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Dominant or Backward?

Using data from the India Human Development Survey, this paper examines the demands of Jats (Haryana), Patels (Gujarat), and Marathas (Maharashtra) to be classified as Other Backward Classes to access reservations. Compared to the major caste groups (Brahmins, other forward castes, existing OBCs, and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) in their respective states, based on several socio-economic factors, they are closer to dominant than disadvantaged groups. Their claim to backwardness is empirically unjustified. The paper examines the material basis of their anxieties in the context of structural changes in the Indian agricultural economy. It investigates networks and political connections that explain their success in mobilising.

Setting Environmental Standards

This paper analyses the process by which the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, sets new regulations or revises existing ones and compares the Indian processes with those in the United States and the European Union. The processes examined include regulations related to coal-fired thermal power plants and water. The Indian process is ad hoc, opaque, and has limited scope for public participation. This can lead to inappropriate standards, lack of legitimacy of standards, and absence of widespread acceptance, all leading to ineffective implementation. The paper discusses these critical deficiencies and suggests improvements.

Investigating the Causes for Low Female Age at Marriage

This study on low female age at marriage is aimed at investigating the causes and factors influencing the marginal increase in age at marriage among women from 15.3 years as reported in the National Family Health Survey-1 (1992–93) to 16.1 years in NFHS-3 (2005–06) in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The analysis of the data collected from a sample of 716 households from seven districts of Telangana and of 1,944 households from 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh reveals that the two most important exogenous variables with respect to age at marriage are awareness and education, with education emerging as a key indicator.

Mapping India’s Finances

As a useful adjunct to other macroeconomic accounts, this paper describes financial flows between different sectors of the Indian economy from 1955 to 2015. It finds that the consolidated government sector has the largest net deficit, while the households sector has the largest net surplus. The private corporate sector is running larger deficits than at any other time in the past, implying more reliance on external credits. With liberalisation and globalisation, the rest of the world sector is now the second-largest net surplus sector in the economy.

Plan, but Do Not Over-plan

Drawing on six decades of India’s experience with planning, the main lesson for the NITI Aayog is that it must devote as careful thought to the planning process as to the strategic plan itself. It must recognise that it is not engaged in a technical exercise, but one that involves a deep understanding of people and organisational behaviour. The government and the Prime Minister too must realise that they have to play a significant role in articulating an economic vision, as opposed to endorsing suggestions put up by the bureaucracy.

Regulation and Governance of Employment Relations in Pre-employment Phase

This article looks at pre-employment issues in the employment relationship with a view to provide a conceptual framework for regulation and governance of employment relations. It brings out the distinction between a letter of intent and an offer letter. It looks at different scenarios such as a deferred offer, alternate offer, revised offer that the offer letter can be a precursor to. It also argues that from the organisation’s perspective these are risk management strategies in the face of various circumstances. Different kinds of misrepresentation on the part of employer and employees to induce each other to enter into an employment agreement are deliberated upon. The role of labour market intermediaries in perpetrating this is also highlighted. Further, it suggests steps that can be taken to mitigate such instances and grounds under which damages may be claimed upon subsequent knowledge.

Torture Redress Mechanisms in Nepal and Bangladesh

Human rights organisations have been active in documenting widespread torture in Nepal and Bangladesh, taking very different paths towards accountability—Nepal stressing civil compensation and Bangladesh, criminal liability. Accountability in both countries, however, is limited, with the poor and marginalised, who are particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, fearful of reporting incidents and seeking justice. This paper explores the appropriation and unfolding of rights vocabularies in two distinct political, institutional and legal contexts, and suggests that human rights organisations should place protection of victims and legal assistance alongside advocacy for accountability.

Why Urban Waste Continues to Follow the Path of Least Resistance

A lack of imagination and linear municipal solid waste management practices have resulted in promoting incineration, which is fraught with adverse environmental and health consequences, as a solution to getting rid of our urban garbage. This paper points out that while enhancing the abilities of cities to work towards zero waste ought to be the goal, local populations now bear the unhealthy effects of unsound waste management processes, and local governments bear their operational and financial burden, all to no good effect.

Health Payments and Household Well-being

Health policy pronouncements in India currently advocate insurance-based financing mechanisms towards universal health coverage, sidelining the role of comprehensive healthcare provisioning through the public sector. This study, however, suggests that health insurance has been unsuccessful in protecting households from poverty and impoverishment resulting from out-of-pocket payments, and that insurance in fact subverts the effectiveness of the traditional health financing system. Free or low-cost healthcare provisioning by the state remains the best way to enhance the health and well-being of households, provided the inadequacies and inequalities across districts are addressed, and low-cost medicines and diagnostics made available to all.

National Policy on Education 2016

Any contemporary education policy will need to address the democratic and economic aspirations of the younger citizenry and must declare those concrete steps that would endure the realisation of those aims. But that has not been the case with the National Policy on Education 2016. The new education policy, as proposed, chooses not to address the fundamental issues plaguing the education system but instead, it propagates a corporate, neo-liberal, neo-cultural, a Sanskritised, global and market-oriented education system which is governed by a wholly separate and centralised bureaucracy, where state government power and oversight is minimal.

Paddy Yields in Pre-industrial South India

This paper assembles data on per hectare paddy yields in South India from the 10th to 19th century and notes the existence of very high paddy yields during this period. The methodology used to arrive at the estimates is specified step-by-step and in detail, and the difficulties in making these estimates are indicated as well. This allows other scholars to rework the data and arrive at alternate estimates using different assumptions to those used here. It may also serve to stimulate further interest and initiate more work on this subject.

Ambedkar as a Political Philosopher

Existing studies on B R Ambedkar largely focus on his substantive religious, sociological, political and constitutional concerns, and not on the concepts he deployed for the purpose or modes of his argumentation. His body of work demonstrates that he formulated a number of concepts to take stock of the social reality that he confronted, and/or reformulated existing concepts by critically engaging with the body of scholarship available to him. With regard to the conception of the political, he advanced a comprehensive and consistent design of what it means to live as a public and how best to do so in a setting very different from the West.

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