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

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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.

Robot Apocalypse

Anxiety about the prospect of technology displacing jobs on a large scale is currently dominating academic and public debate. A number of different occupations are likely to see an increased rate of automation in the near future. However, while studies have shown that this is likely to have an adverse effect on employment, they have all used the occupation-based approach to arrive at their conclusions. A task-based approach is used to arrive at a more accurate estimate of the effect of automation on manufacturing employment in India. Employing a comprehensive data set from the International Federation of Robotics, the nature and extent of diffusion of industrial robots into the manufacturing industry in India is also analysed.

Over-indebtedness and Its Drivers among Microfinance Borrowers in India

In microfinance markets worldwide, over-indebtedness among borrowers and households has emerged as an important concern. Over-indebtedness, measured in terms of sacrifices made by households, is high in both rural and urban India. Factors statistically significant in explaining over-indebtedness are the borrower’s age and financial literacy; the household’s entrepreneurial activity, income level, and spatial location; and the proportion of dependent members in a household.

Caste as Social Power

Intermediate caste groups like the Marathas in Maharashtra, Patidars in Gujarat, Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, and Jats in Haryana have been up in arms against the state for not being inclusive enough and demanding Other Backward Class status, reservations in jobs, education, and politics, adequate financial allocations to respective caste corporations, and other economic incentives. It is important to understand the dynamics of intermediate castes in its specific context to explain the current moment of its mobilisation, militancy, and political positioning. The intricacies of an intermediate caste called Kapus in Andhra Pradesh are analysed based on several years of field research and doctoral work.

The Political Economy of the Jat Agitation for Other Backward Class Status

The changing caste realities in Haryana and their links with economic processes became visible in the protests of the Jats for Other Backward Class status. The concerns of the Jats are embedded in twin processes initiated in 1991: the “Market” and the “Mandal.” Led by economic liberalisation, the job market demands certain attributes and levels of education and social skills to profit from its growth process. The implementation of the Mandal Commission’s report has facilitated the relative mobility of lower castes such as OBCs and Dalits through reservations in government jobs and education. The Jats have responded to this crisis by changing the discourse from one of domination to one that highlights their deprivation to bolster their demands for OBC status.

Realpolitik in the Khalistan Movement

Several explanations have been put forward to explain the rise of the Khalistan movement, from economic grievances, the Sikh fear of being absorbed into the Hindu fold, to dubious policy decisions made by the central and Punjab state governments. The discourses of political machinations and tussles for power—the realpolitik—behind the movement are analysed. The realpolitik factors of “over-centralisation” of power from New Delhi, the policies and behaviour of the Congress (I), the policies and behaviour of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and the role of Pakistan are interrogated.

Self-reliance versus State Responsibility

Drawing insights from the management of lift irrigation systems–established prior to and in the early stage of decentralisation of governance in Elamkulam gram panchayat in Kerala—how water users and local self-government have not taken full responsibility for sustaining the systems despite irrigation management transfer and decentralisation campaigns to develop local initiatives is examined. Despite the differences in water users’ associations in terms of genesis and self-reliance, many are seeking state support for sustaining the systems. In obtaining state support, associations that are capable of adapting to new decentralised institutional arrangements appear better-positioned, compared to those that lack such capabilities.

Casting the Net

A broad-brush assessment of the public distribution system is presented in six of India’s poorest states—Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal—soon after the National Food Security Act, 2013 came into force. Important gains have been made, including broader coverage, lower targeting errors, accelerated PDS reforms, and a greater political commitment to food security. In four of the six reference states, the PDS seems to be doing reasonably well, but Bihar and Jharkhand still have a long way to go. Even in the leading states, much remains to be done to achieve the purpose of the NFSA: ending food insecurity.

Is India Digitally Prepared for International Trade?

India’s digital infrastructure and the value added by digital services to its exports are analysed in order to assess its digital preparedness in the context of international trade. The results show that India lags behind many developing and developed countries in this area. In order to boost India’s trade competitiveness in the digital era, a Digitally-Informed Foreign Trade Policy is advocated that would aim to improve India’s digital infrastructure for trade, enhance the digital content in its exports, build digital skills in tradeable sectors, promote the use of digital technologies in manufacturing exports, and use big data analytics to inform foreign trade policy.

Social Movements and Educational Change

Political change can be a catalyst for the transformation of an educational system through the positioning of grass-roots social movements as an alternative to bureaucratic state mechanisms and non-governmental organisations in designing and implementing education reform. The case study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam, a social movement in Gudalur in Tamil Nadu, is used to illustrate how fundamental shifts in control of power within the system can result in greater inclusion of oppressed groups.

Unqualified Medical Practitioners

Some of the critical facets of medical practice by unqualified medical practitioners in India are explored: their role in treating acute medical conditions, and the responses of poor households eager to recover quickly with minimal spending. The study reveals how a wide range of associated actors are connected to the UMPs, including lawmakers, regulators, health managers, and those who benefit from the UMPs, that is, mainly qualified doctors.

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