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

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Acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart

The recent acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart will accelerate the process of transforming the retail sector in two important ways. It will bring in the know-how and capital of a retail giant, and will give a boost to online retail. While this helps transform the retail sector in India with clear long-run benefits, definite job losses in informal retail and probable rises in food prices in rural markets due to sourcing by big retailers are the short-run problems. If the government ignores the short-run problems, the transformation may become politically infeasible.

Bandhan: Can It Replicate Its Microfinance Success?

When banks are struggling to reduce bad loans, Bandhan, with a recovery rate of more than 99.5% in microfi nance, has entered the banking industry. Will its microfinance experience help it meet the challenges of mainstream banking?

Muslims in Gujarat and West Bengal

While addressing a rally in West Bengal during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, Narendra Modi declared that Muslims in Gujarat are doing much better than their counterparts in West Bengal. The relative prosperity of Gujarati Muslims is historical and has got nothing to do with Modi's tenure as chief minister in Gujarat. Moreover, the prosperity of Gujarati Muslims has made them vulnerable to the attacks of rioters and added to their misery.

Private Investment in Education

This article presents empirical evidence on educational investments by members of different castes and religion using household-level, cross-sectional data from West Bengal. It finds that scheduled caste households invest significantly less than other households in private coaching of children, even after controlling for all available socio-economic background variables. This result is posited to arise from two possible sources: from cultural factors and from positive discriminative practices. The article develops an empirical strategy to determine which type of factor is more significant and finds that cultural factors are more likely than positive discriminative practices to be the source of the lower spending.

Understanding FDI in Retail

The recent debate on the acceptability of foreign direct investment in the retail sector in India has been mostly political. It is necessary to look into the pros and cons of FDI in retail from a purely economic point of view. This article identifi es the safeguards that should be undertaken before allowing giant multinationals to function in the country.

Local Democracy and Clientelism: Implications for Political Stability in Rural West Bengal

This paper examines factors underlying the unusual stability of political power in rural West Bengal, using data pertaining to the functioning of local democracy from a household survey conducted by the authors during 2003-05. It examines patterns of political awareness, participation, distribution of benefits by gram panchayats, and voting across households of varying socio-economic characteristics. The main findings are that (i) political participation was high on average; (ii) within villages panchayat benefits flowed to poor and scheduled caste/scheduled tribe groups on par or better, compared with the rest of the population; (iii) distribution of benefits across villages was biased against those with more landless households; and (iv) the lasting political success of the Left owed partly to a clientelist relationship of the party with the voters, and partly to the gratitude of voters of low socio-economic status arising out of broad-based changes.

Development and Displacement

The article is concerned with the process through which agrarian land is acquired to build up infrastructure, industries and various services, in the process displacing people from their traditional occupations and livelihood. In particular, the focus is on the recent strife in West Bengal over such acquisition. The article argues that while such acquisition is necessary for industrialisation, which in turn is absolutely essential for the long-run development of West Bengal, its success depends crucially upon a well thought out compensation and rehabilitation programme, which has so far been seriously lacking in the state.

Political Economy of West Bengal

The paper is concerned with the phenomenon of unusual political stability in West Bengal coupled with moderate economic development in the state since the inception of Left Front rule. It is argued that this coexistence cannot be fully explained by agricultural growth or land reforms. An explanation is provided in terms of informalisation of the economy along with a strong party organisation of the left.

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