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

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Corporate Social Responsibility Rules in India

The corporate social responsibility rules, which came into force from April 2014, make it mandatory for large Indian firms to set aside at least 2% of their average net profit for socially responsible expenditures. This paper aims to provide an assessment of the response by firms to these rules. It examines the extent to which these rules have led firms to comply and the extent to which their implementation over the financial year 2014–15 has contributed additional funds towards the social development of the country. The analysis is based on firm-level data sets of Indian firms for 2010–15. We find that following the implementation of these rules there has been an increase in the number of firms that are spending on CSR initiatives as well as the total amount spent on CSR activities. However, the distribution of CSR expenditures amongst firms is extremely unequal.

Public Expenditure, Governance and Human Development

Madhya Pradesh is a state that is "off-track" in achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals, with wide variance on development outcomes between districts. This study examines the link between public expenditure, quality of governance and human development outcomes in the state, and finds that development expenditure by itself is insufficient in achieving human development at the district level. Public expenditure has better outcomes in districts with better governance indicators, indicating the need to focus on improving governance mechanisms as well as increasing development expenditure.

Contextualising Educational Decentralisation Policies in India

The impact of the local contextualisation of successive rounds of educational decentralisation reform on organisational learning and capacities of rural educational governance structures is examined. From locating schools in local self-government in the mid-1990s, the focus shifted in the 2000s to school accountability. This shift induced a reconstruction of the “risk” posed by the earlier round of reform and the identification of aspects of organisational learning to be retained or discarded. Such an ability to choose is an important indicator of organisational capacity for reform. The next round of reforms should include academic supervision in the accountability mandate.

Is Son Preference Weakening?

The National Family Health Survey data indicates that the index of intensity of son preference, a crude measure based on attitude, has declined—so has the measure based on behaviour. The share of those who have accepted daughters-only families has increased from 5.15% to 6.65% from NFHS-1 to NFHS-3. Daughters-only couples are concentrated in the southern states of India and are typically urban, educated, and upper-caste, with high living standards. Sex ratio at birth figures for 2007–12 highlight the decline in the number of missing girls to 3.3 lakh per year from 5.8 lakh earlier. Is son preference weakening? Is the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act a contributing factor?

Roll On, Roll Off Shipping in India

The experience of the first roll on, roll off ship service in India, which began to transport goods from Mangaluru to Hazira port in October 2015 is analysed. It was expected to transform transportation by saving fuel, protecting the environment, and reducing traffic congestion. However, the ship owners decided to abandon the service within five months. A qualitative research approach is used to identify the causes for this, and the practical challenges faced by the industry. The key lessons learnt and possible policy interventions to revive the innovative ro-ro service are highlighted.

Mobile Phones for Maternal Health in Rural Bihar

Health programmes that are using mobile phones to improve maternal health in rural India are examined. Presented by its promoters as a universal, accessible and “smart” empowering technology, how mobile devices transform gender inequalities on the ground is analysed. By using empirical data collected on a global mHealth programme deployed in Bihar, how mHealth devices negate the multifactorial dimension of gender and health inequalities is explained, and also how these devices can reinforce inequalities on the ground is examined.

The Convergence of Peasant Struggles Worldwide

A plethora of problems face Southern and Northern family agricultures in the current neo-liberal era of financial capital domination worldwide, and has paved the way for the revival of peasant struggles for their social emancipation and legitimate right of access to land and food. Obviously, such struggles also concern all categories of workers and people because what is at stake is the challenge to reach food sovereignty and to build our societies at the local, national and global levels, on the principles of social justice, equality and real democracy.

Caste, Religion, and Health Outcomes in India, 2004-14

There has been little investigation into whether the “social gradient to health”—whereby people belonging to groups higher up the social ladder have better health outcomes than those belonging to groups further down—exists in developing countries like India. The relative strengths of economic and social status in determining the health status of persons in India is evaluated using the National Sample Survey Office data set for 2004 and 2014. This is evaluated with respect to two health outcomes: the age at death and the self-assessed health status of elderly persons.

Emerging Politics of Accountability

The implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005 in Bihar is studied to examine the progression and deepening of institutional change. The institutional progression is inextricably linked to change in the political regime and the resultant shifts in policy priorities. The RTI Act has opened up a new space for accountability between state and society, its use is often linked to local politics, and a new form of elite agency has emerged, whose practitioners this article categorises as “agents of accountability.” These agents are different from the category of elite agency discussed in scholarly literature, such as the “expansive elite,” pyraveekars, gaon ka neta, “political fixers,” or naya netas.

Levelised Cost of Electricity for Nuclear Power Using Light Water Reactor Technology in India

The development of nuclear power generation in India is proposed to be enhanced with international cooperation, for sourcing fuel and setting up commercial nuclear power plants. The cost of power produced at such plants is examined. The levelised cost of electricity for light water reactor technology in India is estimated for once-through cycle and twice-through cycle options. A reference point for international cost comparisons is provided, and a sensitivity analysis for key input parameters is carried out. The base case, levelised cost of electricity is estimated to be 13.93 cents per kilowatt-hour and 14.13 cents per kilowatt-hour for once-through cycle and twice-through cycle options, respectively.

Changing Dynamics of Inflation in India

Using the latest consumer price index (combined) series, it is found that the dynamics underlying India’s inflationary process have changed substantially. Significant reduction found in the inflation persistence reflects anchoring of inflationary expectations. Moreover, it is the headline inflation that reverts to the core and not vice versa, as was assumed so far. It implies the absence of any significant second-round effects. These features need to be taken into account for any policy analysis. Attempting to forecast inflation using various econometric techniques, it is found that a combination of alternative models based on mean square errors improves forecast accuracy as compared to any individual model.

'Provincialising' Vegetarianism

Large-scale survey data are used to question the most public claims about food habits in India. It is found that the extent of overall vegetarianism is much less—and the extent of overall beef-eating much more—than suggested by common claims and stereotypes. The generalised characterisations of “India” are deepened by showing the immense variation of food habits across scale, space, group, class, and gender. Additionally, it is argued that the existence of considerable intra-group variation in almost every social group (caste, religious) makes essentialised group identities based on food practices deeply problematic. Finally, in a social climate where claims about food practices rationalise violence, cultural–political pressures shape reported and actual food habits. Indian food habits do not fit into neatly identifiable boxes.

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