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The Reality of Special Category States

The "special category" status accorded to certain states in the Indian Union allowed for much higher per capita central assistance compared to other states to flow unto these states enabling some of them to march ahead and prompting demands from others for this status. But these special category states were backward due to reasons of geography, while for the states which are demanding this status today, issues linked to governance lay at the root of their backwardness. Is it time to revisit the criteria and include others into this exclusive category by excluding those who do not need such assistance any longer?

Questions of Hurt

While the threat posed by Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code is evident following the pulping of The Hindus, there is a need to understand the relation of these sections with republican democracy. This article explores three themes. First, it argues that these sections are themselves part of the government of free speech put in place so that "ordinary citizens" would not be hurt. Second, focusing on the writings of S N Balagangadhara, it explores how a narrative of Hindu hurt emerges. Third, it explores how Wendy Doniger's understanding of Hinduism is organised quite differently - around disciplinary history's concept of context. But contextualisation too, it suggests, is marked by a constitutive blindness to the thinking of religion as a pure gift.

Capital Scrapping and Exports

With the machine tool industry as the reference point, this paper builds a vintage model to demonstrate that the economic lifespan of machines is inversely related to the rate of technological progress. Further, the rate of technical progress in an underdeveloped economy is not exogenous but varies directly with the share of domestic production geared towards exports (or the rate of growth of exports). Exports, through the demand generated by more discerning users/consumers in high-income economies, induce domestic producers into embodying new technologies in machines of a later vintage.

Austerity, Welfare State and Eco-Socialism

In the clash between austerity and Keynesian stimulus paradigms in the advanced capitalist economies in general and the United Kingdom in particular, this paper argues that in the era of global climate change and global warming, merely proposing stimulus in opposition to austerity is flawed. In contrast, the paper proposes that an eco-socialist perspective with emphasis on green economy, sustainability and equality is of historic importance and relevance.

Spatial Variation in the 'Muslim Vote' in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, 2014

In this paper, we propose to reconcile the controversial debate on Muslim "vote banks" in India by shifting the spatial focus from statewide assessments to the level of constituencies. With the example of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections, and using an innovative booth-level ecological inference model, we show that Muslims might indeed vote en bloc for or against certain parties, but they tend to do so in a much more localised way than previously assumed. While public Muslim support for the Bharatiya Janata Party did not translate into electoral support in most places, there are important exceptions to this trend - and at least in the case of Uttar Pradesh, their support for competing parties followed a fairly complex spatial pattern. We further explore this spatial variation in Muslim vote pattern by looking at the moderating impact of minority concentration, violent communal history, and ethnic coordination and conclude with a call for more disaggregated research.

Quotas under the Right to Education

Quotas for the weaker sections in private schools have been one of the most controversial provisions introduced by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The quotas have imposed a debate on issues of social integration and equity in education that private actors had by and large escaped so far. However, the idea of an egalitarian education system with equality of opportunity as its primary goal appears to be outside the well-meaning space that private school principals inhabit. Therefore, the imposition of the quotas has led to resistance, sometimes justified. But the essential arguments against it are based on the logic of markets that the leadership in private schools has imbibed. This leads them to not only resist the idea of integration, but also devalue the enormous effort put in by children and parents from the weaker sections.

Revealed Preference for Open Defecation

Despite economic growth, government latrine construction, and increasing recognition among policymakers that open defecation constitutes a health and human capital crisis, it remains stubbornly widespread in rural India. We present evidence from new survey data collected in Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Many survey respondents' behaviour reveals a preference for open defecation: over 40% of households with a working latrine have at least one member who defecates in the open. Our data predict that if the government were to build a latrine for every rural household that lacks one, without changing sanitation preferences, most people in our sample in these states would nevertheless defecate in the open. Policymakers in India must lead a large-scale campaign to promote latrine use.

FDI and Firm Competitiveness

As developing countries are increasingly opening up their economies to foreign direct investment, one of the principal objectives has been to enhance competitiveness of domestic firms using their network, technology and organisational skill. This study on India shows that competitiveness is more likely to be achieved with the presence of foreign firms rather than by simple purchase of foreign technology. Absorptive capacity of firms and institutional factors (namely, competition in the industry) induce competitiveness among firms. It is seen that both the degree of competition and the absorptive capacity of firms have strong effects on indirect benefits from FDI in enhancing competitiveness

The Elusive Nature of Educational Incentives

This paper examines the assumptions underlying educational incentive schemes with the help of data collected on the status and implementation of three such schemes for minority communities in Maharashtra. Though the lacunae in the design and implementation of these schemes are highlighted, the objective is not to condemn them. All parents interviewed gave utmost importance to a good learning environment. An incentive only offers temporary and partial relief. Good quality education for all children is the biggest incentive and educational incentives should not be assumed to be a substitute for poor learning environment in schools.

Invasion of Educational Universe by Neo-liberal Economic Thinking

The early 1960s witnessed attempts at constrictive reinterpretation of the role and purpose of education in terms of ideological premises, concepts and methodology of neoclassical economics, with "economics of education" being founded. In this newly-founded economic discourse, education is seen as a vehicle for "human capital formation", a key both to avowed growth of aggregate economy and to upward economic mobility of individuals/households. An increasing dominance of this narrow neo-liberal view of education has undermined the long-standing hold of the pre-existing vision and liberal view of education wherein it is a means not only to material progress but also to higher level of civilisational ethos, enlightenment and democratic citizenship.

Assam's Tale of Witch-hunting and Indigeneity

In spite of the fact that at one point of time it was believed that globalisation would lead to a process of cultural homogenisation and reduction of difference, the local has actually resurfaced more strongly in the present. The perceived threat of globalisation and the failure of the state have led to ethnic mobilisation in the North East. This process of ethnification and the discourse of indigeneity have granted legitimacy to the inequalities that were very often embedded in traditional customs and practices. Witch-hunting practices of Assam force one to look more critically at some traditional practices that have been fostered by ethnification.

The Conservation Question

In this paper the idea of conservation is revisited through capturing the erstwhile pre-capitalist lifeworld of the Kāṇis of Shenduruney and Agastiya Malai regions of the southern Western Ghats within Kerala. The essence of conservation is traced through ecosophical meditations of Uexküll, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari. We open up the thinking on conservation towards enhancement of ecology and propose minority politics which may de-singularise the ego-logical schizophrenia towards re-territorialisation of the eco-logical assemblage of human incorporeality.

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