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Ashok Kotwal
GST Explainer: Introduction
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Seventeen years after its framework was formed, India’s biggest tax reform – the goods and ... read on »
Introducing a new feature: ‘Explainers’
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Our day-to-day lives are tossed around due to economic changes, resulting sometimes from g ... read on »
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 »

Tag: rural India

Off-grid solar power and the future of rural electrification in India
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Jul 2017
Topics:   Environment


Off-grid solar power is a potential alternative to grid extension in rural electrification. This column reports results from a recent experiment with an off-grid lighting intervention in Uttar Pradesh. While little evidence of broader socioeconomic changes was found, the study suggests that kerosene subsidies likely hold back the expansion of off-grid solar markets, and that there are many ways in which benefits of off-grid solar power can be enhanced.
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The decline of rural earnings inequality in India
Deepti Goel , Shantanu Khanna , René Morissette
Posted on: 05 Apr 2017

While earnings inequality remained virtually unchanged in urban India between 2004-05 and 2011-12, it declined sharply in rural India over this period. This column finds that although the change in the distribution of education among paid workers had an inequality-increasing effect, there was a net decline in rural inequality because returns to increased levels of education improved more for low-earning workers than high-earning ones.
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Rural development programmes: Implementation challenges and solutions
Pushkar Pahwa
Posted on: 17 Mar 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


With a majority of the population living in rural areas in India, rural development is key to the development of the country. Based on his experience of working closely with the district administration in Purulia district in West Bengal, Pushkar Pahwa discusses the issues in the implementation of rural development programmes on the ground, and makes suggestions to improve their effectiveness.
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Demonetisation and agricultural markets
Nidhi Aggarwal , Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 30 Nov 2016

In this article, Aggarwal and Narayanan contend that demonetisation alone cannot turn agricultural markets cashless. Such a shift would require sustained and focussed effort to expand the reach of formal institutions, especially for credit and storage.
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Demonetisation and rural cooperative banks
Ajay Vir Jakhar
Posted on: 22 Nov 2016

The RBI has barred rural cooperative banks from exchanging or accepting the denotified Rs. 1,000 and 500 notes. In this article, Ajay Vir Jakhar of Bharat Krishak Samaj - a non-partisan association of farmers - argues that if rural cooperative banks sink, so will farmers.
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Policymaking in the ‘grey zone’?
Prerna Mukharya
Posted on: 17 Nov 2016

Prerna Mukharya, Founder of Outline India – a social enterprise that focuses on data collection, impact assessments and evaluation studies, predominantly working with rural populations in remote areas – discusses the impact of the currency ban on their work.
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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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Insights from long-term studies of Indian villages
Himanshu , Praveen K. Jha , Gerry Rodgers
Posted on: 23 Sep 2016

Much of our knowledge of change in rural areas depends on longitudinal village studies. Drawing upon a number of village studies carried out over the years in India, this column provides a broad picture of how the economic and social structures of villages are changing, and the consequences for production, employment, migration, inequality and other key issues.
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Moving towards better definitions of ‘urban’ in India
Komal Hiranandani , Mudit Kapoor , Vaidehi Tandel
Posted on: 15 Sep 2016
Topics:   Urbanisation


According to the 2011 Census, 31% of the country is ‘urban’. Using definitions of urbanisation that are different from those used by the government, this column demonstrates that this figure may be an underestimate. It is important to recognise and fix the flaws in the current method of defining urban areas as it forms the basis for important policies such as eligibility for government schemes.
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Rethinking clientelism: Politics of service delivery in rural India
Aditya Dasgupta
Posted on: 19 Apr 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Clientelism is often blamed for public service delivery failures in developing countries. While the top-down drivers of political support in exchange for service delivery for specific constituents is well-documented, local grassroots influence and the effect of democratic mobilisation by local communities are less well-understood. This column looks at the value of combining top-down influence with bottom-up community mobilisation to exert stronger pressures on improving anti-poverty programme outcomes.
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Moving past the mandis: A revolution waiting to happen
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 20 Jan 2016
Topics:   Agriculture
Tags:   rural India


A revolution in agricultural marketing organisation in Gansu province in China led to a 50% increase in potato yields within the past 15 years. In this article, Dilip Mookherjee, Professor of Economics at Boston University, contends that the time is opportune for a similar transformation in agricultural marketing in India in order to increase outputs and farmers’ incomes.
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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Chao-yo Cheng , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


While access to energy is crucial for socioeconomic development, statistically representative surveys on the issue are missing in India. Based on a survey on energy access in six energy-poor states in north India, this column finds that although domestic electricity connections in rural areas have increased rapidly, quality of supply remains poor. In terms of clean cooking fuels, people strongly prefer LPG but poor availability and high upfront costs of connections limit access.
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Are banks responsive to credit demand shocks in rural India?
Sankar De , Siddharth Vij
Posted on: 05 Oct 2015
Topics:   Finance


The output of Kharif crops is estimated to decrease by about 2% this year due to deficient monsoon rains in some Indian states. How responsive are commercial banks to a credit demand shock in rural India? Analysing data on rainfall and agricultural credit during 1993-2010, this column finds that banks increase the supply of agricultural credit to farmers following a drought, but that the additional credit is directed towards existing customers.
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Women’s empowerment and child malnutrition in rural India
Samuel Annim , Raghav Gaiha , Katsushi Imai , Veena S. Kulkarni
Posted on: 19 Jun 2015
Topics:   Gender , Health


Research has found mother’s empowerment to have a positive impact on the nutrition status of their children. This column analyses this relationship for data from rural India for the period 1992-2006. Among other factors, it highlights the importance of mother’s education in relation to father’s education in determining children’s nutrition.
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How effective are gram sabhas?
Sabyasachi Das
Posted on: 06 May 2015
Topics:   Political Economy


Village panchayats across India are mandated to organise local public meetings called gram sabhas several times a year, wherein villagers discuss issues such as local public good provision. This column finds that gram sabhas are indeed effective in altering the composition of local public goods provided. Promoting the institution of gram sabha can make policymaking more sensitive to the preferences of discriminated groups such as women.
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Can solar micro-grids deliver basic electricity access in Indian villages?
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Apr 2015

About one-third of India´s population remains without access to basic electricity services. This column discusses preliminary lessons from an experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that seeks to set up solar micro-grids in unelectrified habitations. It finds that while the cost of solar power is a potential obstacle to its adoption, the technology does generate substantial benefits in the form of improved lighting and reduced kerosene expenditures.
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The ‘urban sprawl’ and declining rural-urban inequality
Viktoria Hnatkovska , Amartya Lahiri
Posted on: 29 Sep 2014

India has experienced rapid urbanisation in the past three decades. Has urbanisation impacted the economic wellbeing of rural and urban workers? This column finds that the rural-urban wage gap has shrunk dramatically over this period. This is largely explained by the process of ‘urban sprawl’, which involves assimilation of rural areas into adjoining urban areas, and the resulting relative increase in urban labour supply.
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Delivering health services through schools in rural India
Anjini Kochar
Posted on: 04 Oct 2013
Topics:   Health


Given that India has better infrastructure for schooling relative to healthcare, and near universal primary school enrolment rates, many believe that providing basic health services through schools rather than clinics may be more cost effective. This column finds that coverage achieved by health programmes administered through schools is also low, even lower than the average school attendance rates. The key constraint on coverage is shortage of healthcare personnel.
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Why do insecure rural property rights persist?
Leopoldo Fergusson
Posted on: 18 Sep 2013
Topics:   Land


Poorly specified and weakly enforced property rights over land may reduce productivity in the agricultural sector. This column examines why strong private property rights are not adopted more widely, and offers a theory of the determination of rural property rights institutions.
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What explains the steep poverty decline in India from 2004 to 2011?
Ashok Kotwal , Pronab Sen
Posted on: 29 Jul 2013

Ashok Kotwal, Editor-in-Chief, Ideas for India, interviews Pronab Sen on the recent poverty figures that show a steep decline in poverty in India between 2004 and 2011. According to him, the shift in terms of trade in favour of agriculture and higher rural wages accelerated the trickle down of the fast economic growth to the poor.
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Distance and institutional deliveries in rural India
Emily Dansereau , Santosh Kumar , Christopher Murray
Posted on: 19 Apr 2013
Topics:   Gender , Health


India has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world. A major cause is that a significant proportion of women continue to deliver babies at home without the presence of a skilled attendant. This column says that distance to health facilities is a key barrier to seeking delivery care at a facility.
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Compensating policies for small schools and regional inequalities
Anjini Kochar
Posted on: 18 Aug 2012

Despite government efforts, stark inequality in India’s schools persists, particularly in rural areas. This column argues that the failure may lie in policy design – rather than helping the worst schools catch up, policies are helping the better ones get further ahead.
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Caste dominance in rural India: Cause and effect
Siwan Anderson
Posted on: 16 Aug 2012
Tags:   rural India


Rural India remains a caste-based society. This column explores why caste continues to play such an important role and what the effects are. It argues that trade and agricultural productivity suffer, as well as the functioning of democracy.
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