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

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Economic Benefits of Futures

This article examines the economic benefits of futures. Theoretically, futures are expected to aid price discovery and risk mitigation. But empirical analysis shows that speculators drive the markets and, by virtue of their domination, abduct the price discovery process in certain commodities. The deceptive price discovery leads to suboptimal forecast of future prices. So futures markets fail to offer an effective hedge against price risk. In addition, the current public-private partnership regulation is a deterrent to the sustainable growth of futures markets.

Projected Effect of Droughts on Supply, Demand, and Prices of Crops in India

This paper assesses the effect of monsoon droughts on the production, demand, and prices of seven major agricultural commodities - rice, sorghum, pearl millet, maize, pigeon pea, groundnut and cotton. A partial generalised equilibrium model is developed to simulate the effects of deficit rainfall on acreage, yield, production, demand, and prices of different agricultural commodities in India. It is used to project the effect of rain deficits on supply, demand, and prices of monsoon session crops.

Growth in Indian Agriculture

Indian agriculture has been doing far better in the years since 2004-05. This note explores available data to understand why this has been so. It is found that after 2004-05, public investment in agriculture increased, the National Horticulture Mission was launched, and more agricultural credit was made available that spurred private investment in agriculture as well. These policy initiatives resulted in increased yields and higher agricultural growth.

Punjab's Small Peasantry

The small peasantry in agriculturally advanced Punjab faces a severe economic crisis. Though the total workforce has increased over time, the proportion engaged in agriculture has been falling and the number of marginal and small holdings has been declining. The farm surpluses of indebted farmers are very low, and 14% of marginal and 9% of small farmers are effectively bankrupt. Low profitability has prompted many small farmers to leave agriculture and 28% of them have entered the labour market. More pressingly, a significant number have preferred to take their own lives.

Generating Agrarian Dynamism

Agrarian stagnation was much the same in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra until 1990, and for similar reasons. Since then, Saurashtra's agriculture has been growing, especially after 2000, at an accelerated pace, while Vidarbha's farmers have continued to stagnate. This paper interrogates why, and suggests some measures to jump-start agricultural growth in Vidarbha.

Financial Literacy in Rural Banking

Financial literacy in the present Indian policy context is seen as an instrument to raise demand for banking services. The location of the problem as one of deficient demand is untenable. The conception of financial literacy, as reflected in the Reserve Bank of India's Financial Literacy Guide, is packed with stereotypes of the poor as ignorant and in need of moral lessons on savings, consumption and credit. Financial literacy has to be positioned within a broader conceptual view of the financial system, so as to become a tool to raise critical consciousness and equip people to respond to the challenges posed by the financial sector. Further, financial literacy material must evolve from below, such that lives of the common people are organically a part of it. This paper also hints that the campaign mode for financial literacy might allow for greater public engagement and action. The effects of financial literacy, however, will not accrue if it is not accompanied by adequate outreach of banking services through credible public institutions.

Estimating Rural Housing Shortage

The working group on rural housing for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan estimated the rural housing shortage in India to be 43.13 million in 2012. Using the latest data sets - Census 2011 and the National Sample Survey housing condition round for 2008-09 - and the improved methodology used by the technical group on urban housing shortage, this paper re-estimates the rural shortage to be 62.01 million in 2012. Households living in temporary houses and in congested conditions were found to be mainly responsible for the rural housing shortage. The results suggest the need for holistically focusing on eradicating shelter deprivation in rural India and contributing to an enhancement of the quality of life of the people.

Link between Food Price Inflation and Rural Wage Dynamics

In exploring the link between food price inflation and rising rural real wages, this paper examines the dynamic relations between rural wages in different sectors and the relationship these wages share with increasing food prices. It looks into the possibility of a Lewisian transformation causing an increase in real rural wages, but the result of the analysis suggests that the rise in wages is because of an increase in bargaining power due to public works programmes, which employ unskilled rural workers. Food price inflation induces them to bargain for higher wages.

Vulnerability, Forced Migration and Trafficking in Children and Women

This gives space to organised crime to lure a large number of women and children to distant places on the pretext of providing them with jobs, which almost invariably leads to exploitation at a later stage. The findings of this study, done in 12 sick and closed tea gardens in Jalpaiguri district, demonstrate the close link between vulnerabilities, migration, and trafficking in children and women. It also suggests there have been changes in the nature of human trafficking in the country, calling for a new policy perspective on the issue.

Emergent Ruralities

Based on a revisit to two villages of Haryana after a gap of 20 years (1988-89 and 2008-09), this paper provides a historical overview of the process of development and change in a micro setting. Locating the process of social and economic transformation witnessed in the two villages after the green revolution and later after the introduction of large-scale industrial projects in the area, the paper tries to explore the nature of changes taking place in the internal structure (caste and class relations) of the agrarian economy; the changing nature of relationships of villages with the neighbouring urban settlements in terms of employment and aspirations; and the emerging nature of power relations in local political institutions.

Decomposing Variability in Agricultural Prices

Has government intervention in India's agriculture in the post-World Trade Organisation period helped in lowering the variability in domestic prices by not allowing the full transmission of international price signals? Examining this question, this paper makes an attempt to decompose changes in the domestic prices of select agricultural commodities by using a decomposition model. This allows separating the factors responsible for changes in domestic prices and quantifying their effects. The key variables in the model are trade prices, the exchange rate, and agricultural trade policies.

Agricultural and Livelihood Vulnerability Reduction through the MGNREGA

This study quantifies the environmental and socio-economic benefits generated by the works implemented under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and assesses the potential of these benefits to reduce vulnerability of agricultural production and livelihoods of the beneficiaries, post-implementation (2011-12) as compared to pre-MGNREGA (2006-07), to current climate variability. Agricultural and livelihood vulnerability indices developed showed reduction in vulnerability due to implementation of works under the Act and resulting environmental benefits.

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