ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Abhijit BanerjeeSubscribe to Abhijit Banerjee

Open Letter to Finance Minister

We, the undersigned, are writing to draw your attention to two urgent priorities for the forthcoming budget. (1) Social security pensions: The central government’s contribution to old-age pensions under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) has remained at a measly ₹200 per month since 2006...

'We Oppose the Death Penalty'

We, concerned citizens and organisations from different walks of life and with different world views, are united in opposing the death penalty and ­demanding its repeal in India. Though meant only for the rarest of rare crimes, the death penalty is widely being applied to an ever-increasing array...

Tourism in Protected Areas: Worsening Prospects for Tigers?

Against the backdrop of the increasing popularity of ecotourism and the dramatic loss of tigers due to lack of funding, mismanagement, population and development pressures as well as poaching, this article finds that the present policies benefit neither conservation nor local communities. It is only by integrating ecotourism into a broader array of sustainable livelihoods, will local communities be more inclined to support conservation efforts.

Can Information Campaigns Raise Awareness and Local Participation in Primary Education?

A central plank of public policy for improving primary education services in India is the participation of village education committees, consisting of village government leaders, parents, and teachers. This paper reports the findings from a survey in a rural district in Uttar Pradesh. Rural households, parents, teachers and VEC members were surveyed on the status of education services and the extent of community participation in the public delivery of education services. Most parents do not know that a VEC exists, public participation in improving education is negligible, and large numbers of children in the villages have not acquired basic competencies of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Based on the findings of the baseline survey, this paper also describes a set of information and advocacy campaigns that have been designed to explore whether local participation can increase, and future research plans to evaluate the impact of these interventions.

What Do Banks (Not) Do?

In many ways the banking system in India, including the regulatory apparatus, remains a product of the planning years. It seems to be a system that was conceived for a world where people were expected to do what they were told, and things happened as they were meant to. The real challenge, whether public control remains or not, is to create a banking system for a world where investors take risk and sometimes fail, where bankers need to take initiative and use their judgment. We need incentives for bankers that reward success but make allowances for bad luck, which at the same time guard against the temptation to be irresponsible or corrupt.

Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan

This paper reports on a survey conducted in rural Udaipur to gauge the delivery of health care and the impact it has on the health status of the largely poor population of the region. The study shows that the quality of public service is extremely low and that unqualified private providers account for the bulk of health care provision. The low quality of public facilities has also had an adverse influence on the people's health. In an environment where people's expectations of health care providers seem to be generally low, the state has to take up the task of being the provider or regulator.

Strategy for Economic Reform in West Bengal

During the last two decades West Bengal has led the rest of the country with regard to agricultural performance and implementation of panchayat institutions. But these developments have begun to level out. At the same time the state has fallen behind in other sectors - industry, higher education and state of public finances, particularly - to an extent that is seriously worrying. This paper reviews performance of these different sectors, discusses possible explanatory factors, and makes a number of suggestions for policy reforms. With regard to industrial revival, it stresses public investment in transport and communication, measures to improve higher education, foster industry-university collaborations, and help small-scale industries overcome specific market imperfections (access to credit, technology and distribution channels). In public finance, emphasis is placed on raising tax revenues (especially with regard to the service sector), limiting losses of public sector undertakings, and widening the scope of land taxes and user fees. In the agricultural sector, the need for a greater role of the government with regard to biotechnology, extension services, irrigation and flood control is emphasised, along with suggestions for encouraging and regulating contract farming with MNCs. Finally the article urges greater empowerment of panchayats with regard to social service delivery and agro-business development, and administrative reforms to enhance accountability of state government employees.
Back to Top