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

Articles By Sarthak Gaurav

The Thorny Road to Evaluating Direct Benefit Transfers for Agricultural Households

With the introduction of the Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme by the union government, and more comprehensive schemes such as Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation of the Government of Odisha, there is an emergence of various direct benefit transfer schemes for agricultural households. Political expediency aside, these schemes offer an opportunity to think about challenges and opportunities in evaluating causal impacts of large-scale public programmes. Using the case of the KALIA scheme in Odisha, the challenges arising out of multiple objectives, unintended consequences, and lack of appropriate counterfactuals in evaluating DBTs are demonstrated. The insights are applicable to DBT programmes in general.

The Real Chowkidars of India

Looking at the profile of chowkidars (watchmen), using National Sample Survey Office unit-level data, it is evident that their work conditions are deplorable. A typical chowkidar is a middle-aged male with poor education and skills, working in urban areas on a low salary and without any written job contract or social security coverage. Instead of appropriating them as a metaphor for political gains, ensuring their job security should be a policy priority.

The Curious Case of Cocktails, Weedicides, and Tonics

This study uses primary survey data collected from Vidarbha, Maharashtra, to analyse pest attacks and pest management practices among cotton farmers who are at the risk of long-term exposure to toxic pesticides. We find that despite a reduction in bollworm infestations, secondary pest pressure is high. Farmers use pesticides indiscriminately and there is widespread practice of using “pesticide cocktails.” Farmers also mix pesticides with fertilisers. The use of weedicides and “tonics” is also widely prevalent. Farmers who perceive pesticides as yield-enhancing input spent more per acre on them. These findings raise concerns about the role of agricultural input dealers in filling up the agricultural information void for pest management.

Pesticide Usage by Cotton Farmers in India

With India emerging as a leading cotton producer in the world, and considering the large-scale adoption of Bt cotton cultivation, there is a need to understand the patterns of pesticide use by cotton farmers, especially as environmental, ecological, and health concerns surrounding pesticide use continue to be debated.