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

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World Bank on Governance-A Critique

A Critique S Guhan The World Bank -given its visibility, resources, prestige and leverage is, in course of time, capable of distorting the word 'governance' to make it acquire the kind of ideology-laden, question-begging connotation which it has injected into it If this goes uncontested, debate on governance will be marginalised by being confined to the narrow and warped terms set for it by the World Bank, This has already happened with 'economic reforms' and 'structural adjustment', two other mantras in the World Bank's vocabulary.

Centre-State Fiscal Transfers-Beyond the Tenth Finance Commission

The current regimen of centre-state fiscal transfers has evolved in a piecemeal fashion and inevitably lacks any rational design or direction. By the same token, the transition to a simple, transparent and rational system cannot take place in one move, but will have to be comprehensively visualised and implemented in a phased manner.

Social Expenditures in the Union Budget 1991-96

S Guhan Given the current emphasis on the centre's social sector expenditure, it is important to analyse such expenditure in terms of its dimensions, trends and composition. This paper attempts such an analysis, with data from the last six budgets, giving particular attention to so-called social expenditure of significance to the poor. Further, it explores the available options for making such expenditure more cost-effective and purposeful.

Report of Tenth Finance Commission

Report of Tenth Finance Commission S Guhan In the sequence of Finance Commission Reports, the Tenth Finance Commission's is among the outstanding ones. The commission has had to carry out its remit in a particularly difficult fiscal situation. Its projections of resources and requirements may not turn out to be realistic, hut they set fair and reasonable goals. The commission has been stingy in respect of vertical shares and debt relief but in the current fiscal context this is not unforgivable. The adoption of an identical formula, predominantly based on population and the distance criterion, is a reform that is sound and progressive in its economic logic. The grants to local bodies, the establishment of a National Fund for Calamity Relief and the chapter on defence expenditure are noteworthy initiatives. The 'Alternative Scheme' suggested by the commission, though flawed and inadequate in its present form, may prove to be an important contribution if it stimulates thought and action on a rational restructuring of federal fiscal transfers.

Indo-Sri Lanka Discord

Indo-Sri Lanka Discord S Guhan Pangs of Proximity: India and Sri Lanka's Ethnic Crisis by S D Muni; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1993; pp 259, Rs 250.

The Blotted Copybook

The Blotted Copybook S Guhan My Presidential Years by R Venkataraman; Harper Collins Publishers India, New R VENKATARAMAN's 654 page account of his five years (1987-92) as India's eighth president makes heavy demands on the reader's time, patience and stamina. Its length alone is not a major deterrent for the discriminating reader can quickly traverse large parts of the book devoted to the author's numerous foreign and internal tours; his nonsubstantive discussions with foreign and domestic dignitaries; the grandeur of Rashtrapathi Bhawan's halls, gardens and artefacts; investitures, banquets and functions; and the outpourings of official wisdom on occasions such as the opening of parliament sessions, governors' conferences, R-days and I-days. RV himself has the consideration to say, in the prologue, that excerpts from his speeches on various occasions "may make tiresome reading and may be skipped without much loss". This helpful advice applies to much else in the book.

Ageing in Kerala

Economic and Social Aspects of Population Ageing in Kerala, India by Leela Gulati; United Nations, New York, 1992. RELIEF for the aged poor is a fundamental form of social security, for old age is a contingency that cannot

Comprehending Equalities

Comprehending Equalities S Guhan Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India by Marc Galanter; Oxford University Press (paperback), 1991; pp xxviii + 625, Rs 95.

Fiscal Deficit and Public Enterprises

Fiscal Deficit and Public Enterprises S Guhan RAMASWAMY R IYER (EPW, November 2) is quite right in pointing out the error in Table 10 of my article on the union budget (EPW, August 24), By ignoring the current account surpluses of PEs, the table gives a misleading impression of the true 'fiscal deficit' of PEs. I apologise for the mistake. I would still hold that it is useful to look at the union government's fiscal deficit together with what corresponds to it in the case of central PEs in order to obtain an idea of the draft of the central public sector

Adjustment in the 1991-92-Budget-Hard-Headed or Soft-Headed

Hard-Headed or Soft-Headed? S Guhan The Economic Survey urged a "serious effort to introduce corrective measures through hard decisions and difficult choices". The budget's response to this call, the fudging apart, is feeble. And given the compulsion to contain the fiscal deficit to 6.5 per cent of GDP, incremental investment in infrastructure is likely to be seriously reduced in real terms in the coming year, retarding both growth and adjustment in the medium term.

Dakshinayana

Dakshinayana S Guhan The Challenge to the South. The Report of the South Commission; Oxford University Press, 1990; pp 325. THE South Commission headed by Julius Nyerere belongs to the lineage of global blue- ribbon commissions which began with the Brandt Commission (on international development issues) in the late 1970s and has continued with the Palme (disarmament) and Brundtland (environment) Commissions. The pattern, by now, has come to be well set. The conception of these bodies is almost immaculate in the sense that they are not sponsored but only 'suggested' or 'announced' by a multilateral group (in the case of the South Commission, the non- aligned movement acting on the initiative of Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad). A very distinguished world figure is chosen as chairman; he puts together a representative group of Eminents who function in a personal capacity; a small and competent secretariat is assembled (headed by Manmohan Singh in this case); funds arc mobilised from a variety of national and multilateral sources so as to preserve 'independence'; views are forged on the basis of internal and external discussions, existing and special studies, and much interaction. The final report is addressed to the 'world at large'

NINTH FINANCE COMMISSION S AWARD III-Flawed Devolution Scheme

examination of the Ninth Finance Commission's (NFC) scheme of transfers to the 14 major (i e, non-special category) states to meet the deficits in their non-plan and plan revenue accounts during 1990-95. We concentrate on the logic of the scheme with particular reference to the allocation of plan deficit grants. We show that the pattern of this allocation, inter se among the states, is irrational and inequitable within the framework of the NFC's own procedures and assumptions and within the constraint of the sum available to finance these deficits. We also indicate two alternatives which would have resulted in rational and equitable solutions.

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