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

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Social Choice and Political Economy of Health

The National Health Policy, 2017 can be credited for an alternative vision towards the development of the health sector in India, but it falls short of expectations on certain counts. The core idea of strategic purchasing from the private sector is relevant, but can be incompatible with the existence of a robust public sector, particularly when reforms for enhancing the competitiveness of the public sector are undermined. Thus, the NHP essentially reopens the fundamental debate regarding the role of social choice mechanisms while deciding upon policy instruments and desirable outcomes. This has profound implications for the political economy of the health sector and can unintentionally catapult health as a salient feature in electoral politics.

‘Cultural Misrecognition’ and the Sustenance of Trinamool Congress in West Bengal

The assembly elections in West Bengal in 2016 were historic not only because the Trinamool Congress was given a second chance with a massive mandate, but also because, for the first time in decades, a single political party managed to win the election. Moreover, the TMC secured victory in most of the traditional left bastions, making the Left Front virtually insignificant in state politics. While populist and direct-benefit schemes are most prominently seen as the reasons behind the party’s success, there also exist the hitherto unaddressed alternatives to the Left Front government’s systematic development of “party society.” The promotion of traditional cultural expressions conceptualised as “cultural misrecognition” helped the TMC sustain its control and also attracted votes of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of the state who traditionally constituted the support base of the left.

Is the Ghost of Fascism Haunting Political Thought?

The spectre of fascism has continued to haunt political thinking even though original fascism was decisively defeated within a decade. Given the very specific historical conditions in which fascism arose in Europe, whether the term “fascism” significantly applies to more recent forms of authoritarian rule is questionable. Facile reference to the handy historical precedence of European fascism inhibits a genuine understanding of the material conditions that cause authoritarian regimes in the neo-liberal era. More disturbingly, the impressionistic mention of fascism might divert attention from the real issues of resistance to neo-liberalism.

Indian Official Statistics

Official statistics is a public good that informs, supports, and sustains democracy and advances socio-economic development. The Indian statistical system is analysed and methods for modernising it are suggested by using information and communications technology to improve the quality, credibility, coherence, and timeliness of data. An integrated, decentralised information system populated with granular data will enable data to be carried flexibly wherever required, queried, and analysed in business contexts at all levels of governance for a deeper insight. Such a system will help the government to inform stakeholders about the economy and honour our commitments to the United Nations resolution of 2014.

The Value of Rural Women’s Labour in Production and Wood Fuel Use

How do gender-related factors influence cooking fuel use? Why does an LPG capital subsidy lead to fuel stacking rather than fuel switching? The insights gained from authors’ research are supplemented by case studies, specifically aimed at exploring the connections between women’s labour time and fuel use. Using these observations and case studies, an analytical framework is developed, which yields propositions that can be tested empirically, such as the high value of women’s labour in production leading to the adoption of labour-saving cooking fuel and vice versa. This framework is used to assess the limitations of capital subsidies forLPG in remote rural areas where women’s labour has a low opportunity cost.

Origin of Conservation Refugees

The conservation of biodiversity and natural resources can help offer a sustainable supply of goods and services to fulfil the right of people to development and livelihood. However, the conservation record is not inspiring in India and across the world, when its social, economic, and cultural impacts on local people are considered. Conservation projects that exclude local people may conserve natural resources to an extent but not people’s access to livelihoods. By being a densely populated country, India cannot encourage the strategy of “pristine nature” in its conservation initiatives.

The 1872 Census

Often cited as an exemplary form of the epistemological violence wrought by the British colonial rule in much postcolonial inquiry, the 1872 Census merits closer analysis in the context of wider 19th-century conversations about the so-called science of statistics. An in-depth study of the processes and reports reveals that the village munduls were in fact indispensable to the actual work of enumeration and the singular figure of “indigenous agency.” The role they played constituted an important condition of the possibility of implementing the census in late 19th-century Bengal.

Memories and Memorials of the Mizo National Front Movement

The narrative of peace in Mizoram has become a part of national memory, but it is also embedded in larger politics of erasing a violent past. This is, in part, associated with the state agenda of presenting a “successful” case of conflict management, along with its refusal to acknowledge its violent actions. Tension over the issue of memorialisation continues to resurface at the local level, across political spectrums and local organisations—a consequence of the purported exclusion of violent memories in the official narratives and the neglect of “other” voices within the narrative of the movement. In this regard, the construction and contestation of the narrative of “peace” in Mizoram and the politics associated with its commemoration, merit further examination.

De-feminisation of Agricultural Wage Labour in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

A study of three villages in Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal, reveals that there is an alarming decline in female agricultural wage labour, resulting in de-feminisation, devastating poverty and outmigration of young boys and men in the Terai region. De-agrarianisation in combination with the revived patriarchal “good woman” ideology explains the crises of female wage labour. The Government of West Bengal’s Anandadhara programme seeks to integrate poor women into the financial flow through microcredit/self-helf groups. However, poor landless and marginal farm women are faced with various obstacles in becoming self-employed entrepreneurs.

The 2015 Gram Pradhan Elections in Uttar Pradesh

The 2015 gram pradhan elections in Uttar Pradesh present a distinct picture of local elections as compared to state-level and national elections. Three factors— money, power, and violence with localised overtones— have driven the course of elections lately. Large-scale monetary benefits accruing from the position of pradhani motivate the contestants to make substantial investment in elections. The second important element is power that is primarily based on caste status. Although caste positions have changed, the power of caste remains intact. Middle castes have gained salience but relative empowerment of certain communities within the Scheduled Castes is a notable feature in rural societies. The most visible expression of power assertion is violence which is colloquially referred to as dabangai.

Academic Freedom and Indian Universities

Academic freedom is increasingly under assault from authoritarian governments worldwide, supported by right-wing student groups who act as provocateurs within. In India, recent assaults on academic freedom have ranged from curbs on academic and extracurricular events to brutal assaults on students. However, the concept of academic freedom is complex and needs to be placed in a wider institutional context. While academic freedom was critical to earlier visions of the Indian university, as shown by various commissions on higher education, it is now increasingly devalued in favour of administrative centralisation and standardisation. Privatisation and the increase in precarious employment also contribute to the shrinking of academic freedom.

Women, Leverage and Peasant Revolutionary Organisations

Vast scholarship has found women in revolutionary organisations lacking in bargaining potential, being accorded subordinate positions, and facing sexual violence. This paper refutes such claims of homogeneity in women’s experiences, instead showing, under several structural conditions, that women’s groups exercised power, becoming central to guerrilla movement resilience. Using the case of the Maoists in two districts in Telangana, the author finds that the presence of relatively autonomous women’s groups in the villages generated a collective structural leverage—where women could steer movement actions, bargain for their demands to be met, and influence movement trajectory. Women have become essential to the guerrillas in delivering meaningful social change in the villages and creating robust support systems that can sustain an armed movement, while at the same time generating bargaining power for women.

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