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

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Some Notes on the Indian Economy in Crisis

There is no sign of recognition among the political class and policymakers of the implications of the persistence of many adverse trends in the Indian economy and their underlying causes. That the socio-economic consequences of allowing present trends to continue will be serious is already manifest in widening disparities between castes and communities, classes, rural and urban areas, and individuals. Measures meant to counter this have not been pursued seriously and have had little effect on the ground reality of persistent inequality, slow growth, and an unacceptably high incidence of mass poverty and unemployment. This article calls for a radical retuning of policies aimed at achieving inclusive economic growth and a more egalitarian distribution of income.

Developments in the Workforce between 2009-10 and 2011-12

After a disappointing performance between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the Indian labour market showed some improvement between 2009-10 and 2011-12. During this two-year period, around 11 million jobs were created at an annual growth rate of around 1.1% per annum. Both rural and urban India witnessed a sharp decasualisation of employment, especially of females, and a significant improvement in the creation of regular wage employment as compared to previous rounds of the National Sample Survey. There was a faster decline in the share of workers in the farm sector during this period, while manufacturing and service sectors witnessed high growth rates in employment.

Performance-Based Incentives of the ASHA Scheme

A study of Accredited Social Health Activists in Shahapur taluka of Maharashtra, a drought-prone adivasi-inhabited area, shows that the remuneration of ASHAs is a growing concern both for them, as well as their families. Recognising their contribution to public health services, the government should provide fixed payment to them, beyond which task-based incentives should continue to be given, though at a revised rate. The current system of remuneration is making it difficult for ASHAs to meet their family's needs and the community's expectations. Further, payment and reimbursement procedures need to be simplified.

Democratic Decentralisation and Citizenship

This article discusses the scope of democratic decentralisation to deepen democracy for the poor. While processes and platforms for citizen engagement like the gram sabha have been incorporated into policy and operational guidelines, the capability of the poor and marginalised to access them is severely compromised, leading to a subversion of development initiatives meant for the poor. The article attempts to understand the local citizen space and governance space as distinct from and complementary to each other, and demarcate the role of panchayats and community-based organisations with respect to these spaces.

An Engagement with Camus

Existentialism and writers like Albert Camus have influenced literature and thought, including in India, since the 1960s. This account of the engagement of an Indian writer - from his teens to maturity - with Camus tries to look at this influence, its validity and its relationship with the Indian social imaginary. It argues that the content of "the absurd" and the realisation of the limitations of "modernity" were very different in Indian conditions from those prevalent in post-war Europe, even though there were overlaps.

Social Security Pensions in India

Social security pensions in India have acted as a vital source of stability for approximately 2.6 crore elderly, disabled and widowed persons today. A 10-state survey in 2013 revealed that the pension scheme was running reasonably well. There is strong evidence to support the fact that the money is reaching the intended benefi ciaries without any major leakages. The patterns of usage of the pension are indicative of its importance in the lives of the benefi ciaries. An evaluation of the scheme also brings to the fore issues related to the diminutive amount, inefficient disbursal mechanism, cost of collection and the lack of a fixed pattern of payment.

Is Enough Being Done to Regulate Global Commodity Markets?

Commodity markets are becoming interconnected, with large global financial investors choosing to invest directly in these markets. With this comes the question of how one is to regulate markets which are truly global, with investors many a time being from outside national regulatory jurisdictions. All these issues have been acknowledged by the G-20 and governments, and regulations will have to be made keeping in mind the constantly changing trading strategies in commodity markets that are increasingly becoming systemically important.

One-Dimensional Cinema

This article addresses the transformation of dissent in Indian cinema over the past decade. In analysing two films by Vishal Bhardwaj and Dibakar Banerjee, the author argues that the incorporation of critical ideas on society and politics into the mainstream cinema reflects the diminishing potential of dissent in India, and is related to the rise of neo-liberalism and consumer culture. The present fascination with rural India and the subaltern figure in films means that the latter is being consumed as a product by the spectators of the films, as opposed to concern with social and political topics in politically committed cinema.

Politics of Tribal Land Rights

The Tribal Advisory Council constituted under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India, aimed to protect the land rights of tribals residing in the scheduled areas. The law clearly says that the governor of a state may make regulations to provide for peace and good governance of the scheduled areas but not without consulting the TACs. But in the notified scheduled areas of Andhra Pradesh, although the TAC is an independent constitutional body, in reality, it remains subservient to dominant non-tribal political interests. An exploration into the functioning of the TAC between 1976 and 2010.

Regional Inequality in India in the 1990s

This note examines changes in regional inequality in India in the 1990s using data for 210 of India's districts, spread across nine states. The methodology is that of cross-section growth regressions, which seek to explain longer-run growth rates in terms of initial conditions of development. By identifying these connections, it seeks to illuminate the role of physical infrastructure, financial development, and human capital in infl uencing regional patterns of growth. In turn, this may have implications for government policies at the national and state levels.

Price Subsidies versus Income Transfers

The impact of the price subsidy under the National Food Security Act on consumption of cereals, and, therefore, welfare, will be different from that of an unconditional direct income transfer equal to the cost of the price subsidy only if the price subsidy is regressive among the set of people covered. This note argues that restricting the subsidy to an inferior good such as coarse grains alone may work better from both the fi scal and equity points of view. It recommends raising the entitlement for coarse grains to 7 kg a person per month, but keeping it unchanged for wheat and rice at 5 kg a person per month.

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