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

Bharat RamaswamiSubscribe to Bharat Ramaswami

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...

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.

Labels for GM Foods: What Can They Do?

Labelling of genetically modified foods is a contentious issue and internationally there is sharp division on whether such labels ought to be mandatory. This debate has reached India where the government has proposed mandatory labels. Mandatory labelling aims to provide greater information and correspondingly more informed consumer choice. However, even without such laws, markets have incentives to supply labels. So can mandatory labelling achieve outcomes different from the voluntary type? The paper argues that this is not the case in most situations. It goes on to explore the special set of circumstances, where mandatory labels make a difference to outcomes. If these outcomes are intended, mandatory labelling is justified; otherwise not. Although the Indian context provides the motivation, the core arguments given are general and applicable to other country contexts as well.

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.

Competition and Monopoly in Indian Cotton Seed Market

The private sector has become an important supplier of varietal technology in agriculture giving rise to concerns about competition in the seed market. This study examines the evolution in the structure of India's cotton seed market and factors that underlie the changes. It finds that the private sector has grown rapidly in the last decade. As the proprietary hybrid seed market has grown, more private players have come into the market, eating away at the share of market leaders. With Bt cotton, the seed industry encompasses a seed market as well as a technology market. To some extent, biosafety laws have protected the monopoly of the incumbent, which has received a significant first mover advantage. However, the market structure is not frozen because of diffusion from illegal seeds, competition from alternative gene suppliers and changing regulatory practices.

Efficiency and Equity of Food Market Interventions

This paper reviews the economic rationale of food market interventions in India, the problems that arise in designing these policies and their performance. The evaluation points to certain directions of reform which require that the framework of a centralised public distribution system be set aside in favour of a regionally differentiated safety net of food subsidies sensitive to local consumption patterns, needs and circumstances.

Targeting and Efficiency in the Public Distribution System

This paper compares the public distribution of food in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Based on the 50th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) household consumption survey data, the authors examine differences in utilisation, extent of targeting, magnitude of income transfers and the cost-effectiveness of food subsidies. The findings suggest policy reforms in favour of self-targeting and greater operational efficiency.

Vision and Illusion in Fiscal Correction

In a bid to contain the fiscal deficit, the government has in this budget targeted outlay on subsidies. This note focuses on the likely consequences in the case of the food subsidy.

Quality of Public Distribution System-Why It Matters

Quality of Public Distribution System Why It Matters Pulapre Balakrishnan Bharat Ramaswami This paper argues that price formation in foodgrains markets cannot be fully understood without reference to consumer switches between the open market and the public distribution system (PDS) induced by quality differences. This is an important aspect of the food economy, for an evaluation of state intervention must consider not only the welfare of its targeted beneficiaries but also the welfare of households without access to the PDS but who may nevertheless be affected if the working of the PDS has a bearing on the open market.
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