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

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Collective Dreaming

The process of Vikalp Sangam (Alternatives Confluence) involves visioning of an ideal built on grounded initiatives, spanning the full range of alternative approaches to justice, equity, and sustainability. The focus is on India, but the lessons and visions emerging are relevant globally. It attempts to document, network, and create collaborations amongst movements and groups involved in such alternatives.

Technology Vision 2035

“Technology Vision 2035,” developed by the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, claims to identify key challenges and needs of India and describe its technology capability landscape in 2035. It is important to understand the backstage process of participation in the development of this vision document, and bring forth the imagination of the citizen underlining the vision’s horizon. In the context of its “diversity” claims, it is essential to ask if one vision is really possible for such a huge and diverse country, or should we be talking, instead, of many visions, and a diversity of visions?

The Fight against Mosquitoes

Technoscientific visions deeply inform the envisioning of the public health policy. Currently, multiple approaches are under development in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue and chikungunya. Though controversial, the advanced biological control approach has re-emerged as a strong alternative in the last decade and is shaping the trajectory of technological change in the fight against mosquitoes and associated vector-borne diseases. Since these efforts might change the way India manages its huge infectious disease burden in the long term, it is important to understand how certain technoscientific visions and ideas persist even while being controversial. The contestations surrounding technologies employing the advanced biological control approach are examined in an attempt to address this.

Whose Knowledge Counts?

Beyond the obvious claims of evidence-based research policy is the lesser-questioned claim of what qualifies as evidence. This requires an understanding of the politics of knowledge and examining knowledge claims made both for and against any particular innovation. Through the case of a specific agroecological innovation, the System of Rice Intensification in India, the barriers to a sustainable transition from a green revolution to an agroecological paradigm that reveals path dependence on certain agricultural futures—such as the New Plant Type or genetic transformation in rice—are highlighted.

India’s Green Revolution and Beyond

The widely accepted “success” of India’s green revolution in making the country self-sufficient in foodgrains has made it the model for all agrarian futures envisioned in the country. This article argues that this vision of the future is based on a selective understanding of India’s agrarian past as backward and needing redemption. There is inadequate evidence to support the claim that India was food-insecure in the 1960s. Moreover, evidence suggests that India’s food and nutritional insecurities today are the aftermath of the green revolution strategy promoted since the 1960s. This article is a small contribution towards comprehensively outlining that past so that we can begin to imagine a new vision for India’s agrarian future.

Social Sector in the 2019 Union Budget

The 2019 Union Budget has touched on all the components of the social sector in bits and pieces. However, the overall framework for the sector is not clear. Though a key initiative of the current government has been the increase in direct benefit transfers for welfare schemes, there is a need for increasing the state capacity, particularly of the poorer states, as the major social sector expenditures, mainly on health and education, are done by the states.

Growth, Employment and Labour through a Budget Lens

Despite the rhetoric in the budget speech of the finance minister, the larger picture emerging from the recent data is a slowdown in growth and a net decline in employment. Not only is this a case of jobless growth, but also one of job-displacing growth. Men have gained and women have lost. The rural economy has suffered the most. In the meantime, there is a process of downgrading the rights of labour. There is very little to cheer about the economy.

Vision for Industrial Growth in Budget 2019–20

The budget articulates a vision for the growth of the manufacturing sector which is built on three pillars: (i) increase in investments, private investments in particular, (ii) enabling of conditions for small firms to grow and move into the next strata, and (iii) enhancement of the rate of growth of exports. However, as it turns out the vision has been clouded by some illusions. The challenge of growth acceleration of the industrial sector is confounded by the fact that factor augmentation is at a slow pace despite an increase.

Putting the Cart before the Horse

The 2019 union budget has neither proposed any bold policy moves, nor any big allocations for investments in the agri-food sector. What it has is massive welfare programmes, predominantly the remnants of its predecessor government’s welfare policies. It appears that India has already become a welfare state before generating enough wealth. Has the budget for the agricultural sector actually put the cart before the horse?

Much Ado About Nothing

The announcements for the financial sector in the 2019–20 budget are either too little or too grandiose relative to the actual requirements of the sector. Given this, the author questions the razzmatazz about the budget as the “auspicious” occasion for which government policy initiatives need to wait to be announced.

Betting on Animal Spirits

Budget 2019–20 is more concerned with getting private finance for investment, especially in infrastructure, rather than with finding ways to finance much needed state action to address slowing growth and welfare shortfalls. However, even that stance does not free it from the neo-liberal fiscal bind it finds itself in.

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