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

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Cooking Stoves, Indoor Air Pollution and Respiratory Health in Rural Orissa

Indoor air pollution emitted from traditional fuels and cooking stoves is a potentially large health threat in rural regions. This paper reports the results of a survey of traditional stove ownership and health among 2,400 households in rural Orissa. We find a very high incidence of respiratory illness. About one-third of the adults and half of the children in the survey had experienced symptoms of respiratory illness in the 30 days preceding the survey, with 10 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of children experiencing a serious cough. We find a high correlation between using a traditional stove and having symptoms of respiratory illness. We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that the high level of observed respiratory illness is due to other factors that also contribute to a household's decision to use a traditional stove, such as poverty, health preferences and the bargaining power of women in the household.

Can Information Campaigns Raise Awareness and Local Participation in Primary Education?

A central plank of public policy for improving primary education services in India is the participation of village education committees, consisting of village government leaders, parents, and teachers. This paper reports the findings from a survey in a rural district in Uttar Pradesh. Rural households, parents, teachers and VEC members were surveyed on the status of education services and the extent of community participation in the public delivery of education services. Most parents do not know that a VEC exists, public participation in improving education is negligible, and large numbers of children in the villages have not acquired basic competencies of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Based on the findings of the baseline survey, this paper also describes a set of information and advocacy campaigns that have been designed to explore whether local participation can increase, and future research plans to evaluate the impact of these interventions.

What Do Banks (Not) Do?

In many ways the banking system in India, including the regulatory apparatus, remains a product of the planning years. It seems to be a system that was conceived for a world where people were expected to do what they were told, and things happened as they were meant to. The real challenge, whether public control remains or not, is to create a banking system for a world where investors take risk and sometimes fail, where bankers need to take initiative and use their judgment. We need incentives for bankers that reward success but make allowances for bad luck, which at the same time guard against the temptation to be irresponsible or corrupt.

Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan

This paper reports on a survey conducted in rural Udaipur to gauge the delivery of health care and the impact it has on the health status of the largely poor population of the region. The study shows that the quality of public service is extremely low and that unqualified private providers account for the bulk of health care provision. The low quality of public facilities has also had an adverse influence on the people's health. In an environment where people's expectations of health care providers seem to be generally low, the state has to take up the task of being the provider or regulator.

Impact of Reservation in Panchayati Raj

A necessary condition for the efficacy of the reservation policy in panchayati institutions is that elected representatives have independent power and autonomy over and above not only the direct control of the villagers, but also above the control of the bureaucracy, party hierarchies and the local elite. Two important questions that must be asked to establish whether or not reservations make a difference for political outcomes and governance are (a) do panchayat leaders matter at all and (b) do they make decisions that better reflect the interest of their own groups? This paper summarises findings from a research project on local decentralisation conducted in two districts of West Bengal and Rajasthan. The findings establish that reservation introduced as a tool to ensure adequate representation also assists in adequate delivery of local public goods to disadvantaged groups.
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