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

Ashok KotwalSubscribe to Ashok Kotwal

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...

Distress in Marathaland

The Marathas, Maharashtra’s dominant community, have been protesting against the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and demanding reservations for themselves and a hike in minimum support prices. This study reveals that these demands do not address the source of Maratha distress—stagnation of farm incomes and the failure of the government to improve agricultural productivity. Poor farmers, whether Maratha or Dalit, have the same grievances, and therefore, a caste-based mobilisation may actually be counterproductive.

'One Kind of Democracy'

Even if we concede that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is designed as a demand-driven programme, and that local residents desire to have work projects in their area, whether it translates into effective demand, and whether the work projects actually get initiated depends very much on the dominant voices in local power structures. As this study shows in the case of Maharashtra, however progressive the design of modern democratic institutions, traditional caste hierarchies will try to sabotage their working by using their standing clientelist structures, with class and caste coming together to make this possible.

Do Not Dilute NREGA

[An Open Letter to the Prime Minister on NREGA by economists based in India and elsewhere in the world.] We are writing to express our deep concern about the future of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). The NREGA was enacted in 2005 with unanimous support from all political...

Response to Sugata Marjit

We thank Sugata Marjit for his response to our article. He is right that voter perception is a complex issue and the process through which economic indicators get reflected in voting patterns cannot be reduced to any simple formula. We are, however, a bit baffled by some of the points he has raised...

Growth in the Time of UPA

This article challenges the prevailing view that the diminished electoral prospects of the United Progressive Alliance government is the result of neglecting growth to launch populist welfare schemes. It looks at a wide range of economic indicators to argue that compared to the National Democratic Alliance regime, the UPA period has been characterised by faster growth, higher savings and investment, growing foreign trade and capital infl ows, and increased infrastructure spending in partnership with private capital. The UPA's political troubles arise not from policies that hurt growth but from an inability to tackle the consequences of accelerated economic growth - increased conflict over land, rent seeking and corruption in the booming infrastructure and natural resource sectors, inability of public education to keep up with increased demand and rising aspirations, and poor delivery of welfare schemes made possible by growing revenues.

PDS Forever?

There is a case to be made for cash transfers replacing the sale of food through the public distribution system. This article argues that cash transfers offer many advantages over in-kind food transfers, and that their design can address potential pitfalls pointed out by critics. The more salient of such objections are discussed, and models for implementing cash transfers based on existing technology and infrastructure are proposed. However, in conclusion, it is recommended that instead of centralised dismantling of the public distribution system, the decision on the means of delivery should be left to the states.

Sectoral Labour Flows and Agricultural Wages in India, 1983-2004: Has Growth Trickled Down?

This paper examines the evolution of poverty in India through the prism of agricultural wages and employment. It links the movement in wages (and hence poverty) to the fundamental process of sectoral labour flow that underlies economic development. It finds that despite the rapid growth of the non-farm sector, its success in drawing labour from land has been limited. Yet agricultural earnings have increased, demonstrating the pivotal role of agricultural productivity. The stock of the labour force already locked into agriculture is large and the best way to improve living standards would be to boost farm productivity.
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