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

Review Issues

The remaining carbon budget available to the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius or to “well below 2°C” very small and is being rapidly depleted. The year 2021 has witnessed a flurry of pledges by countries to achieve net-zero emissions around the second half of this century. But the analysis shows the pledges of Annex-I parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be highly inadequate to limit the temperature rise to below 1.5°C. In this context, this paper reviews India’s climate change mitigation efforts and policies over the last decade and assesses the recently declared net-zero emissions pledge against a range of illustrative emissions pathways and the implied cumulative emissions of these pathways. The ambition of India’s pledge is assessed, with a discussion of the challenges that lie ahead for India’s energy sector.

The National Green Tribunal—a specialised environmental institution constituted 10 years ago—has transformed environmental regulation and governance in India. Yet, the NGT’s success has been tarnished in several areas. What used to be a progressive, the innovative green tribunal now is inconsistent in adjudicating environmental litigation pitched against huge infrastructure projects. The tribunal is also struggling because of the lack of human resources and administrative support for its existence. The past 10 years of the NGT can be largely summed up as a story of procedural success in environmental decision-making tainted by institutional erosion and selective adjudicative decisions.

While debt among farmers is no longer considered undesirable, ever-mounting debt and reduced repayment capacity surely are. The existing literature has found a deep connection between indebtedness and suicides among farmers and perceived it as a reflection of growing agrarian distress. Based on the findings of a primary survey conducted in Punjab, we try to assess the debt position of Punjab’s farmers, and present the magnitude and burden of debt, highlighting the farmers’ debt repaying capacity. The source and purpose of credit are discussed in detail and the factors affecting indebtedness have also been explored.

By reading rural distress and peasant suicide in Punjabi literature produced in the realist mode, this paper conducts the economic analysis of the fictional small peasant—an atomised entity divorced from his land, which is now simply a means of production in a capitalist agrarian market. It reads the production of Gurdial Singh’s award-winning novel Adh Chanani Raat (1972) as prophesising the long-term adversities concomitant with the productive excesses of the green revolution in Punjab. The novel argues for a model of heroism rooted in Punjabi social tradition and collective history, which struggles against this alienating influence of capitalist economic forces to find succour in an older way of life. Therefore, this paper attempts to study Gurdial Singh’s reworking of peasant consciousness as a “narrative of oppression” where the small farmer is a heroic figure because of his resilience in the face of inevitable tragedy.

Processes of socio-economic differentiation alter balances of power. This article explores the possibility that the current wave of farmers’ protests partly reflects a resetting of class alliances in the Indian countryside centred on small farmers and farmer-labourers who now account for over 85% of farming households. It does so by returning to the new farmers’ movement mobilisations of the 1980s and 1990s, and comparing three key relations between then and now: relations between farmers and the state, between farmers and large capital, and relations within the countryside between larger and smaller farmers and landless labourers. Smaller farmers, it is argued, are now more likely to ally with farmer-labourers and the landless, who are in turn less dependent on larger farmers than they used to be because of the growth of non-agricultural wage labour. The neo-liberal Indian state’s pro-corporate farm bills mean that contradictions within the countryside are for now overshadowed by external contradictions. And if implemented, they will accelerate processes of socio-economic differentiation in ways that make a new centre of political gravity in the Indian countryside more likely.

Marginal and small farm sizes constitute more than 85% of the operational holdings in India. Several concerns regarding the sustainability, efficiency, access to formal sources of credit and the scale neutrality of such credit plague the smallholders. This study finds that the smallholders are efficient but the returns to them are woefully low, which threatens their sustainability. Further, the smallholders have to rely more on non-institutional sources for their credit requirement and often with a greater interest burden. In addition, the credit provided by formal sources is not scale-neutral. This posits a difficulty for policy praxis, which must urgently address these issues plaguing the smallholders.

This paper discusses the distinct form of sharecropping arrangement known in Gujarat as bhagiya mazdoori involving migrant tribal households. The main purpose is to understand this institution in terms of its specific features as practised in north Gujarat positioned as it is in a changing agrarian system. The livelihood condition of the tribal sharecroppers in the source villages and their work and living conditions in the farms at the destination locations are the core themes of the discussion. The paper delineates relevant policy measures to prevent perpetuation of exploitative arrangements that bhagiya system represents.

Based on a qualitative study of women microworkers on Amazon Mechanical Turk, this paper explores the gendered modus operandi of global platform capitalism. For women from households negotiating caste and class status in small-town South India, digital labour platforms like AMT are the optimal choice; an answer to both economic necessity and familial validation. Women must, however, endure the platform’s coercive disciplining, striving to meet its unknowable metrics. With the pandemic, even as they are forced to contend with the oppressive precarity of digital labour—reducing job availability, falling pay, longer hours and the risk of suspension—work on AMT, paradoxically, becomes non-negotiable. The artificial intelligence-based regimes of the platform economy urgently need a norm shift towards gender equality and redistributive justice.

Domestic violence is widespread and deep-rooted in India and its ubiquity was highlighted prominently during the COVID-19 lockdown. This paper explores the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on domestic violence on women, the shifts in forms and intensity of this violence, and women’s responses through an analysis of cases of survivors that Swayam (a feminist organisation, headed by the author, working on the issue of violence against women in Kolkata) dealt with in the first half of 2020. It also evaluates the response of state agencies and the challenges faced and strategies used by civil society organisations, which, for years, have been active in working at providing and ensuring survivors’ access to support services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of global advances towards gender equality, thus foregrounding the inherent difficulty of achieving sustained progress within the constraints of a patriarchal system. In this paper, we explore this issue in greater depth, focusing on Ireland, widely heralded as a progressive and increasingly secular state, but one still steeped in patriarchal norms enshrined in the Constitution. Accounting for the influence of this foundational document, we examine women’s economic participation, including the impact of the pandemic response, and domestic violence. This paper argues that the pandemic response has reinforced Ireland’s patriarchal structure, stalling, and, in some cases, threatening progress towards gender equality.

This paper employs a social reproduction framework to argue that the two main institutions of capitalism—the markets and the state—have failed to adequately provide for the working people of India during the pandemic while fostering gender inequities. While the demand for gender equity in the domestic sphere and the workplace is not new, the pandemic further underscores its urgency.

The covid-19 pandemic in India has had an unequal impact on women in a number of ways. In terms of economic opportunity, it has been seen that more women lost jobs compared to men and fewer have been able to rejoin labour force. This is in the context of gendered labour markets where female labour force participation has been low and declining. This paper presents an analysis of the situation of women’s employment pre-lockdown and some indications on what the impact of Covid-19 could be, based on microstudies and other literature available. Further, the adequacy of the social protection and employment generation programmes of the government that are specifically aimed at improving female labour force participation is assessed.

This paper highlights the working conditions in two work chains in the public healthcare system: municipal solid-waste management and handling of hospital waste and dead bodies. While COVID-19 has exposed the hazards that workers in these sectors are exposed to, it also lays bare the historical and social hierarchies, the exploitative working conditions and intrinsic discrimination within the public healthcare system.