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

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Imperialism in the 21st Century

Imperialism has taken a new form in the 21st century in the shape of global value chains or global production networks. The GVCs involve the utilisation by lead firms from headquarter economies of differences in international labour costs or international labour arbitrage to earn superprofits or rents. This article deals with the economic mechanisms and processes in producing various types or forms of imperialism.

The Value of Rural Women’s Labour in Production and Wood Fuel Use

How do gender-related factors influence cooking fuel use? Why does an LPG capital subsidy lead to fuel stacking rather than fuel switching? The insights gained from authors’ research are supplemented by case studies, specifically aimed at exploring the connections between women’s labour time and fuel use. Using these observations and case studies, an analytical framework is developed, which yields propositions that can be tested empirically, such as the high value of women’s labour in production leading to the adoption of labour-saving cooking fuel and vice versa. This framework is used to assess the limitations of capital subsidies forLPG in remote rural areas where women’s labour has a low opportunity cost.

Energy Use and Women’s Work in Agriculture

Changes in women’s use of energy in agriculture, in the spheres of crop production and social reproduction, can bring about a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Two technological changes—the shift from household cooking with carbon-emitting solid biomass fuels to liquified petroleum gas as a clean cooking fuel; and the shift from methane-emitting flooded rice cultivation to the System of Rice Intensification with electricity-based alternate wetting and drying—have been considered in this regard. The changes in women’s roles and energy use accompanying these technological interventions have been examined.

Energy, Gender and Social Norms in Indigenous Rural Societies

Studying women’s work and energy use through field studies in Khasi communities in Meghalaya and Angami communities in Nagaland, the links between energy use and women’s work and leisure are explored. It is found that the choice of energy source is closely linked with women’s participation in the management of energy resources, their opportunities to earn incomes, and their ability to negotiate the cultural and social norms of their communities. Energy planning cannot stop with the provision of household access to electricity or liquefied petroleum gas. A new deal for women in the energy sector is delineated, which relates to overcoming sociocultural limits and increasing the opportunity cost of women’s labour and their right to assets.

Knowledge, Education and Labour Practices in India

This paper examines the connection between knowledge and labour practices in India, first, at the sector level, and then at the firm level, developing a typology of labour practices. It subsequently looks at knowledge-based differentiation of labour practices within firms, concluding with a knowledge-based segmentation of the labour market.

Price of Land and Skill Bias in Manufacturing

For a comprehensive analysis of the influence of relative factor prices on the nature of manufacturing or any other economic activity, one should include not just labour and capital but also land.

What Holds Back Manufacturing in South Asia

The recent South Asian (other than that of Bangladesh) experience of a growing merchandise trade deficit and the challenge of job creation have forced attention back on the role of manufacturing. Bangladesh has been able to successfully capture a large share of the global exports of ready-made garments, driven by low labour costs. Sri Lanka has become a major producer of middle- to high-end lingerie, though its overall export performance has weakened in recent years. In contrast, India and Pakistan have been proportionately less successful as exporters of manufactures. What are the commonalities and differences among these countries in the South Asian region? What set of policies will help the growth of manufacturing in these countries?

Reforming Social Protection for Economic Transformation

India is a low middle-income economy with a development policy that aims to promote it to a high middle-income economy, which requires both economic growth and structural transformation. This article turns the spotlight on some aspects of structural transformation, such as the movement to higher productivity jobs, the formalisation of the vast informal sector, and the promotion of women as economic agents. The experience of other economies shows there is room for a higher share of social protection expenditure in India, but bringing that about would depend on increasing tax revenue and reducing subsidies that are not for the poor.

Industrial Relations in a Global Production Network

Lead firms in today's global production networks control production by suppliers, monopolise the capture of rents, and affect the possible labour market outcomes in supplier firms. But as buyers, and not employers, they have no legal culpability when tragedies occur in units that are links in global chains, like the recent one in Bangladesh. It is time to expand the traditional mechanism, with representatives of employers, workers and the government, to include the key player, the buyers.

Public Workers' Housing Helps Labour-Intensive Manufacturing

Can publicly-provided, subsidised housing increase the demand for labour in labour-intensive manufacturing? Can it increase the extent of India's participation in labour-intensive manufacturing? It is argued that by reducing the effective cost of labour vis-à-vis the cost of machinery, publicly-provided housing can promote India's participation in labour-intensive manufacturing.

Corporate Governance and Child Labour

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. Reviewing case studies that examine the role of corporate governance initiatives to eliminate child labour from the production process, the authors examine the important distinction between eliminating and ending child labour from production networks as the former deals with the demand-side while the latter deals with the supply-side of the child labour equation. They conclude that while corporate initiatives can deal with the demand-side, government development and social policy intervention is required to deal with the supply-side.

A Note on Profits, Rents and Wages in Global Production Networks

What are the consequences for profits, rents and wages of the splintering of production tasks across firms in different countries? Such global production networks allow the concentration of rents in lead firms, with some share of these rents possibly being shared with labour. However, profits and wages in competitive production segments, largely located in developing countries, will tend towards market-based minima. Various combinations of product and labour market conditions and their outcomes are analysed in this paper. It ends with a discussion of the different routes by which wages might be increased in such a system of global production networks.

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