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

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Household Assets and Wealth Quintiles, India 2006–16

The potential of National Family Health Survey wealth index to contribute to the discourse on poverty and inequality in India is presented. Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, there have been improvements in ownership and access to fairly basic household assets and amenities, yet, much needs to be accomplished in the provisioning of pucca houses, clean cooking fuel, improved toilet facilities as well as access to the digital world through computers and the internet. Inter-household inequalities in asset ownership have declined, but there are large intergroup inequalities with particularly disadvantaged asset ownership profiles for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Muslim households. Interstate inequalities in asset ownership, however, have increased. The increased concentration of asset poor is found in Bihar, whereas Punjab and Haryana experience increased share of richest households. Overall, based on robustness checks, the NFHS wealth index is an important proxy of socio-economic status and offers considerable scope for timely and systematic analysis of economic inequalities.

Intimate Partner Violence

Unless India acts on all important causes, including intimate partner violence, that are hindering improvements in reproductive, maternal, and child health outcomes, the sustainable development goals related to health will remain difficult to achieve. Using the National Family Health Survey 2015–16, it is found that intimate partner violence has adverse impacts on the pregnancy outcomes, maternal and newborns’ health, and related healthcare access.

Stagnancy in the Unmet Need for Family Planning in India

Though addressing the unmet need for contraception was one of the immediate objectives of India’s National Population Policy 2000, the available evidence shows that there has been stagnancy in the level of the unmet need for family planning for quite some time. Data from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey carried out during 2015–16 show that about 13% of couples of reproductive ages wanted to stop childbearing or delay the next birth but did not get the contraceptive services they desired to have. Trends in the level and nature of the unmet need for contraception, whether for spacing or limiting, are examined here on the basis of the data from the series of NFHS rounds. Further, socio-economic and regional differentials in the unmet need have been assessed. It is seen that while socio-economic differentials in the unmet need exist but are not large, there are notable interstate differences, and some states have a high unmet need. Besides, the unmet need has risen in a few states in the recent years. The paper also provides estimates of implications of the unmet need in terms of unwanted births and fertility.

Frequently Asked Questions on Child Anthropometric Failures in India

The National Family Health Survey is analysed to develop critical insights on child anthropometric failure in India. The analysis finds non-response of economic growth on nutritional well-being and greater burden among the poor as two fundamental concerns. This calls for strengthening developmental finance for socio-economic upliftment as well as enhanced programmatic support for nutritional interventions. The gaps in analytical inputs for programmatic purposes also deserves attention to unravel intricacies that otherwise remain obscured through customary enquiries. On the one hand, this may serve well to improve policy targeting, and on the other, this can help comprehend the nature and reasons of heterogeneities and inequities in nutritional outcomes across subgroups. Strengthening the analytical capacities of programme managers and health functionaries is recommended.

Trends, Differentials and Determinants of Child Marriage in India

Despite the law to prevent child marriage, the practice remains unabated in the country due to deep-rooted social and cultural norms. The cohort analysis of data from the National Family Health Surveys suggests that the prevalence of child marriage was around 58% during the decades of 1970s and 1980s, and it started declining, albeit at a slower pace, reached to 46% by 2000. The first decade of the 21st century witnessed faster decline with 21% of the girls aged 18–23 years marrying below 18 years of age, as per the estimates for the most recent reference period. The assessments of the government’s conditional cash transfer scheme to enhance value of the girl child seem to have influenced the attitudes of the parents, rather eliminating child marriage. The government’s cash transfer schemes needs revamping and is recommended to be routed through the educational system in the form of fellowships for higher studies and, in particular, vocational studies of the girls, rather than disbursing cash incentives to the family of the beneficiary girl.

Demographic and Health Diversity in the Era of SDGs

Despite the progress achieved in demographic and health-related indicators, achieving targets in the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 remains a demanding task. This study acts as a perfect benchmark for monitoring several demographics and health-related indicators in the era of the SDGs. There is a need to advance the right sources of data and cutting-edge tools for measuring and monitoring progress. The efforts to reduce regional disparities in demographic and health-related indicators are hindered by the lack of adequate funding to the programmes and the absence of reliable micro-level evidence-based policy.

Quality of Data in NFHS-4 Compared to Earlier Rounds

As the quality of data from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey is likely to be affected both by the overstretching of the number of questions administered as well as the increased involvement of commercial agencies for data collection, rethinking both these aspects of survey management is the need of the hour.

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.

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