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

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Gram Kachahary in Rural Bihar

Bihar has an innovative system of rural local governance through judicial institutions led by the people. Each gram panchayat has a gram kachahary . How these institutions work, the challenges they face, while settling disputes, and the ways these challenges could be met are examined.

What Is the Effective Delivery Mechanism of Food Support in India?

The public distribution system is the cornerstone of anti-poverty initiatives in India to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, but is plagued with leakages and corruption. Though several possible reasons account for these problems, one factor that is generally overlooked is the lack of assessment of the preference of the beneficiaries in terms of product portfolio, selection, and delivery mechanisms. Through a mixed methods analysis across Bihar, Odisha and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh, this paper assesses the factors explaining the diversity in the preference for the delivery mechanism. What would be a straightforward choice problem among delivery mechanisms turns out to be far more intricate when mediated by contextual heterogeneity and unequal power relations at different levels. The results highlight the centrality of demand and build a case for demand assessment in improving the effectiveness of the system.

NDA’s Big Victory in Bihar

The National Democratic Alliance registered its best ever performance in Bihar in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Not only did it win all but one seat, but it won mostly with huge margins. Two reasons stand out for the performance of the NDA: its reconstitution to include Janata Dal (United) and the high level of trust in the leadership of Narendra Modi. With assembly elections in the next year, it remains to be seen if and how the opposition alliance will be able to recuperate from its defeat.

Kanhaiya Kumar In Begusarai: Old Fault Lines and New Struggles for Radical Political Change

The need to confront and defeat the authoritarian tendencies of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the neo-liberal state has become ever more pressing. What are the issues when this challenge is to be met by contesting democratic elections? A month-long ethnographic study of Kanhaiya Kumar's campaign in Begusarai, Bihar speculates on its implications for progressive politics.

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.

Open Defecation in Rural India, 2015–16

The Government of India’s NFHS–4 offers the best new data on open defecation in rural India to be eleased in over a decade. Although open defecation has become less common than it was 10 years ago, it is still highly prevalent, with more than half of rural households reporting open defecation. On average, change has been slow, even during the period of the Swachh Bharat Mission.

Silenced and Marginalised

An attempt has been made to demonstrate the linkages between the socio-economic-cultural marginalisation of children and their educational marginalisation. This is achieved through a thick description of the living and working conditions of the children, and the interplay between the factory, residence, school, market, family and other support systems, in order to gauge the social reality of these children.

Bihar’s Burden of Child Stunting

The prevalence of child stunting in Bihar is as high as 48%. This study of the immediate and underlying causes of stunting reveals that only 15 of Bihar’s 38 districts are on course to reach the global target of 40% reduction in child stunting by 2025, with some districts likely to take over 25 years to reach the target. The data disaggregation at the district level presented here can help district managers use publicly available data to design and strengthen nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programmes to lower the incidence of stunting.

Poverty Alleviation in Bihar

The paper “Eliminating Poverty in Bihar: Paradoxes, Bottlenecks and Solutions” is near perfect in terms of the issues raised. But there is a need to go beyond focusing on the economic and infrastructural aspects of development. A complex society like Bihar needs a revolution in terms of bureaucratic restructuring, remittance-based planning, and promotion of an entrepreneurial culture.

Underscoring Political-Criminal Nexus

The incident of communal violence in Agarpur, Vaishali, Bihar in November 2015, clearly points to the widespread nexus among hoodlums, politicians with criminal records, and the police in the state. Dismantling this criminal patronage network, which perpetuates communalism and casteism and exacerbates lawlessness, is one of the biggest challenges that confronts the Nitish Kumar regime.

Making Social Science Matter - II

Part I of this paper, which appeared last week, described the patterns of participation of the rural poor in state-sponsored schemes and the characteristics of political society in each of the blocks and districts studied. It also provided evidence on the scale and significane of rent-seeking behaviour, and a preliminary mapping of what has been called 'the anthropology of the everyday state'. We turn now to a discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from our 'academic' research. This project involved the research team in a prolonged dialogue with different groups of actors in Malda and Bhojpur districts that we had identified as 'failing' districts from the point of view of effective pro-poor governance. We comment briefly on the background to this research and describe how we organised the action research process before proceeding to present the main findings of the workshops that we held in these two districts. These findings speak of the ways in which different groups of stakeholders, and members of the rural poor most especially, see the state in Bhojpur and Malda and how they would like to see certain practices of the state abolished, extended or reformed.

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