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Community-based Natural Resource Management in the Sundarbans

There has been widespread assertion of the fact that traditional state laws on protected area conservation can pose a threat to the customary collective rights of local communities inhabiting these areas, inducing livelihood vulnerabilities. Within contemporary academic discourse, thus, there remains a major question concerning the issue of institutionalising the non-marketable customary collective rights of local communities to address the asymmetrical power relationships in natural resource distribution conflicts. Against this backdrop, a study conducted in the Sundarban forest region of West Bengal explores the community-based natural resource management paradigm and how customary rights of the local communities have fared under the joint forest management programme. It examines the applicability, as well as the successes and limitations of the programme as an alternative to state-led top-down models of conservation, and the impact of political and economic control over people and resources.

Indian Business Groups and Their Dominance in the Indian Economy

Business groups have played an important role in the development of the Indian economy by filling the institutional voids arising from weak markets and institutions. As these economic institutions developed, the need for business groups was expected to reduce. There does exist a reducing trend, but at the same time, average size and average sales of business group firms are increasing. This anomaly raises a question. Are all business groups losing their importance or is it only a few of them? Our results demonstrate that expectation of diminishing importance does not hold true for top group firms. We show that top group firms have been able to capture appropriate growth drivers resulting in economic dominance and concentration of economic power.

Primitive Accumulations at the Margins

The processes of primitive accumulation have always been conjoined with capitalist relations of production and accumulation even in their advanced stages. These are quite critical in understanding the theoretical underpinnings of the process through which mining activities tend to completely transform the landscape of Chhattisgarh. By using Karl Polanyi’s thesis of double movement and the theory of primitive accumulation by Karl Marx, this study delves into contemporary processes of grabbing land and forced displacements in Chhattisgarh. Commodification of land has affected not only the livelihoods of local communities in Chhattisgarh, but has also disrupted sociocultural harmony. Our study elaborates on the cultural vacuum—to use Polanyi’s term—that is created once an individual is displaced from her/his social settings and traditional institutions.

Analysing the Lazy Mother Argument Inspired by the Maggi Controversy

Is it “lazy,” “new-generation” working mothers who feed their children two-minute noodles and other junk food, as was suggested during the Maggi noodles controversy? Or is the junk food intake of adolescents related to the educational status of both parents in a transitioning economy, where education can directly or indirectly influence imitation of so-called Western-style fast food consumption patterns? This analysis of survey data from a non-metropolitan Indian setting shows that junk food intake of adolescents is actually lower for working mothers than for homemakers, decreases with an increase in the mother’s education, but increases with increase in the father’s education and with the household’s socio-economic status.

Gold Mining Institutions in Nilgiri–Wayanad

An exploration of the complex development of gold mining in the Nilgiri–Wayanad region of southern India demonstrates how entwined histories disrupt simple taxonomic structures of “formality” and “informality.” Drawing on the long history of gold mining in the region that dates back to the 1830s, this paper presents a counter-example to the conventional view that institutions develop in a trajectory of informality to formality. To do this, the paper identifies three distinct phases of development in the gold mining industry of this region that mark and encompass shifts in governance of the area, global economic trends, commercial investment, property rights, government funding, influx of repatriate communities, and other social issues in the local economy. The analysis concludes that institutions in the region have evolved from formal–artisanal to formal–industrial, and then to informal–small scale.

Emerging Challenges of Metropolitan Governance in India

Metropolitan regions are primary drivers of the economy and their governance is of crucial importance to harness their full potential. Metropolitan governance in India is akin to a one-tier fragmented system with limited coordination. This article discusses issues pertaining to metropolitan governance in India by looking at metropolitan-level transportation, regional planning, a nd metropolitan finances. It argues that the current metropolitan governance structure, such as it is in India, is suboptimal and requires a serious rethink and discusses some of the institutional responses that have emerged given the existing situation. It also suggests short-, medium- and long-term reforms, which would lead to an improved metropolitan system, and recommends that, in the long run, it would be better to have a two-tier metropolitan governance system in India.

Gender (In)justice across Spheres

Based on the findings of a time-use survey conducted in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, this article attempts to interrogate how unequal perceptions of the working status of equally occupied women and men may serve to reproduce inequalities that seep back into existing gender relations, maintaining the unequal status quo. Drawing from an example of a remedial public works scheme, it further attempts to demonstrate how state institutions can play a role in altering unequal conditions of and access to work to reverse unequal perceptions of work, thereby providing a beginning for a more “just” labour regime.

Are Our Contributory Pension Schemes Failing the Poor?

The issue of old age income security in India assumes significance in view of the expected rise in the incidence of elderly population in the years to come, problems of poverty and vulnerability among them and their limited coverage by the existing old-age pension schemes. Schemes aiming to promote contributions from the poor unorganised workers for their old age security have been promoted by the government since 2010. By comparing and contrasting the design features of India’s two contributory pension schemes, National Pension System Lite and Atal Pension Yojana, and discussing the strengths and limitations of each of these schemes in addressing the needs of low-income workers with the help of available data and studies, we argue that the design features of these schemes are such that they fail to take the specific characteristics of unorganised worker households into account. We also discuss how the current design of contributory social security schemes can be improved to meet the pension requirements of unorganised workers.

A Bittersweet Moment

Based on a mapping of Indian feminist interventions on the law of rape over the past three decades, culminating in the wide-ranging law reforms following the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in December 2012, it is argued that Indian feminism displays key characteristics of governance feminism. In particular, Indian governance feminism is deeply committed to a highly gendered understanding of sexual violence. Further, Indian feminism has increasingly resorted to the use of the criminal law to address sexual violence even as its historical suspicion of postcolonial state power has reduced considerably and is now mostly evident in its opposition to the death penalty for rapists. A robust culture of state feminism has ensured that feminist ideas find a foothold in state institutions and indeed state laws. It is hoped that by demystifying feminists’ roles in law reform processes, we can begin to assess the intended and unintended consequences of such influence and resultant legislative successes.

Do Producers Gain from Selling Milk?

Primary field-level information collected shows that producing milk for sale is not always profitable and suggests that despite the white revolution, milk production still remains largely a subsistence activity. There are, however, large variations in milk price, animal stock, and profit among regions; urbanisation levels of districts; and main occupations of producers. The results also reveal that the producer’s remuneration varies with the uses of different marketing channels. While informal traders still dominate the market, the sign of entry of private corporate buyers is also clear. The findings raise serious concerns about the commercial prospects of dairy farmers, especially in the eastern region and among the labouring classes and others who practise dairy as a subsidiary economic activity.

Underlying Drivers of India’s Potential Growth

Global growth is expected to be tepid in the medium term and India will have to depend on domestic growth drivers. In order to better understand the future, a new methodological framework is proposed to estimate potential growth in India with a focus on capacity output till 2029–30. The domestic savings rate was identified as the most potent growth-augmenting driver.

World Bank’s Poverty Enumeration

The end of the period set out to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals triggered off numerous studies on global poverty. Most notable was the paper by Ferreira et al (2015), which can be considered as the (unofficial) view of the World Bank. We subject this particular paper to critical scrutiny and find that the Bank’s poverty enumeration exercise fails to satisfy the requirements of transparency, denies researchers access to data, and replicability of the poverty numbers produced by the Bank. We have provided evidence of non-robustness of the poverty estimates by using different purchasing power parities. A simpler method for estimating PPPs that avoids the complex and expensive procedure adopted by the World Bank-led International Comparison Program has also been proposed.

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