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

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Third National Family Health Survey in India: Issues, Problems and Prospects

The three rounds of the National Family Health Survey have generated vast amounts of data, which unfortunately have been subject to only limited critical examination by Indian research scholars, though the opposite is the case with scholars outside India. The nfhs-3, which was conducted in 2005-06, covered many more areas than the previous surveys and collected information in new and sensitive areas like sexual behaviour. However, there are questions about the quality of data thrown up by nfhs-3. Information on some indicators such as fertility and infant mortality remains of reasonably good quality, but the data on nutrition, immunisation, and gender violence is suspect. There have been three of these very large surveys since 1992-93, and it is perhaps time to reflect on the experience so far and plan for the next survey a decade after nfhs-3 which would be five years after the 2011 Census.

Religious Differentials in Fertility in India: Is There a Convergence?

Analysis of the data from the three rounds of India's National Family Health Survey shows that fertility transition is continuing in all the major religious groups of India. Substantial declines have occurred in fertility over the period encompassing the three rounds. The use of contraceptives has become more widely prevalent with a majority of couples wanting to stop childbearing at two or three children. Spatial variation is also noticeable with religious differentials being very small or negligible in some states. At the national level, religious differentials are narrowing though it is difficult to say when a convergence could occur. However, fertility for all religious groups is expected to fall further towards the replacement level and possibly to below this level.

Violence against Women in India: Is Empowerment a Protective Factor?

This study examines three issues related to domestic violence in India on the basis of data from the third National Family Health Survey. It shows that a significant proportion of women, regardless of their socioeconomic background, accept power differentials based on sex and that men have a right to discipline them. It also reveals that men from violent homes are significantly more likely to use violence against their wives. Most women do not seek help for the violence suffered, and the few who do, tend to steer clear of social service organisations and the authorities.

Reflections on Wealth Quintile Distribution and Health Outcomes

This study focuses on the method the National Family Health Survey-3 adopts to compute national wealth quintiles using the wealth index score of households as a basis. It argues that the survey's national wealth quintile classification does not account for interstate variations in wealth possession as well as rural-urban differences within states, which could lead to biased outcomes when applied to health indicators. It suggests that working out state-specific wealth quintiles that allow for the differentials would be more appropriate.

Sibling-Linked Data in the Demographic and Health Surveys

This paper highlights one aspect of the enormous but little-exploited potential of the Demographic and Health Surveys programme, namely, the use of data on siblings. Such data can be used to control for familylevel unobserved heterogeneity that might confound the relationship of interest, and to study correlations in sibling outcomes. It also discusses potential problems associated with the sibling data being derived from the retrospective fertility histories of mothers.

The Kosi and the Embankment Story

The Kosi afflux bundh breached in Kusaha in Nepal on 18 August 2008. This was the eighth incident of its kind and the first time did a breach occur upstream of the Kosi Barrage. The ones in 1968 and 1984 were no less disastrous but this year's breach has generated the most concern and its international dimension has added an edge. In an effective life of 45 years, the embankments have remained intact for 37 years. What happens to the people who have suffered the wrath of the river nearly five times more than those in the areas protected by the embankments?

Management of Floods in Bihar

A combination of short- and long-term measures that gives importance to both structural (traditional) means and non-structural techniques is required to solve the perennial flood problem in north Bihar.

Kosi: Rising Waters, Dynamic Channels and Human Disasters

The recent Kosi floods have proved once again that inadequate control measures have been responsible for the recurring disasters. Typically flood control and riverine studies focus on hydrological information, whereas a much more integrated approach that pays attention to specific morphological factors is required. Since Kosi is a dynamic river with a unique morphology and because it is a river which has always carried high sediment loads, flood management strategies must be attuned to such specific parameters of the river, besides being much more than mere "river control" through embankments.

Floods, Himalayan Rivers, Nepal: Some Heresies

The strategy of building embankments to constrain river flow and to prevent floods in north Bihar has proven to be questionable and flawed. Reliance on a dam-and-reservoir system for that purpose only offers limited protection and even greater risks of flooding in case of damage. Learning to cope with floods and managing a transition to a system that does not rely upon the embankments any more seems to be the rational course of action.

Committee on Financial Sector Reforms: A Critique

This article discusses the Raghuram Rajan Committee's draft report on reforms for the Indian financial sector with reference to the committee's philosophy on financial reforms, and its macroeconomic and regulatory frameworks.

Beyond Melting the Pot: On the Financial Sector Blueprint

The draft report of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms has proposed a financial sector blueprint for creation of a level playing field, introduction of missing markets, greater participation of foreign investors and consolidation of regulation of trading under one roof. While many of the recommendations have merit, the broad approach to reduce regulatory costs, overlaps, silos and gaps appears to be characterised by "melting the pot" to create a homogeneous financial system. This runs the risk of putting financial stability to strain, as also of enhancing institutional and market inefficiencies. The quest for creating more efficient and liquid markets needs to focus beyond melting the pot to addressing the core aspects of liquidity, efficiency and stability, while retaining heterogeneity.

Macroeconomic Framework and Financial Sector Development: A Commentary

The macroeconomic framework and the policy recommendations for the financial sector in the draft report of the Raghuram Rajan Committee make a case for further capital account liberalisation not because it leads to growth but because of its likely beneficial impact on financial sector development and efficiency gains. There is no evidence that this reverse sequencing works. The draft report also neglects the evidence on market failures, important among them being the pro-cyclicality of capital flows. It recommends using only the interest rate instrument for inflation targeting. This is likely to result in prohibitive interest rates. It also recommends that India follow a non-interventionist exchange rate policy instead of a managed float. This may have been a possibility if there was system-wide coherence in the international exchange rate system, but we know that is not the case.

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