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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 »
Introduction to e-Symposium: Ideas for reforms in education policy in India
Posted on: 18 Nov 2015
A New Education Policy is being formulated in India based on a time-bound grassroots consu ... read on »

Topic: Infrastructure

Highway network designs and regional economic development
Simon Alder
Posted on: 03/04/2017 09:23:54
Topics:   Infrastructure


The Indian National Highway Development Project and its components such as the Golden Quadrilateral or the North-South and East-West corridors are planned to alleviate constraints due to insufficient transport infrastructure. This column compares the effects of the Golden Quadrilateral with a counterfactual highway network that is designed to approximately maximise national income while connecting all intermediate-sized cities.
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Do firms in India perceive themselves to be e-ready?
Bornali Bhandari , Ajaya Kumar Sahu
Posted on: 24/01/2017 09:46:08
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   IT


Government of India’s ‘Digital India’ programme seeks to transform the country into a digitally-empowered society and knowledge economy. This column presents region-wise findings of a perception-based survey of the e-readiness of firms. While firms in west India seem to be more e-ready than those in other regions, there is tremendous scope across all firms to increase the use of information and communications technology in business activities to improve productivity.
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Rural electrification in India: Focus on service quality
Karthik Ganesan , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18/01/2017 09:45:09
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


India has set an ambitious goal of achieving high-quality electricity supply for all households by 2019, and impressive progress has been made in increasing the number of household electricity connections. However, this column finds that the quality of electricity service to rural households is dismal and this is considered to be a major problem by rural households. There is a need for rationalising rural electricity tariffs to ensure cost recovery in exchange of improved service quality.
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How do electricity shortages affect industry in India?
Hunt Allcott , Allan Collard-Wexler , Stephen D O'Connell
Posted on: 25/11/2016 09:16:10
Topics:   Infrastructure


Poor electricity supply is widely recognised as a key impediment to firm growth and productivity. This column finds that average reported level of electricity shortages in India reduces annual plant revenues and producer surplus of the average manufacturing plant by 5-10%. While productivity losses are smaller, shortages distort plant size distribution due to significant economies of scale in generator costs.
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Solar micro-grids in India: A reality check
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 01/11/2016 09:44:03

Much of India’s strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels relies on a transition to solar energy. Based on a survey of potential solar micro-grid customers in Bihar, this column highlights the challenges associated with solar electricity becoming a sustainable and scalable solution, and the need for a new approach.
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Building connections: Political corruption and road construction in India
Jonathan Lehne , Jacob Shapiro , Oliver Vanden Eynde
Posted on: 13/09/2016 10:10:30
Tags:  


Rural infrastructure programmes of the government create new opportunities for growth but also for corruption. This column studies India’s flagship rural road construction programme and finds evidence that local politicians favour members of their caste or kinship networks in the allocation of contracts. This raises construction costs, adversely affects road quality, and increases the likelihood of ‘missing’ roads.
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Making India open-defecation free by 2019
Bhaskar Pant
Posted on: 06/09/2016 02:42:46

Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to make India open-defecation free by 2019. However, this has only been achieved in 17 of 686 districts so far. In this article, Bhaskar Pant outlines the key reasons due to which the government’s efforts are not being reflected in the results, and makes suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the programme.
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Fast breeder reactors and the slow progress of India’s nuclear programme
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 16/08/2016 10:05:12

Breeder reactors have always underpinned the claims of India’s Department of Atomic Energy about generating large quantities of electricity. The first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor was expected to start sustaining a chain reaction back in 2010, but the reactor is massively delayed, taking more than twice the expected period. In this article, M.V. Ramana, a physicist at Princeton University, outlines the history of missed targets and contends that these reactors are best regarded as failed technology, in India and elsewhere.
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India’s housing situation
Roshan Kishore
Posted on: 11/07/2016 09:19:37
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   real estate


The ‘Housing for all’ scheme was launched by the Government of India in June 2015, with the objective of constructing 20 million houses for the urban poor by 2022. In this article, Roshan Kishore, data journalist at Mint newspaper, presents five charts representing the current state of India’s housing sector.
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Case for electric vehicles through cleaner grid supply
Mudit Chordia
Posted on: 18/05/2016 09:33:37

The Indian government recently announced its plan to make India a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030. In this article, Mudit Chordia, a Consultant at the University of Chicago Urban Labs, discusses the viability of such a plan in the Indian context.
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MNREGA and its assets
Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 15/03/2016 09:34:44

Critics of MNREGA believe that the programme is a dole to dig a hole and hence, a huge waste of resources and that it would be better to simply provide cash. In this article, Sudha Narayanan, Associate Professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, argues that evidence from various states on the quality of MNREGA assets suggests that this ‘dole-hole’ view of is largely unfounded.

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MNREGA’s impact on rural labour markets
Laura Zimmermann
Posted on: 14/03/2016 09:55:38
Tags:   MNREGA , wages


In this article, Laura Zimmermann, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia, provides an overview of the research on the impact of the initial phase of MNREGA on rural labour markets in India. The evidence suggests that the programme has served as an important short- and long-term safety net, and has had some employment generation effects during the agricultural off-season. However, the effect on rural casual wages is less clear.

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Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: Why invest in cross-border power-trading
Deb Chattopadhyay , P. N. Fernando , Priyantha DC Wijayatunga
Posted on: 07/03/2016 03:19:27

Despite improvements to energy supply over the years, many Indian states still face frequent power shortages. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have large reserves of untapped hydropower with the potential to meet unserved demand for energy in major load centres. Investing in interconnections could also contribute to significant reductions in carbon emissions. This column quantifies potential gains from an integrated South Asian power.
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Access to information and the poor
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 19/02/2016 09:23:33
Tags:   IT , MNREGA


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently ruled against charging different subscribers different prices for data services. In this article, Martin Ravallion, Edmond D. Villani Chair of Economics at Georgetown University, contends that we certainly need to improve access of the poor to knowledge about public services that can help them, but such efforts should be explicitly targeted at them. Relying on prevailing processes of knowledge diffusion may simply reflect and even reinforce existing inequalities.
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Three cheers (not) for Jaitapur
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 25/01/2016 23:56:02
Topics:   Infrastructure


During French President Hollande’s ongoing visit to India, India and France are expected to announce that they are going to enter into an agreement to import six nuclear reactors marketed by the French company Areva, which are to be constructed in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. In this article, M.V. Ramana, physicist and lecturer at Princeton University´s Program on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, discusses three reasons for the Indian government to not enter into the agreement.
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How foreign inflows impact Indian manufacturing firms
Vaishnavi Sharma
Posted on: 25/01/2016 23:56:01
Topics:   Infrastructure


In the past few decades, India has emerged as one of the preferred destinations for foreign investors, with the manufacturing sector receiving a substantial proportion of total capital inflows coming into the country. Analysing firm-level data from the Indian manufacturing sector during 2001-2010, this column finds that while capital inflows significantly boost investment capacity of large firms, they do not seem to impact other performance indicators.
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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Chao-yo Cheng , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18/01/2016 09:35:58
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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India’s energy efficiency
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 10/11/2015 04:11:25

India is the fourth largest energy consumer in the world but is not well endowed with energy resources, making efficiency in energy use very important. This column analyses the spatial dynamics of electricity usage in India’s manufacturing sector. Such an understanding can help in defining a more focused and targeted energy policy.
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Connecting the red corridor: Infrastructure provision in conflict areas
Jacob Shapiro , Oliver Vanden Eynde
Posted on: 05/11/2015 03:30:23
Tags:   naxalism


The government’s efforts to develop rural infrastructure have been particularly intense in the 90-odd districts that are affected by Maoism. How successful has the implementation of flagship infrastructure programmes been in these areas? This column finds that disruption of programmes by Maoists, as reported by newspapers, is not nearly as pervasive as one might think.
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Road to riches? An evaluation of India’s rural road programme
Shilpa Aggarwal
Posted on: 19/08/2015 00:43:35
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   transport


Access to roads is believed to be essential for economic growth and poverty alleviation. This column evaluates the short-term impact of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana – India’s flagship rural road programme. It finds positive effects on trade between villages and cities, primary school enrolment, and use of productivity-enhancing agriculture inputs. However, school dropout rates among teenagers increased owing to better access to jobs.
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Political distortions in the Indian electricity sector
Thushyanthan Baskaran , Brian Min , Yogesh Uppal
Posted on: 03/08/2015 14:13:19

While political interference is believed to be a major problem plaguing the electricity sector in India, there is little empirical evidence on the existence of political distortions or on their economic costs. This column demonstrates that Indian state governments increase the supply of electricity to constituencies that have bye-elections by diverting electricity away from non-election constituencies.
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Beyond toilets: Improving the sanitation value chain
Sujaya Rathi
Posted on: 21/07/2015 12:17:54

Besides access to toilets, proper treatment and disposal of waste is essential for effective sanitation. In this article, Sujaya Rathi - Principal Research Scientist at CSTEP who is currently involved with developing decision-support tool for sanitation - discusses alternate sanitation systems and the importance of adopting a system that is well-suited to the context and needs of particular cities.
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How development affects climate sensitivity of electricity demand in India
Eshita Gupta
Posted on: 20/05/2015 00:00:00

The annual average temperature in India in 2009 was about 0.91°C above the average temperature recorded during the 1961-1990 period. This column analyses the impact of daily weather as well as long-term climate change on electricity demand in India, and how income growth influences this relationship. It shows that the marginal effect of hotter climate on electricity demand is greater when incomes are higher.
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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: 17/04/2015 00:00:00

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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Transit networks and regional development in India
Gaurav Khanna
Posted on: 26/03/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure


Recent research illustrates the immediate positive effects of transit networks in India on rural employment, manufacturing growth and so on. This column focuses on the long-term impact of national highways and shows that they gave rise to a dynamic pattern of regional development over time. Regions along the highways were the first to develop, after which economic activity spread to their neighbours, and then to their neighbours’ neighbours.
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Harnessing India’s wind power potential
Deepthi Swamy
Posted on: 09/03/2015 00:00:00

While India’s wind power sector has progressed significantly in the past decade, only about 22% of its potential has been harnessed so far. In this article, Deepthi Swamy - who was part of a team that worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop a framework for the National Wind Energy Mission - discusses the issues faced by the sector, need for a mission-mode approach, and the proposed contours for such a mission.
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Solar power for street vendors? Lessons from an experiment in Bihar
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 06/02/2015 00:00:00

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries is aggravating the issue of insufficient access to energy for basic needs such as lighting. This column discusses lessons from an experiment in Bihar wherein street vendors were provided solar-powered lights, the batteries of which were charged at centralised stations installed in urban marketplaces. Based on problems encountered in terms of the mode and cost of operation, it suggests that the provision of electric grid connections, with stand-alone solar lights as backup, may be a better approach.
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Financing India’s infrastructure growth
Samik Metia
Posted on: 12/01/2015 00:00:00

Interest rates in the developed economies are still at very low levels, while investors are looking for high and stable returns for their money. This article outlines an innovative proposal for financing India’s infrastructure needs via government bonds targeted at foreign investors, with returns linked to the growth rates in the country.
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Assessing the quality and usefulness of MNREGA assets in Maharashtra
Upasak Das , Ashwini Kulkarni , Sudha Narayanan , Krushna Ranavare
Posted on: 05/12/2014 00:00:00

Questions have been raised regarding the quality and usefulness of assets created under MNREGA. To examine the validity of the scepticism, this column reports results from a study of MNREGA assets in Maharashtra. While the assets are largely found to be useful and durable, the study suggests that greater attention to design and maintenance, and local participation in the decision-making process can lead to further improvement.
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India on the move: The commuting worker
S. Chandrasekhar , Ajay Sharma
Posted on: 10/09/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   transport


About 25 million workers in India commute daily for work, from rural to urban areas or vice versa, or have no fixed place of work. This column finds that rural households with at least one rural-to-urban commuting worker are better off than those with no commuting workers. It makes a case for shifting the focus of labour mobility discussions from migration to commuting.
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India´s power sector reforms: Who reaped the benefits?
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 02/05/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


The cornerstone of India´s power sector reforms is the 2003 National Electricity Act that limited state intervention in the power sector. This column analyses the effects of the Act on Indian manufacturing firms. It finds that political clout of firms played a key role in the distribution of gains from the reforms in terms of improved electricity supply.
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How innovations in telecom can promote inclusive growth
Ashima Goyal
Posted on: 28/03/2014 00:00:00

Applications of Information and Communications Technology, such as mobile banking, have potential to promote inclusive growth and equity. This column analyses conditions under which innovations in ICT can benefit the less well off, and how such innovations can be expedited. It recommends public provision of supporting infrastructure, focusing on consumer needs and reducing transaction costs for consumers.
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Proposing a solution for Indo-US ‘solar wars’
Saptak Ghosh
Posted on: 28/02/2014 00:00:00

India’s national solar programme mandates the use of domestically manufactured components in solar power installations in the country. The US has filed a WTO case against India, alleging that the policy discriminates against US exports. This column proposes a solution that would address the concerns of US as well as create a domestic market for solar products produced in India.
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Does the quality of electricity matter?
Ujjayant Chakravorty , Martino Pelli
Posted on: 10/02/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


India is home to almost a quarter of the world population that does not have access to electricity. This column estimates the impact of increased access to and improved quality of electricity on incomes in rural India. It suggests that merely providing grid connections does not enable full realisation of the potential benefits of electricity; high quality power supply is at least as important.
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JNNURM and environmental sustainability
Kavita Wankhade
Posted on: 30/09/2013 00:00:00

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was launched in 2005 as India’s urban flagship programme to close investment gaps in urban infrastructure, and to implement reforms for better urban management. This column assesses the extent to which sustainability concerns are addressed by the programme, and makes recommendations in this regard.
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Is there public support for higher electricity prices in India?
Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 23/08/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure


Even though India´s power sector does not generate enough electricity to meet the rapidly growing demand, policymakers hesitate to increase tariffs due to popular opposition. This column discusses results from a survey experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that shows that providing people with information about the relationship between low electricity tariffs and inadequate generation has a significantly positive effect on public support for higher prices. However, privatisation is unpopular, as people have a strong preference for state control of the power sector.
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Could railways have done more to aid economic development in India?
Dan Bogart , Latika Chaudhury
Posted on: 29/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure


Indian Railways celebrated its 160th anniversary last month. This column argues that while railways played a large economic role in British India, it is likely they could have done more to aid economic growth and development in the country.
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Did the metro help reduce air pollution in Delhi?
Deepti Goel , Sonam Gupta
Posted on: 17/05/2013 00:00:00

The Delhi metro has been operational for over a decade now. Has it helped reduce the high levels of air pollution? This column presents initial findings from research that suggests that the metro has encouraged people to switch from private to public mode of travel, resulting in positive effects on air quality in the city.
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The Golden Quadrilateral: Highway to success
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 10/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Infrastructure


The Golden Quadrilateral, which connects four major cities in India, is the fifth-longest highway in the world. This column presents research that finds that by improving connectivity, the highway has helped with the efficient distribution of industries across locations. It has facilitated the shift of land and building intensive industries from the core to peripheries of cities, and has made medium-sized cities more attractive locations for manufacturing activity.
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Is the District Innovation Fund being utilised?
Ajit Kumar Nayak
Posted on: 08/02/2013 00:00:00

The 13th Finance Commission has recommended the creation of a District Innovation Fund in each district. The objective of the fund is to increase the efficiency of existing capital assets by filling vital gaps in public infrastructure projects that are near completion. Is the Fund being utilised in the way intended? In this Note from the Field, a PMRDF working with the district administration of Kalahandi in Odisha provides a perspective.
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