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

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The Hope and the Dilemma of the Urban Poor

A common view about economically weaker sections and lower-income groups in India is that they live in slums because they cannot afford to buy or rent decent accommodation in the formal market. However, some can pay a monthly rent and/or for the services such as garbage disposal and water, but they, and others who can afford to buy, are deterred by institutional constraints. Many slum households face a dilemma: opting for better and more secure living conditions would mean losing some of the advantages of living in a slum and the possibility of a free home.

Strengthening Fiscal Health of Urban Local Bodies

In West Bengal, municipal fiscal indicators have improved, but municipality finances are in a grossly unsatisfactory state. Inter-category fiscal disparities are large. Own source revenue is insufficient to cover revenue expenditure. Therefore, municipalities are dependent on intergovernmental transfers, and their fiscal autonomy is limited. Intergovernmental transfers are equalising in nature. There is an increasing need for adequate resources, especially owing to the decentralisation of urban service delivery, and a need for strengthening the fiscal health of urban local bodies by increasing own source revenue or intergovernmental transfers, by restructuring intergovernmental transfers, or by performing both actions.

Rise of the Corporate NGO in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is now known as the land of the largest non-governmental organisation (BRAC), and the largest microfinance institution (Grameen Bank). In the last four decades since independence, Bangladesh has become more marketised, more globalised, and more urbanised than ever. It has had spectacular success in garments export, remittance and food production. The country also has seen a dramatic growth of microcredit and NGOs. Nevertheless there has been very slow progress in poverty reduction, and there has been catastrophic destruction of environment and increase of inequality. An attempt has been made to explore the role of NGOs, their emergence with the rise of the neo-liberal world view and new economic order, as also their retreat, polarisation, integration and subsequent corporatisation.

The Multiple Meanings of Nature Conservation

With increasing concerns about the degradation of forests threatening the existence of wildlife, conservation projects are seen as the need of the hour. However, conservation as a concept is often understood differently by the local community, the scientific community, and the state. A critical examination of the ongoing efforts for tiger conservation in Dibang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, exposes the fault lines in the narrative of nature conservation as the state imposes its agenda through the establishment of sanctuaries and reserves, without considering the needs of the local Mishmi tribe and excluding their traditional conservation practices.

Climate Justice and Gandhian Morality

Gandhian principles of morality have in the past been linked in various ways to India’s approach to environmental governance and, more recently, to the contemplation of the broader global debate on climate change. The applicability of these principles to conceptions of climate justice is examined by exploring the ways in which the idea of M K Gandhi is articulated in an Indian context. The vocalisation of Gandhi as a symbol of Indian engagement with climate change and sustainable development asks to be located within broader normative perspectives on the content and directionality of a Gandhian approach. Ideas of cosmopolitanism and “realised justice” supply a useful backdrop for a contemporary reading of Gandhi, and draw attention to several questions that this article examines.

More than Just Water

The Participatory Irrigation Management legislation in Maharashtra is a vital component of the World Bank’s next generation reforms in the water sector in India. These reforms are based on the bank’s emphasis on efficiency in resource use and a rollback of the government’s presence in the sector to a more regulatory role. This study applies the Policy Advocacy Coalition Framework to the policy subsystem which has been created by the enactment of the PIM legislation in Maharashtra. The emergent coalitions in the subsystem have been analysed for their belief systems, actors, structure and resources.

Urban Canals and Peri-urban Agrarian Institutions

The metabolisation of water to serve urban consumption through drinking and waste water canals is an important yet understudied aspect of urbanization in Indian cities. The empirical evidence from fieldwork in Budhera village in peri-urban Gurgaon suggests that the surface water that flows in the canal systems is open to seepage, theft, waste water irrigation, and these processes have a profound impact on agricultural livelihoods in the vicinity. The structure of the canals in relation to the geographic conditions of land, social relations and technologies create differentiated risks and opportunities for farmers and produce complex distributional impacts that are unplanned and arbitrary. This article looks at different types of conflicts that emerge in this context while also focusing on new norms, institutions and practices that support the changing rural–urban flows of water and prevent conflicts of interest from emerging into outright conflicts.

All India Radio’s Glory Days and Its Search for Autonomy

In the recent row over the “autonomous corporation” status of the Prasar Bharati, the fate of state broadcasters like All India Radio is in a deadlock. In the face of competition with private broadcasters, the corporation cannot exercise full autonomy in managing the state broadcaster, even though the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 has been passed. Functional autonomy remains a far-fetched reality with the government of the day finding it difficult to cut the umbilical cord with the state broadcaster. As AIR is reeling under the pressure of this managerial conundrum, one should not lose sight of its historic role as a nation builder, as well as its contribution to the cultural landscape of India. Many of the towering intellectuals, musicians, writers and theatre personalities of mid to late 20th-century India were associated with this remarkable institution.

Does FDI Promote Growth?

The spillover effects of foreign direct investment in the Indian manufacturing sector are examined by analysing the financial performance of foreign firms with domestic business group firms and stand-alone firms for selected sub-periods during 2001–15. The study shows that the sales efficiency of foreign firms is not significantly different from that of the domestic firms in all the sub-periods studied, except during 2008–09. The operational efficiency of foreign firms is better than that of the domestic firms till 2009 and, for the later period, there is no significant difference in operational efficiency of domestic and foreign firms.

A Manifesto for Socialist Development in the 21st Century

What might socialist development look like? Mainstream conceptions of development deem capital accumulation the bedrock upon which to achieve human development. In these conceptions of change, labouring classes are regarded as fuel for the development motor, which in turn justifies their exploitation and oppression. In contrast, how would a non-exploitative socialist development strategy be operationalised? This article advances a 10-point plan for sustainable socialist transformation.

Examining Electoral Data

West Bengal and Kerala are often juxtaposed under a common communist identity in most scholarly and policy discourse. We deconstruct these linkages by looking at election result data in these states in the past five decades. Our observations indicate that (i) the assumed supremacy of communist preference in the two states must be diluted, and (ii) the tendency to put both states in the same political basket must be revisited. Since election data are a direct reflection of the people’s preferences, this paper adds an important contribution to the literature by looking at the demand side of the political market.

Welfare without Work or Wages

Reiterations of the state’s responsibilities have emerged at a time when the market had gained legitimacy of hegemonic proportions. This new thinking can be seen as an effort to redefine the state’s welfarist profile. Closely tied to the idea of democracy and civil society’s initiatives as means of securing the state’s obligations, these discourses and policies remain exclusively focused on welfare-related social policies, while work and work-related rights have been pushed to the margins of the framework of state responsibility. This widely shared position fails to engage with broader political economy issues, particularly with the specificity of the ever expanding domain of irregular workers, and the contradictions of talking about welfare, but not about work or wages.

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