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

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Where to Invest to Accelerate Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction

This study aims to understand the drivers that helped India achieve the challenging targets of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty before 2015. Have increased public investments or farm subsidies contributed to reducing rural poverty, directly through various public spending schemes or indirectly through increased agricultural land productivity? Utilising a structural equation to answer this question for the period 1981–82 to 2013–14, it was found that education and agricultural research and development produced the highest marginal returns for promoting agricultural income, while investments in rural infrastructure development and health provisions are the most effective in reducing rural poverty.

Prejudice against Reservation Policies

Based on data and theory, this paper critically examines the validity of popular arguments against reservation policies, namely, that reservation has bypassed the poor, that it has reduced efficiency, that economic criteria are better than caste and that there should be a time limit for the application of reservation policies. The paper exposes the weak empirical and theoretical basis of these arguments and the prejudices underlying them. It also makes suggestions to reform reservation policies to extend them to private employment and education, and proposes a reparation policy to compensate for the wilful denial of the right to property and education to the former untouchables.

Urban Rental Housing Market

This study attempts to identify the forms of discrimination experienced by Dalits and Muslims in the rental housing market in five metropolitan areas of the National Capital Region of Delhi. A combination of three distinct methods, the telephonic audit, in-person or face-to-face audit, and studies, is used to capture the phenomenon of discrimination and unequal outcomes for prospective Dalit and Muslim tenants in the urban rental housing market. The study finds that houseowner prejudices deny housing for both Dalits and Muslims, with Muslims experiencing greater discrimination. The study also found that Dalits and Muslims who manage to get homes on rent have to do so by agreeing to unfair terms and conditions.

Caste Identity and Economics

The Grammar of Caste: Economic Discrimination in Contemporary India by Ashwini Deshpande (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2011; pp xxi + 295, Rs 695

Has Growth Been Socially Inclusive during 1993-94 - 2009-10?

This paper examines the changes in poverty incidence and monthly per capita expenditure in India using the National Sample Survey's unit record data of three rounds, 1993-94, 2004-05 and 2009-10. The changes in poverty and growth in MPCE have been measured for major socio-religious and economic groups in both rural and urban sectors. This is complemented by the decomposition of the change in the incidence of poverty into the growth and distribution components. The results indicate that the poverty rate has declined at an accelerated rate during 2004-05 - 2009-10 for all socio-religious household groups. Growth has been more poverty reducing at an aggregate level during the period 2004-05 - 2009-10 as compared to 1993-94 - 2004-05. However, some groups benefited more than the others from poverty reduction. Inequality has also begun to adversely affect poverty reduction, particularly in the urban sector.

Caste and Ownership of Private Enterprises

Age-old restrictions on access to capital by certain social groups continue to reflect themselves in the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes owning far fewer private enterprises than warranted by their share in the population in both rurual and urban India. Recent nationwide data also reveal that when they do run business establishments these are mainly household enterprises organised around family labour. Poverty rates among the enterprises of the socially disadvantaged groups are also much higher than among the other castes.

The Legacy of Social Exclusion

This article examines the prevalence of discrimination in the job application process of private sector enterprises in India. The study is based on a field experiment where authors replied to job advertisements in major English dailies sending three applications to each call - as an upper caste Hindu applicant, as a dalit and as a Muslim. Using statistical analysis they assess the data and find that discriminatory processes operate even at the first stage of the application process.

Caste and Economic Discrimination: Causes, Consequences and Remedies

This paper provides a theoretical introduction to the study of discrimination with particular reference to the caste system. It sets the stage for the four empirical papers that follow, by highlighting the ways in which caste persists as a system of inequality that burdens the Indian economy with inefficiencies in the allocation of labour and other critical resources, reducing the full development of human capital in society. Far from disappearing as the economy modernises, discrimination remains a problem which, for reasons outlined here, is not amenable to self correction, but rather requires interventionist policies to remedy.

Public Investment and Poverty Reduction

Growth in agricultural productivity, the rural non-farm sector and rural wages, which are the main sources of poverty reduction in both China and India, have been made possible by public investments in R&D, infrastructure (such as roads, power, irrigation, communication and education) and anti-poverty programmes. However, returns on these public investments, reckoned in terms of poverty reduction, vary drastically across different types of investment. The trade-off between agricultural growth and poverty reduction is generally small among different types of investments and between regions. Agricultural research, education, and infrastructure development have a significant growth impact as well as a large poverty reduction impact.

Paying the Social Debt

It is necessary to recognise the exclusionary and discriminatory character of our society and economy, a creation largely of differences arising from caste, ethnicity, religion and other group identities. But to design appropriate remedial policies, an understanding of contemporary forms of discrimination in multiple spheres and their consequences is very necessary. Policies adopted by other countries, such as Malaysia and South Africa, as a way of correcting centuries of historical discrimination could also serve as pointers.

Reservation and Efficiency

The corporate sector needs to keep in mind that anti-discrimination measures like reservation are needed for growth as much as equity. It is necessary to emphasise that anti-discrimination policies will not only provide fair and non-discriminatory access to historically excluded and discriminated groups like the dalits, but simultaneously remove constraints imposed by caste discrimination on labour markets, and thereby induce competitiveness and economic growth.

On Reservation Policy for Private Sector

Given the range of economic discrimination against marginalised groups like SCs, STs and OBCs the reservation policy for the private sector ought to cover not only employment, but also markets, agricultural land, capital, consumer goods, education, housing, government contracts, etc.

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