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

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India's Mobility Merchants

As western auto markets shrink due to environmental concerns coupled with financial tightening and long-term worries about fuel supply, India has witnessed a decade-long steep sales growth rates in all categories of vehicles. The promise of a rapidly growing automobile market has brought every global auto manufacturer of significance to India. The result has been a pattern of consumption of the means to mobility which discourages discussion of its impacts, just as surely as it subdues debate about alternatives. Moreover, the State is powerfully rearranging the landscape with a hugely expensive programme to build a nationwide expressway network that will encourage individual consumption of mobility at the cost of public alternatives.

Drought by Design: The Man-made Calamity in Bundelkhand

Despite its rich resources like forests and minerals, Bundelkhand is a region of distress and crisis. A study fi nds that the distress of the region simply cannot be explained by the absence or irregularity of rainfall. There are long-term structural problems which have had a cumulative effect over the years. Reasons for the present unviability of agriculture should be sought in the historically determined social relations of production, the intimate correlation of caste and landownership in the region as well as the neglect of traditional water management systems and the push towards cultivation of water-intensive commercial crops.

Telangana: Righting Historical Wrongs or Getting the Future Right?

The Telangana movement centred on a cultural identity may indeed succeed in winning statehood. Yet, identifying and redressing the grievances of Telangana is a twofold challenge: countering crisis-ridden state cultures of neoliberal populism and harnessing the global city region of Hyderabad towards more equitable development. Historicist narratives of grievance and injury obscure the more recent roots of the Telangana movement, to be found in the anger against the dystopia of competitive populist politics in post-reform Andhra Pradesh, which has also produced new geographies of accumulation, injustice and exclusion in the last 20 years. This remains to be acknowledged.

Imagining Citizenship: Being Muslim, Becoming Citizens in Ahmedabad

Against the background of the experience of extreme and brutal violence against the Muslim community in 2002, and the rapid process of ghettoisation along religious divides in Ahmedabad, this study, based on the fieldwork in selected schools in the Muslim-dominated areas, focuses on understanding how secondary schools run by Muslim trusts seek to recover and establish identities of being Muslim through their pursuit of citizenship ideals.

Reimagining Citizenship: Debating India's Unique Identification Scheme

The unique identification scheme opens up several possibilities for both governance issues and market logic. Despite enabling the identification of a person and pinpointing that X is X, the UID scheme can nevertheless bring about sharp, though problematic, shifts as well. Notably, the apparatuses of state within the premise of the UID scheme are not expected to be posed as a radical contrast to the market but rather as a node point bearing citizen data and therefore capable of operating as a facilitator and mediator of market information. At the technical level as well, the debate over the UID is far from over.

NREGA Wage Payments: Can We Bank on the Banks?

The government of India has shifted from cash payment of wages under the renamed Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Scheme to settlement through bank accounts. This has been done in order to prevent defrauding of workers and to give them greater control over their wages. Has this been achieved after the switch? Based on a survey in December 2008 in one block each in Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Ranchi (Jharkhand) districts, this article probes questions related to payment of wages through banks.

Mashelkar Report on IP Rights Version II: Wrong Again

The fi rst report of the Mashelkar Committee on patent issues was accused of plagiarism and the committee was asked by the government to rexamine its recommendations. The second report of this committee poses a different set of problems. This article argues that the revised recommendations are not warranted by the TRIPs agreement of the World Trade Organisation, that they are not supported by the weight of academic opinion and that the conclusions do not rest on any reasonable assessment of national interest in pharmaceutical policy.

An Evaluation of India's Defence Expenditure

This essay attempts to make a realistic assessment of current levels of defence spending in India by evaluating the effi cacy and intensity of military expenditure. The media is largely ignorant or chooses to ignore the issue of defence spending. The view across the political spectrum and the strategic community is that any exercise to limit this spending amounts to compromising national security and is therefore not a viable consideration. Whilst it is true that development cannot take place in an insecure environment, defence expenditure in a developing country has a direct impact on the outlay on social spending. The "guns versus butter" argument is valid especially when the guns are not buying the security the country needs against asymmetrical threats from within and without.

Maharashtra Polls: Continuity amidst Social Volatility

The outcome of the Maharashtra assembly elections of 2009 cannot be associated with any particular moment in the history of the state's politics; nor can it be attributed to the organisational prowess of the ruling alliance. The second consecutive electoral victory of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance is an outcome of four factors: the overall favourable political atmosphere created by the Congress' performance nationally in the Lok Sabha elections, the utter ineffectiveness of the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine coupled with their internal party factionalism, the rise of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in urban constituencies, and a perception that the state government had not done a bad job.

Direct Taxes Code: Need for Greater Reflection

A new tax code that overhauls the complexities that have emerged in the Income Tax Act of 1961 has been long overdue. The draft Direct Taxes Code put out by the Finance Ministry for discussion and comment does just that in a number of areas. At the same time questions must be posed of the sweeping reduction in rates and restructuring of slabs in income tax, which are likely to rob the exchequer of a significant amount of income. Questions must also be asked of the proposed taxation of not-for-profit organisations.

The Clinical Trials Scenario in India

The government is aggressively promoting India as a location for clinical trials even before setting up the structure to regulate the conduct of these trials. Clinical trials are conducted by contract research organisations which are making inroads into small towns, identifying trial sites in small private hospitals and developing databases of potential trial participants. Medical professionals are given substantial incentives to recruit their own patients into these trials thus creating a major conflict of interest that threatens the well-being of patients.

Shortcomings in Governance of the Natural Gas Sector

There has been a consistent lack of transparency and several governance lapses in the natural gas sector which have led to various kinds of concerns in important areas such as investment levels in blocks, availability of information regarding gas finds, content and process of arriving at pricing and utilisation policy, regulatory weaknesses and emerging market concentration. The objective of this article is to look behind the media glare and highlight the governance shortcomings that need urgent attention. Interestingly, a number of these issues were highlighted about two years ago on these very pages.

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