquiry into the proposition that casualisation of labour leads to higher output and employment growth. We find that employment and output growth do not have a statistically significant dependence on labour market flexibility in Indian organised manufacturing.

On Women Surviving Farmer Suicides in Punjab

How have women been coping in the aftermath of farmer suicides in Punjab? This article is based on detailed interviews with 32 women in three districts of the state. Accosting the reality of women caught in the vortex of the agrarian crisis, one painfully comes to terms with the newer hardships that the structures of marriage and family pose for them. Their reality and struggle compels the framing of new questions for the women's movement and the seeking of novel forms of redress and strategies to overcome their plight.

Primitive Accumulation and Some Aspects of Work and Life in India

How is labour to be conceptualised in the present context? On the one hand, there are the claims of the new economy that old forms of labour are being transformed and reformed; on the other, there is the reality of informalisation, casualisation and dispossession. This article looks at the various forms of labour in the new economy and argues that the process of informalisation of labour can only be understood in terms of the concept of primitive accumulation. From this point it moves on to discuss the implications of such accumulation for democracy and citizenship.

Atlantic Gandhi, Caribbean Gandhian

Gandhi used his experience with the scattered migrants of the Indian diaspora in South Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere to partly construct the nationalist doctrine that he later brought to India. The forging of what has been called the "revolutionary Atlantic" proletariat where Indians could have bonded with other exploited races in a militant consciousness across ethnic and national divisions was not part of Gandhi's resistance, indeed it was impeded by it. However, Gandhi's focus on the diaspora had an impact on Caribbean societies, through the agency of another migrant transnational from the other side of the fence, the English clergyman, C F Andrews.

Evolving an Effective Management Information System to Monitor Co-Management of Forests

The failure of the Joint Forest Management programme since 2000 to sustain the growth in afforestation achieved during the 1990s is a cause for concern. This paper looks at the necessity of developing an effective management information system that can contribute meaningfully to the resilience of a jfm system. Identifying four scenarios that differ in terms of the relative contribution of the community and the State in the management process, it offers a schematic structure of an mis.

The Fragmented Lok Sabha: A Case for Electoral Engineering

Where there are numerous small political parties, as in India, the electoral system neither reflects the true views and opinions on important social and economic issues nor does it incorporate "social inclusiveness" . The fragmentation in our legislature can be corrected through appropriate electoral engineering. This study is an attempt to do so. It describes how the composition of the Lok Sabha has changed since 1967, paying particular attention to the trends in indices of fragmentation. It also discusses issues relating to the "ideal" composition of a legislature and of a government.

Women's Property Rights and HIV/AIAIDS in India

Gender inequities are one of the key drivers of the hiv epidemic, globally and in India. Women's limited ability to access, own, and control property such as land and housing is one manifestation of gender inequity that has serious implications for women and their families in the context of hiv and aids. Property grabbing, dispossession, or eviction of women after their husbands' death or due to their hiv positive status is slowly emerging as a problem in India. However, there are few interventions that have addressed the intersection of property and hiv/aids. This study locates women's experiences of property conflicts within the larger context of being hiv affected. It describes a range of organisational responses addressing the interaction between property and hiv and highlights the challenges that need to be addressed to shape a meaningful and comprehensive response.

Nature of Employment in the Food Processing Sector

An attempt to assess the employment potential of the food processing sector, while examining the nature of employment and the quality of work. A field study conducted to detail the wages, conditions of workers, employment security, social security, gender bias, etc, in mango jelly and pickle making in the unorganised segment and fish processing and cashew processing in the factory sector in Andhra Pradesh brings out several problems in the quality of employment. The average wage of these workers is only 48% of the statutory minimum. Women, who are the major victims, working under poor conditions without any social security, earn only half of what their male counterparts do. Meanwhile, it is also found out that some of the food processing jobs are denied to the scheduled castes, which suggests discrimination on the basis of caste.

On the Margins: Muslims in West Bengal

The marginalisation of dalits and backward Muslims in West Bengal has brought into focus the issue of affirmative action for Muslims in the state. Despite indicators pointing towards backwardness, as many as 56 different castes, communities, and occupational groups are included in the Other Backward Classes list in the state, while deserving dalit and backward Muslims have been excluded. There has also been a change in the contours of local level politics in the state, resulting in more community-centric mobilisations of Muslims, which has prevented the continued mainstreaming of the community in West Bengal.

Employment Growth in Rural India: Distress-Driven?

The 61st round (2004-05) of the National Sample Survey showed that there was a turnaround in employment growth in rural India after a phase of jobless growth during the 1990s. Paradoxically, this employment growth occurred during a period of widespread distress in the agricultural sector with low productivity, price instability and stagnation leading to indebtedness. This paper reveals that employment growth in the rural areas was probably a response to the income crisis that is gripping farming. Under conditions of distress, when income levels fall below sustenance, then the normally non-working population is forced to enter the labour market to supplement household income. The decline of the agricultural sector has also probably created forced sectoral and regional mobility of the working population, with the non-working population complementing them.

Regional and Global Nuclear Disarmament: Going Beyond the NPT

The accession of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States is an opportune time to revisit the issue of global and regional nuclear disarmament. What are the options open to civil society? The two routes to global and regional disarmament are obviously connected but not in a manner whereby movement along the latter is made conditional on forward movement along the former where the us has always been the biggest obstacle, the pace-setter in creating and deepening the global nuclear mess. This article is about where we stand today and what future directions in the cause of nuclear disarmament may be worth pursuing.

Productivity and Unit Labour Cost in Indian Manufacturing: A Comparative Perspective

Up to date results on prices, labour productivity and unit labour costs for Indian manufacturing in comparison with some advanced and developing countries are presented here. The results indicate that the labour productivity levels in Indian manufacturing are much lower than those of Germany, the us, South Korea, Hungary and Poland, but higher than those of Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. The unit labour cost in Indian manufacturing is the lowest among the countries in our sample, indicating strong cost competitiveness of Indian manufacturing vis-à-vis these countries. However, a comparison with China reveals a fast erosion of Indian manufacturing competitiveness in the recent period.

Peasant Classes under Neoliberalism: A Class Analysis of Two States

While declining real product prices faced by primary commodity producers was one of the central causes of rising farm indebtedness, the gradual shrinkage of formal credit institutions in rural areas has simultaneously caused increasing dominance of private players in the credit market, rendering producers all the more vulnerable. A class analysis of householdlevel farm production data from two states reveals the pattern of income depression and rising indebtedness in rural areas. The deleterious implications these processes have for future agrarian development call for effective price stabilisation operations and a comprehensive debt-relief policy in the short run.

Primary Completion Rates across Socio-Religious Communities in West Bengal

Primary completion rates of Muslims in West Bengal are substantially lower than that of upper caste communities as well as backward castes, scheduled castes and tribes. Further, analysis of age-specific pcr indicates that differences in pcr between Muslims and other communities may have actually increased in recent years. An econometric analysis reveals that age, gender, household size and expenditure levels, education and gender of decision-maker, etc, are important determinants of these differences in pcr. But use of Census data and District Information System for Education statistics indicates that deficiencies in infrastructural facilities in Muslim-concentrated districts also have a significant role in the low pcrs of Muslim children.

Macro Policy Reform and Sub-National Finance: Why Is the Fiscal Space of the States Shrinking?

In the post-economic liberalisation era, financial sector and fiscal reforms by the central government have adversely affected sub-national finances. The centre's fiscal consolidation measures have contributed to the sharp decline in vertical transfers and the financial liberalisation-induced increase in interest rates has widened the resource gap of the states through an increase in the interest outgo on the stock of debt. This paper examines the effect of the fiscal imbalance on the sub-national fiscal space. Econometric estimates reveal that though the effect of the cost of debt on total expenditure is expansionary, it is negative with respect to the fiscal space. As the sub-national fiscal space has been shrinking, corrective measures are required to increase the states' ability to fulfil developmental fiscal needs.

Maraimalai Atigal and the Genealogy of the Tamilian Creed

Contrary to later day perceptions, the Tamil-Saivite movement of the early 1900s played a major role in preparing the groundwork for the mobilisation by the radical self-respect movement of the Tamil vernacular public. Led by Maraimalai Atigal who recast, secularised and rationalised earlier forms of Saivism and Saiva- Siddhanta, the movement helped frame a new language of Tamil modernity and nationalism.

The Project of Provincialising Europe: Reading Dipesh Chakrabarty

This essay explores the distinctive way in which Dipesh Chakrabarty's writings, especially Provincialising Europe, have engaged in both questioning "European thought" (its Eurocentrism) and seeking to renew it.

A Contemporary Perspective on the Informal Labour Market: Theory, Policy and the Indian Experience

This article looks at the substantial literature that has emerged in recent times on the impact of globalisation, reform and deregulation on the informal labour market, in terms of theory and accompanying empirical evidence. Growth of real informal wage and productivity across all states in India since the early 1990s is an interesting starting point. While it is not a foregone conclusion that a liberal economic environment necessarily benefits such sectors, marketfriendly policies can improve the real income of informal workers and thus can have a substantial effect on urban poverty. Some supportive evidence to this effect has led to analytical models that investigate these issues closely. The analysis here shows that deregulated economies may benefit the informal workers, by raising both wages and employment under certain conditions that depend on inter-sectoral capital mobility. In the process, agriculture and formal manufacturing may suffer. Labour and commodity market reform may have different and contradictory impact on informal labour. Organisational changes in production in a more open economy increase the degree of specialisation, help informal entrepreneurs, and promote exports. Lower tariffs and lower interest rates have opposite impacts on the informal segment of import competitive industries.

Child Labour in Industrial Outworker Households in India

Child labour is widespread in home-based manufacturing activities in the informal sector in most developing countries. However, very little is known of child labour in industrial outwork. The aim of this paper is twofold: on the one hand, to understand whether children in home-based work households are more likely to work than other children and, if so, how this impacts their capabilities; and, on the other, to outline policy implications for India. This paper draws on ad hoc surveys and a country study carried out in India. It examines the incidence of child work in such households, the child's schooling, and reasons why children are working, their work conditions, and gender issues. Econometric analysis is applied to analyse the determinants of child activity status. Policy implications are spelled out at the end.

Tragic Widows or Cunning Witches? Reflections on Representations of Women in Tamil Myths and Legends

This article looks at some of the broad paradigms within which women-oriented Tamil myths and legends have operated. Besides presenting contrasting images that cut through the frozen iconisation of women encountered in classical or so- called "high tradition" texts, the article also focuses on the transformational qualities of folk legends as they move between texts and contexts.

Rural Non-Farm Economy: A Note on the Impact of Crop-Diversification and Land-Conversion in India

Crop-diversification under the integrated institutional set-up of corporate contract farming - processing, packaging and retailing - may displace the petty manufacturing and services that have matured over the years in different parts of rural India as a constituent of an endogenous process driven by agricultural growth and changing land-relations. As local availability of basic food items and other agro-raw materials form the basis of rural employment diversification by farmer as well as landless households, diversification towards high value commercial crops leading to squeezing of these supplies may destroy the very foundation of the rural non-farm economy that is engaged in petty production.

Gandhi - The 'Angel of History': Reading Hind Swaraj Today

Gandhi's Hind Swaraj is more than a political text. It is an ontological drama staged by Gandhi, reflected in his treatises against "modern civilisation", and his critique of "modernity".

Nature Lovers, Picnickers and Bourgeois Environmentalism

India's middle class visitors to the country's wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas are ignored in policy formulation as well as academic analyses of wildlife conservation. Traditionally, the conservation discourse has focused on the face-off between elite conservation institutions and the marginalised social groups, with domestic tourists being overlooked. At best, the latter are looked upon by the scientific-administrative elite as frivolous picnickers. But this neglect of an everincreasing constituency is an opportunity lost to gain its support for conservation policies and practices. It also means that the considerable investment and planning needed to promote environmental education as part of a visit to a protected area is missing.

Growth sans Employment: A Quarter Century of Jobless Growth in India's Organised Manufacturing

There has been considerable debate in India about the impact of growth on employment especially in the organised manufacturing sector for different periods since the early 1980s. However, changes in the coverage of the Annual Survey of Industries demand a fresh look at the issue over a longer period. This paper attempts such an analysis for 1981-82 to 2004-05. For the period as a whole as well as for two separate periods - the pre- and post-reform phases - the picture that emerges is one of "jobless growth", due to the combined effect of two trends that have cancelled each other out. One set of industries was characterised by employment-creating growth while another set by employment-displacing growth. Over this period, there has been acceleration in capital intensification at the expense of creating employment. A good part of the resultant increase in labour productivity was retained by the employers as the product wage did not increase in proportion to output growth. The workers as a class thus lost in terms of both additional employment and real wages in organised manufacturing sector.

The Cost of Ruling: Anti-Incumbency in Elections

"Anti-incumbency" is the most frequently cited reason for why ruling parties face poor odds of getting re-elected in India. Drawing on the comparative politics literature and using electoral data from 1977 to 2005, this paper analyses the performance of ruling parties in national and state elections in India. The findings are that incumbent members of Parliament from national ruling parties and legislative assembly members from state ruling parties are less likely to win than incumbents from the opposition when they come up for re-election. The paper also measures the "honeymoon period" effect, namely, the advantage that candidates from the state ruling party enjoy in national elections that are held early in the state government's term and candidates from the national ruling party enjoy in state elections. India's patronage-based democratic system and federal structure creates incentives for voters to favour the same party for national and state office and coordinate their votes. However, the honeymoon period is short-lived, and the positive effect turns into a negative penalty within two years of a party's term in office.

Cultivation of Medicinal Plants in Uttarakhand

Due to excessive extraction of medicinal plant species in high altitude areas, Uttarakhand has seen a serious depletion of its biological resources. The state government has introduced policies to promote the conservation of these species and encourage farmers to cultivate them and supplement their incomes. This paper examines the impact of the Uttarakhand government's promotional policies and also looks at a project that has built a supply chain to cultivate these plants for export to Europe.

Levels of Living and Poverty Patterns: A District-Wise Analysis for India

Most of the contemporary studies of level of living and poverty concentrate only on state-level averages. In view of the growing divergence both between and within the states, disaggregated studies are necessary for accurate identification of the critical areas calling for policy intervention. In the National Sample Survey Organisation's Consumer Expenditure Survey held in 2004-05, the sample design had taken districts as strata in both the rural and urban sectors, which makes it possible to get unbiased estimates of parameters at the district level. This paper presents a profile of levels of living, poverty and inequality for all the districts of the 20 major states of India. An attempt has also been made to map poverty in the districts to examine their spatial disparity within and across the states.

Gender Differentials in Education: Exploring the Capabilities Approach

Motivation and freedom of choice are mediated through the institutions of caste and religion, which restrict freedom, particularly of women. This paper discusses whether the capabilities approach provides any advantage in addressing questions of inequality that may be also mediated through such institutions. With the help of empirical data, the capabilities approach is used to identify "conversion factors" that are not typically addressed in the utility approach. A comparison is made between knowledge generated through the use of traditional data sources to measure access and returns to education with the knowledge about the dynamics of capabilities formation generated through the use of a mixture of data within the capabilities approach. This has the potential to help public policy decisions to improve education design and outcomes for girls from disadvantaged sections.

SAARC: The Political Challenge for South Asia and Beyond

This article deals with the overtly unspoken political role of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It elucidates, first, how saarc has bridged its institutional endowment-deficit as an apolitical organisation with the complex reality of the region - that is, the many ways regional cooperation has tackled political issues in the subcontinent. One of the hypotheses developed here is that either occurring on the side or even in opposition to the association's formal workings, the informal and quasi-official political dimension of the organisation is in fact essential to its functioning. A second one is that beyond serving as a political platform for traditional diplomacy, it is offering south Asian leaders and people a new understanding of the region and its politics. Finally, this paper argues that on the basis of sound empirical evidence and the shortcomings of the theoretical frameworks embraced to date, saarc cannot be dismissed as being only an "empty forum".

Passages from Nature to Nationalism: Sunderlal Bahuguna and Tehri Dam Opposition in Garhwal

This paper focuses on the shifting contours of the anti-Tehri dam movement in the past three decades. It examines the changing declarations of environmentalists, especially Sunderlal Bahuguna and other leaders of the movement on the one hand, and the involvement of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the anti-dam politics on the other. Exploring the evocations of nature, religion and nation in different phases by these two groups of actors, it argues that through a regular use of certain mythical beliefs and simplified dichotomies, there was an inadvertent collaboration between green and saffron. The Tehri dam became a means of combining sacredness with impulse, gravity of high politics with solemnity of daily worship, and nature with nationalism.

Strategic Flexible Planning and Real Options for Airport Development in India

With market liberalisation, established airports have regularly faced greater uncertainties regarding their planned investments. However, airport authorities as well as private stakeholders (through international consortia) continue to invest in ever larger and more capital-intensive infrastructures. Major uncertainties arise regarding these long-term investments since traffic forecasts have a legacy of being grossly inaccurate. In contrast to such practice, both literature and empirical evidence suggest that airport development should be undertaken in incremental steps, avoiding over-commitment of funds and being able to adapt to a changed environment, including altered patterns of competition. This paper highlights scenarios that characterise paths of airport development in India. A decision-tree analysis provides a helpful tool to identify those paths for airport development that will minimise uncertainty and prove more effective in fostering robust and efficient growth for the Indian air traffic system as a whole.

Resource Federalism in India: The Case of Minerals

While natural resources are spatially located, their development is of a wider national interest. Gains from their development accrue to a large common market though the process affects local lives and environments. The distribution of powers and functions across levels of government and the way they play out determine the effectiveness with which various policy goals are met. The need to examine these becomes important given the increased demands from resource-bearing states for a more "fair" distribution of resource rents in buoyant commodity markets, and from local people in resource regions for greater recognition of their rights and compensation for the effects of resource development. This paper examines the federal structure in India in the context of minerals, and suggests ways in which this can be strengthened through expanding the space and institutional capacity for local governance and by improving compensation and the sharing of resource revenues.

Food and Nutrition in India: Facts and Interpretations

This paper reviews recent evidence on food intake and nutrition in India. It attempts to make sense of various puzzles, particularly the decline of average calorie intake during the last 25 years. This decline has occurred across the distribution of real per capita expenditure, in spite of increases in real income and no long-term increase in the relative price of food. One hypothesis is that calorie requirements have declined due to lower levels of physical activity or improvements in the health environment. If correct, this does not imply that there are no calorie deficits in the Indian population - nothing could be further from the truth. These deficits are reflected in some of the worst anthropometric indicators in the world, and the sluggish rate of improvement of these indicators is of major concern. Yet recent trends remain confused and there is an urgent need for better nutrition monitoring.