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Inequality Matters

If economic growth was the only factor that mattered for poverty reduction, we should have witnessed greater poverty reduction. Also, states with the highest growth rate should have performed the best in terms of poverty reduction. The pace of poverty reduction is influenced both by changes in income distribution over time and by the shape of the initial distribution. This empirical analysis shows that the task of poverty reduction in India is seriously challenged by rising inequality. In addition to the one-shot instant impact on poverty from a pure redistribution effect, improvements in distribution of income have a long-run effect derived from an increase in the growth elasticity of poverty. This gives us a strong case for prioritising distribution and making income distribution more equal before embarking on a high growth path.

The Material and the Symbolic

Capital has an overarching logic of accumulation in general and yet the economic rationale, intercepted by national and local configurations of social power, makes capital unfold differentially in different spaces. The labour market provides an ideal site to interrogate such processes. In India, regional specificities are stark when it comes to the presence of women workers in the public domain, which get significantly obliterated if they are in home-based work. This is because home-based work hinges upon responsibilities of social reproduction and more importantly upon all-pervasive social norms that continue to embed women in traditional constructs of domesticity. It can be argued that in a situation where the market has to become extremely competitive and cost effective, the concept of flexible and cheap labour – the bandwagon of expanding capital – is best articulated through work that is carried out at homes for it can gel comfortably well, in sync with social codes, that assign women to the confines of home even if their status is that of workers.

Understanding the Mismatch among the Three Definitions of Poverty

The definition of poverty has drawn closer to multidimensionality within various theoretical frameworks. However, even though basic individual needs are itrinsic to human nature regardless of historical and social contexts, the issue of defining poverty in a universal manner may be impeded by the network of interrelations that is specific to the social background of poverty. Examining micro-level evidence from two slums in Delhi, this paper explores the differences in practice of different definitions of poverty - monetary poverty, primary good deprivation and lack of capabilities - to measure the extent of poverty according to each approach. The results show little evidence of a perfect match between the three definitions of poverty.

Global Crisis and the New Consensus Macroeconomics

Prior to the global crisis, the state of macroeconomic theory was relatively settled, with mainstream economists subscribing to a hybrid classical-cum-Keynesian theory - the so-called New Consensus Macroeconomics. The crisis was widely perceived as an outcome of some of the faulty policies implied by the NCM. This prompted a serious re-examination and criticism of the theoretical foundations of the NCM from four distinct schools of thought, viz, the post-eynesian, Austrian, Structuralist and Marxist. The dominant critique seems to be the post-Keynesian and most of the revisions in post-crisis macroeconomic policy have also been along these lines. This paper delves into the theoretical structure as well as the policy implications of the post-Keynesian critique of the NCM. Certain implications are drawn for macroeconomic policy and cautionary caveats are entered for the process of financialisation currently under way in several emerging market economies.

Legal Frameworks for and against People with Psychosocial Disabilities

People with mental illness were hitherto considered "non-persons", lacking recognition before the law, on any life dimension. The macro-environment within which the mental healthcare system, supported by the Mental Health Act 1987, still works is that of custodial law. However, in 2007, the government signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which shifts the policy gaze away from a medical model to a more encompassing social paradigm, where long-term impairment - physical, mental, sensory, or intellectual - combined with social barriers is understood to create disability. This paper critically analyses the provisions of the new Mental Health Bill, particularly on the question of patient consent, in light of the ratified convention.

Non-Timber Forest Products

This paper attempts an exploration of synergistic opportunities for livelihoods and conservation connected with non-timber forest products in view of the increasing demand for these resources in the local, regional and international markets. It also discusses the evolution of the management of such products on a broader scale in terms of policies and institutional arrangements and the dilemmas, challenges and complexities associated with the resource along with potential strategies to overcome them. An analysis of existing, relevant literature, with examples drawn from parts of the developing world along with experiences from India has been presented. Using the specific case of the wild harvested medicinal plant sector in Kerala, certification as a potential strategy to achieve a win-win scenario is hypothesised. Lessons gathered from studies reporting successful implementation of non-timber forest products certification are provided along with research gaps and future directions.

India's Bilateral Investment Agreements

This paper highlights some of the provisions in India's Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements that have enabled foreign investors to win cases before international arbitration tribunals. Warning that these disputes with foreign investors signal the emerging struggle between foreign investors and sovereign states in the face of uncertain economic prospects in the post-crisis world, the paper makes a strong case for a review of India's BIPAs so that there is consistency in provisions across all such agreements in the national interest.

Towards 'Green Growth'

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

Himachal Pradesh has initiated a number of projects to tap its hydropower potential, some of which will submerge parts of protected areas. To examine the implications of moving towards "green growth", this study examines the costs and benefits to the state if two hydel power plants in which reservoirs will submerge protected areas, including sanctuaries, are not undertaken. It estimates that the gain from conservation-based growth is considerable compared to the cost of going green.

India's Labour Market during the 2000s

The growth of gross domestic product in every sub-sector of the Indian economy accelerated during the second half of the 2000s, compared to the first half of the decade. However, employment growth in most sectors except construction decelerated. This jobless growth was partly the result of positive changes such as the reduction of "distress employment" in agriculture, created during the previous half-decade, and an expansion in the population of students. Rural wages rose and average educational levels of the workforce improved. Government interventions in rural India since the mid-2000s, particularly the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, seemed to have aided these positive transformations. However, manufacturing employment in the country fell and employment growth slowed down in most constituents of the services sector. The new jobs generated were predominantly in rural construction. The slow progress in the diversification of India's employment structure has led to large-scale withdrawal of women from the labour force, with the number of women thus "missing" being as large as the population of Brazil.

Domain Name Disputes

Several unique and important issues - both technical and legal - have arisen since the commencement of the internet as a mode of communication and its later pervasive influence in business, learning and other spheres of life. The legal issues around "domain naming" and an economic analysis of court cases in India related to them are discussed and an argument is made that the principle of "economic efficiency" predominates these cases.

Wage Inequality in India

 

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

Wage differentials are present among various groups and sectors of the economy. The primary motivation of this paper is to investigate the structure of wage inequality and employment in India with the 61st round (2004-05) household survey on employment and unemployment conducted by the National Sample Survey Office. The study measures comprehensively different dimensions of wage inequality as observed in the Indian labour market by using the Gini inequality index. In analysing the structure of wage inequality it considers three major sectors, the public, private formal and informal sectors. Wage inequality in the private formal sector is higher than the inequality even in the informal sector. Wage differentials in India are higher in rural as compared to urban areas, and are higher among women than among men workers. Simple decompositions of wage inequality by sectors reveal that a significant part of wage inequality is accounted for by inequality among individuals between rather than within sectors for every type of working person.

Rise of the 'Dalit Millionaire'

Dalit efforts to move from the ordinary and explode into the extraordinary as millionaires may look spectacular, particularly when they do not have a known history of capital accumulation. But what does this sudden rise of a few dalits to the position of millionaires signify? Using Debord's framework of the ideology of spectacle as false consciousness, which forges a fake association between a person or a social collectivity and the spectacle, this essay analyses the dalit millionaire as a spectacle within the context of caste, the corporate sector and the state.

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