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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: affirmative action

Political decentralisation, female leadership, and health in rural Bihar
Santosh Kumar , Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 23 Aug 2017

Political decentralisation and female representation in governance are known to improve social welfare by influencing policy decisions in favour of women and children. Analysing data from rural Bihar, this column finds that having a female leader at the village council level has a strong positive association with institutional births, and child survival rates for richer households.
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Backward or dominant? Political economy of demand for caste-based quotas
Ashwini Deshpande , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 30 Jun 2017
Topics:   Caste


Jats in Haryana have been demanding reservation under the ‘Other Backward Classes’ category. This column analyses socioeconomic data for three castes – Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat, and Marathas in Maharashtra - in relation to other broad caste groups in their respective states, in order to examine the validity of their claim to ‘backwardness’.
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Smart policy for women’s economic empowerment in South Asia
Nalini Gulati , Jennifer Johnson
Posted on: 18 Apr 2017
Topics:   Gender , Jobs


In this article, Jennifer Johnson and Nalini Gulati highlight the different trajectories of women’s economic empowerment across South Asia, based on a recent policy dialogue hosted by Evidence for Policy Design.

Tweet using #womenandwork

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The battle for backwardness
Rohini Somanathan
Posted on: 22 Feb 2017

Ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab, the state government granted ‘Other Backward Classes’ status to Rajput Sikhs. In this article, Rohini Somanathan contends that caste reservations first emerged to promote equal treatment in a society where untouchability was widely practised, but have now degenerated into a scramble for privilege and a catalyst for communal conflict.
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Can the female sarpanch deliver? Evidence from Maharashtra
Mithila Biniwale , Stephan Klasen , Jan Priebe , Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 23 Oct 2016

One-third of all seats in village councils are reserved for women. The government has proposed an increase in quota to 50%, and in the period of reservation from five to 10 years. Based on a survey conducted in Maharashtra, this column finds that availability of basic public services for women is better in female-headed villages - when the female head has been in the job for 3-3.5 years.
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Whither female disadvantage? An analysis of private school enrolment in India
Pushkar Maitra , Sarmistha Pal , Anurag Sharma
Posted on: 07 Oct 2016
Topics:   Gender


Given the poor condition of government schools and the perceived efficiency of private schools, Indian parents are increasingly choosing to send their children to private schools. This column examines private school enrolment among 7-18 year olds during 2005-2012 and finds a systematic and pervasive female disadvantage.
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The first two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 11 May 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


In this article, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Graduate School at the Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, provides his perspective on the performance of the Modi government in its first two years in office.
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Caste quotas in politics and development outcomes
Francesca R. Jensenius
Posted on: 14 Apr 2016

To guarantee the political inclusion of the historically marginalised groups, electoral quotas have been in place for them in India since 1950. Analysing the constituency-level impact of quotas for Scheduled Castes in state assemblies, this column finds no detectable effects on overall development or redistribution to Scheduled Castes during 1971-2000. However, these quotas have had several important positive effects beyond development.
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Women leaders and deceptive behaviour
Lata Gangadharan , Tarun Jain , Pushkar Maitra , Joseph Vecci
Posted on: 29 Jan 2015

Are women in leadership positions more dishonest than men? Based on an artefactual field experiment in rural Bihar, this column finds that women in leadership positions deceive more than men, especially in villages that have previously experienced a female village chief. It suggests that simply reserving seats in village councils for women may not necessarily lead to better outcomes for villagers or women.
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Does affirmative action reduce productivity? The case of Indian Railways
Ashwini Deshpande , Thomas Weisskopf
Posted on: 21 Jan 2015

Critics of job reservations argue that such policies have an adverse effect on work efficiency and productivity. This column analyses the effect of job reservations in the Indian Railways – the world’s largest employer subject to affirmative action. It finds that having a larger proportion of lower-caste employees is not associated with lower productivity; in top-tier jobs, in some cases, it is actually associated with higher productivity.
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Keeping women safe
Rohini Pande
Posted on: 24 Dec 2014
Topics:   Gender


Since the December 2012 rape incident in Delhi, numerous policies have been proposed to stop the “war on women”. In this article, Rohini Pande discusses economic research, including her own, on the social, legal and financial forces that cause individuals, families and the society to undervalue women and harm them. Such an understanding can help determine whether a policy may succeed, or create perverse incentives.
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Do awareness programmes on TV help change prejudices?
Ritwik Banerjee , Nabanita Datta Gupta
Posted on: 24 Nov 2014
Topics:   Caste , Jobs


Awareness-based TV programmes, such as Satya Mev Jayate hosted by Bollywood film personality Aamir Khan, aim to change deep-seated prejudices of the society. To what extent do such programmes influence behaviour? This column seeks to answer this question by examining results from an experiment relating to caste attitudes of students from private business schools in New Delhi.
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Did caste-based reservation increase schooling of beneficiaries?
Guilhem Cassan
Posted on: 16 Oct 2014
Topics:   Caste , Education


Reservation for backward classes in schools has been in place in India since independence. This column uses a unique historical event that took place in the 1970s in India to evaluate the effect of access to reservation on school attainment of Scheduled Castes. It finds that these policies benefitted male SCs only.
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Quotas and schooling decisions
Gaurav Khanna
Posted on: 03 Apr 2014
Topics:   Caste , Education


Affirmative action, as an instrument for bridging inequalities across social groups, has been a contentious issue for decades. This column analyses the impact of reservation in public sector jobs and colleges for ‘Other Backward Classes’, implemented in India in the 1990s. It finds that the policy did incentivise beneficiaries to stay in school longer so that they could take advantage of quotas.
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Why so few women in politics in India?
Mudit Kapoor , Shamika Ravi
Posted on: 02 Jan 2014

Women are severely under-represented in political positions across the world. This column analyses constituency-level election data from Indian states to explore why this is so. It finds that while women are more likely to contest elections in backward states where there are more male electors than female electors, they are less likely to win elections in such states.
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How backward are ‘Other Backward Classes’ in India?
Ashwini Deshpande , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 04 Dec 2013

Since reservations were provided in government bodies for lower castes in the early 90s, ‘Other Backward Classes’ have been an important force in Indian politics at all levels. Has there been a corresponding change in traditional economic hierarchies? This column finds significant gaps in the standard of living between OBCs and higher castes. However, there is evidence of catch-up among younger people.
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Entrepreneurship or survival? Caste and gender of small business in India
Ashwini Deshpande , Smriti Sharma
Posted on: 23 Sep 2013
Topics:   Caste , Gender


Can entrepreneurship be a vehicle for social mobility in India? This column analyses data from micro, small and medium enterprises, and finds clear and persistent caste and gender disparities in virtually all enterprise characteristics in the sector. It makes a case for concerted policy action to correct historical caste-based inequalities.
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The power of women’s political voice
Lakshmi Iyer , Anandi Mani
Posted on: 17 Jun 2013

With more women in power, can India’s women expect to see a fall in violent crime committed against them? This column looks at the effect of a law to mandate minimum numbers for women in public office – its findings are both surprising and encouraging.
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Does political reservation for women improve programme delivery?
Farzana Afridi
Posted on: 17 Jan 2013

This column outlines results of a study that assesses the impact of women leaders on corruption and other aspects of the quality of delivery of MNREGA. It argues that administrative experience, training and institutional support are essential for making women’s political participation and affirmative action policies more effective.
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Political reservation in India: The effect on poverty
Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 10 Dec 2012

Over the last 60 years, India’s Constitution has set aside seats in parliament for people from historically discriminated groups, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This column documents one of the first studies to quantify the effects of this policy on poverty. It finds that while more politicians from Scheduled Tribes help to reduce poverty, politicians from Scheduled Castes have no overall effect.
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