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

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The Making of a Masked Mandate

The discourse around the forthcoming Bihar assembly elections of 2020 is rife with the usual rhetoric of development brandished by the ruling alliance, while the opposition stresses the underdevelopment of the state. This election is also driven by caste calculations. But the distinctive factor is that of the migrant workers which could prove to be a game changer.

Spectre of Election Day Meltdown in the United States

As the United States gears up for presidential elections in November, a review of its electoral processes suggests a deepening structural crisis, which, along with the fractured political and social scenario in the country, has laid bare the hubris of “American exceptionalism.”

Agricultural Market Operations across the Lockdown in J&K

By providing empirical evidence, the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the agricultural market operations of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is analysed. Mandi operations in terms of market arrivals have been found to be higher during the lockdown phases, and the market operations seem to have moved towards normal from Phase 1 to Phase 4 of the lockdown. The administration of Jammu and Kashmir showed a rapid response in the revival of mandi operations for the benefit of the farming communities as well as the consumers.

In Search of Optimal Inflation

The impact of inflation on dispersion of relative prices is examined in a cointegration framework using a data set of all seven components of the consumer price index from India. The empirical evidence indicates that the dispersion of relative price increases with an increase in deviation of inflation from a certain threshold rate in either direction but not with inflation per se, as is traditionally believed. The crucial inference that emerges from the empirical findings is the presence of a threshold inflation rate corresponding to which the dispersion of relative prices is minimised, and this threshold turns out to be 5%.

Post-COVID-19 Challenges in the Indian IT Industry

The information technology industry has been the hallmark of the Indian growth story since the 1980s. The Indian IT sector has relied heavily on non-home markets for demand and resources and built deep global ties using co-location with clients, enabled by international travel and temporary on-site migration, acting as a key mechanism in developing “cognitive proximity.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to make international travel and migration more restrictive and costlier, maybe for a long time. The paradigm shift creates significant barriers for IT firms to be able to maintain cognitive proximity with its clients and could adversely impact their global competitiveness.

Tax on Agricultural Income

A 2019 Comptroller and Auditor General report has brought out glaring irregularities in the exemptions given to agricultural income for income tax purposes. Exempting large income on agriculture from taxation not only makes the agricultural sector a conduit for money laundering and concealment of black money, but also holds back the much-needed modernisation and reform of the sector. Although everyone agrees on the desirability of taxing agricultural income, successive governments have shied away from it for electoral reasons.

Newly Formed Empowered ‘Technology Group’ and COVID-19

The role of the empowered “Technology Group” with respect to building and promoting health technologies is discussed and a possible road map is charted out.

India’s First Per Curiam

A per curiam opinion seeks to project the court as a resolute bloc in unanimous verdicts by concealing the identity of the author(s). However, arbitrarily employing anonymity, without due regard to legal tradition and reason, adversely impacts accountability and transparency in the judiciary. As such, it is important to evaluate the Supreme Court of India’s choice of anonymity in the momentous Ayodhya decision.

Academic Administration and Academic Freedom

Programmatic freedom of faculty and researchers is fundamental to creation of knowledge, as everything has to be open to question and scepticism. The universities and academic institutions are established as autonomous institutions to ensure academic freedom. However, it is observed that the autonomy of academic institutions tends to result in centralisation of power in the hands of institutional heads, and is misappropriated to curtail programmatic autonomy of individual academics. The recent penal measures taken against some faculty members of the Kerala Agricultural University are analysed against this backdrop.

Lessons from #MeToo

With #MeToo having taken the world by storm in the last few years, reflecting on debates in the Indian context reveals some important lessons. Due process is one of them but is not the key takeaway; attention must be paid to how feminist solidarities are being forged. Further, contextualising it within the changing nature of the nation state makes #MeToo stand out in the trajectory of feminist movements in India, as being one that does not engage with the state or any institution. It thus embodies what Latin American feminists have called “politics in feminine,” in which politics of desire unseat the rights-based focus of such movements.

Disastrous Decade for Data

In recent years, the Indian official data has been challenged for many reasons, most of them arising out of the perception that the government is reluctant to release unfavourable data. These doubts have been exacerbated by the controversy posed by the debate around Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register, and National Register of Citizens and the weakening of established institutions like the National Statistical Commission. The COVID-19 pandemic has further upset the data collection so that the first phase of the decennial population census and the proposed NPR exercise now stand postponed. Questions on credibility of official data and the pandemic-induced problems have come at a time when technology offers solutions to data collection, processing and dissemination. The initiatives launched by the government to improve the statistical system utilise these possibilities.

BJP’s Farming Policies

Agricultural market reforms recently enacted by the National Democratic Alliance government reflect the Bharatiya Janata Party’s determination to introduce agrobusinesses into agriculture and push further its agenda of centralisation of economic power and decision-making. The opposition to the reforms by farmers, many state governments, and regional political formations poses the most formidable challenge, so far, to this government. The contesting claims have missed the dimension of the damaging ecological implications of these reforms.

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