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Realising Universal Maternity Entitlements

In India, most of the work women do is invisible and unrecognised because it is done outside the boundaries of the formal economy. As a result, the laws pertaining to maternity entitlements reach a very limited number of women. The National Food Security Act, 2013 was the first national-level legislation to recognise the right of all women to maternity entitlements and wage compensation. Since the passage of the act, India has been using an existing conditional cash transfer scheme, the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana, to implement this entitlement. An examination of the implementation of defined maternity entitlements under the act via a conditional cash transfer, highlights the failure of such a programme to uphold the spirit of the act. Amendments to the act are necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable women are able to realise their right to maternity entitlements, wage compensation, health and nutrition.

Child Malnutrition in Rajasthan

Remote parts of southern Rajasthan such as Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara and Rajsamand are characterised by a predominance of tribal groups and a high prevalence of unskilled, male, seasonal outmigration. A study conducted in these parts in 2014 shows high levels of malnutrition among children in this region. It also discusses how socio-economic characteristics translate into severe resource limitations at the household level, primarily in the availability of nutritious food. Mothers are faced by time and energy constraints in providing adequate care to young ones, especially in migrant households. Normalisation of malnutrition in community perception, rooted in the structural deprivations experienced by these communities, further entrenches the problem. The study argues that implementing local solutions and adopting strategic policy reforms can offset these constraints to child nutrition in such tribal areas.

Living Together Separately

This is the story of a village where Dalits have become economically and politically powerful, and are trying to raise their status in the local social hierarchy, but encounter fierce resistance from the upper castes. As a result, social life becomes complex and complicated to the extent that almost the entire institutional framework, which brings order and stability in society, is being questioned and contested with different castes living in a "hostile" social environment. Such an emergent collectivity gives birth to caste and communal conflicts, "honour" killings, and has implications for the functioning of democratic institutions and implementation of development programmes.

Region without Regionalism

Three decades have passed since the inception of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It still is virtually a non-starter and has not addressed any substantive issue. Intra-regional trade is minuscule. India and Pakistan show little interest in the organisation. Without judging their respective foreign policies, it is argued that South Asian regionalism is not on their agenda. Three questions arise: Is South Asia at all a region? How much does the strategic divide between India and Pakistan, with China factored in, come in the way of South Asian regionalism? Why should India bother about regionalism when its policy of bilateralism serves it fine? To probe these, the region's history, global perceptions of the region, India's foreign and educational practices, and interstate relationships are discussed.

Olaf Caroe's Fabrication of the 'McMahon Line'

In the latter half of the 1930s, British officials under the leadership of Olaf Caroe doctored and garbled the records of the 1914 Simla Conference to make them support the assertion that India's north-eastern borderline lay legitimately just where Henry McMahon had tried to unsuccessfully place it. By the end of World War II, Caroe's fabrication had to a large extent been made good--the alignment he named the "McMahon Line" had been established as the de facto British-India north-eastern borderline (falling short only in its leaving Tawang to Tibet). The assertion that this was also the de jure border had apparently solid evidence, documentary and cartographic, to support it. The evidence for its legitimacy was, however, fraudulent, and Caroe's deception was eventually exposed. Yet, Nehru's absolute refusal to negotiate a boundary settlement with China continues to be Indian government policy.

Driverless Vehicles and Their Future in India

As driverless vehicles become a reality, there is a need to understand what such technology could mean for urban transportation in India. Even as the penetration of autonomous vehicle technologies may be limited in India, and its labour market and land use implications few, it could prove to be a highly efficient low-cost urban transport alternative compared to the hugely expensive metro systems of today.

Communal Violence in Muzaffarnagar

The scale of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar in August-September 2013 was unprecedented in the villages of western Uttar Pradesh after partition. It happened due to what Paul R Brass conceptualised as the institutional riot system, which until the Muzaffarnagar riot was understood to be primarily an urban phenomenon. The growth of the IRS, a post-green revolution phenomenon, that is, since the 1980s in western UP, was on account of the emergence of new classes in the villages, and changes in the nature of rural-urban relations. The Lok Sabha elections of 2014 provided a suitable context for the rural IRS to operate.

Caste and Access to Public Services

There are specific norms and guidelines for the delivery of public services, of which certain are made available specifically for the socially excluded groups; others under different flagship schemes are universal in nature. This paper looks at the issue of caste and access to these services in the context of the Integrated Child Development Services. It draws evidence from a sample of nearly 5,000 households and more than 200 institutional service delivery points in the mixed-caste villages spread across three states. The findings suggest that the implementation gap coupled with exclusionary biases not only affect the access of lower caste groups to public services but also often intensify their disadvantages.

Migration, Remittances and Changing Sources of Income in Rural Bihar (1999–2011)

Longitudinal study conducted in rural Bihar points to increasing outmigration for work, and its importance in livelihood strategies of households in rural Bihar. Remittances have thus become increasingly important and are a crucial link between source and destination areas. Based on primary data collected in 12 representative villages in seven districts, sources of livelihoods and local income (agriculture, livestock, non-agriculture) are examined vis-à-vis remittances in rural Bihar. Changes in the distribution of income sources over time are studied, disaggregated by household variables such as caste, class and landownership, and individual variables such as gender and education, across income quintiles, giving insights into the role of migration (and remittances) in agrarian change, livelihood diversification and social transformation in rural Bihar.

Of Gandhi, Godse and the Missing Files

This paper revisits Indian history when a Hollywood movie, Nine Hours to Rama (1963), claiming to be "a film on Gandhi" turned out to be--much to the Indian government's embarrassment--a biopic on Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse. The film, which had been provided sufficient facilities for its making by the government, triggered off a huge uproar in the public sphere and a subsequent ban on the film. It is argued that a peculiar desecration anxiety and the conjoined traumas of patricide and partition linked to the totemic figure of Gandhi engendered such an outcry in India. Similarly, apart from other political contingencies, the film and the evidence of the government's collusion in its making threatened to undermine the Nehruvian government's sovereignty by questioning the legitimacy of its claim to Gandhi's legacy and ultimately resulted in the files related to the film being untraceable in the government archival vaults.

Regional Divide in Banking Development in Maharashtra

An enquiry into the regional distribution of banking in Maharashtra comparing the rural and urban areas of the state and various divisions and districts dispels the commonly held notion that the state is a well-banked one. The aggregated indicators of banking development conceal the reality of an extremely wide divide in the distribution of banking between the urban and rural areas. This is essentially a reflection of the district-wise divide between Mumbai and the other districts, particularly those from central and eastern Maharashtra or Amravati, Nagpur and Aurangabad divisions, which have been identified in the literature as economically backward districts and have also been associated with a high incidence of agrarian distress in recent times. With a thrust on the policy of financial inclusion since 2005, there has been an increase in the number of bank branches in underbanked districts of the state. However, this increase has not helped in correcting the regional divide in bank credit and hence, most districts other than Mumbai continue to be significantly credit-deprived.

Contextualising Transnationalism

Scholars following the transnational turn in migration studies have stressed the way in which connections that migrants maintain across nation state boundaries affect their daily lives and subjectivities in the place of settlement. By doing so, the influence of the local context on transnational ties is sometimes overlooked. Based on five months of fieldwork amongst the Gujarati Hindu community of Cape Town, the cases presented in this paper show that local particularities inherently affect global processes. It suggests a reconceptualisation of transnational connections that emphasises the influence of the local and historical context of migration and argues that the regionalised migration trajectories and the manifestation of the history of apartheid in the local context have significantly affected the way in which transnational ties with India are maintained by this community.


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