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

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Assisted Reproductive Technologies: For Whose Benefit?

In the last three decades, India has witnessed a proliferation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies clinics. Apart from the domestic demand, the infertility treatment services of these clinics (unregulated by any law) are attracting huge numbers of foreign clients due to the comparatively lower costs. The central government and the Indian Council of Medical Research have drafted the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill and Rules 2008 and invited comments. A critique of the draft reveals that it is inadequate in protecting the health and well-being of women (donors and receivers of the services) and children and favours the private sector providers of these technologies.

The Wheat Market: Distortions Caused by Government Interventions

Wheat stocks are rising again, well beyond the minimum required, and a large procurement is expected from the 2009-10 wheat marketing season that begins on 1 April. India appears set once again for yet another phase of rising stocks, mounting carrying costs, and a crisis of plenty. The volatile cycles of rising and falling stocks appear to be the result of poor government intervention, in particular, poor procurement policies. It is argued here that unidirectional revisions in the minimum support price create serious demand and supply imbalances and extreme volatility in buffer stock cycles.

The Siachen War: Twenty-Five Years On

Siachen has become a symbol of India's military capability and staying power, somewhat like the Pakistani incursion in Kargil, which achieved nothing for that country. The human cost is staggering, yet India and Pakistan continue to bracket Siachen with issues like Sir Creek, Wular and trade and commerce. This shows a lack of concern for the rank and file of both armies by their political and military leaders. Continuing with the occupation of the Siachen glacier heights not only amounts to poor strategy but also poor generalship.

Maytas, Hyderabad Metro and the Politics of Real Estate

In the 10 days since the revelation of the massive fraud at Satyam, there has been much speculation that the holes in the software company's books were caused by the promoters' links with Maytas, the infrastructure company that in recent years has become the favourite of the government of Andhra Pradesh. This article puts under the magnifying lens the award in 2008 of the massive Rs 12,000 crore contract to Maytas to build and operate the Hyderabad Metro.

Can Community Monitoring Improve the Accountability of Public Officials?

This article discusses the nature and characteristics of monitoring the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme's implementation with a focus on the community control mechanisms existing in the two pioneering states of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. These two states represent two relatively diverse models. Elements of both models need to be incorporated in order to make the process of community control of public programmes effective and sustainable.

The International Experience of Auctioning Spectrum

This article analyses the early experiences of spectrum auction in some advanced countries and distils lessons from them. An issue that has been examined in this context is whether auction necessarily leads to a market-efficient outcome. This is of topical interest in India at the current juncture since the department of telecommunications is on the verge of holding an auction for allotting the spectrum for the third-generation (3G) of mobile phones.

Medical Abortion in India: Role of Chemists and Providers

Medical abortion, approved in India in 2002, is emerging as an alternative to surgical procedure for terminating early pregnancy and offers a window of opportunity to expand women's access to safe and effective abortion. A study undertaken of chemists and providers points to some of the challenges such as limited awareness of the appropriate regimen, protocol and likely side effects, the cost to clients, resistance of providers of surgical abortion and the need for adequate backup facilities. All these have to be addressed in order to make medical abortion available widely.

Expert Committee on Commodity Futures: Agreements and Disagreements

In its recent report, the expert committee on commodity futures concludes that futures trade in India has increased the price volatility of largely traded commodities (urad, chana, wheat) during periods of excess liquidity. It finds an increase in prices for commodities that have small market sizes and scarce deliverable supplies (mentha oil, wheat). In contrast, futures trading has led to a reduction in volatilities and aided better discovery for other commodities (soya oil, hessian). It appears that futures trade in agricultural commodities is beneficial for only those commodities that fulfil the basic selection criteria for futures trading accompanied by stringent and timely regulatory actions.

Behind the July Failure of the WTO Talks on Doha

A gross imbalance in the World Trade Organisation proposals in agriculture and industry explains why the latest attempt in July to achieve a breakthrough in the Doha round collapsed. The US demand that developing countries institute a stringent special safeguard mechanism in agriculture that would make it difficult for developing countries to protect themselves against import surges was not the only obstacle. There was the US farm subsidy issue, the cotton issue, the industry tariff proposal issue and more, on none of which a majority of the developing countries were ready to accept the US/EU position. What next for the Doha round, which was launched way back in 2001?

Unravelling Myths about Subsidies in Urban Transport

Is urban public transport subsidised more than its private counterpart? Through a case study of urban transport in Pune, this article demonstrates that car and two-wheeler users receive larger subsidies than bus users when all costs imposed by transport modes are considered.

CAG Report on NREGA: Fact and Fiction

The draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the working of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was used by many sections of the media to strongly criticise this employment programme. Much of the coverage sensationalised the findings of the report. What did the CAG actually say? Where did the CAG fall short in its investigations? And what can we learn from the CAG to improve the functioning of the NREGA?

Experience and Science in Geography Education

By examining geography textbooks and students' responses, an attempt is made here to substantiate a problematic of science education. The decontextualised nature of science education contradicts everyday life experiences. This situation does not enhance a dialectic relationship between science and experience. It is argued that cognition by itself cannot address the issue of science "enculturation"; instead, it needs to be addressed through some essential relationships of science. These include relations between common observations and reflections beyond appearances as well as relations of science that modify and control nature.

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