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

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Alternatives to Aadhaar-based Biometrics in the Public Distribution System

States across the country are taking steps towards providing digital identities to beneficiaries of their public distribution systems. In doing so, the use of Aadhaar-based biometrics seems to be the preferred choice of method. However, several other methods exist for the same and have been adopted by different states at different points in time. States currently embarking on the journey of providing digital identities to their beneficiaries might benefit from evaluating all available alternatives before adopting a suitable method.

Assessing Economic Impacts of Connectivity Corridors in North East India

One of the main constraints to development in North East India is the lack of connectivity. How the existing East–West Corridor and the proposed transboundary corridors such as the Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project, and the Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor connecting India with neighbouring countries in the eastern neighbourhood would stimulate economic activities in the North East is examined. It is found that the corridor-based development projects may generate economic activities and regional development, which, in turn, would influence economic growth through higher production and consumption.

Growth, Development Spending, and Inequality in Indian States

The relationship of economic growth from 1988 to 2012 in Indian states with poverty and inequality is analysed. The results suggest that in faster-growing states, poverty levels have declined, but poverty intensity has not changed and the highest increase is in inequality. An examination of the performance of development spending (which should mostly benefit the poor) incurred by the states indicates that though faster-growing states showed high spending on the development sector, development spending benefited the rich more effectively than the poor—contrary to the intent behind it—thereby raising inequality in the state.

Growing Cleavages in India?

This paper combines surveys, election results and social spending data to document a long-run evolution of political cleavages in India. The transition from a dominant-party system to a fragmented system characterised by several smaller regionalist parties and, more recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party, coincides with the rise of religious divisions and the persistence of strong caste-based cleavages, while education, income and occupation play a diminishing role (controlling for caste) in determining voters’ choices. More importantly, there is no evidence of the new party system of being associated with changes in social policy, which corroborates the fact that in India, as in many Western democracies, political conflicts are increasingly focused on identity and religious–ethnic conflicts rather than on tangible material benefits and class-based redistribution.

Public Expenditure and Economic Development

Using univariate and multivariate time series analysis, like panel unit root test and panel co-integration, and the Toda–Yamamoto causality test, the causal relationship between economic development and public expenditure is examined in 28 states of India at different stages of development from 2003 to 2015. In relatively developed and less developed states, a causal flow exists from real sector growth to increase in public expenditure, in line with Wagner’s hypothesis. In least developed states, however, bidirectional causality exists between both capital and revenue expenditure to growth, and from growth to capital and revenue expenditure.

What Do Citizens Value in E-governance?

While e-governance projects are invoked as critical in realising development outcomes, their conception and design are constrained by a focus on short-term efficiency gains. An analysis of the implementation of the Karnataka Valuation and e-Registration project reveals that while it has facilitated convenience and accessibility by reducing the turnaround time of the registration process, it has not reduced information asymmetries or provided assurance of the legal validity of property transactions. This is due to a narrow conception of e-governance which does not seek to alter the incongruities that exist in prevailing state–citizen relationships, in general, and the role of the state, in particular.

Kailas–Manasarovar Sacred Landscape

Tracing the journeys of three old travellers—Rahul Sankrityayan, Pranavanand, and Nain Singh Rawat—three study tours to the Kailas region as well as to the adjoining Indian, Tibetan and Nepal Himalayas were undertaken along different routes in the last 30 years. These study tours help in the understanding of the larger Tibetan and Indian frontier history relating to Kailas.

Challenges to Indian Fiscal Federalism

The state of cooperative federalism in India is analysed by focusing on the trends in vertical fiscal imbalances between the centre and the states, the impact of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management acts on the fiscal space of the states, the implications of the Terms of Reference of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, and the need for empowering local governments in the context of centre–state relations.

Disaggregate Food Inflation in India

Inflation may vary across space and commodities due to differences in region-specific or idiosyncratic factors such as climate, local culture, and the existing institutional set-up. These factors cause disaggregate, or regional, inflation, which in turn coalesces into aggregate inflation. Food inflation is a typical example. Spatial factors and rainfall are the most important determinants of disaggregate food inflation. Local inflation differs from aggregate inflation; the rate of inflation varies by city and commodity; and the determinants of rural and urban inflation are different. In addition to demand management policies, aggressive supply-side policies are the need of the hour.

Trends and Patterns of Household Indebtedness

Based on the data from the All-India Debt and Investment Surveys, a re-emergence of non-institutional credit agencies in the incidence of household indebtedness is found since the 1990s, especially in the rural areas, reflecting the inadequate social commitments of the institutional agencies due to their contemporary organisational deficiencies. The data, however, do not seem to capture the extent of urban distress in totality. Yet, given the general dearth of evidence on the status of household indebtedness over time, institutions like the Reserve Bank of India and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should revisit this information to resurrect their roles in strengthening credit delivery to the general population.

Employment Terms of Casual Teachers in Higher Education

Contractual and part-time lecturers form a substantial chunk of the workforce in India’s higher education sector. An in-depth study of the employment terms and conditions of various categories of casual teachers in the higher education sector of West Bengal reveals that discrimination of casual teachers is deeply entrenched within the academic environment. This affects the self-esteem and well-being of the teachers and, in turn, leads to a deterioration in the quality of education imparted. Ensuring decent and equitable working conditions for casual and part-time teachers is essential for strengthening the higher education sector, which is necessary for nurturing a well-trained workforce.

Utilisation, Fund Flows and Public Financial Management under the National Health Mission

Since April 2014, funds for various centrally sponsored schemes, including the National Health Mission, are being transferred to implementing agencies through state treasuries. This has added an additional layer in the institutional structure for nhm fund flows. We analyse the utilisation of nhm funds in 29 states in two recent years, and the time taken for release of these funds from state treasuries to implementing agencies in three selected states: Bihar, Maharashtra, and Odisha. On average, only about 55% of funds allocated for nhm were utilised in 2015–16 and 2016–17. In Bihar and Maharashtra, this was partly due to significant delays in release of funds from state treasuries to implementing agencies. The delays were a result of complex administrative procedures associated with the release of nhm funds from state treasuries.

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