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

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Casting the Net

A broad-brush assessment of the public distribution system is presented in six of India’s poorest states—Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal—soon after the National Food Security Act, 2013 came into force. Important gains have been made, including broader coverage, lower targeting errors, accelerated PDS reforms, and a greater political commitment to food security. In four of the six reference states, the PDS seems to be doing reasonably well, but Bihar and Jharkhand still have a long way to go. Even in the leading states, much remains to be done to achieve the purpose of the NFSA: ending food insecurity.

Is India Digitally Prepared for International Trade?

India’s digital infrastructure and the value added by digital services to its exports are analysed in order to assess its digital preparedness in the context of international trade. The results show that India lags behind many developing and developed countries in this area. In order to boost India’s trade competitiveness in the digital era, a Digitally-Informed Foreign Trade Policy is advocated that would aim to improve India’s digital infrastructure for trade, enhance the digital content in its exports, build digital skills in tradeable sectors, promote the use of digital technologies in manufacturing exports, and use big data analytics to inform foreign trade policy.

Social Movements and Educational Change

Political change can be a catalyst for the transformation of an educational system through the positioning of grass-roots social movements as an alternative to bureaucratic state mechanisms and non-governmental organisations in designing and implementing education reform. The case study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam, a social movement in Gudalur in Tamil Nadu, is used to illustrate how fundamental shifts in control of power within the system can result in greater inclusion of oppressed groups.

Unqualified Medical Practitioners

Some of the critical facets of medical practice by unqualified medical practitioners in India are explored: their role in treating acute medical conditions, and the responses of poor households eager to recover quickly with minimal spending. The study reveals how a wide range of associated actors are connected to the UMPs, including lawmakers, regulators, health managers, and those who benefit from the UMPs, that is, mainly qualified doctors.

Market Awareness and Profitability

A case study of mango farmers in Kolar district of Karnataka analyses the determinants of profitability and constraints faced by the horticulture industry in India in general. The mango value chain is explored in-depth to understand the market choices of farmers and the role of market intermediaries. The study is based on data collected from a primary survey of 131 farmers and uses an instrumental variable approach to model the profitability of farmers as a function of market awareness, distance from markets, farming practices, and control variables. It finds that in addition to age and education, distance to markets and farming practices are significant factors influencing the profitability of mango cultivators.

‘Get Back to Life’

From the nationalistic “Hum Do, Hamare Do” (we two, our two) family planning advertising campaign, to the tantalising consumer-focused Kama Sutra condom advertisements, Indian media images have been instrumental in understanding the nation’s anxieties around sex, gender, population control measures and citizens’ reproductive lives. Drawing on this critically rich site of analysis, the tensions made visible in the advertising campaign for one particular emergency contraceptive—i-pill—are analysed by looking at three key elements: the photographic image, the tag line, and the health-related information text. It is posited that messages in contraceptive pharmaceutical advertisements are contradictory in their avowed message and intended aim.

Delivering Essential Nutrition

In India, despite provisions for tribal development, 32% of tribal women are chronically undernourished, as opposed to 23% among those not belonging to tribal households.Large-scale surveys and routine monitoring are currently deficient in measuring the nutrition status of women, especially tribal women. This study was undertaken to analyse the reach of various health-related schemes for tribal women in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha. In the light of its findings, it is recommended that all national schemes should be reviewed through a tribal lens, as tribes remain outside the ambit of most nutrition safety nets. Proven measures like strengthening tribal development nodal agencies, motivational incentives to fieldworkers and organised community involvement, need to be scaled up.

Retelling an Epic through a Modern Ballad

The paper seeks to examine the circumstances under which Michael Madhusudan Dutta, the 19th-century Renaissance poet of Bengal chose the slaying of Ravana’s son, Meghnad, as the subject for his magnum opus, with many of its facets being etched indelibly on the Bengali psyche in supersession of other prominent Ramayans. Was Michael trying to show the parallels between the Indian and European mythologies? Was it because of nationalistic fervour that Michael sought to show the Rakshas as defending their nation against invaders? Was he influenced by the glamourised Ravana and Lanka of the Tamil or the Telugu Ramayans?

Financing the Micro and Small Enterprises in India

A close look at the data on flow of bank credit to the micro and small enterprise sector in India since the 1970s reveals that the strategic intent of reorienting the industrial policy in the mid-2000s by carving out a new category called the micro, small and medium enterprises has not served any useful purpose in terms of making institutional credit available to the mses. It is also observed that the pro-market financial inclusion rhetoric of the second half of the current decade has not helped the msmes, especially those engaged in manufacturing activities, to enhance access to bank credit. The much-publicised Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency scheme, at the same time, appears as a mere window dressing as it has not infused any new funds into the system.

Changing Task Content of Jobs in India

In India, between 1983 and 2011, non-routine cognitive analytical task intensity jobs increased, as did non-routine cognitive interactive task intensity jobs, in line with the global trend. Manual task intensities declined, but the routine cognitive task content did not decline. Technology is likely a major factor behind this evolution of non-routine cognitive task intensities, whereas structural changes and changes in the supply of labour have shaped the manual task contents. The changing task content of jobs underlines the growing importance of cognitive skills. There is, therefore, a call for upgrading the Indian education system.

Climate Change and Rural Poverty Levels in India

Although there is wide recognition of the adverse impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on poverty, there is hardly any empirical evidence to substantiate this. The trends and the role of agricultural growth and other factors on rural poverty in India—which has the largest concentration of the poor in the world—have been analysed, and the likely changes in rural poverty levels in India under alternative climate scenarios have been assessed. Evidence presented here suggests that rural poverty trends in India, which witnessed a significant decline during the post-reform period beginning from 1991, may get reversed and may increase due to the likely adverse impacts of climate change on Indian agriculture, and other drivers of poverty. Not only will the proportion of poor population likely rise, but also the depth and severity of rural poverty measured through the poverty gap index and squared poverty gap index may aggravate sharply in response to warming temperatures and other climatic changes.

Taking Down Cyber Violence

Through the proliferation of rape videos, morphed images, etc, the internet is witnessing increasing instances of violence against women. As websites sometimes claim to be intermediaries which cannot be always held responsible for the nature of content uploaded online, the issue of intermediary liability needs to be addressed urgently. The precedent set by the Supreme Court in this regard in certain cases merits critical examination, in order to pave the way forward for developing an alternate intermediate liability regime, which can walk the tightrope between censorship and the protection of the dignity of women and children in cyberspace.

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