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

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Can Jan Dhan Yojana Achieve Financial Inclusion?

While there has been a tremendous increase in the number of bank accounts opened, the data show that the average balance in these accounts is low and a significant proportion of the accounts are inoperative. Although there was a rise in the average deposits during demonetisation, they later settled at a lower level. Further, financial inclusion means not just the opening of bank accounts but, more importantly, access to credit from formal sources. The limited data available in this regard show that after the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was launched there has not been any increase in the credit–deposit ratio and the share of small loans has continued to decline. Very few people have benefited from the overdraft facility that is supposed to be provided by the accounts under the scheme. Issues of access to banking in rural areas remain.

Credibility and Portability?

Examining the Centralised Online Real-time Electronic Public Distribution System reforms introduced by the Government of Chhattisgarh to understand the processes and conditions under which such reforms strengthen accountability and affect the delivery of public services, it is found that while earlier reforms have been successful, the contribution of CORE PDS has been useful but limited. A significant finding was that technological fixes for social protection programmes are only feasible insofar as they work within the political logic of the context in question. CORE PDS reforms could not address the issues of power imbalances between shop owners and cardholders which continue to shape interactions between them. Introducing transparency, accountability and quasi-market reforms in this context offered limited possibilities in what they could achieve.

Realising Universal Maternity Entitlements

In India, most of the work women do is invisible and unrecognised because it is done outside the boundaries of the formal economy. As a result, the laws pertaining to maternity entitlements reach a very limited number of women. The National Food Security Act, 2013 was the first national-level legislation to recognise the right of all women to maternity entitlements and wage compensation. Since the passage of the act, India has been using an existing conditional cash transfer scheme, the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana, to implement this entitlement. An examination of the implementation of defined maternity entitlements under the act via a conditional cash transfer, highlights the failure of such a programme to uphold the spirit of the act. Amendments to the act are necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable women are able to realise their right to maternity entitlements, wage compensation, health and nutrition.

Hunger and Structural Inequality

We consider that the right to food is a universal human right. Violation of this right results in hunger and malnutrition. We believe that the problems of hunger and malnutrition in our country are created by structural poverty and inequality resulting in severe food insecurity. This situation is...

Maternal and Child Health

The data from the Rapid Survey on Children conducted in 2013-14, released after an inexplicable delay and still in a summary fashion, show some but patchy progress between 2005-06 and 2013-14 in maternal and child health indicators. A preliminary analysis indicates that in those areas where special efforts were made, such as in increasing institutional delivery and expanding immunisation coverage, some results are seen. This calls for greater investments in health and nutrition within a more comprehensive approach.

Cash for Food--A Misplaced Idea

Direct benefi t transfers in the form of cash cannot replace the supply of food through the public distribution system. Though it is claimed otherwise, DBT does not address the problems of identifying the poor ("targeting") and DBT in place of the PDS will expose the vulnerable to additional price fluctuation. Further, if the PDS is dismantled, there will also be no need or incentive for procurement from farmers and this system too will have to be done away with, adding a new source of vulnerability to cultivators of rice and wheat.

Cost of Implementing the National Food Security Act

A number of independent estimates have been made of the cost of implementation of the National Food Security Bill, now an Act. However, these estimates are either based on wrong assumptions or work with numbers that are not in the public domain. The one thing that most of them share is an attempt to demonstrate that the costs will be unaffordable.

National Food Security Ordinance: Anything But Expensive

While critics have overblown the cost estimates of the National Food Security Ordinance, the ordinance itself is a missed opportunity. What is needed is a more comprehensive Act which incorporates measures such as procurement, storage and distribution through a decentralised, strengthened and universal public distribution system, among others and a strong grievance redressal and monitoring mechanism.

Social Audit of Midday Meal Scheme in AP

Studies of India's midday meal scheme have emphasised the need for community monitoring. A social audit was recently initiated for this purpose by the government of Andhra Pradesh. This article presents an account of the audit in Adilabad and Kurnool districts. It brings out various problems like corruption, misuse of power and mismanagement of funding. However, the audit did also bring out the many positive effects of the midday meal scheme - in increasing enrolment, averting "classroom hunger" and reducing social discrimination. It also showed that active community monitoring can significantly enhance the quality of the scheme.

Rethinking ICDS: A Rights Based Perspective

The ICDS programme is one of the most important public programmes in India, reaching out to the most neglected sections of the population. However, its coverage needs to be expanded to include every child, pregnant and nursing mothers, and adolescent girls. Its functions need to be separated, with a specialised person to provide pre-school education and another worker to take charge of health and nutrition aspects. Coordination between the health and education departments is required for maximum efficiency. Also, it is important to set clear goals, so that achievements can be assessed and work given direction.
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