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

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Aadhaar and Food Security in Jharkhand

Aadhaar-based biometric authentication is now compulsory for most users of the public distribution system in Jharkhand. Based on a recent household survey, this paper examines various issues related to this measure, including exclusion problems, transaction costs, and its impact on corruption. The findings raise serious questions about the appropriateness of this technology for rural Jharkhand.

Browsing through 51 Years of EPW | On Research and Action

The value of scientific research can, in many circumstances, be enhanced if it is combined with real-world involvement and action. This approach should be seen as an essential complement of, not a substitute for, research of a more ‘detached’ kind

Terror in Latehar

In the past few years, villages of Manika Block in Latehar District have been terrorised by Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad (JJMP), a police-sponsored outfit allegedly aimed at countering Maoist influence. JJMP gangs roam in the area and harass innocent villagers, extorting money, interfering with...

The Real Insights of Game Theory

Game theory is a source of powerful insights into the nature of situations where people's decisions are interdependent. Among these insights, however, is the fact that in such situations it is often difficult to decide what to do on the basis of strategic reasoning alone. The limitations of strategic reasoning enhance the value of other modes of thought. They also reinforce the case for thinking beyond self-interest in social life.

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...

Clarification on PDS Leakages

This note outlines the methodological reasons for the (small) differences in estimates of leakages from the public distribution system in 2011-12, as reported in Himanshu and Abhijit Sen (EPW, 16 and 23 November 2013) and Drèze and Khera (EPW, 14 February 2015).

Food Security

Bihar's public distribution system used to be one of the worst in India, but the system has improved significantly from 2011 onwards. The National Food Security Act, backed early on by the political leadership, enabled the state to include the bulk of the rural population in this improved system. However, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that the system is reliable, transparent and corruption-free.

Understanding Leakages in the Public Distribution System

This article attempts to resolve the puzzle of public distribution system leakages using the latest available data. Leakages remain high, but there is clear evidence of improvement in recent years, especially in states -- including Bihar -- that have undertaken bold PDS reforms. The main source of leakages is the "above the poverty line" quota, which is due to be phased out under the National Food Security Act.

Caste and the Power Elite in Allahabad

This article examines the social composition of public institutions in Allahabad, and specifically, the share of different castes and communities in positions of power and influence - the Press Club, the university faculty, the Bar Association, the police, and the commanding positions in trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media houses, among other public institutions. These turn out to be heavily dominated by a small group of upper castes - Brahmins and Kayasthas in particular. Disadvantaged castes, for their part, are largely relegated to subordinate or menial positions. The findings raise troubling questions about the resilience of caste hierarchies. Aside from better enforcement of reservation norms, there is an urgent need for more voluntary attention to diversity in public life, of the sort that has significantly reduced ethnic or gender imbalances in other countries.

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...

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