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

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Citizenship at Sea

Coastal erosions in the Sundarbans have not only dismantled infrastructure and place-based relations, but also adversely affected citizen’s abilities to make claims on the state and to translate these claims into desired outcomes, effecting a “corrosion of citizenship at the margins” which entails waning influence on bureaucratic decisions and, concomitantly, the fading of citizenship rights in practice.

Improving the Drought Resilience of the Small Farmer Agroecosystem

The farming systems followed by farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America have the potential to deal with the problems thrown up by climate change. This article examines the changing drought ecosystems of poor farmers and also points out that the present paradigm of agricultural development and what it means for small farmers needs to be critically evaluated.

Does Citizenship Abate Class?

Drawing on data from a large household survey in Bengaluru, this paper explores the quality of urban citizenship. Addressing theories that have tied the depth of democracy to the quality and effectiveness of citizenship, we develop an index of citizenship and then explore the extent to which citizenship determines the quality of services and infrastructure that households enjoy. Findings show that citizenship and access to services in Bengaluru are highly differentiated, that much of what drives these differences has to do with class, but there is clear evidence that the urban poor are somewhat better in terms of the services they receive than they would be without citizenship. Citizenship, in other words, abates the effects of class.

Inequality in India–II

To determine the inequality in wage earnings, attention is paid to the distinction between formal and informal types of employment, and the returns to education. Alternative definitions to understand the formal–informal dichotomy are employed to show that employers are increasingly using “informal” workers in formal enterprises. In Part I of this paper (EPW, 29 July 2017), changes in household welfare as measured by per capita household expenditure were analysed.

From Groundwater Regulation to Integrated Water Management

Groundwater over-exploitation poses a severe threat to food, water and livelihood security in India, but the approach to groundwater regulation has been guided by the simplistic prescription that to achieve sustainable use, pumping must be less than recharge. This article explains the hydrological cycle and the close relationship between groundwater and surface water, and argues that the conventional notion of sustainable groundwater use is fundamentally flawed. Groundwater, soil moisture and surface water are part of a single integrated resource, and cannot be regulated independent of each other. The solution is not sustainable use or the compartmentalisation of surface and groundwater but the fair and transparent reallocation of renewable freshwater resources.

Constituency Development Funds in India

India’s Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, in which each MP is allotted an annual discretionary fund to spend in his or her district, offers an incentive to MPs to engage in individual political business cycles, or increased spending just before the elections, to improve their chances of re-election. Have they taken advantage of this opportunity? If they have, has doing so enhanced the likelihood of their re-election? This paper addresses these questions in the context of the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

‘Riskless Capitalism’ in India

A study of the financial processes underlying India’s high-growth trajectory of the 2000s and its relationship with “riskless capitalism,” a term first used by Raghuram Rajan in November 2014, finds that the Indian growth story cannot be over-simplistically explained as a result of “market-oriented” reforms. Public sector bank credit-financed investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector, played a significant role in sustaining growth, most crucially after the global economic crisis. Such a growth trajectory, however, proved to be unsustainable with the expansionary phase coming to an end in 2011–12 and bad loans piling up in the banking system.

Inequality in India–I

Examining the course of inequality in terms of average per capita expenditure, it is seen that the period after the reforms were initiated registered a dramatic increase in the relative growth of welfare in the top expenditure group, even as the poorest group progressed at a rate higher than the mean. The dip in the middle of the distribution disappeared later when a “ladder” pattern of growth was observed, with each quintile group showing a higher growth rate than the preceding one. The major reasons for this changing pattern are discussed in terms of the structure of growth in the Indian economy, particularly what happened in the tertiary and manufacturing sectors. The paper is being published in two parts. Part II will appear in the issue of 12 August.

Manufactured Silence

Scholarship on the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy tends to treat the Indian judiciary as the site where political, social and legal forces converged to betray survivors seeking redress. But before this judicial failure, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had already politicised the disaster to protect his economic modernisation programme. Recognising the threat the Bhopal tragedy posed to the ideology behind this agenda, Rajiv Gandhi and his advisers pursued multiple strategies to suppress the gas leak’s resonance in larger political debates. This laid the groundwork for the courts’ later miscarriage of justice and helped shape the disaster’s subsequent place in Indian economic history.

Community-based Natural Resource Management in the Sundarbans

There has been widespread assertion of the fact that traditional state laws on protected area conservation can pose a threat to the customary collective rights of local communities inhabiting these areas, inducing livelihood vulnerabilities. Within contemporary academic discourse, thus, there remains a major question concerning the issue of institutionalising the non-marketable customary collective rights of local communities to address the asymmetrical power relationships in natural resource distribution conflicts. Against this backdrop, a study conducted in the Sundarban forest region of West Bengal explores the community-based natural resource management paradigm and how customary rights of the local communities have fared under the joint forest management programme. It examines the applicability, as well as the successes and limitations of the programme as an alternative to state-led top-down models of conservation, and the impact of political and economic control over people and resources.

Indian Business Groups and Their Dominance in the Indian Economy

Business groups have played an important role in the development of the Indian economy by filling the institutional voids arising from weak markets and institutions. As these economic institutions developed, the need for business groups was expected to reduce. There does exist a reducing trend, but at the same time, average size and average sales of business group firms are increasing. This anomaly raises a question. Are all business groups losing their importance or is it only a few of them? Our results demonstrate that expectation of diminishing importance does not hold true for top group firms. We show that top group firms have been able to capture appropriate growth drivers resulting in economic dominance and concentration of economic power.

Primitive Accumulations at the Margins

The processes of primitive accumulation have always been conjoined with capitalist relations of production and accumulation even in their advanced stages. These are quite critical in understanding the theoretical underpinnings of the process through which mining activities tend to completely transform the landscape of Chhattisgarh. By using Karl Polanyi’s thesis of double movement and the theory of primitive accumulation by Karl Marx, this study delves into contemporary processes of grabbing land and forced displacements in Chhattisgarh. Commodification of land has affected not only the livelihoods of local communities in Chhattisgarh, but has also disrupted sociocultural harmony. Our study elaborates on the cultural vacuum—to use Polanyi’s term—that is created once an individual is displaced from her/his social settings and traditional institutions.

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