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

Shrayana BhattacharyaSubscribe to Shrayana Bhattacharya

The Post Office Paradox

Elementary education administrators at the block level primarily perceive themselves, or report themselves to be, disempowered cogs in a hierarchical administrative culture that renders them powerless. They refer to their own roles and offices as "post offices," used simply for doing the bidding of higher authorities and ferrying messages between the top and bottom of the education chain. Using the case of education delivery, this paper attempts to probe an administrator's perspective in resolving the implementation problem at the last mile and is based on detailed primary fieldwork in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh along with some quantitative surveys conducted in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It endeavours to trace the "cognitive maps" of administrators by capturing how last mile public servants see themselves and their jobs, and how notions of job performance are internalised and interpreted within the administrative context of elementary education in India.

From Policy to Practice

A survey in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—sstates that have extended social pension coverage beyond "below poverty line" families and increased pension amounts—sprovides a window into the challenges of scaling up such programmes. The survey reveals that increased coverage and higher pension amounts do not render the social pension regressive in its distribution; levels of leakage remain low and tractable. Yet, in practice, the schemes are unable to reach all of their target populations. A major challenge in expanding the pension net lies in ensuring entry for the poor. If pension programmes are to be scaled up, entry needs to be facilitated through stricter monitoring of inclusion errors, proactive identification, enrolment camps or other means.

Through the Magnifying Glass: Women's Work and Labour Force Participation in Urban Delhi

A study conducted in urban Delhi through a household survey between September and November 2006 estimates a greater female workforce participation rate than recorded in the National Sample Survey. It indicates undercounting and reflects the informality that surrounds women's work. This paper seeks to explore the nature of women's workforce participation and attempts to identify key factors influencing women's decision to work, the type of work they do, the constraints they face, and the perceived benefits and costs of engaging in paid work outside the home. In doing so, issues surrounding the methodology and underestimation of women's work within the urban context are also tackled. The study also suggests the need to understand the familial and household context within which labour market decisions are made. The role of family and kinship structures to determine women's work-life choices emerge as an important area for further study.
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