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Too Little, Too Late

The last budget of the Modi government comes against the backdrop of severe agrarian and rural distress. It is also the last opportunity to undo the damage caused to the rural economy by this government in the last four years. While the government has finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its response has been limited to empty rhetoric without any financial commitment. Going by the past record of the government, it is clear that it is serious neither in its commitment nor in its intent. The half-hearted measures are not only too little and too late, it is also clear that this budget is unlikely to revive the rural economy.

In a Macroeconomic Bind

Despite it being the government’s last full budget before the general elections in 2019, the finance minister, constrained by his self-imposed fiscal deficit targets, settled for rhetoric and promises that were not backed with allocations. This frozen macroeconomic policy has foreclosed all options to adopt proactive measures that could make a difference to those who need support. Yet, the financial interests he wants to impress also seem disappointed.

Incongruence between Announcements and Allocations

A scrutiny of the Indian economy and the state of public finances reveals that while there are a few areas of improvement under the current government, the economy remains fragile and, worryingly, the situation has worsened in some other respects. It was hoped that the Union Budget 2018–19 would take measures to address some of these concerns but these expectations have been belied. Budget 2018–19, possibly with an eye on elections, has made grand announcements instead of taking hard decisions and making adequate allocations towards key sectors of the economy.

A Confused Taxation Narrative

The Union Budget 2018–19 was presented against the background of a slippage in the fiscal deficit levels. The government has reiterated its commitment towards fiscal consolidation. In this context, an attempt is made to understand the tax revenue numbers for 2017–18 and 2018–19. The analysis suggests potential shortfall in the revenues budgeted for 2018–19.

New FRBM Framework

The structural inability to control revenue deficits needs different solutions from the usual argument that the utilisation of government expenditure is inefficient and that the government should spend less. It is time to relook at the way the union government spends.

Unthreading Partition

This article studies the impact of partition on the jute industry of Bengal. The new international border separating India and East Bengal put the jute producing areas and the jute mills in two separate countries. Though both the governments initially agreed to cooperate with each other in matters of jute cultivation and marketing, in reality jute diplomacy was complex and conflict-ridden. To become self-sufficient in the jute economy, East Bengal invested in jute mills and began to develop Chittagong port to export raw jute. India, on the other hand, encouraged jute cultivation. Both the countries set up customs and check posts at the border to curb smuggling of jute. Thus, the untangling of Bengal’s jute economy was integrally linked with nation-building initiatives. Moreover, the Indo–Pakistan jute diplomacy encouraged the worldwide shift from jute to jute substitutes in the 1950s.

Enter the NGO

Following partition, development experts associated with United States’ philanthropic organisations and new international agencies took an active role in transforming the divided Punjab. Through the 1950s, the World Bank worked to adjudicate the Indus River Basin dispute between India and Pakistan. Issues of soil fertility and the productive capacity of lands on both sides of the new border proved critical within these discussions. At the same time, the United States-based Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation coordinated with the Indian state to launch projects in the agricultural sciences, population control, and community development for partition’s refugees. A dual agenda of restricting the fertility of rural populations and augmenting the fertility of agricultural lands, united these first international development initiatives following partition.

Education, Training and Refugee Rehabilitation in Post-partition West Bengal

The article studies the role of education and training in the rehabilitation of Hindu refugees in post-partition West Bengal. It shows how class, caste, and gender inflected the schemes of school education and training, the assumptions of government proposals and the belief of the bhadraloks. Schools occupied an important position in the refugee squatter colonies set up by the early migrants. On the other hand, for the subaltern refugees, depending solely on government help, schemes of agricultural and vocational training were deemed fitter, as that would help in economic rehabilitation faster. For the state, these refugees needed to contribute to the larger development projects of the period and become a labouring contributor to the society. These different experiences underline the ways through which social and cultural assumptions get reproduced even during extreme moments of crises.

The Purusharthi Refugee

The post-partition reconfiguration of the walled city of Jaipur that had originally been dominated by Hindu and Jain merchants is explored. Sindhi refugee retailers and traders were given space during the 1950s and 1970s by creating new markets. The spatial and physical mapping of competing communities, like the Sindhis, Muslims and Bania Hindus, in the walled city was also undergirded by contending claims to the city’s past defined as “heritage.” In the case of the refugees, this was articulated through the trope of purushartha.

Refugee Legal Challenges to Bombay Government’s Land Requisition Housing Scheme

Partition refugees who arrived in India challenged the laws that various provincial governments enacted to “regulate” and “rehabilitate” them. By looking at one of the earliest and key cases concerning writs that emerged out of Sindhi refugee legal challenges to the Bombay government’s land requisition scheme of 1947–48, this article suggests that partition refugees helped to shape the legal and constitutional landscape of newly independent India.

The Puttaswamy Judgment

The Supreme Court’s judgment in K Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) presents a paradigm shift in the Court’s understanding of fundamental rights under the Constitution. While the right to privacy has been acknowledged in some form or the other since Gobind v Sta te of Madhya Pradesh (1975) , what...


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