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Explicit Prejudice

A representative phone survey to study explicit prejudice against women and Dalits in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan reveals widespread prejudice in several domains and discusses the consequences for women and Dalits, and society as a whole. The results suggest the need for a more robust public discourse and active approach to measuring and challenging prejudice and discrimination.

An Analysis of Educational Loans

Educational loans are a relatively new phenomenon when it comes to funding higher education in India. There has been a significant rise in the volume of outstanding educational loans with an annual growth rate of 12% since March 2008. Banks are concerned about increasing non-performing assets with respect to educational loans. This paper argues for a statutory framework that addresses all aspects of funding higher education through loans and scholarships.

Empowering People to Power the Public Distribution System

Despite comparatively high growth rates, India has struggled to dampen the scourge of food and nutrition insecurity facing its population. The public distribution system, at the heart of India’s food security initiatives, has been plagued by problems ranging from ineffective targeting of beneficiaries, to corruption and pilferage of foodgrains. A six-state institutional process-mapping exercise is analysed to capture the movement of foodgrains from farms to beneficiaries, and evaluate changes brought in by the reforms, including expanding coverage, employing technology, and decentralising procurement.

Defining Backwardness

Various communities across the country have been demanding reservation on the basis of their social backwardness. The notion of “backwardness” seems to have attached itself to a given caste’s “position” or “status” in the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy. This is inevitable since the Constitution talks of social backwardness, in addition to educational backwardness. But as this paper argues in the debates over “backwardness” in the Marathi-speaking areas of the Bombay Presidency in the colonial period it was educational backwardness that was regarded as the primary criterion to determine whether a caste was backward or not, while in the early years of Maharashtra in the post-1947 period the criterion was primarily economic. Social backwardness was not regarded as a defining criterion, and thus can be considered as a recent entrant into the entire debate of defining the “backward.” Also, discussions on whether a community would cease to be backward if it fulfils certain conditions are practically missing in the present time.

Theorising the Disability Experience

This paper illustrates how power relations in a society dominated by an able-bodied majority provide structural sanctions for the oppression and exclusion of the disabled. It critically evaluates the approaches developed by Kalpana Kannabiran and Martha Nussbaum to liberate the disabled, arguing that their basic premises are located within the able-bodied power paradigm. A fresh starting point for academicians and disability rights activists calls for a relocation of disability rights jurisprudence within the broader scheme of the power relations operating in a society. The elimination of the subject of power, the “other,” through a model of self-reflection, and the creation of an expansive notion of the self is essential in constructing a theoretical foundation for equal citizenship.

Impact of Aadhaar on Welfare Programmes

India’s ambitious biometric identity documents project, Aadhaar, was portrayed as one that would enhance India’s welfare efforts by promoting inclusion and reducing corruption. From being a voluntary ID, it has become de facto compulsory for most welfare programmes. Despite early warnings of its limited role in achieving its stated objectives, successive governments have ramped up its use. Using a variety of sources, a review of the impact of Aadhaar on welfare programmes is presented. It is found that far from being inclusive and reducing corruption, Aadhaar is becoming a tool of exclusion. The government’s estimates of savings also do not stand up to scrutiny, and whatever is termed as savings is often the result of a denial of legal entitlements. In its current form, the Aadhaar project undermines the right to life.

The Woman Question

The entwined and conflicted histories of feminism and Marxism could yield new understandings of the problems besetting the women’s movement in 21st century India, particularly issues concerning sex work, and caste. Spanning the socialist feminists of early 19th century Europe, Marx’s own writings on the “woman question,” and the scholarship that emerges from the 1960s and 1970s, this paper suggests that recent post-Marxist work can offer a fruitful site for pushing the boundaries of feminist approaches to capitalist development in India today.

Aadhaar and Food Security in Jharkhand

Aadhaar-based biometric authentication is now compulsory for most users of the public distribution system in Jharkhand. Based on a recent household survey, this paper examines various issues related to this measure, including exclusion problems, transaction costs, and its impact on corruption. The findings raise serious questions about the appropriateness of this technology for rural Jharkhand.

Out-of-School Children

The figures for out-of-school children put out by various official sources in India show wide variations. The problems lie not just in the definitions but also in methods of estimation. A glaring lacuna in this process is that sporadic or irregular attendance is not taken into account when estimating the number. This paper unpacks the phenomenon through an intensive micro-study of enrolment and attendance of all children in a single panchayat in India. It shows that irregular attendance accounts for a much larger proportion of out-of-school children, with wide variation in attendance across social groups. It also conducts a regression analysis to analyse school and household-level factors that affect student attendance. It finds that school-level factors play a much larger role in determining student attendance.

Wage Determination under Imperfect Competition

This study empirically analyses the relationship between market imperfections and wage growth in the Indian manufacturing sector, underscoring rising inequality and unemployment in the sector. Using concentration indices, Kaleckian “mark-up,” and wage rate, relationships between market concentration, monopoly power, and wage growth are examined. A panel data analysis shows that the impact of market competition on industry wage structure is dialectical: firms with higher market power pay higher wages compared to competitors; however, if the market power translated into a monopoly position, then the company may resort to cost-cutting, leading to relatively decreasing wage growth. The panel regression shows that, other things held constant, fewer firms with prudential regulation for monopoly power would lead to higher wage growth.

Mukti Kon Pathe?

In the 1930s, for the first time in Indian politics,Ambedkar jointly addressed caste and class, unravelling the connections between caste, class, and religion in Indian society. A focus on the anti- khoti struggle in the Konkan region and the working class struggle in Bombay, under Ambedkar’s leadership through the Independent Labour Party during 1936–42, allows for a deeper exploration of this ideological position. Ambedkar’s formulation and emphasis of the “untouchables’ question” in class struggle, then and now, has continued to disrupt traditional formulations of working class solidarity.

Bureaucratic Rationality, Political Will, and State Capacity

The successful implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in undivided Andhra Pradesh underlines the triumph of citizen formation over patron–client politics, aided by a democratic politics. This article argues that its success in Andhra Pradesh depended heavily on how the ideas within the rural development bureaucracy interacted with the political executive. This synergy engendered a state’s capacity to insulate a committed bureaucracy from powerful farmers and construction companies who had a clear interest in thwarting the programme. Elections can in a democracy elevate citizen concern over particularistic populism, when political will is matched by ideational conviction in the bureaucracy.

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