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

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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.

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.

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.

Women at the Crossroads

While the transformation of rural gender inequalities was not an intended goal of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, this study draws on evidence from two villages in western Tamil Nadu to show how the scheme has benefited rural women in particular. Major attractions of the MGNREGA work include local availability through the year, it being perceived as relatively "easy" work with fixed, regular, gender equal wages, and free from caste-based relations of subordination and discrimination. The gendered impacts of MGNREGA are partly due to the universal, right-based and women-friendly nature of the policy, and partly to the specific ways in which this policy is implemented in Tamil Nadu, where it has received significant cross-party political support.

Punjab Water Syndrome

The current groundwater crisis in Punjab is a combination of paradoxical consequences - extreme depletion in some areas and water logging in others. This paper provides a brief description of the contours of the crisis and pinpoints possible reasons for its emergence in failures of policy as well as implementation. It also proposes a package of approaches as part of a paradigm shift for Punjab that can simultaneously tackle the twin challenges of water logging and a decline in groundwater levels and quality.

Direct Cash Transfer System for Fertilisers

The challenges in implementing a direct cash transfer system for fertilisers are daunting. This paper points out that they range from the very large number of beneficiaries to volatile fertiliser prices, necessitating market price indexation of cash transfers and controlling the market power of dealers, especially in remote areas. The imbalance in the use of different fertilisers is also a growing problem. If designed properly, a DCT should be accompanied by significant investment in soil testing and the payment should be tied to balanced use of fertilisers, including micronutrients.

Sorghum and Pearl Millet Economy of India

Coarse cereals such as pearl millet and sorghum, the hardiest and least risky cereals, are mainly grown in India's arid and semi-arid regions. These crops possess high nutritive and fodder value and are primarily consumed by their producers. On the supply side, there has been a large shift in the area under cultivation to rice and wheat and other commercial crops. On the demand side, the distribution of rice and wheat at subsidised prices through the public distribution system has led to a fall in the consumption of sorghum and millets. The decline in cultivated area could result in a problem for the livestock sector in many regions. It is crucial that the sorghum and millet sector be supported by strong government policies and programmes for food, fodder, and better nutrition through value addition and demand creation.

The Stunted Structural Transformation of the Indian Economy

India's economy has accelerated sharply since the late 1980s, but agriculture has not. The rural population and labour force continue to rise, and rural-rban migration remains slow. Despite a rising labour productivity differential between non-agriculture and agriculture, limited rural-urban migration and slow agricultural growth, urban-rural consumption, income, and poverty differentials have not been rising. Urban-rural spillovers have become important drivers of the rapidly growing rural non-farm sector, which now generates the largest number of jobs in India. Rural non-farm self-employment is especially dynamic with farm households diversifying into the sector to increase income. The bottling up of labour in rural areas means that farm sizes will continue to decline, agriculture will continue its trend to feminisation, and part-time farming will become the dominant farm model.

Using Cost of Cultivation Survey Data

This paper offers a critical discussion of the rich source of information on farm-level data, the Cost of Cultivation Survey datasets, collected by the central and state governments. The paper also analyses a recent proposal to modify the schedules and mode of collection of data and concludes with a few specific suggestions on collection, documentation and dissemination.

Drivers of Non-Farm Employment in Rural India

This paper attempts to understand the processes of growth in rural non-farm employment based on the 2009-10 employment and unemployment round of the National Sample Survey Office. The rural non-farm sector has undergone major restructuring which has led to an increase in the share of casual labour in the non-farm sector accompanied by a continuous decline in the share of self and regular employment. On the basis of multivariate analyses at two levels, this study concludes that though non-farm employment in rural areas is primarily distress-driven, there are some significant entry barriers for rural workers in the nonfarm sector in terms of education, age and gender. Considering the overall deceleration of rural employment until 2009-10, the paper emphasises the importance of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in rural employment generation and the consequent process of feminisation of casual workforce in the non-farm sector that has emerged in the last five years. The results indicate the crisis of joblessness would have been more acute without the scheme. The overall quality of rural employment, driven by distress factors, has deteriorated in 2009-10 over 2004-05 in a significant way.

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