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

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Persistent Fiscal Deficits and Political Economy Transitions in India

The Indian economy has been suffering from a persistent fiscal deficit for the last four decades. With the transition to coalition politics in the 1980s, the country’s political economy characteristics have significantly affected its fiscal policies and outcomes, but this has received scant attention in the literature. The impact of macroeconomic and political economy factors on India’s fiscal deficit between 1978–79 and 2016–17—a period when the country witnessed simultaneous economic and political structural transformations—has been investigated in this study. It finds evidence of a close link between electoral cycles and fiscal populism and between government fragmentation and fiscal profligacy. Additionally, it finds that a strong opposition does not necessarily mitigate the fiscal populism of incumbent governments.

Investments for Social Sustainability in India

The Sustainable Development Goals make it imperative to link economic growth with social and environmental priorities. The current status of social development perspective and the role of government, corporate and social enterprises in delivering social sustainability in India are examined. Constraints such as fiscal procyclicality and vulnerability, lack of access to finance for social enterprises, and biases in corporate social responsibility activities lead to dismal performances in social development. There is a need to engage in non-concessional finances with public and private funds for financing social sustainability. Impact investment is an emerging asset class, which lies at the intersection of private finance and purpose-driven finance.

Muslim League in Kerala

The political trajectory of the Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala displays a unique engagement of religion-based political mobilisation of Muslims withsecular–dem ocratic politics in India. In the contemporary context of aggressive Hindutva politics, the Muslim League is faced with the dual challenge of resisting majoritarian communalism while simultaneously countering new mobilisations from within the community that are based on a radical Islamic identity, but deploy explicitly secular discourses. A critical appraisal of this situation requires moving beyond the pre-occupation with the formal aspects of secularisation and instead arrive at more substantive conceptions of “being secular” that embrace deeper commitments to secularism, such as plurality and toleration .

FDI Spillovers on Technical Efficiency of Indian Manufacturing Firms

The impact of foreign direct investment on technical efficiency of Indian manufacturing firms during two sub-periods, 1994–2001 and 2002–10, is investigated. Using stochastic frontier analysis, this study shows that domestic firms gain efficiency from foreign skill spillovers and backward linkages with foreign firms in the first sub-period. However, evidence from the second sub-period indicates a significant adverse impact of oreign-owned firms on domestic firms. It may be noted that flows of FDI increased mainly in the 2000s. The study also shows that technology gains occur through internal research and development expenditure, and through purchase of imported raw materials and capital goods rather than through purchase of imported drawings and designs.

Working Conditions of Ayahs in Private Healthcare

Ayahs in private hospitals face a precarious life and poor working conditions. The findings of a study of ayahs in private hospitals in Siliguri, West Bengal are analysed here. As caregivers, their work benefits patients and their families as well as the hospitals, but the issues they face are paid scant attention to by all the beneficiaries.

Sanitation and User Charges in Indian Slums

Despite the efforts of successive governments, sanitation coverage remains low in India. While several studies have explored the impact of user financing on the improvement of sanitation facilities, this article looks at the conditions of housing, infrastructure and the surroundings of slums, under which different sanitation arrangements are made. The sanitation arrangements considered are of various types of ownership and cost-sharing arrangements. The findings provide useful insights that challenge one of the basic motivations for user financing: increased accountability in service delivery.

Subsidies, Merit Goods and the Fiscal Space for Reviving Growth

The incidence of implicit and explicit budget subsidies provided by the central and state governments has declined from about 12.9% of the gross domestic product in 1987–88 to 10.3% at present, with the bulk of these subsidies being provided by the states and about half being spent on non-merit subsidies. This paper argues that rationalisng non-merit subsidies is one of several deep fiscal reform measures that could together free up massive fiscal space that can be used to finance an inclusive growth revival strategy.

Breaking through the Old Boys’ Club

While there is some empirical work on the state of gender diversity in the higher judiciary in India, academic work on this topic in the context of the lower judiciary is sparse. A data-driven analysis of the trends of women’s entry into the lower judiciary between 2007 and 2017, across multiple states at two levels (civil judge [junior division] and district judge [direct recruitment from the bar]), points to a direct relationship between methods of recruitment and women’s representation in the judiciary. At the same time, this data helps identify barriers that frustrate the goal of improved gender representation.

The Invisible Barriers to India’s Educational Reforms

Why have three decades of pedagogical reforms failed to translate the learner-centred vision of national documents into reality? This paper presents empirical research that corroborates what Indian educationists are increasingly noting, that there are entrenched cultural mindsets restricting a shift in India’s education system. The research finds three central worldview beliefs widespread among government teachers that contradict the assumptions of policy documents and in fact of the Constitution: a belief in inequality vs equality, knowledge transmission vs liberty of thought, and purpose as individual advancement vs fraternity. In turn, teachers simply reflect the worldviews they themselves experience, creating a vicious cycle.

New Evidences from the Kerala Migration Survey, 2018

The Kerala Migration Survey 2018, eighth in the series of studies on migration undertaken by the Centre for Development Studies, sheds light on the various issues concerning migration and mobility, based on a large-scale sample survey of 15,000 households. It gathers the findings of two decades of research done at the CDS and examines migration dynamics from multiple perspectives: demographic, economic and sociopolitical. As per the KMS 2018, there are 2.1 million emigrants from Kerala across the world. However, there has been a decline of 3 lakh emigrants during 2013–18. The estimated total remittances to Kerala are₹85,092 crore, an increase from ₹71,142 crore reported in 2014. This is due to the fact that Keralites in the Gulf have climbed up the social ladder and earn higher wages, allowing them to remit more.

Persistence of Solid Fuel Use in Rural North India

Survey evidence from rural North India showing persistent solid fuel use despite increases in liquefied petroleum gas ownership is presented. Although three-quarters of survey households in these states had LPG, almost all also had a stove that uses solid fuels. Among those owning both, almost three-quarters used solid fuels the day before the survey. Household economic status, relative costs of cooking fuels, gender inequality, and beliefs about solid fuels were important contributors to high solid fuel use. To realise the full health benefits of the LPG expansion, attention must now be turned towards encouraging exclusive LPG use.

Revisiting Factor Proportions in the Indian Economy

The underestimation of factor intensities when only direct factor contents are used is addressed in this paper. It expands the scope of measurement to include the indirect effects of factor use, which remain unaccounted for otherwise. It examines the structural coherence of factor proportions with output, exports, and foreign direct investment separately for each tradable sector. Using Semi-Input–Output modelling, factor proportions show a significant underestimation of capital intensity for the economy when compared with direct proportions. The analysis thus reveals that output and export distributions are largely aligned with factor endowments, whileFDI distribution is skewed towards sectors with high capital proportions.

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