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

InfrastructureSubscribe to Infrastructure

Budget 2021–22

In the context of the pandemic, we evaluate budget 2021–22 and its six-pillar framework. We found lack of clarity as regards allocations under each of the pillars, and hence we undertook to group ministry-wise allocations under each of the pillars. This categorisation was even more liberal than the one that the finance minister herself spelt out. Despite that, we find that the budget fell short of what was required for problems facing the Indian economy.

Budget 2021–22 and the Manufacturing Sector

The growth rate of manufacturing value added has been declining continuously since 2016–17 and it had become negative in 2019–20, even before the intensification of the Covid-19 crisis, suggesting that the budget needs to address the structural weaknesses of the economy. The 2021–22 budget has largely adopted the supply side corrective measures in the form of increased capital expenditure on infrastructure. The potential of infrastructure investment in reviving the sector and the implications of the proposed resource mobilisation for financing the increased capital expenditure are discussed. In the context of increased global fragmentation of production, the feasibility of promoting domestic production through tariff protection is also discussed.

Politicising Roads in Manipur

Roads across Manipur are ephemeral, foregrounding the politics behind their development as well as their spatial and temporal nature. Drawing from fieldwork conducted in Manipur, this article analyses contemporaneous state practices of infrastructure and its sociopolitical processes, and offers evidence to understand their materialities, forms, and societal relations. The nexus between politicians, contractors, bureaucrats, insurgents and elites causes frequent suspension of road projects, setting a new form of contingent development practice in Manipur.

After Breakdown

This paper builds on the work of Steven Jackson to theorise the breakdowns of hydraulic infrastructure not as exception, but as an ordinary condition of living with infrastructure. Rather than take breakdown to be an interruption in the life of infrastructures, it is suggested that breakdowns be read as an initial condition from which new infrastructures emerge through the labour of maintenance and repair. Drawing attention to the extraordinary labour of plumbers, municipal employees and engineers, the paper argues that the invisibilities of infrastructure are themselves contingent on the invisibilisation and subjugation of maintenance workers, who are placed beyond sight to regularly and constantly work to make water flow again.

Numbing Machines

What forms does manual scavenging take after its legal abolition? Analysing the recent deaths in Bengaluru’s sewage treatment plants and underground drainage systems, the understandings of manual scavenging as an “archaic” practice and opposed to the “rule of law” are rejected. The contractualisation of sewer maintenance instrumentalises “untouchable” bodies, making the calibration of caste power coincidental with the calibration of urban sewerage. Urban manual scavenging is shown to be an emergent application of caste power that resolves ecological impasses in contemporary sewerage. The objectification of caste power in urban infrastructures nevertheless opens up new locations for politicising normative caste embodiment.

Troubles with Cash Food Subsidy

A pilot project of cash food subsidy to replace the public distribution system in Nagri block of Ranchi district in Jharkhand is analysed to highlight the problems experienced by Jharkhand in implementation of cash food subsidy through the direct benefit transfer system in the PDS. Further, the limitations of cash transfer as a means to replace the PDS are highlighted as also the infrastructural and institutional constraints to impose digitalisation in rural Indian conditions.

Mission Impossible

In the wake of the global enthusiasm for smart cities, the central government launched the ambitious Smart Cities Mission in 2015. Based on a detailed analysis of proposals of the top 60 cities, the mission is located within the larger urban reform process initiated in the 1990s. An attempt has been made to define smart cities to understand how they envisage questions of urban transformations, inclusion and democracy. The proposals reveal an excessive reliance on consultants, lack of effective participation, a common set of interventions that are accepted as “smart solutions,” and a shift towards greater control of urban local bodies by state governments.

Public Sector Banks Are Adrift

With credit and deposit growth slowing in key sectors and only retail credit growing, low capital adequacy ratios of banks, senior management changes in the offi ng, and bank mergers, the National Democratic Alliance government needs to ask itself what it envisages for public sector banks, and indeed for the Indian economy.

The Increasing Incidence of PPP Project Cancellations in India

A spurt in the cancellation of public-private partnership projects in recent times can be attributted to macroeconomic crises, inherent problems in the water sector projects, and foreign sponsorship of these projects. Since giving the renegotiation relief to many of these projects seems to be problematic, cancellation is probably the only way for the government to elicit more realistic bidding from the private sector.

Governance Performance of Indian States

Building on a methodology developed in an earlier paper, the results of an exercise in ranking Indian states based on five sets of criteria--infrastructure, social services, fiscal performance, justice, law and order, and quality of the legislature--are presented to show how states have fared relative to each other between 2001-02 and 2011-12. What emerges is that five of the six best-performing states of 2001 were also the best performers in 2011. Similarly, four of the six worst performers of 2001 were also among the worst performers of 2011. A consequence of such stickiness of rankings at the top and the bottom is growing regional disparity between the more- and less-developed states.

Understanding What Has Gone Wrong in Pakistan

Rentier Capitalism: Disorganised Development and Social Injustice in Pakistan by Shahid Ahmed, UK: Palgrave Macmillan UK, March 2016; pp 248, $120(hardcover).

Pages

Back to Top