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From Primitive Accumulation to Regimes of Dispossession

Existing theoretical perspectives, whether Marx's primitive accumulation or Harvey's accumulation by dispossession, are not adequate for understanding the political economy of land dispossession under capitalism--in India or elsewhere. This paper advances the concept of "regimes of dispossession" as a better way of understanding how dispossession is politically organised in different socio-historical contexts to serve different class interests with variable economic effects and political "success." The land-grabs of the neo-liberal period in India represent the emergence of a new regime of redistributing landed wealth upwards, one that is demonstrably less "developmental" than its Nehruvian predecessor--and certainly more politically tenuous. The paper shows how the concept of regimes of dispossession aids in a better understanding of (i) the relationship between land-grabs and specific historical phases of capitalism, and (ii) India's contemporary land question.

Estimates and Analysis of Farm Income in India, 1983-84 to 2011-12

This paper presents estimates of farmers' incomes from agriculture over the past three decades. The income earned by farmers from agricultural activities after paying for input costs and the wages for hired labour has seen low to high growth in different periods during the last three decades. In none of the periods do farmers' income or profitability of farming show any squeeze. The pace of growth in farmers' income that began around 2004-05, which reduced the disparity in growth in incomes of farmers and non-farmers, could not be sustained after 2011-12. It looks like the growth in farm income after 2011-12 has plummeted to around 1%, and this is an important reason for the sudden rise in agrarian distress in recent years.

When Planning Becomes a Ritual

The debate over Mumbai's Development Plan 2034 has exposed the fault lines in the urban planning process. Apart from the problems posed by multiple autonomous agencies and a state government that has virtual veto powers, the development plan, as it stands today, ultimately favours builders instead of improving Mumbai's environment and quality of life for its citizens.

Grandparental Childcare and Labour Market Participation of Mothers in India

This paper examines whether the presence of grandparents increases the probability of mothers going out to work in India. Analysis of data from the Demographic Health Survey (2005-06), supplemented by a primary survey covering 750 graduate women in Kolkata shows that though conservative grandparents may oppose the mother's decision to work, support of grandparents--particularly maternal grandparents--is important in enabling these women to seek paid work in metropolitan cities. The type of care services provided by grandparents is also examined. The findings indicate the importance of multigenerational ties within the family.

Cast(e) on the Hill

Caste has often been viewed as a system of hierarchy based on the religious ideology of the Hindus with a common structure across the subcontinent. Based on an extensive empirical study of Himachal Pradesh, this paper shows how caste actively articulates with the given realities of ecology, economy and the local histories of political regimes. Even though inequality and untouchability exist, their structures have specific regional forms. While it documents the everyday practices of faith and their local specificities, the ethnographic accounts presented in the paper also have implications for our understanding of Hinduism in the present-day context.

Storytelling in the Time of Hate

From laws on sedition and censorship to the vitality of resistance literature in times of struggle, creative writing and performance have played a critical role in shaping the public conscience. The ways in which law weaves into and through creative writing as also the ways in which literary criticism and literary debates crosspollinate ideas of law, consciously or implicitly, need to be better understood. Where does justice figure in relation to law in literature? Do literatures constitute the commons? And what are the boundaries and limits of literary commons, and who are the keepers of these boundaries?

Politics and Democracy in Our Time

A shift from policies to that of the politics of the distribution of power and privilege in societies may bring with it recognition of the entirely new ethos of nationalism and democracy in our times. This article begins with this changed ethos by invoking that politics, and especially, a politics of indifference. It deals with two dimensions of the rule of indifference, beginning with the matter of difference as pluralism, and then turning to the issue of lack of sympathy with the here and now, the present generation, those living through the uprooting and displacement of diverse projects of "development." It should become clear from what follows that these two senses of the term, and the practices flowing from them, feed on each other, even if they appear in rather different guises and seem to be directed at very different kinds of objects.

Trade in the Creative Sector

Creative industries have become an important source of economic growth and international trade in recent years. India is one of the leading exporters of creative goods and services, and ranks fourth in terms of value of exports at the global level. However, the value of Indian exports is significantly lower than China's. Rising imports of creative goods and services to India also indicate an emerging and vibrant domestic market. However, unlike China, Brazil and the UK, India lacks an integrated policy framework for the creative sector. A coherent and informed policy could provide new opportunities to millions of traditional artisans and workers, and stimulate economic growth.

Globalisation and Democracy

The gathering momentum of globalisation in the world economy has coincided with the spread of political democracy across countries. Economies have become global. But politics remains national. This essay explores the relationship between globalisation and democracy, which is neither linear nor characterised by structural rigidities. It seeks to analyse how globalisation might constrain degrees of freedom for nation states and space for democratic politics, and how political democracy within countries might exercise some checks and balances on markets and globalisation. The essential argument is that the relationship between globalisation and democracy is dialectical and does not conform to ideological caricatures.

Contingent Convertibles and Bankers' Pay

The compensation practices at large financial institutions are often held as one of the important factors which contributed to the 2007/2008 global financial crisis. Regulators around the world, including India, have therefore moved to enact prescriptions aimed at increasing shareholder oversight of executive pay. Set against this background, the paper makes two novel proposals focusing on the Indian context. First, it nudges the regulators to prescribe creditor-centric compensation rules at banks. The Reserve Bank of India has hitherto focused on pay reforms that will promote incentive alignment between executives and shareholders. This paper argues that such reforms are likely to promote more rather than less risk-taking among bank executives. Second, it argues that the RBI ought to mandate banks to pay a substantial portion of the managerial compensation in contingent capital bonds. The design of these bonds can significantly motivate executives to "think like creditors" and thereby enable avoidance of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Congress in the Times of the post-Congress Era

Behind the dramatic demise of the Congress in 2014 is a long history dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. The Congress has often chosen to ignore those deeper reasons for its recent decline. Similarly, the failure of the Congress as also its possible strengths become evident only when we disaggregate the decline of the party state-wise. This leads to a curious but useful pointer-- the party may have to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in states where it is locked in a bipolar contest with the BJP in order to create political space for itself. Above all, this paper argues that more than the leadership issue, the factors responsible for the decline of the Congress are the organisational neglect and complete abdication of politics. The paper then maps the challenges and limitations facing the Congress, particularly in its third life, the phase of survival.

Does Development Motivate More to Vote?

Despite the usual arguments made in India about vote banks based on caste, religion, class, money, and other benefits, have times changed? Do citizens of India now vote for promises of development? With all signs indicating socio-economic progress over the years, has development as an objective under deliberative democracy entered the psyche of India's voters? And have two major election reforms--reducing the voting age to 18 and introducing a "None of the above" option on ballot papers--changed voting patterns in India? The answers to all these seem to be negative.


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