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Special Articles

Regional Growth and Disparity in India

Has regional disparity widened in the post-reform period? This study attempts to probe this question by analysing growth rates of aggregate and sectoral domestic product of major states in the pre- and post-reform decades. The results indicate that while the growth rate of gross domestic product has improved only marginally in the post-reform decade, regional disparity in state domestic product (SDP) has widened much more drastically. Industrial states are now growing much faster than backward states, and there is no evidence of convergence of growth rates among states. Disturbingly, there is now also an inverse relationship between population growth and SDP growth. This has serious implications for employment and for the political economy of India.

Making Services Work for India's Poor

This paper builds an analytical and practical framework for using resources more effectively by making services work for poor people. It focuses on services that have the most direct link with human development - education, health, water, sanitation and electricity - and uses examples of service delivery from India, elsewhere in south Asia and the world to illustrate the framework.

State of India's Public Services

This paper assesses the state of public services in India from a user perspective and offers a set of benchmarks for future comparisons. Five services, namely, drinking water, health care, PDS, public transport and primary education are covered by the study. Each service is assessed in terms of four dimensions, viz, access, use, reliability and user satisfaction. State level data are used to compare the performance of different states with reference to these attributes. The paper also examines the experience of poor households and the less developed states with these services.

Why Do the Poor Receive Poor Services?

India exhibits a large reliance on targeted transfer payments and subsidies, and significant underprovision of social services such as education. These are puzzling outcomes because the poor in India, who vote in large numbers, would benefit most from more of the latter and less of the former. This paper argues that inadequate social services and excessive targeted transfers can be explained as a consequence of the incomplete information of voters, lack of credibility of political promises, and social polarisation.

Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan

This paper reports on a survey conducted in rural Udaipur to gauge the delivery of health care and the impact it has on the health status of the largely poor population of the region. The study shows that the quality of public service is extremely low and that unqualified private providers account for the bulk of health care provision. The low quality of public facilities has also had an adverse influence on the people's health. In an environment where people's expectations of health care providers seem to be generally low, the state has to take up the task of being the provider or regulator.

Strained Mercy

The quality of medical care is a potentially important determinant of health outcomes, but remains an understudied area. The limited research that exists defines quality either on the basis of drug availability or facility characteristics, but little is known about how provider quality affects the provision of health care. We address this gap through a survey in Delhi with two related components. We evaluate 'competence' (what providers know) through vignettes and practice (what providers do) through direct clinical observation. Overall quality, as measured by the competence necessary to recognise and handle common and dangerous conditions, is quite low albeit with tremendous variation. While there is some correlation with simple observed characteristics, there is still an enormous amount of variation within such categories. Further, even when providers know what to do they often don't do it in practice. This appears to be true in both the public and private sectors but for very different, and systematic, reasons. The study has important policy implications for our understanding of how market failures and failures of regulation in the health sector affect the poor.

Poverty Alleviation Efforts of Panchayats in West Bengal

This paper examines poverty alleviation efforts of West Bengal panchayats, comprising implementation of land reforms and pro-poor targeting of credit, agricultural minikits, employment programmes and fiscal grants. The sample includes 89 villages and covers four successive panchayat administrations. While average levels of poverty alleviation efforts were high, there were significant variations both across and within villages over time. Poverty alleviation efforts within villages improved when land was distributed more equally, the poor became more literate, there were fewer low caste households and local elections were more contested.

Delivering Basic Public Services in Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh, ranked fifth overall, is categorised as the fastest mover of the 1990s. But there is concern about the financial sustainability of this success. There are also questions about the quality of the success on the human development front and whether it has really prepared the state to prosper in a globalising world. This article looks at possible explanations for both the relative success as well as falling short on indicators of sustainability and quality. It also explores the possible route to sustainable delivery of better quality basic services and the strategy that can enable adoption of such a route.

Impact of Reservation in Panchayati Raj

A necessary condition for the efficacy of the reservation policy in panchayati institutions is that elected representatives have independent power and autonomy over and above not only the direct control of the villagers, but also above the control of the bureaucracy, party hierarchies and the local elite. Two important questions that must be asked to establish whether or not reservations make a difference for political outcomes and governance are (a) do panchayat leaders matter at all and (b) do they make decisions that better reflect the interest of their own groups? This paper summarises findings from a research project on local decentralisation conducted in two districts of West Bengal and Rajasthan. The findings establish that reservation introduced as a tool to ensure adequate representation also assists in adequate delivery of local public goods to disadvantaged groups.

Reforming Public Spending on Education and Mobilising Resources

The problems with the structure of public spending on elementary education are threefold: high share of teacher salaries in recurring expenses, higher fiscal priority accorded to secondary education at the state level, and sustainability, as external funding for DPEP runs out. This paper examines the scope for reform in the pattern of education spending and considers ways to mobilise additional resources for elementary education, including earmarking funds for the same.

How Contemporary Are IIMs?

A unique benchmarking methodology is used to examine how the core curriculum at the Indian Institutes of Management (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta) compares with the business curricula of the world's best business schools. The evidence presented here indicates that the IIMs are facing difficulty in adjusting to the new paradigm that requires specialisation and close cooperation with the innovating enterprises aiming to world-class performance rather than with planners and administrators. Curriculum change in the IIMs seems to be based on feasible incremental change rather than on new knowledge, the needs of the students or the demands of an increasingly globalised and interconnected business world. With a greater focus on integration and knowledge creation along with changes in internal systems and processes, the IIMs can match the best business schools in the world.

Electricity Act 2003

The provisions of the Electricity Act 2003 are intended to introduce competition in every link of the power supply chain in order to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. However, certain controversial provisions in the Act need to be clarified. For instance, the provisions on open access, surcharges and cross-subsidies could lead to many interpretations and cause legal tangles. Regulatory commissions must also adopt uniform procedures for tariff-fixing so that uncertainty is minimised and investments are encouraged. Simple remedies, by means of clarifications and norm-fixing are required, some of which are offered in this paper.

Indian Seed System and Plant Variety Protection

This paper analyses the Indian seed system and raises questions about the need for developing countries - which are predominantly agricultural and where plant breeding is done by public agencies - to have plant variety protection (PVP). It also looks at the Plant Varieties Act in India, where a series of policy developments have opened up the domestic seed sector to large companies and foreign direct investment. The paper stresses the role of public sector investment in plant breeding that is not PVP-driven and acts as a counterbalance to expanding research activity by the private sector.

Ethical Dimensions of Public Expenditure Management

Although there are no standards, there are generally accepted ethical principles. Experience shows that their non-observance may have contributed to policy distortions, uneconomic practices, consolidation of the unaccountable bureaucratic state and to continuing fiscal crises in many governments. The achievement of the goal of a civic society requires the formulation and observance of an ethical code on the part of the government and the development of adequate management tools that facilitate this monumental task. Recent efforts by international financial institutions (IFIs) in this direction do not address these issues and even if their recommendations are implemented in full, there would be no relief from the original sins. The first part of the paper explains the nature of the sins and the second considers the alternatives proposed and their viability.

Calling a Spade a Spade

The IMF's second self-evaluation report on capital account crises in Indonesia, Korea and Brazil shows the same degree of independence of judgment, nuanced economic reasoning and forthrightness discernible in its first. Some of the Fund's most controversial prescriptions, in terms of fiscal and monetary policy in all three countries, are meticulously analysed but its conclusion on both is ambivalent. The sharpest criticism of the Fund is in the report's laudable observations that it should avoid prescribing a long agenda of reforms, when it has high leverage with countries which approach it during times of crises.

Second National Family Health Survey

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has now come to be regarded as a storehouse of demographic and health data in India. The papers in this issue draw on the data generated in NFHS-2 on a range of social, health and demographic indicators. While the second round has come in for some criticism with regard to the quality of data, and the cost of the survey, it would be useful to undertake a repeat survey between the two censuses.

Inputs and Process

NFHS-2 was launched in November 1998, covering a representative sample of more than 90,000 women from 26 states in India and was completed by June 1999, except for Tripura which completed fieldwork in July 2000. The all-India report was released in October 2000. This article goes down memory lane throwing light on the whole process, the problems and the successes.

Respondents and Quality of Survey Data

This paper attempts to bring out how far the quality of response in the NFHS data varies with the changing educational levels of the respondents for standard demographic variables like age and sex. The analysis of the data shows that information gathered from uneducated respondents is more erroneous than that from educated groups.

Indicators of Nutrition for Women and Children

This article summarises some of the key NFHS-2 findings on nutrition in women and children and presents policy and programme recommendations based on the findings. Estimates of key nutrition indicators in NFHS-1 and NFHS-2 provide insights into the changes which took place in the intervening period.

Malnutrition in India

This paper analyses trends in malnutrition over the past two decades and shows that improvements in nutritional status have not kept pace with the reduction in poverty and the current level of malnutrition is unacceptably high. About half of the pre-school children are malnourished and are exposed to the risk of functional impairments. Malnutrition levels are uneven across states. Some middle income states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu have comparatively better nutritional achievements than higher income states like Maharashtra and Gujarat. North-eastern states are comparatively better performing states and some of them have even out-performed Kerala.

Social Inequalities in Health and Nutrition in Selected States

While a large number of primary health centres and subcentres have been created as part of the government's 'Health for All' programme, surveys such as NFHS-1 and 2 reveal that health services either do not reach disadvantaged sections or are not accessed by them. This paper assesses the extent of inequalities in health care and nutritional status across states with a focus on caste and tribe. It examines how far these inequalities are a result of caste/tribe per se or whether they can be attributed to differential economic and educational conditions of individuals belonging to different caste/tribe categories.

Health Behaviour in Context

This paper aims to describe the socio-demographic and economic patterning of smoking, drinking and tobacco chewing behaviour in India. It also studies the effect of micro (individual households) and macro environments (local areas, districts, states) on health behaviour. The study finds strong, independent effects of socio-economic position and social caste, with the better-off smoking, drinking and chewing tobacco less. Significant local area, district and state variations suggest the importance of contexts in shaping health behaviours. It follows that more than individual behavioural change, the direction for policy may well be to focus on changing the macro environments.

Women's Empowerment in India and Its States

This paper uses data from the NFHS-2 to document women's empowerment as a whole and in each of 26 states with 1999 boundaries. In general, it finds that the average woman in India is disempowered absolutely as well as relative to men, and there has been little change in her empowerment over time. This result is obvious no matter how empowerment is measured, be it in terms of the indicators of the evidence, sources or setting for empowerment. However, there is great variation in the level of women's empowerment across the different states and across indicators.

Maternal Health Care Services

This paper studies the pattern and correlates of utilisation of antenatal care services and assistance received during delivery in these three recently formed states, which have distinct geographical and topographical characteristics. The study throws up results specific to the particular features of the three states. It is necessary for the reproductive and child health programme to evolve a strategy giving due consideration to the geographical and socio-economic factors.

Antenatal Care and AIDS Knowledge among Married Women

This study explores the relationship between antenatal care and AIDS awareness and knowledge of methods of prevention, and shows a strong connection between the two. But AIDS awareness and knowledge among married women is disturbingly low. Outreach and intervention efforts therefore need to focus on promoting comprehensive knowledge about prevention of AIDS, especially through the broadcast media.

Deprivation of Basic Amenities by Caste and Religion

In a modern market-oriented economy, possession of basic social and physical necessities of life can be considered the basis of a dividing line of different levels of deprivation. This paper, by using consecutive NFHS data (1992 and 1999), attempts to estimate levels of deprivation based on possessions at the household level of some basic amenities of life. It examines changes in levels of deprivation, categorised as 'abject deprivation', 'moderate deprivation', 'just above deprivation' and 'well above deprivation' across Indian states and also analyses changes in terms of caste and religion.

Female Work Participation and Child Labour

This study examines female work participation and child labour rates using occupational data from NFHS and compares this data with the 2001 Census and NSS data. Attempts are made to identify the determinants of both female work participation and child labour. It is found that the larger the size of the family, the lower is the ability of a woman to participate in economic activity. Household size is not a determining factor for the participation of children in the workforce.

Secluded and Proximate Illiterates among Couples

This paper uses NFHS-2 (1998-99) data to explore certain linkages between literacy status of a couple (husband and wife) with outcomes like household standard of living index (SLI) and others having implications on women and child health. An attempt has also been made to link the proximate criterion in literacy in the couple domain with outcome variables such as SLI, instances of sickness among women from specific diseases as asthma, TB, malaria and jaundice; linkages with indicators like under-nutrition in women have also been analysed. The exercise affirms the advantage of proximate illiteracy over the secluded illiterate in terms of outcome measures of women and child health as well as household SLI. On the other hand, while patterns are not distinct in terms of a comparison between proximate female illiterate and proximate male literate, indications point to the latter doing comparatively better.

Technical Efficiency of Small-Scale Industry

In the 1950s, the focus of policy-making for SSI was on protection. With the onset of liberalisation in 1991, SSI was recognised as a growth engine of the economy and the government urged to make the attendant policy changes. Section II of the paper measures the technical efficiency of SSI by using a stochastic production frontier model. Section III analyses the impact of firm size and individual agglomeration on the measured technical efficiency in order to arrive at policy implications for SSI sector.

Thinking with Handlooms

The persistence of handloom weaving right into the present calls for in-depth exploration. Conventional official perception relegates handlooms to a small, niche market and goes on to suggest how this niche demand should be catered to through further design innovation and variation. This article draws on handloom weaving in Andhra Pradesh to contest this viewpoint. Analysing the numerous dimensions within the handloom sector offers insights into how to address and understand different forms of industrial activity in the country, particularly in realms considered as being the peripheries of a dominant industrial core.

Performance of the Northern States

The northern states, which contribute about a half of the country's foodgrains production and over a four-fifths of milk, sugar cane and potato, have reached the limit of their agricultural growth for various reasons. This in turn, has led to the falling growth of its industry and services sectors as well. Employment in agriculture has remained high at two-thirds of the labour force in the big states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. An attempt has been made in this paper to understand the various facets of underperformance of the northern states in comparison with other regions and to suggest the possible ways by which these states could improve their future economic and social performance.

Mohalla Committees of Mumbai

Mohalla committees, a civil society initiative that involved members of the police and the public, helped heal some of the severe communal wounds of the 1992-93 riots in Mumbai. The experience of the committees has important insights to offer to democracies in a plural, diverse society. In the case of Mumbai, participants drawn from the police and from among the public turned out to be not adversaries in opposite camps but partners involved in a symbiotic relationship to maintain peace and harmony in an area.

Forest Protection Policies and Local Benefits from NTFP

As part of its joint forest management programme the West Bengal government has offered a 25 per cent share of returns from the rotational harvesting of timber as well as from intermediate biomass yields as an incentive for protecting its reserved forests and preventing illegal extraction. Why then does such illegal extraction take place? Using the postulate that expectations of regular and steady returns from non-timber forest produce (NTFP) constitute the backbone of preservation-oriented extraction by village communities, this study attempts to identify and quantify the range of benefits other than the returns from the illegal felling and sale of timber obtained by these communities due to the existence of the forest, so that policy can be formulated on this basis.

Finance Commission Awards and Fiscal Stability in States

The authors examine the efficacy of Finance Commission awards in bringing about fiscal stability among the states. An empirical analysis reveals that though transfers helped to reduce the overall gross fiscal deficit of the states, the issue of reducing horizontal fiscal inequity is yet to be addressed. The authors find wide interstate disparity in respect of transfers and suggest streamlining disbursement criteria on the basis of individual state characteristics rather than a general approach across states.

'Cyber Coolies' in BPO

Based on a case study of call centre agents, the paper discusses the insecurities and vulnerabilities of labour in the new economic order, which is characterised by atypical norms of work and work organisation. These insecurities include high attrition rates, increased stress at work and erosion of worker collectivity. The emergence of a new genre of workers, with distinct features and differently conceived identity, enables the firm to draw and maintain a 'productively docile' workforce within the changed frames of work organisation and human resource management.

Domestic and International Knowledge Spillovers in Manufacturing Industries in South Korea

This paper explores the relationship between the productivity growth and both domestic and international knowledge spillovers in the Korean manufacturing industries, using panel data for 28 industries over the period 1970-2000. To empirically verify the extent of domestic and international knowledge spillovers we have followed endogenous growth approach and wisdom from new international trade theory. We find strong productivity effects from industry's own R and D as well as domestic and foreign knowledge spillovers. International knowledge spillovers transmitted by trade played dominant role in explaining productivity growth in the Korean manufacturing industries during the 1970s and 1980s, but the international knowledge spillovers did not play any significant role in the 1990s. This empirical finding has strong implications for the Korean technology policy as well as for the strict intellectual property rights regime enacted by the WTO.

Public Subsidies in Education in India

Though public subsidisation of many social and economic services is a common feature of most countries of the world, of late with increasing budgetary constraints, many began raising questions on the rationale of government subsidies, and arguing in favour of drastic reduction, if not eliminating altogether of subsidies. Concentrating on education sector, this paper reviews some of the well known arguments in favour of, and counter arguments against public subsidies. Since much of the controversies are around subsidies in higher education, the paper focuses on the same, though discussion on lower levels of education is also included. The paper reviews the recent trends in public expenditures on education in India, and the available estimates on the rates of subsidy and cost recovery. Distribution of some specific subsidies in education, such as free education, fee exemptions, textbooks, noon meals, etc, is also briefly analysed. Some of the important issues on, for example, the size of the subsidy, targeting versus universalism, and methods of cost recovery are also briefly discussed. It has been shown that the level of subsidies in education in India is not particularly high, nor is the rate of cost recovery particularly low, in comparison with other developed and developing countries. It has also been found that some of the specific subsidies in education are fairly progressively distributed.

Water Sector Reforms in Mexico

This paper analyses a decade of water sector reforms in Mexico with the specific purpose of drawing useful lessons for Indian water policy. Particularly after 1992, Mexico has implemented serious, comprehensive and far-reaching water sector reforms that required the government to create a new legal framework; restructure existing water administration; promote and support a plurality of new autonomous and quasi-autonomous water institutions; modify incentives in water use to different user groups; and struggle with a vast complex of unresolved operational issues in implementing the reforms. Mexico may not be a model for India but Mexico's experience does suggest that changing the way a nation manages its water resources necessitates far-reaching changes in administration, institutional structure, law and operating rules, incentives and power structures, and above all consistent commitment to the reform process.

Colonial Surplus and Foreign-Owned Investment in South-East Asia

This paper seeks to initiate a wider discussion on the origins and direction of colonial flow of investment funds to and/or from south-east Asia.Where did these investment funds actually come from and how much of it was actually 'foreign produced'? An analysis for Indonesia, formerly the Netherlands East Indies and Malaysia.

Environmental Protection: The Role of Liability System in India

This paper reports a study on the functioning of the courts with the purpose of finding out whether the liability system is really effective in protecting and improving environmental quality in India. Since courts were unable to provide adequate redressal under general practice because of legal delays, higher litigation cost and complicated legal procedures, the courts introduced public interest litigation. The inferences drawn from the empirical work analysed in the light of the theory of the liability system reveal that the courts are unable to provide incentives to the tortfeasor because of informational disadvantages in the case of scientific knowledge, legal delays, poor monitoring of implementation of orders, etc. There is thus a need to improve the functioning of the liability system by making necessary changes not only in the substance of the law, but also in the working conditions of the courts to protect and improve environmental quality in India.

Energy Use and Energy Access in Relation to Poverty

This paper looks at how access and use of energy are related to poverty. Different approaches to how energy poverty might be measured are presented. One approach involves the estimation of basic energy needs of a household based on engineering calculations and certain normative assumptions. The second looks at poverty in relation to access to different energy sources. An alternative approach is then provided that combines the elements of access and consumption of energy in order to examine how these relate to the well-being of households. Examining well-being in terms of both these dimensions - access to clean and efficient energy sources and sufficiency in terms of the quantity of energy consumed could be an important complementary measure of poverty. The consumption dimension includes non-commercial consumption and thus includes self-produced and bartered products. The access dimension can serve as an indicator of the extent of market integration, or more specifically, as an indicator of the opportunity of households to join the modern market economy.

Nuclear Early Warning in South Asia

India's 1999 Draft Nuclear Doctrine proposed the setting up of 'effective intelligence and early warning capabilities', to provide 'early warning, communications, damage/detonation assessment'. Pursuing this policy, India has started acquiring key components of such an early warning network, including the Green Pine radar from Israel. Pakistan too has hinted at matching Indian plans for putting in place early warning systems. Against this background this study examines the different ingredients that go into the setting up of early warning systems and assesses their effectiveness. Using the insights gained from the study it also draws policy inferences about the viability and advisability of early warning systems in south Asia.

Drought, Sustenance and Livelihoods

This article presents findings from a survey conducted in Rajasthan in March-April 2003, when the 'maha akal', the drought, was at its peak over large parts of rural Rajasthan and the government-initiated relief works were yet to make an impact. Covering 122 hamlets in 56 panchayats across nine districts, the report examines the manifestation of drought in people's everyday lives - specifically the ways food and water shortages impact men, women and children. It also examines the long-run impact of drought on people's assets and livelihoods and the coping strategies they adopt.

Equity in Fertiliser Subsidy Distribution

This paper examines the issue of inter-crop, inter-regional and inter-class equity in fertiliser subsidy distribution in terms of shares of different farm classes, crops and states in total fertiliser use as well as per hectare fertiliser use on different size categories of farms. The paper shows that paddy and wheat cultivators are the major beneficiaries of fertiliser subsidy. Interstate disparity in fertiliser consumption still remains high, though it has been falling over the years. More significant is the finding that there prevails a fair degree of inter-class equity in distribution of fertiliser subsidy, contrary to the widely prevalent impression. A uniform approach to reduction of all types of subsidies is not justified. Instead a well thought out, properly sequenced, gradualist and regionally differentiated approach to subsidy reduction needs to be adopted.

Colonial Registers of a Vernacular Christianity

This paper with its focus on writings by Indian catechists, discusses issues of colonial conversion and questions of vernacular translation that lie embedded within processes of evangelical entanglements between western missionaries and 'natives'. In their 'diaries' and 'daybooks' that recount the dissemination of the Book in 'heathen' spaces, the catechists' accounts appear out of tenor with missionary stipulation. These accounts point toward critical considerations not only of evangelical entanglements, but also of enduring enchantments of tradition and community, colony and modernity. Moreover, they proclaim a particular Christianity - historically contingent, distinctly Indian.

Child Labour and Household Characteristics in Selected States

There exists considerable variation in India in the age, sector and sexwise distribution of child labour. This paper delineates the magnitude of child labour and household characteristics in the four selected states of study. The analysis shows, among other things, that poverty and illiteracy have a bearing on child labour. A policy is needed to make education more meaningful and rewarding so that households are incentivised to send their children to school and keep them there. Measures aimed at poverty reduction and physical and social infrastructure development may also help reduce child labour.

An Economic Analysis of Demand for Water Quality

This paper makes an assessment of demand for drinking water quality. It is assumed that individual households are able to value changes in water quality services in the absence of an explicit market. If water quality improves and consumers believe they are better off in some way, then there will be willingness to pay money for securing this improvement. This willingness to pay (WTP) reflects economic valuation of improved water quality. Spending power of households and educational background are important determining factors in WTP. Any sustainable water management policy decision through imposition of water charge needs to take income distribution pattern and ability to pay across expenditure classes into consideration.

Women Engineers in India

This paper discusses the findings of two extensive studies on women engineers in India using data on enrolment in engineering colleges, out-turn job opportunities, career status and other factors. Responses of women engineers and employers on perceptions and barriers have also been analysed. Although there has been a significant increase in out-turn of women engineers, their prospects of employment and career advancement profiles remain matters of concern.

Aggregate Agricultural Supply Function in India

This paper attempts to examine whether the aggregate agricultural supply function in India is price elastic. An acreage response function for the period 1950-51 to 1996-97 corroborates the results of earlier scholars, which is that India's aggregate supply function is not price responsive. However, periodising the framework of analysis, due to changed growth rates and policies after 1980-81 suggests a weak relationship between acreage response and terms of trade for the latter period. For this period, acreage response to prices in the market determined non-foodgrains sector, on the other hand, is highly significant. It is still incorrect to say that Indian agriculture responds at the aggregate level to price stimuli but ignoring the marketisation of substantial sections of the economy is also not useful. The agrarian economy reflects the transitional nature of the policy regime since 1980 and this paper offers some tools to understand it.

Globalisation and New Politics of Micro-Movements

In the process of opposition to globalisation, micro-movements have begun to raise a new discourse on democracy and invent political practices, expanding the arena of politics beyond the representational institutions of elections and political parties. They see globalisation as undermining and de-legitimising institutions of democratic governance and as a force which seeks to undo India's democratic revolution. This paper analyses the discourse and politics of micro-movements and their role in reinventing participatory democracy as a form of social action and political practice, creating new spaces and infusing deeper meaning to democracy in the globalising world.