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

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Reading between the Poverty Lines

The proposed Rangarajan method on measurement of poverty in India borrows elements from three earlier methods - those of Alagh, Lakdawala and Tendulkar. An important departure in the Rangarajan method is to compute the poverty line commodity basket by combining items from two fractile groups to address the relatively higher expenses for some essential non-food items. This, while being statistically plausible, poses a behavioural dilemma, as there will be no fractile group that will satisfy both. As an alternative, we suggest dual poverty lines where the fi rst is computed on the basis of average calorie, protein and fat requirements which are region- and state-specifi c and the second uses the combined median fractile group after adjusting the distribution with price differentials.

Multitude, Living Labour and Dead Labour

The Aam Aadmi Party's recent fight with the media has inaugurated and deepened the idea of the mediatised labour as expounded by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their manifesto Declaration written in the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement and Arab Spring, events that used the media and yet did not collude with the logic of global capital. AAP has not just opened a new space and vocabulary in Indian politics but its tirades against local exploitation and global capital have changed the grammar of political and social ideology in spite of its recent defeats.

Lessons from Science: Need for a Rethink of Concepts in Economics

The recognition of two important concepts in science, namely, the assimilative capacity of nature (resilience) and the entropy law of thermodynamics enables the formulation of an alternative framework for factor utilisation in economics. This framework, which explicitly includes environmental capital as a factor, enables the llustration of the entropy law being the driver of diminishing marginal returns and the limited ranges of substitutability between factors. Such revisions have profound implications for policy formulation. Stabilising environmental capital becomes an important instrument of policy at all levels.

Legalising Defamation of Delinquent Borrowers

In their attempt to ensure speedy recovery of loans, banks in India have begun publishing photographs and details of defaulting borrowers. It has proven to be an effective method of putting social pressure on defaulting borrowers. However, it is argued that the act of publishing details and photographs of borrowers in public fora is not only extrajudicial, but that it fundamentally violates the rights of borrowers.

International Comparison Program of the World Bank

Are the purchasing power parities estimated by the International Comparison Program all that meaningful for large countries such as India and China? The article provides empirical evidence from India that suggests that the ICP practice of providing economy-wide PPPs that treat all countries (large and small) as single entities severely limits its usefulness. It also provides evidence that questions the usefulness of multilaterally determined PPPs in the context of bilateral comparisons between countries far removed from the numeraire country, namely, the United States. This note also argues that the lack of price information that is relevant for the poor severely limits the usefulness of the ICP PPPs in the poverty comparisons. Some suggestions are provided for improving the relevance and usefulness of the ICP.

An Identity Card on the Wall

This article raises and deals with a set of questions and reflections on identity construction, projection and interpretation of a particular context in rural India. It revolves around the story of V Venkataswamy, a cotton handloom weaver in Adilabad in Telangana. It is also based on a particular narrative about this individual and a photograph of an identity he projected of himself. The article pleads for an engagement with the ethics involved in technology change and the impact it is having on millions of people across the length and breadth of the country.

A Poet and a Landlord

The Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Rabindranath Tagore in 1913 included a prize money of £8,000. It is commonly assumed that Tagore spent this entire sum on the asrama school in Santiniketan, and later for setting up his dream project – the Visva-Bharati University. The truth, however, is quite different. This note attempts to revisit the “will” of the poet, arguing that his decision regarding the investment of the substantial sum reveals a complex story in which the need of the peasants of his zamindari and that of the community in Visva-Bharati were held in a delicate ethical balance.

Sector and Cluster Effects of FDI in R&D in India

India has been attracting foreign direct investment in research and development over the past decade. This article provides a quantitative assessment of the FDI in flow for R&D from 2003 to 2009, and the sector and cluster preferences of multinational corporations investing in R&D in India. FDI in R&D is limited to the information technology, pharma/ biotechnology, and automotive sectors. This infl ow of FDI has not caused growth, but rather has chased growth-oriented sectors.

Western Ghats Conservation

While no one can disagree with the Gadgil Committee on the Western Ghats that we need to "develop sustainably - conserve thoughtfully", we must disagree with them that the strategy adopted so far has been to "conserve thoughtlessly", at least as far as the forests and wildlife are concerned. We need not fear that the Western Ghats will vanish if the expert panel recommendations are not accepted in toto: the forest area is still in safe hands, and the people's organisations (the village forest committees) are fully aware of the importance of conservation to their own survival and for serving global interests. The government has to set up workable arrangements that have the acquiescence of the population at large, so they need not feel rattled by the hard stance adopted by the environmentalists in public.

Cost and Benefit of Disinflation Policy in India

The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy stance is based on assertions that there is no trade-off between inflation and growth and that disinflation will result in more growth. This note examines recent empirical evidence on the direction of causality for growth and infl ation, and the short-run costs and long-run benefits of a deliberate policy of disinflation. There is no support for the first assertion because a regular trade-off does exist in India, imposing substantial short-run costs for deliberate disinflation. There is strong evidence for causality from growth to inflation, but the reverse cannot be ruled out. Under such conditions, the RBI should hold nominal growth of money supply and allow supply-side policies by the government to bring down inflation.

Strategy for R&D in Indian Industry

India has the advantage of high quality researchers and growing markets at home and abroad. However, it is, at present, a very minor player in the global research and development arena. If the right steps are taken, such as enhanced R&D spending by industry with the government providing better incentives and a focus on fundamental research in the sciences and engineering, India can become an important R&D power. This article analyses the present scenario and suggests policy steps to achieve this goal.

Revisiting Drought-Prone Districts in India

The Drought-Prone Areas Programme and the Desert Development Programme launched by the Government of India during the 1970s used rainfall and irrigation as the two criteria to ameliorate the impact of drought in the targeted districts. This article revisits the eligibility criteria in light of the recent climatic classification and irrigation statistics.

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