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Special Articles

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Globalisations: In the History Workshop

Globalisation is being defined from both sides of the fence. In the process two key terms have emerged clearly: modernity and capitalism. Although both are deeply interrelated in terms of their historical development, popular discourse in social science has long been dealing with them separately - their interdependence being given lip-service, if at all it is acknowledged. But modernity and capitalism have to be treated not as two different poles, but as parts of the same process; old value-markers that see modernity as 'good' and capitalism as 'bad', need to be transcended. New narratives of the state, capital and the changing colours of modernity are yet to be produced. Such narratives may help in reconstructing the history of globalisation in India as a history of capitalist-modernity

Uncanny Networks

Cities have borne the brunt of the new globalisation both in transformative and imaginative terms. Yet at the very moment that scholarship seems ready to engage with the Indian city, contemporary globalisation has in fact slowly eroded the old modernist compact of 'the city'. This splintered urbanism has become a significant theatre of elite engagement with claims of globalisation. Using Delhi's media networks as an example this article suggests that new domains of non-legal practices could pose significant problems for classic strategies of incorporation and management in political society. These non-legal domains open up new spaces of disorder and constant conflict in Indian cities that threaten the current self-perceptions of the globalising elite.

Imagining the Global Nation

India's entry into the global arena opens up immense imaginative possibilities for the new elite imagination of a deterritorialised global nation, which is in turn is predicated upon a fuller incorporation into the global economy. This incorporation leads to a rapid disjunction of temporal experience with the nation-space in such a way that it breaks irrevocably with the nation-building framework and in the process unhinges the everyday popular from nation-time.

Hindu and Islamic Transnational Religious Movements

There has been a phenomenal intensification of transnational religious networks and of new international players and styles oriented to missionisation, religiosity, spiritual rejuvenation, creating and recreating community. Writings on globalisation have focused on capital and labour flows and on global governance rather than on global operations of religious movements. This article makes some observations regarding the transformation of religion under globalisation and new modes of transnationalism in the context of a discussion of the Tablighi Jama`at and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Local Knowledge for World Market

This article looks at some of the sites of contestation that mark the encounter of ayurveda with globalisation, making it a marginal player in the medical market. With enormous pressures being exerted by the dominant establishment including the pharmaceuticals industry, alternative medical systems have been confined to marketing alternative products. The real challenge for ayurveda in the global economy lies in defining the parameters and terms of those parts of its knowledge system that are considered adaptable to the market. However, in the scramble to protect markets and knowledge regimes, it is not yet understood that there is a deeper colonisation being played out in the edging out of alternative world-views inherent in these medical systems.

The Beautiful, Expanding Future of Poverty

It is becoming obvious that all large multi-ethnic societies, after attaining the beatific status of development, lose interest in removing poverty, especially when poverty is associated with ethnic and cultural groups that lack or lose political clout. Particularly in a democracy, numbers matter and, once the number of poor in a society dwindles to a proportion that can be ignored while forging democratic alliances, political parties are left with no incentive to pursue the cause of the poor. Seen thus, the issue of poverty is a paradox of plural democracy when it is wedded to global capitalism. And the paradox is both political-economic and moral. Presently the trendy slogan of globalisation can be read as the newest effort to paper over that basic contradiction; globalisation has built into it the open admission that removal of poverty is no longer even a central myth of our public agenda.

Refusing Globalisation and the Authentic Nation

In India, the globalisation debate offers only one of two positions - an uncritical celebration of a homogenised globe or an equally celebratory reassertion of the nation as a bulwark against global capital. The challenge for feminist politics is the working out of a different space for a radical politics of culture, one that is differentiated from both right and left wing articulations of cultural and economic nationalism, as well as from the libertarian and celebratory responses to globalisation from the consuming elites.

Globalisation and Labour

The discourse on labour in the era of globalisation has gone in several directions. A central question has been ignored by this literature: in a period of marketisation, labour is disempowered on several dimensions: the numerical decline of the organised workforce; weakening trade unions; and, frequently, the politically right-ward turn of social democratic parties which shift to neo-liberal, market oriented policies. This essay provides, in brief outline, a discussion of some important shifts in labour's position in the current era when the economic policy framework has been pulled gradually, but definitively, towards greater measure of integration with markets, both domestic and global. In particular, the focus here is on the shrinking of the organised sector, the world of informal labour, inadequacy of social security nets, and the changing dynamics of trade union functioning.

Privatisation, Federalism and Governance

This paper describes four features charactersing the political economy of India resulting from a serious engagement with the global economy in 1990s. It describes the convergence among major parties about the need for embracing global economic integration. This has necessitated gradual privatisation and the consequent need to regulate investment. The growing importance of private investment has produced the federal market economy, which has generated growth with inequality. Good governance in the backward states is especially critical for balanced development in the context of the federal market economy.

Understanding Dalit Diaspora

Today dalit assertion has transcended the national boundary and has reached international levels. The dalit diaspora that has remained invisible all these years has joined the fight with Indian dalits. Here an attempt is made to understand their presence in different parts of the world and the identities and symbols used for their assertion.

Estimates of Value Added per Worker from Enterprise Surveys

Cross-validation of data collected on various parameters, through independent sets of data from alternative sources, is desirable as it enhances data credibility and enthuses confidence among data users. Such an exercise for estimates of household consumption expenditure from the consumption expenditure surveys (CES) of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and National Accounts Statistics (NAS) is available in the literature. A similar exercise for the estimates of value added per worker derived from the results of Enterprise Surveys. The non-availability of information on value added per worker through more than one source is the reason for the paucity of such exercises. An attempt has been made in this paper to examine the feasibility of using estimates of per worker consumption expenditure available from the CES 1993-94, in which information on the activity status of members of the same households was also collected.

Nation as Nostalgia

Vengal Chakkarai's efforts to Indianise Christianity in the early 20th century were preceded by numerous other efforts to 'indigenise' Christianity. However, while the earlier efforts sought to contend mainly with missionary domination within the church, Chakkarai had to address the demands of majoritarian/Hindu nationalism; Christianity was viewed as 'the last act of surrender to the foreigner'. This (im)possibility of being a Christian and an Indian Hindu at the same time appears in much of Chakkarai's writings. Much though he wished his Christianity to be recovered as Indian, majoritarian nationalism recovered him as a Christian despite his nationalist credentials. Chakkarai's failure represents an instance of nationalism asserting itself by creating external Others and also producing internal Others.

Handmade in India

In recent years, Indian handicrafts have emerged as a major exportable, illustrating the potential that these apparently obsolete technologies possess for meeting new kinds of consumer demand. And yet, the potential remains vastly underutilised, given the myriad problems on the supply and demand side. This paper gives a brief overview of craft production and marketing in India, examines why the potential has not so far been realised and discusses some interventions.

E-banking: Challenges and Opportunities

E-banking has the potential to transform the banking business as it significantly lowers transaction and delivery costs. This paper discusses some of the problems developing countries, which have a low penetration of information and telecommunication technology, face in realising the advantages of e-banking initiatives. Major concerns such as the 'digital divide' between the rich and poor, the different operational environments for public and private sector banks, problems of security and authentication, management and regulation; and inadequate financing of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) are highlighted.

NGOs in Joint Forest Management and Rural Development

As a result of new initiatives to include NGOs in the JFM system, new groups have stepped in to work on forest management issues and the older established NGOs have begun to put the 'forest' component on their agendas. This paper discusses the work of two NGOs, working on rural development forestry in Bengal and Jharkhand, respectively. It finds that villagers, on involvement with institutions from outside, begin to expect multisectoral and integrated rural development agendas to be included in the NGOs' work plan. For an NGO to have an impact, a mere populist agenda will have to give way to readjustments that takes into consideration a more strenuous regime seeking new allies and a new legitimacy.

Poverty among Social and Economic Groups in India in 1990s

This paper examines the levels and changes in poverty indicators of the rural and urban population in India disaggregated by social and economic groups. The analysis is based on the comparable estimates of poverty for the mixed reference period computed from the unit record data for the 50th (1993-94) and the 55th (1999-2000) rounds of the Consumer Expenditure Surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation. The issue is how far different social and economic groups shared the overall decline in poverty in the 1990s. The social groups most vulnerable to poverty have been identified to be scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households with both these groups having above average levels of poverty indicators in the rural and the urban population. Among the economic groups, the most vulnerable groups are the agricultural labour households (rural) and the casual labour households (urban) each having the highest levels of poverty indicators in their respective population segments. In terms of changes in poverty in the 1990s, it is found that while scheduled caste, agricultural labour (rural) and casual labour (urban) households experienced declines in poverty on par with the total population, scheduled tribe households fared badly in both the segments.

Old Classes and New Spaces

Critical perspectives on globalisation acknowledge the need for mitigating the inegalitarian impact of marketisation upon disadvantaged sections on social security and welfare measures. However, scant attention has been paid to the fact that today the political leverage of the traditional protagonists of welfare - the welfare state, social-democratic parties and trade unions - has been eroded. As such, the discourse on welfare and social security is unanchored in any kind of politics. This paper looks at the activities of the National Centre for Labour. Its relationship to traditional trade unions and leftist parties frames the discussion of the limits of the effectiveness of new unions in empowering the poor.

Scaling-Up Participatory Watershed Management

This paper presents a post-project evaluation of an award-winning joint forest management programme in Shiwalik Hills in Haryana. The central research question posed is: how do changes in state policies and spatial differences in implementation of natural resources management strategies by state parastatals influence the evolution of farmer participation in watershed management as it transits from project to post-project phase?

Patterns of Consumption and Poverty in Delhi Slums

This study aims to determine the extent of poverty in Delhi slums through consumption patterns, employment and educational status of the slum population. The study brings out significant social and economic aspects of the people living in Delhi's slums, including low level of education of the migrants, gender disparity in economic status, and significant number of households below the poverty line. The results emphasise the need for a positive employment generation policy among urban slum dwellers. There is also a need to generate employment and provide facilities at the origin of migration in order to check the influx into Delhi.

Falling into Poverty in a High-Growth State

In 20 villages of Vadodara and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat 9.2 per cent of all households have escaped from poverty over the past 25 years, but another 7.3 per cent of households in these villages have fallen into poverty at the same time. Different reasons account, respectively, for escaping poverty and for falling into poverty, and different policies will be required to deal with each of these separate trends. Growth alone will not suffice to deal effectively with poverty. Reasons for falling into poverty will need to be tackled separately through suitable public policies and appropriate non-government actions.

Economics and Policy Implications of National Biodiversity Legislation

This paper examines the critical issues involved in operationalising the National Biodiversity Legislation in India. It discusses the structure of 'prior informed approval' envisaged in the legislation, and examines the provisions on the protection of traditional knowledge and suggests measures to enhance it. The paper also highlights the significance of the decision-making process relating to bioprospecting contracts, including balancing concerns for conservation with bioprospecting.

Changing Perspectives in Public Health

From Population to an Individual This paper focuses on the overriding influence of methodological individualism in the historical construction of public health. While evidence of a holistic approach to health is observed in the writings of people like Hippocrates, the developments subsequent to the establishment of the Cartesian paradigm, contained strong elements of individualism. In fact, systematic epidemiological studies in the 19th century rightly justified epidemiology

Growth of SDP and Structural Changes in State Economies

This study attempts to compare economic performance across states over the period 1980-81 to 2000-01 using state domestic product (SDP), per capita SDP and sectoral composition of SDP as measures of interstate disparities for the period 1980-81 to 2000-01.

Natural Resources and Capitalist Frontiers

The late 20th century saw the creation of new 'resource frontiers' in every corner of the world. Made possible by cold war militarisation of the third world and the growing power of corporate transnationalism, resource frontiers grew up where entrepreneurs and armies were able to disengage nature from its previous ecologies, making the natural resources that bureaucrats and generals could offer as corporate raw material. From a distance, these new resource frontiers appeared as the 'discovery' of global supplies in forests, tundras, coastal seas, or mountain fastnesses. Up close, they replaced existing systems of human access and livelihood and ecological dynamics of replenishment with the cultural apparatus of capitalist expansion. This essay explores the making of a resource frontier in the eastern part of South Kalimantan, Indonesia, in the 1990s.

Cultural Theory, Climate Change and Clumsiness

Cultural theory offers an approach for understanding and resolving the disputes that characterise environmental policy. Its fourfold typology of forms of social solidarity is able to make explicit the different social constructions of nature, physical and human, on which environmental debate is premised. This paper applies cultural theory to the 'policy stories' around climate change and makes the case for 'clumsy' institutional arrangements that forgo elegance to accommodate the diversity of social solidarities, harnessing contestation to constructive, if noisy, argumentation.

Who's in Charge?

The present era can be called the 'Age of Scientific Assessment'. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, and private firms have all increasingly resorted to a variety of techniques, such as probabilistic risk analysis, pollution dispersion models, urban planning models, traffic-flow models, dose-response curves, and so on, ostensibly to guide the prudent use of resources to generate social and welfare and, increasingly, the natural environment. At the same time that the span of technocratic assessment has expanded, there has been a disconcerting decline in electoral participation in many industrialised countries. This paper suggests that there is a direct link between these two phenomena. Critics suggest that the science informing such assessments should be subjected to effective democratic participation and control. Social scientists have responded to this situation by designing ingenious ways to reconcile the conflicting demands of technical competence in making scientific judgments with popular participation in assessment and decision-making processes. Such techniques individualise values and represent the challenge of democracy as that of aggregating individual preferences. The paper opens the question whether these techniques are really the solution or, perhaps, might be part of the problem? It suggests that an answer to this question requires a radical rethink of our ideas about the institutions of science, democracy, and resource management.

Situating Resource Struggles

To analyse resource conflict, this article proposes a conceptual framework which operates at two levels: a conceptualisation of power in terms of sovereignty, governmentality and politics; and a repertoire of terms (projects, practices, processes, positions) that enable the empirical examination of particular sites of struggle. The framework is applied to conflict over a national park in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

For a Cultural Politics of Natural Resources

This collection of essays makes a case for the study of natural resources through the lens of cultural politics. A focus on the complex material and symbolic dimensions of how 'natural resources' come to be imagined, appropriated and contested, enables one to move away from the dull rigours of economic determinism that dog political ecology. The conceptual strengths of this approach also enrich political practice. This introductory essay delineates some of the contours of cultural politics and situates the following essays within its rubric, organising the discussion around prominent keywords used in discourses around natural resources.

Water and Waste: Nature, Productivity and Colonialism in the Indus Basin

This article explores differing uses of the term 'waste' in late 19th and early 20th century British irrigation administration in the Indus basin. The article compares the term's usage within the framework of professional engineering and within the framework of British property law and village administration. Differing concepts of 'waste' point towards deep-seated conflicts in British thinking about the relationship between the state, nature and the social body of Indus basin society. While engineers saw control over a wasteful nature as the key linking technical experts to a society composed of individual producers, revenue administrators saw the existence of unproductive land, labelled as 'waste' (or commons), as key to a vision of society as composed of village communities defined not by their roles in production, but by 'blood' and genealogy. The article explores how the tensions between these conceptions of 'waste' and community shaped the long-term development of irrigation.