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India's Software and IT Services Sector

This paper outlines a new and important role for the software and information technology services sector in India's economic development. It argues that this sector brings world-class IT and western expertise on how to use it, which leads to rapid improvements in Indian firms' ability to compete in world markets. This depends on the transfer of tacit knowledge that developed country firms have accumulated through years of experimentation and experience; knowledge that these firms generally do not want to share. Acting as an indirect route for this knowledge to reach Indian firms, the software and IT services sector should be both treasured and nurtured.

India and the UN Security Council

During India's last stint on the United Nations Security Council in 2011-12, it was unable to pursue the originally charted strategy of demonstrating responsible diplomacy in the leagues of the great powers while also making the body a more legitimate and representative organisation. Delving into India's efforts to achieve its objectives, this paper discusses contemporary constraints on the country's ability to exercise greater influence at the UN. It also sketches what an alternative Indian policy at the UN could look like.

Repacking the Punch in Monetary Policy

In the wake of financial deregulation and innovation, monetary policy has seen considerable erosion of its potency. Simultaneously, monetary policy has been loaded with several additional onerous responsibilities. In such a situation, the single instrument of the repo rate (supplemented with the cash reserve ratio) exhibits considerable strain in striking a balance between the conflicting objectives of growth, inflation control and financial stability. The interest rate also turns out to be a blunt instrument, leading to blunderbuss and debt footprint effects. To overcome the imbalance between targets and instruments, a maverick suggestion has emerged, viz, shifting the reserves from the liability to the asset side of financial institutions' balance sheets. Asset-based reserve requirements share some similarities with capital requirements and dynamic loan loss provisioning, but differ from these in important details. This paper examines the implications of ABRRs for monetary policy, together with their limitations and difficulties of implementation in an emerging market economy like India.

Cereal Consumption as a Proxy for Real Income

This paper empirically investigates the relationship between cereal consumption and real income using pooled cross-section and time series data for a number of countries. It finds that the per capita total cereal consumption (i e, direct plus indirect) has a very strong association with per capita real income, though of course there are other factors which influence it too. The association is so strong that one would not be wrong in taking cereal consumption as a proxy for real income as has been suggested in the ongoing poverty debate in India.

Lessons on Food and Hunger

This paper is based on critical policy analysis and reflection on curricular documents, including syllabi and textbooks, and also the Midday Meal programme. Using written and oral narratives, mostly from studies on hunger, the MDM programme and its implementation, it attempts to examine the lived experiences of children in and outside school. It explores the theme of food and hunger as it plays out in young children's lives, in the community and in the school. Using academic, activist and administrative perspectives, this article tries to provide inputs for a new pedagogy.

Entrepreneurship or Survival?

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

This article tries to understand the involvement of dalits and other marginalised groups, especially adivasis and women, in the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, based on an analysis of unit-level data from registered manufacturing segment of the MSME census data for 2001-02 and 2006-07. It finds clear and  persistent caste and gender disparities throughout. Scheduled caste and scheduled tribe businesses are under-represented, except in the north-eastern states. However, the share of female-owned and managed enterprises is significantly greater among SC-ST owned enterprises. Also, there is evidence of homophily in Other Backward Classes and upper-caste owned firms, suggesting that the rise in dalit entrepreneurship is crucial to increasing dalit employment in the small business sector.

Cost of Electricity from the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant

The Indian government has announced that it plans to purchase six European Pressurised Reactors for Jaitapur from the French company, Areva. No EPR is in commercial operation anywhere else in the world. Estimates of costs from plants under construction in Finland and France suggest that each unit may cost as much as Rs 60,000 crore; at this price, six units will cost Rs 3.6 lakh crore. The paper shows that the expected starting tariff for electricity from these reactors, without including transmission and distribution costs, is likely to be around Rs 15 per unit (kWh). The existing revenue model used by the government already involves a large loss for the taxpayer. The government may seek to make the tariff from Jaitapur competitive by increasing the scope and nature of these handouts.

Designed to Falter

Laudable aims aside, the implementation of India's largest welfare programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, leaves much to be desired. Taking a close look at its functioning in three development blocks in Maharashtra in the last three financial years, this study emphasises that there is a serious lack of capacities in the agencies tasked with actualising the scheme. A partnership between local non-governmental organisation and educational institutions could offer a way out by bringing in transparency, accountability, and participation to strengthen local governance.

Classical Indo-Roman Trade

An independent evaluation of the latest archaeological data unearthed at ancient port-sites of the Egyptian desert and Indian west coast confirms that the classical overseas trade, celebrated in ancient Indian historiography as the "Indo-Roman trade", was an exchange of serious imbalance, because of its being between an empire and a region of uneven chiefdoms. The Tamil south was a region characterised by the interactive coexistence of several unevenly evolved and kinship-based redistributive economies structured by the dominance of agro-pastoral means of subsistence and predatory politics. It was distinct for its semi-tribal political economy that precluded any demand for Mediterranean luxury goods. Even the presumption that the chieftain had shipped his goods only up to the Red Sea coast, and had depended on intermediaries for the remaining jobs, is difficult to accept.

Memories of Partition

2012 was the birth centenary of Saadat Hasan Manto and was celebrated in Lahore, Karachi, New York, and his own "muse" Bombay (now Mumbai). This is an attempt to remember Partition by revisiting Manto's memories of the event documented in his Partition stories. These stories are valuable documents, indispensable for historians studying the human dimensions of that event. Such studies on the historical appraisal of literary works, based on memories and survivors' accounts, can provide important breakthroughs for a better understanding of the aftermath of the division of the country and can prove to be history's "alternate archive". A study of such literary writings needs to be included in the reference list for the study of Partition.

Caller Hate: The Orchestrated Production of Western Nationalism

Customer anger has been recognised as one of the most stressful dimensions of jobs in India's transnational call centres. While angry customers exacerbate worker stress and intensify the need for training, they also serve a "productive" purpose in the everyday creation and perpetuation of western nationalism. The western state and public discourses on offshoring sanction customer aggression on calls; these calls provide opportunities for customers to exercise citizenship rights over jobs which are assumed to have been stolen, and in so doing, continually define and then protect assets (jobs) which belong to the nation. In essence, customers in the west enact patriotism through their anger.

Hyper-Plurality and the Need for Regulation of Candidate Entry in India

It is argued that given the high variation and lack of stability in candidate structure across regions and over time, a local approach on "signature requirement" - as in the United States - could be an effective deterrent to hyper-plurality in candidate entry in elections in India. Accordingly it is suggested that the Election Commission of India should not only have the power to determine the "electoral deposit" before each election, it should also have the power to change the minimum signature requirement across constituencies under certain pre-specified conditions.


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