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

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Lost Opportunity in Bihar

Rural Bihar is being suffocated by the control exercised by the landed gentry who own a disproportionate share of cultivable land and yet have little interest in increasing agricultural production. Those who can and do - the marginal and small peasants - work the land as sharecroppers and have few rights to it. By rejecting the recommendations of the Bihar Land Reforms Commission, the State in Bihar has lost yet another opportunity to reorder production relations through legal means.

Singur: What Happened, What Next and Time to Pay the Cost

Since Tata Motors has shifted the Nano project from Singur, the company will have to meet the cost of land acquisition, development and the police protection that was provided for two years. The state government should issue a global expression of interest to set up an automobile plant in the area - the land cannot be used for any other purpose.

Guiding Role of Central Finance Commission Regarding State Counterparts

State finance commissions ensure that finances are appropriately devolved to all the tiers of the panchayat bodies. This role is supplemented by the central finance commission, establishing an "organic" link between the two. Can the Thirteenth Finance Commission prove to be a better guide to the SFCs than its predecessors?

Does Land Still Matter?

The national economy is growing at near double-digit rates but neither industry nor non-agricultural activities in rural India have been able to provide livelihoods for millions of rural workers. It is this failure that underlies the spurt in rural violence that has highlighted once again the issue of the poor's access to land, water and forests. It is gradually being recognised that further deterioration of economic, social and political conditions of the rural poor can neither be arrested nor reversed without a significant policy shift towards a comprehensive land reform programme. Land reform means the disempowerment of a small but very powerful number of people. In a democratic society land reform can be undertaken sans bloodshed but not without tears.

A Visit to Two 'Flaming Fields' of Bihar

Public hearings in two villages in Jehanabad and West Champaran districts of Bihar revealed that in an area that in 1986 was called the "flaming fields", the embers of discontent over agrarian issues were still smouldering.

Is the Institution of District Magistrate Still Necessary?

Created in the mid-19th century by the colonial rulers to manage their affairs in India, the district magistrate was in charge of administration and collection of revenue. Today, the post has created a dichotomy between the district administration and various self-government institutions at the village and district levels. Given the administrative and bureaucratic problems that arise from such a structure, a pertinent question is whether this office is still functionally valid.

Elections and the Bureaucracy in West Bengal

The assembly elections in West Bengal will be a test of the state bureaucracy's commitment to standing firm against electoral malpractices and ensuring free and fair polls. The bureaucracy's record in recent years has been found wanting.

Nyaya Panchayats

Although in the Constitution dispensation of justice is inherent in the primary function of panchayats, the issue has so far not been addressed with the clarity and focus that it deserved. Against the backdrop of the recent announcement of the union law minister regarding the establishment of gram nyalayas, this article emphasises the need to revitalise the nyaya panchayats in furtherance of the directive principles of the Constitution. This is also necessary for ensuring a participatory and people-oriented system of justice and for providing greater scope to mediation and mitigating the hardship of the poor.

The Raj and Good Governance

The prime minister's speech at Oxford in July has sparked off a debate on the nature of "good governance" during the Raj. This article takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the special positions instituted by the Raj in the interests of good governance. It was in the 1930s and 1940s that the civil services created the "important" positions of LBAs, LBKs and the CCAs to ensure that concerns close to the heart of the then viceroy and the British prime minister received special attention.

Preventable Deaths

A recent study has highlighted the fact that economic policy changes since the early 1990s have been major contributing factors for the continued misery of farmers in the two southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. State governments, in their efforts to alleviate such misery, need look no further than the policy initiatives taken by the provincial governments, especially in the Madras Presidency under C Rajagopalachari, that came to power in 1937.

Rayagada Story Retold

The story of tribal exploitation continues unabated in Rayagada. Not only has the state government overlooked constitutional safeguards, it has often aided corporate houses seeking rights to mine bauxite. There is a need to provide a viable rehabilitation package that has the full participation and consent of the affected people.

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