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

Special IssuesSubscribe to Special Issues

Measuring Fiscal Performance of States

An alternative approach of measuring the fiscal discipline of states by preparing a composite index (Fiscal Performance Index) out of eight fiscal indicators is attempted in this paper. It is argued that although the Eleventh and Twelfth Finance Commissions fully recognised the importance of different fiscal parameters, like the composition of government expenditure, sources and pattern of government finances, the magnitude of debt, subsidies and interest burden, the measure of fiscal discipline, adopted by them is based on only one indicator. The Fiscal Self Reliance and Improvement Index constructed by the TFC that considers the 'change' in a single indicator is narrowly based, unstable and biased against the better fiscal performers. The suggested FPI, on the other hand, is multi-dimensional, more stable, just towards better performers and also useful for state level policy-making. The empirical analysis suggests the large inter-state variations in the level of FPI and almost continuous fiscal deterioration during the post-reform years.

Twelfth Finance Commission and Restructuring of State Government Debt: A Note

The Twelfth Finance Commission's proposed plan for restructuring the debt of state governments contains stringent conditions that probably violate the basic tenets of fiscal federalism. Macroeconomic norms dictated by global finance capital could not obviously be reconciled with the requirements of economic democracy.

Approach and Recommendations

The Twelfth Finance Commission has recommended a scheme of fiscal transfers that can serve the objectives of equity and efficiency within a framework of fiscal consolidation. The effort needed to achieve fiscal consolidation must be seen as the joint responsibility of the central and state governments. For achieving vertical and horizontal balance, consistent with the responsibilities of the two levels of governments in respect of providing public and merit goods and services, both the centre and the states need to raise the levels of revenues relative to their respective revenue bases, exercise restraint in undertaking unwarranted expenditure commitments and prioritise expenditures.

Balancing Stability, Equity and Efficiency

The prevailing fiscal environment is demanding and much was expected of the Twelfth Finance Commission's award in not only ensuring a fair share of resources between the centre and states and among the states inter se, but also in altering the incentive structure to promote fiscal discipline. Like its predecessors, the TFC did not make any drastic changes in total statutory transfers and worked around tax devolution and grants so that the centre's outgo was not substantially increased and equalisation was broadly similar to the past. Although the forecast of revenues and non-plan revenue expenditure has been seasoned with some norms, the incentive structure of the main recommendations remains unaltered. It is not certain whether they would be strong enough to induce the states to reduce revenue deficits.

Equity and Consistency Properties of TFC Recommendations

This paper examines three aspects of the Twelfth Finance Commission recommendations. First, it looks at the most urgent issue for states, the FRBM legislation which they must enact if they are to qualify for the interest rate reduction on debt owed to the centre. The required revenue deficit target of zero by 2008-09 is unambiguously clear but the fiscal deficit requirement is not. The parameter values underlying the fiscal deficit correction path could be valued by states very differently from those assigned in the TFC report. The second issue addressed in the paper is the complex and ambiguous set of conditionalities relating the debt write-offs in year t to the reduction in the revenue deficit in year (t-1) relative to (t-2). These conditionalities also carry a fiscal deficit cap which could be sharply inconsistent with a fiscal deficit correction path fully in conformity with that prescribed by the TFC. These issues are illustrated with simulations for a sample state. Finally, the paper examines the equity attributes of the tax devolution and non-tax grants prescribed by the TFC. The formula adopted for determining tax shares of states assigns a greater weightage to distribution-neutral factors, and so reverses the trend since the Sixth Finance Commission towards increasing weightage for redistributional factors. The non-tax grants do not show an inverse relationship with per capita GSDP. Together, these suggest that the TFC has chosen to move away from equity as a guiding principle for its statutory flows, but the report does not make plain why it has chosen to do so.

Labour Outmigration, Livelihood of Rice Farming Households and Women Left Behind

This is an article based on a case study of labour outmigration of rice farming households in the three districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. The paper examines the incidence, patterns and impact of labour outmigration on the livelihood of rice farmers and their women left behind. The authors find that migration has increased women's decision-making capacity predominantly. But at the same time their lack of access to modern seed technology impedes their work.

Fostering Insecure Livelihoods

Dowry and female seclusion are aspects of a system of property regulation that restrict women's ability to directly own and control property. In this context, it is hardly surprising that agrarian reform has reproduced female disadvantage in property rights and accentuated female seclusion linked to social mobility. The author examines substantial gender disparity in property rights over land, rising levels of dowry and the constraints women face in taking up paid work, etc, which pose serious questions for the livelihood security of poor women in Kerala and West Bengal.

Feminisation of Agriculture and Marginalisation of Their Economic Stake

The government as well as international organisations have implemented many programmes aimed at rural women. But actually their programmes do not touch upon the issues related to women's higher income work opportunities, upward economic mobility, rights such as equal wages for equal work and property rights. This article analyses the declining economic stake of women in agriculture in spite of their increasing contribution.

Food Security: How and For Whom?

Food security is contingent on three parameters - availability, accessibility and affordability. While availability and accessibility relate to production and distribution, the question of affordability is linked to Amartya Sen's concepts of 'endowment' and 'exchange entitlements', that is, the resources at one's disposal that determines one's capacity to buy food. The papers in this collection on gender and food security deal precisely with this problem of endowment and exchange entitlement, especially with regard to women. They seek to draw attention to the resources, mainly employment, available to women for procuring food. However, apart from inadequate opportunities for wage labour, lack of command over productive resources acts as a major constraint on those women who do undertake farming for the household. Participation in the production of food, moreover, does not guarantee commensurate returns. All the papers deal with rice farming, but they are illustrative of the general situation regarding food security among poor women and point to the urgency of public measures for the protection of this vulnerable section.

Commercialisation, Commodification and Gender Relations in Post-Harvest Systems for Rice in South Asia

When the output of a product that forms the basis of subsistence and social reproduction - as rice is for Asia - expands, the marketed surplus rises disproportionately to the growth rate of production. This implies that activities that once formed part and parcel of household labour activity (performed by women - even if under the control of men) also become commercialised. Food security depends not only on the market, but also on the social and political structures within which markets are situated. One of these social structures is gender. Two aspects of this gendered process are explored in this essay, the first being 'productive deprivation'. Using field evidence from south Asia, the impact of technological change is shown to be strongly net labour displacing and strongly biased against female labour. At the same time, poverty ensures the persistence of petty commodity production, where women are either self-employed or 'unwaged' family workers. As seen in the case of rice production in West Bengal, growth in production has been accompanied by the displacement of women from the rice mill labour forces in which economies of scale have been pitched against unwaged work in petty production.

Gendered Price of Rice in North-Eastern India

This paper examines the practices of gender ideology among the rice-farming groups of northeastern India. It explores the linkages between gendered knowledge and skills, gender roles and labour, and customary norms and power structures. It attempts a comparative analysis of the states in the region using selected gender disparity indicators, which suggest that there is a gendered price to pay for food sustainability. The paper argues that food and livelihood security cannot be ?engendered? by the current development and agricultural policies.

Emphasising Universal Principles towards Deepening of Democracy

If we are to nurture and strengthen democracy and build a secular society in India, participation by all as equal citizens is imperative. In this regard, education of the whole population is essential. Although the transformation of a country from a high level of illiteracy to one of near universal literacy cannot be achieved overnight, the fact remains that the status of a child going to school contrasts sharply with that of a full-time worker, even in a situation of low literacy levels. The school going child is treated primarily as a student and any work performed by him/her cannot be at the expense of his/her school activities. In other words, it is accepted that the primary activity of the child is that of a student and not a worker. Therefore, any programme to increase literacy levels among children must necessarily also be a programme to reduce the incidence of child labour. The two objectives are contingent on each other.

Pages

Back to Top