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

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Judicial Setback for Panchayats and Local Bodies

The Supreme Court's rulings in the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme case and the Arkavathy Layout in Bangalore case could have alarming consequences for panchayati raj and municipal bodies. Since the Court has upheld the validity of MPLADS, the preference of MPs for an executive role rather than for law-making may now well be reinforced. With these two judgments the political leadership will not be required to assign the functions and fi nances to the local bodies. State agencies not answerable to the elected local bodies may then take over the functions in the panchayat and the municipal domain.

Justice Denied to Tribals in the Hill Districts of Manipur

How should the district council elections that were held in Manipur in April 2010 be understood? What was the need to rush through the elections on an issue which had waited nearly 40 years for a fair resolution? By denying the legitimate demand of tribals for the Sixth Schedule and ignoring their sustained democratic struggle, the Manipur government has weakened its case for "territorial integrity". Tribals fear that in the name of "development" the state government wants to gain control over their lands. Peaceful coexistence is possible only if rights are fulfi lled and historical injustices corrected.

Have the State Finance Commissions Fulfilled Their Constitutional Mandates?

The State Finance Commission, although a technical and quasijudicial constitutional entity like the Union Finance Commission, has to help local governments plan for economic development and deliver social justice and public services at the local level. This article evaluates the history of the performance of SFCs in general and shows that they have missed a great opportunity to contribute to the process of building a more inclusive, participatory and environmentfriendly fi scal federalism via promoting decentralised governance in the country. It argues that the blame is to be collectively shared and shouldered by the union, state and local governments.

Brazil's 'Fome Zero' Strategy: Can India Implement Cash Transfers?

Brazil has the largest cash transfer scheme in the world and it has had a measure of success in fighting poverty. Its experience shows that cash transfers, when implemented properly, are at best a necessary condition for poverty alleviation. Supply side constraints have to be removed if the increased purchasing power is not to lead to unbridled inflation that will hurt the poor badly. While a case can be made for a cash transfer system in India, in the existing situation of an incomplete transition to a multi-level structure of government, with insufficient clarity on intergovernmental relations, and an overarching set of civil services fighting for turf at the union and state levels, it will be difficult for India to design suitable programmes.

Foreign Direct Investment Concepts: Implications for Negotiations

Free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties make privileges for and treatment of foreign direct investors legally binding. However, apart from the concerns of being able to capture the "real" fi nancial and economic contribution of foreign direct investment infl ows, developing country governments promoting such investment need to be aware that FDI defi nitions are also about protecting the "rights" of the so-defi ned investors in the host country. Keeping this in mind, the article analyses India's current FDI policy.

Scheduled Tribes and the Census: A Sociological Inquiry

The Constitution has offi cially designated all the tribal societies as scheduled tribes. While the census information has been benefi cial for administrative and developmental purposes, it suffers from several limitations, one of them being the use of fl awed defi nitions. Moreover, the offi cial term ST does not take into account the fact that the tribal societies are distinct and different from each other in many respects. The census, by applying the umbrella term ST for the purpose of enumeration, fails to capture the realities of the social worlds inhabited by these societies, and hence cannot provide correct information on the actual status of the STs.

Reaching a Climate Agreement: Beyond the Copenhagen Accord

This article synthesises the pledges made by both industrialised and developing countries, following the Copenhagen Accord, and their implications for stabilising the earth's climate as well as for the future course of the negotiations. This discussion briefly mentions the issues involved in different greenhouse gases and their measurement, and focuses on the important objective of the need to have an agreement without contradictions. This remains a major omission in the debate on climate change.

Days and Nights in the Maoist Heartland

Who are these Maoists who, according to the government, constitute the "single biggest threat" to India's internal security? What is their politics? Why and how do they justify violence? How do they perceive their "people's war," their political goals and themselves? How did the Maoists establish themselves in the Dandakaranya region of central India? How do they now live and operate in the "base area" they have constructed? How does their "Jantanam Sarkar" function in the guerrilla zone of Bastar? First-hand reports of the functioning of the CPI (Maoist) in central India have been rare. Based on a two-week long visit to the Maoist heartland, this article attempts to answer some of these questions.

Railway Budget 2010-11: Towards Vision 2020?

The railway budget for 2 010-11 begins with an attempt to incorporate a long-term vision. However, a serious reading of the document does not refl ect this, since short-term gains are sought to be achieved with very little effort to reform the system in terms of tariff rebalancing, especially on the passenger front, and prioritisation of projects.

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.

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