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Land Acquisition and Compensation

The web version of this article corrects errors that appeared in the print edition. There has been a renumbering of two tables and a new table that was not printed has been included. Please see Tables 3a and 3b (page 35).

This paper reports results of a household survey in 12 Singur villages, six in which lands were acquired for the Tata car factory, and six neighbouring villages, with random sampling of households within each village. The results show that (a) the size of plots acquired were non-negligible; (b) the majority of those affected were marginal landowners engaged in cultivation; (c) the government's compensation offers were approximately equal to the reported market values of acquired plots on average, but the inability of the official land records to distinguish between plots of heterogeneous quality meant that a substantial fraction of farmers were under-compensated relative to market values; (d) those under-compensated were significantly more likely to refuse the compensation offers, as were those whose livelihoods were more dependent on agriculture; (e) incomes and durable consumption of affected owners and tenants grew slower between 2005 and 2010 compared with unaffected owners and tenants; (f) earnings of affected workers fell faster than unaffected workers. Therefore, land acquisition resulted in substantial economic hardship for large sections of the rural population, for many of whom compensation offered was inadequate.

Farmer Suicides in India

This article makes an attempt to examine how far Durkheim's types explain farmer suicides in India and suggests that they correspond to two of his types - egoism and anomie. Agrarian changes having considerably lowered the level of economic achievements of farmers, the disproportion between achievement and aspiration is greatly felt by those who experienced egoism. This study argues that anomie is an effect of egoism. The latter, a structural characteristic of modern agrarian economy and society, is the prerequisite for emergence of the former.

Intervention, Identity and Marginality

This paper provides an ethnographic account of the changing facets of marginality for the Musahars of Uttar Pradesh. It takes a close look at how their identity is shaped by the resistance of those at the margins, by politics, and by interventions on the part of external agencies. The research deconstructs (i) the everyday resistance of the Musahars, as evident from their songs and poetry; (ii) the talk of state officials and state policies about Musahars; and (iii) the discourse of social activists, organisations and donor agencies. Armed with this information, the paper attempts to view the world from the perspective of the Musahars and focuses on how they negotiate diverse discourses to their advantage in order to transgress the boundaries of marginality, and how this process changes the notion of marginality for them.

India's Dream Run, 2003-08

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition.
 

From 2003, the Indian economy enjoyed a boom in growth for five years. The economy grew at a rate close to 9% per year, until it was punctured by the financial crisis of 2008. What explains that boom? Did the sustained liberal reforms finally pay off? Or was it a debt-led, cyclical boom, coinciding with an exceptional phase in the world economy? This paper contends that it was the latter case, driven by private corporate investments, financed by rising domestic savings, and topped by unprecedented inflows of foreign capital- leaving behind heightened corporate leverage, and frothy asset markets. As the global economy faces a semi-slump and precarious macroeconomic balance, how to reverse the current slowdown is at the crux of the discourse on India's policy paralysis. With the corporate sector mired in over-leverage, perhaps the most credible policy options now available are to step up public infrastructure to boost investment demand, and expand bank credit on easy terms to the informal sector and agriculture - which were throttled during the boom years - so as to ease supply constraints.

An Assessment of the Quality of Primary Health Care in India

There is limited evidence on the quality of primary health care provision in India. Using data on the availability of inputs from a nationally representative survey of primary health centres, a composite measure of structural quality of care for primary health centres was developed with a view to examine its geographical variation, associations with mortality and healthcare utilisation, and the determinants of better quality, giving particular attention to the role of management. The mean quality score was 52%, with large differences across regions, states and districts. Quality of care was the worst and the variation greatest in states designated by the government as low performing. Good management practices in a facility were highly correlated with better quality of care. The majority of primary health facilities in India fall far short of government minimum standards, in part explaining why most people in rural areas use private providers for outpatient care. Future research should explore the causal relationship between management practices, quality of care and patient outcomes.

Limits to Absolute Power

As the conflict over land assumes a central dynamic within the "growing Indian economy", forcible acquisition, or the state's power of eminent domain, is critical to various political and economic calculations. This paper discusses the doctrine of eminent domain in the context of dispossession and emergent land and resource conflicts in India. The origin of the doctrine in pre-constitutional colonial law, the legal mechanisms of land reform and acquisition laws through which it finds expression, and the recently proposed mechanisms for acquisition that expand its power and conflate public purpose with private capitalist interests are discussed. The paper examines the dual nature that lends itself to redistributive justice and the dispossession of already marginalised citizenry. It then examines the vexatious concept of sovereignty animating the doctrine, discusses existing substantive limits to its power that need to be given primacy and the uneven jurisprudence around the doctrine. It argues for contextualised rights to land- and resource-use regimes, concluding with observations on the implications of the doctrine's continuing and expanded scope.

National Commission for Women

The paper attempts an assessment of the National Commission for Women, which was created in 1992 as an autonomous apex body to monitor and influence state policies with regard to women. It examines the State's approach to women's issues through the evolution of national mechanisms as also through an understanding of the engagement of women's movements with the state, both by way of challenging and participating in its institutions. It argues that the willingness to intervene on behalf of women is determined by the interests of the state and political actors in securing and maintaining power. The questions that women's movements face are: to what extent do these national machineries effectively address the issues for which they had been created and to what extent are they able to bring in changes in the culture and practices of the bureaucratic structures of the state.

Does India Really Suffer from Worse Child Malnutrition Than Sub-Saharan Africa?

A common continuing criticism of the economic reforms in India has been that despite accelerated growth and all-around poverty reduction, the country continues to suffer from worse child malnutrition than nearly all Sub-Saharan African countries with lower per capita incomes. This paper argues that this narrative, nearly universally accepted around the world, is false. It is the artefact of a faulty methodology that the World Health Organisation has pushed and the United Nations has supported. If appropriate corrections are applied, in all likelihood, India will be found to be ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa in child malnutrition, just as in other vital health indicators.

A New Price Regime

Land prices in urban and rural India have increased rapidly in the last decade - fivefold in urban areas and possibly more in some rural settings. Using comparable international data, this paper shows that urban prices are significantly higher than is commensurate with income and that the peaks of these prices are extraordinarily high. Similarly, rural prices in several regions are very high by international standards. It argues that the present conditions can be explained by a combination of increasing land scarcity with increasing money supply - from expanded housing credit, and rising incomes from white, black, and foreign sources - and increasing income and wealth inequality. All of which means this is no mere bubble.

The Maulana Who Loved Krishna

This article reproduces, with English translations, the devotional poems written to the god Krishna by a maulana who was an active participant in the cultural, political and theological life of late colonial north India. Through this, the article gives a glimpse of an Islamicate literary and spiritual world which revelled in syncretism with its surrounding Hindu worlds; and which is under threat of obliteration, even as a memory, in the singular world of globalised Islam of the 21st century.

Determinants of Marital Violence

Substantial proportions of married women in India report experiencing physical and sexual violence within their households. Most studies examining the risk and protective factors of marital violence have used crosssectional data to understand the determinants of physical and sexual marital violence. To identify determinants of recent experiences of physical and sexual marital violence, this survey collected data from 4,880 rural women of four states - Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Bihar - drawn from the National Family Health Survey-2 conducted in 1998-99 and a follow-up study for a subgroup of women carried out in 2002-03. The findings underscore the need to support programmes that aim to increase the education level of women and girls, make parents aware of the effects parental violence has on their children's well-being and improve married women's financial autonomy by increasing their financial literacy and awareness regarding various savings and asset-building options. Further, programmes and laws targeting dowry exchange and alcohol consumption need to be simultaneously developed.

Political Economy of the Arab Uprising

The Arab Uprising is the consequence of the structural crisis of the rentier state engaged with a neo-liberal regime implemented by authoritarian rulers. The people have removed the authoritarian rulers but does that change the nature of the state and its preference for a neo-liberal regime?

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