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

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Large Villages, Small Towns

Two distinctly different processes of change are likely to operate in rural areas as a consequence of urbanisation (Surinder S Jodhka, “Changing Face of Rural India”, EPW, 5 April 2014). As the urban boundaries shift out with larger villages becoming eventually small towns, the people in these...

Through Cloudy Glasses: Viewing Food Insecurity from the Top

Food Insecurity, Vulnerability and Human Rights Failure edited by Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis, Shabd S Acharya and Benjamin Davis;

Making Safety Nets Effective for Hardcore Poor

Safety nets to support the hardcore poor form the foundation of the strategy for poverty elimination. This paper brings out the alarming state of the existing safety nets and describes a decentralised approach to make them more effective. The approach is in the nature of extension of the decentralised mode being used by National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme to provide employment guarantee to unskilled labourers.

A Self-Help Group Model for Farmer Insurance

This note suggests a self-help group model for farmers so as to set up a simple and feasible arrangement to insure their enterprises against risk and uncertainty caused by weather and price fluctuations.

Employment Guarantee: Why Progress Is Patchy?

Letters Employment Guarantee: Why Progress Is Patchy? I t is encouraging that both scholars and activists have begun to report on the progress of the national rural employment guarantee programme (NREGP) in different states. Though it is too early to discern overall trends, it is clear that...

Putting the Cart before a Non-Existent Horse

The NCEUS report is an important step towards bringing unorganised sector workers under some form of social protection. However, the cart of a social security system needs three galloping horses to take it to the destination of a deprivation-free unorganised worker: viable enterprises, successful poverty alleviation programmes and congenial macro policies, none of which is in sight.

Unorganised Workers

Provision of social security to the unorganised workers is currently receiving the urgent attention of the central government and some of the state governments. This paper, based on a large sample of unorganised workers - construction workers, domestic workers and agricultural labourers - from Karnataka, presents indices of their economic conditions and deprivation to show how inadequate it is to use the below poverty line criterion for providing benefits to unorganised sector workers. The priority social security needs are analysed to show the diversity within and across sectors, and to review the policy measures - existing and those on the anvil.

Agricultural Growth and Farmer Distress

As the May 2004 national and state elections showed, farmer distress has now become a volcanic force capable of sweeping away political parties and policy regimes unfriendly to farmers. Karnataka and Andhra, two high profile IT states, have witnessed the ruthlessness with which this force works. This paper presents clues from Karnataka indicating that farmer distress is an outcome not of the lack of agricultural growth but, paradoxically, of the enterprising qualities of farmers who pursue growth and even achieve it in good measure. The indications are that farmers in Karnataka respond quite well to changing markets and are receptive to new technologies. But the drought-prone environment, combined with a non-caring policy regime, turns into victims the very producers who bring about growth.

Food Security in Drought-Prone Areas

The functioning of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in India has come under scrutiny because of rising burden of subsidy and storage cost and meagre coverage of the poor and the actual benefits received by them. It is argued in this paper that the existing system has become unwieldy and unsustainable and that the time has come to review it, especially in the context of panchayat raj institutions (PRI) and the role they are expected to play in regard to the rural poor. With the help of illustrative data from two drought-prone districts of Karnataka, an attempt is made in the paper to demonstrate the feasibility of a decentralised system operated by PRI based on the local staples consumed by the poor. The result seems encouraging enough to suggest that it would be worthwhile to have more substantive investigation as also pilot projects to test the workability of the decentralised system.

Don't Forget the Tortoise!

 Indian Agriculture: Four Decades of Development by G S Bhalla and Gurmail Singh; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2001; pp xiv+ 309, Rs 450.

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