ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Nokia SEZ Story

The closure of Nokia's mobile phone assembly plant in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, just eight years after it commenced production, illustrates how corporations can quit operations at a point when it is no longer profitable for them to continue, while the impact of such closures on workers is profound. The special economic zones policy of the state actively promoted corporate-led industrialisation promising employment, and creating aspirations among young workers. There was no accountability or labour-centred exit policies factored into the state's industrial policies when state governments welcomed private investments. With the closure of Nokia, not only have promises been broken, but its workers and supply companies have lost their livelihoods and future possibilities of work. 

Public Hearings in Environmental Clearance Process

A public hearing is the only medium in the environmental clearance process through which people can interact directly with government officials and the project proponents regarding project-related concerns. The relevance of public hearings—underlining principles of “democratic participatory governance,” “sustainable development” and “natural justice” for people—can never be undermined. However, this single procedural step is at the centre of so many legal disputes in the Indian courts (Supreme Court and high courts), and the National Green Tribunal had to repeatedly step in and clarify its importance in public policy and the environmental clearance process. This article reviews a series of judicial and quasi-judicial decisions on the question of the public hearing process in India.

Recent Trends in Wealth Inequality in India

An analysis of the trends in wealth ownership and its inequality in India between 1991 and 2012 using three rounds of All-India Debt and Investment Survey data reveals a greater concentration of wealth with the top 10%, particularly after 2002. A dramatic shift in the decile-wise patterns of annual growth rates of assets in favour of the top deciles, particularly the topmost, has also been witnessed. The study considers the extent of wealth inequality by sector, state, and social and religious groups as well. It is hypothesised that the rising levels of wealth inequality are deeply linked to the growth strategy being followed, by which the gains from growth have been redistributed among those who were already wealthy.

Water War between Punjab and Haryana

Much has been said and written about sharing of river waters between Punjab and Haryana from time to time since the reorganisation of the state of Punjab in 1966. Various agreements, accords, tribunals, commissions and water sharing formulas have been worked out time to time, but the problem still remains unsolved. Haryana is stressing for the completion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link to carry its share of surplus Ravi-Beas water (3.5 million acre-feet) awarded to it in 1976, while Punjab argues that it has no surplus water to share with Haryana, and is adopting various measures to check this outflow of water. Such awards and agreements are generally politically-induced, and therefore, remain unimplemented. This study highlights the ground realities related to irrigation to evaluate the claims and counterclaims of both the states.

Minority Claims and Majoritarian Anxieties

An exploration of the judicial and legislative responses to the claim for minority status by the Jains in post-independence India reveals the state's deep-seated disquiet about the idea of minority rights. Both the state and the courts, notwithstanding their commitment to these rights, viewed the demand of Jains with suspicion and detrimental to "national unity." This article hopes to demonstrate that the case of Jains is in fact quite central to the way in which definitions and understandings of minority and majority have come to be interpreted in our polity.

Ambedkar's Gita

As the Bhagavad Gita becomes an agent of a deeper sacralisation of the public sphere, it becomes necessary to read it from Ambedkar's perspective. Just as Thomas Jefferson--a deist, a proponent of the Enlightenment and a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence--took a pair of scissors to the Bible and cut out all references to miracles, time has come for us to ask: What would Ambedkar--an admirer of Buddha and John Dewey, a tireless advocate for the annihilation of caste and a signatory to the Indian Constitution--cut out of the Gita? What would Ambedkar's Gita look like?

Financial Inclusion in India

Existing literature on financial inclusion works with indices that use supply-side information on financial services and fail to capture demand-side information. These indices thus have a serious limitation: they might overestimate the extent of financial inclusion due to multiple bank accounts held by the same individual. Using micro-level data available from a pan-India survey, we compute a financial inclusion index for 22 states based on demand-side information. We find evidence of disagreement between the ranking of the states done on the basis of a supply-side information-based index and our demand-side information-based index. Also, exploiting the microstructure of the data, we attempt to identify some determinants of borrowing from formal sources. We find that being male, having a bank account and higher educational qualification are positively correlated with the likelihood of formal borrowing.

Law without Order

Rape trials in India continue to subject female victims to archaic notions of shame and honour. In a scenario where conviction rates are low, sentencing is the new site for stereotyping, and patriarchal structures in the criminal justice system lead to increasingly sexist results. A system of guidelines is required to govern sentencing in this unregulated thicket of prejudices.

Self-fulfilling Equilibrium and Social Disparities in Urban India

This article examines the persistence of group-based disparities in education and labour market outcomes in India. It argues that a possible reason responsible for this phenomenon is the existence of a self-fulfilling equilibrium trap. The social belief that certain groups are inferior leads to discrimination against them; over time, however, these communities start behaving in a manner that justifies society's perceptions about them, reinforcing and perpetuating initial disparities. The study uses NSSO data from the 68th round.

Estimation of the Size of the Black Economy in India, 1996-2012

This article attempts to make an advance in the estimation of the size of the black economy in India by bringing in the institutional aspects of black income generation and taking the macroeconomic variables they affect into consideration. The fiscal approach recognises that black incomes are generated through many different ways in various sectors. The size of the black economy is projected on the basis of the share of the services sector and trade in gross domestic product, with the crime rate representing the extent of illegality.

The Valuation Conundrum

Valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services is considered essential to formulate policies for sustainable development. But monetary valuation of BES reinforces the prevalent science-policy relationships that have led to the erosion of biodiversity. The livestock sector with multiple ecosystem services, valued for its contribution to the economy, strong policy and programme agendas, livestock breeding and maintenance sciences is used to illustrate the science-policy interface and the choices made for livestock improvement and for livestock biodiversity.

'Is This Even Work?'

Based on an ethnographic study amongst professional caregivers (nurses, nursing aides and attendants) in three medical establishments in Kolkata, this article explores how reproductive/use-value labour when brought into the public realm as productive/ exchange-value labour survives its association with servile, sexual, menial, feminine labour and continues to remain stigmatised. It examines the nursing labour market to interrogate how the precise nature of the labour performed, structures the perception of the worker of herself as an inferior, performing disreputable, stigmatised labour. Within the grids of gender, class and caste, work and workers mutually constitute each other to define what respectable work is. Such perceived value of work plays a pivotal role in justifying low wages, social recognition and identity as a worker.

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