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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: Political Economy

A proposal for public funding of elections and political parties in India
M.V. Rajeev Gowda , Varun Santhosh
Posted on: 21/04/2017 09:33:12
Topics:   Political Economy


The Finance Minister of India recently introduced measures aimed at cleaning up political party funding in the country. In this article, Gowda and Santhosh highlight the limitations of these measures, and alternatively propose public funding of elections and political parties to improve electoral processes and outcomes.
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Consumption spikes and election days
Shabana Mitra , Anirban Mitra , Arnab Mukherji
Posted on: 20/04/2017 00:55:31
Topics:   Political Economy


There is ample anecdotal evidence on political parties bribing voters with cash or consumption goods prior to elections, in India and other developing countries. However, there is an expected lack of hard evidence on the extent and form of vote-buying. Using data from Indian states, this column analyses consumption patterns of households around elections, and finds a spike for some items just before elections.
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Free speech and the rule of law
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 07/04/2017 09:31:29
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:  


In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, argues that the fight over freedom of expression in India is a shadow fight; the real fight is about preserving the sanctity of our law-enforcement and judicial institutions to protect freedoms of any kind.
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How India can reduce the size of its black economy
Parag Waknis
Posted on: 20/03/2017 09:43:47

In this article, Parag Waknis contends that if the Indian government is serious about addressing the black economy, fundamental changes in the structure and organisation of the economy and politics are required.
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Rural development programmes: Implementation challenges and solutions
Pushkar Pahwa
Posted on: 17/03/2017 09:23:03
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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On India’s latest GDP numbers
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 15/03/2017 10:21:53
Tags:   GDP


India’s latest GDP data shows that the economy grew at 7% in the previous quarter, despite demonetisation. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee discusses why the new numbers are likely to be an overestimation.
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The battle for backwardness
Rohini Somanathan
Posted on: 22/02/2017 10:05:23

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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Deconstructing the global wave of right-wing populism
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 08/02/2017 09:31:34

At present, there seems to be palpable reaction against ideas of tolerance, minority rights, freedom of expression, and respect for individual autonomy and dignity, in many parts of the world. In this article, Pranab Bardhan contends that global traits of the populist right suggest how liberals can take it on.
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An economist’s view on recent domestic and world events
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 31/01/2017 19:18:19

Dilip Mookherjee spoke to Hindu Business Line at length on a variety of issues including demonetisation, the upcoming Budget, and the Trump Presidency’s impact on the world economy.
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Land acquisition: Need for a shift in discourse?
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 25/01/2017 09:28:48

Empirical evidence increasingly shows that farmers are willing to have their land acquired if the price-compensation package is acceptable. Given this trend, Dhanmanjiri Sathe argues that the discourse on land acquisition has been stagnant for a long time and needs to be changed.
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On demonetisation
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 23/12/2016 11:16:28

On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. 1,000 and 500 notes are no longer legal tender, and must be exchanged at the banks for newly issued currency. This major policy intervention has sparked a country-wide debate. Will it curb black money? Is it going to nudge us towards a cashless society? How much will be the collateral damage from the liquidity shock and is it a price worth paying?

Ideas for India is following the issue closely. A lot of commentary has already appeared on our pages and more will be forthcoming. This page collects together all the articles we have posted on demonetisation, in reverse chronological order.

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Book review: ´India’s long road´ by Vijay Joshi
Pulapre Balakrishnan
Posted on: 21/12/2016 09:38:18
Tags:  


In this article, Pulapre Balakrishnan, Professor of Economics at Ashoka University, reviews Vijay Joshi’s book, ‘India’s long road: The search for prosperity’.
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India’s demonetisation drive: Politics trumps economics
Siddhartha Mitra
Posted on: 20/12/2016 09:39:10

In this article, Siddhartha Mitra, Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University, argues that even though demonetisation fails the standard economic cost-benefit test with regard to its stated objectives, it may still make for sound political arithmetic.
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Do Gram Panchayat leaders favour their own constituencies in MNREGA fund allocation?
Subhasish Dey , Kunal Sen
Posted on: 19/12/2016 09:52:21
Topics:   Political Economy


Political incentives are known to play a role in the allocation of public resources from upper- to lower-tier governments. This column seeks to examine whether ruling parties in local governments favour their own constituencies in allocating MNREGA funds, if they target their core supporters or swing voters, and if this has any electoral returns.
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Governance performance of Indian states: 2001-02 and 2011-12
Samik Chowdhury , Sudipto Mundle , Satadru Sikdar
Posted on: 13/12/2016 09:40:28
Topics:   Political Economy


Defining governance as service delivery, this column develops a measure of the quality of governance – also adjusting for the impact of the level of development - and provides a ranking of major Indian states. The analysis suggests that there are two distinct paths of development in the less- and more-developed states.
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Land acquisition law: The buck stops with the states
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 07/12/2016 09:21:56

Some believe that by encouraging states to enact their own versions of the land acquisition law, the central government is diluting the law. In this article, Dhanmanjiri Sathe, Professor of Economics at Savitribai Phule Pune University, argues that states have much more experience and expertise in land acquisition. Given the diversity in development across states, it is only prudent that the law be customised to suit local requirements.
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Why Demonetisation?
Sarmistha Pal
Posted on: 01/12/2016 09:25:38

In this article, Sarmistha Pal, Chair in Financial Economics at the University of Surrey, examines whether the current government’s stance in tackling black money has significantly differed from its predecessor, and how far it is willing to go in this respect.
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Notes ban: Modinomics vs. Moditics
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 23/11/2016 00:01:18

Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, contends that while the ban on high-denomination currency notes is bad economics, it is a brilliant political move.
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Politician’s pain is poor man’s gain: Income distribution in close-election constituencies
Shabana Mitra , Anirban Mitra
Posted on: 09/11/2016 10:01:41
Tags:   democracy


Studies have highlighted the role of electoral competition in directing the flow of public funds. Analysing data from India, this column finds lower income inequality and polarisation in tightly contested constituencies, implying that the poor gain more from electoral competition relative to the rich.
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Surrogacy bill: Implications and way forward
Souvik Dutta , Subhasree Sarkar
Posted on: 06/11/2016 09:06:25
Tags:  


Contributing to the ongoing debate on India’s surrogacy bill, Dutta and Sarkar discuss the potential implications of the bill on the country’s billion-dollar surrogacy industry. They contend that India could follow in the footsteps of Israel and adopt a more pragmatic and holistic approach to regulating commercial surrogacy, rather than banning it altogether.
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A universal basic income to step up economic reform
Nimai Mehta
Posted on: 28/10/2016 09:45:46

In this article, Nimai Mehta, Academic Director of the Global Economics and Business Program at the American University, highlights the political challenge of introducing the wider set of reforms needed if a universal basic income (UBI) is to lift the poor out of poverty, and of ensuring fiscal affordability of UBI. Further, he shares some initial ideas on how these objectives may be achieved by leveraging the evolving Centre-state relations.

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Can the female sarpanch deliver? Evidence from Maharashtra
Mithila Biniwale , Stephan Klasen , Jan Priebe , Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 23/10/2016 11:22:50

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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Banning commercial surrogacy in India
Ajit Karnik
Posted on: 05/10/2016 09:54:08
Tags:  


In an attempt to protect the welfare of surrogate mothers, the Indian government has proposed to introduce legislation that will ban commercial surrogacy in the country. In this article, Ajit Karnik, Professor of Economics, Middlesex University, Dubai, discusses the threats that are associated with the welfare of surrogate mothers and argues that a ban would compromise their interests further as it would inevitably lead to the emergence of an illegal market for such transactions.
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Modi and his challenges: Leading India on its march to prosperity
Rajiv Kumar
Posted on: 21/09/2016 09:25:27
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   Gujarat


Despite Narendra Modi’s successful leadership as Chief Minister of Gujarat, some question his ability to achieve the same progress at the national level as India’s Prime Minister. In this article, Rajiv Kumar analyses Modi’s political background and state- and national-level experience to assess his capacity to navigate India through a politically and economically important time towards its goal of becoming a prosperous economy.
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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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Surrogacy bill: Boon or ban(e)?
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 07/09/2016 23:58:30
Tags:  


The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 proposes a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and restrictions on altruistic surrogacy. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics, contends that the bill does not provide any compelling argument for the ban. Rather, by singling out those who are not even allowed the option of altruistic surrogacy, it reveals its biases.
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Data openness and the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
Samayita Ghosh , Khusdeep Malhotra
Posted on: 05/09/2016 09:33:19
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   data , IT


According to the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, the acquisition or use of any geospatial information will require permission from a government authority. In this note, Ghosh and Malhotra highlight the importance of reliable geospatial information for development work. In their view, instead of restricting the production and use of such information, the government should regulate its quality and promote learning around it to ensure responsible and ethical use.
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Panel Discussion: Two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan , Parikshit Ghosh , Pratap Bhanu Mehta , Mihir Sharma
Posted on: 29/08/2016 09:42:57
Topics:   Political Economy


In  a panel discussion organised to mark the 4th anniversary of Ideas for India, I4I Editor Parikshit Ghosh (Delhi School of Economics) moderates a discussion on ‘Two years of Modi government’ among Pranab Bardhan (University of California, Berkeley), Mihir Sharma (Bloomberg View) and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Centre for Policy Research), encompassing issues related to policy and governance; corruption; manufacturing; social sector; and social and cultural issues.
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The tussle between RBI and Ministry of Finance: A different dimension
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 18/08/2016 09:36:28

The popular belief about the tussle between RBI and the Ministry of Finance is that it is an issue of the trade-off between inflation and economic growth, with the former more focussed on controlling high inflation and the latter emphasising high growth. However, according to Gurbachan Singh, there is a different dimension to the story; the Ministry doesn’t fully appreciate that RBI cannot ignore market forces while making announcements about interest rates.
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W(h)ither the State? 25 years of economic liberalisation
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 26/07/2016 09:36:04
Topics:   Political Economy


24 July 2016 marked 25 years of liberalisation of the Indian economy. In this article, Parikshit Ghosh, Associate Professor of Economics at Delhi School of Economics, contends that liberalisation did not mean the State should wither away and let markets rule the roost; it redefined complementary roles for the State and markets, making each more important than before.
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Does good governance reduce foodgrain diversion in PDS?
Sohini Paul
Posted on: 24/07/2016 21:58:35

In 2011-12, various states undertook measures to curb leakages of foodgrains from the Public Distribution System. Some of the pioneer states also implemented the National Food Security Act - a rights-based approach to food security - in 2013. Against the backdrop of these reforms, this column analyses whether there is any marked difference in the leakage pattern of foodgrains across states.
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When does politics work for development?
Saad Gulzar , Ben Pasquale
Posted on: 15/07/2016 09:33:18
Topics:   Political Economy


Political interference in the bureaucracy is generally viewed with suspicion. Yet, in a democracy, should we not expect politicians to push bureaucrats to work for the best interests of citizens? This column shows that bureaucrats implement MNREGA much better in places where politicians are able to claim credit for improvements. This is good news for democratic accountability, and carries important implications for the design of development programmes.
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Courting women’s votes: What does this mean for women?
Sarah Khan
Posted on: 01/07/2016 10:04:50

In the recent state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, political parties targeted women voters with specific handouts and proposed policies such as alcohol bans. This column contends that while the increasing political attention to women is a positive trend, it needs to be explored whether the proposed policies are indeed effective solutions to the issues faced by women.
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Food Security Act: How are India’s poorest states faring?
Jean Drèze , Prankur Gupta , Reetika Khera , Isabel Pimenta
Posted on: 29/06/2016 09:57:28

The National Food Security Act was passed in 2013. This column reports findings from a recent survey on the status of the Act in six of India’s poorest states. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are doing quite well - the PDS is in good shape and most people are covered; however, Bihar and Jharkhand are yet to complete essential PDS reforms.
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Missing the target: NDA’s not-so-rosy report card on social policy
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 22/06/2016 09:17:09
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:  


In this article, Parikshit Ghosh, Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, assesses the performance of the social sector under the NDA government at the end of two years in office.
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Does democracy cause growth?
Daron Acemoglu , Suresh Naidu , Pascual Restrepo , James Robinson
Posted on: 03/06/2016 09:30:46

Many analysts view democracy as a neutral or negative factor for growth. This column discusses new evidence showing that democracy has a robust and sizeable pro-growth effect. It finds that a country that switches from non-democracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over the subsequent three decades.
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The alcoholic mammaries of the welfare State
Swaminathan Aiyar
Posted on: 30/05/2016 09:54:55
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu is known to give away more freebies to voters than any other state and these are financed mainly by massive revenues from liquor sales. In this article, Swaminathan Aiyar, Consulting Editor of the Economic Times, contends that while using liquor revenue to improve basic State services like education and health is defensible, using it for freebies is a political race between parties to the fiscal bottom.
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Impact of Electronic Voting Machines on electoral frauds, democracy, and development
Sisir Debnath
Posted on: 19/05/2016 11:48:41
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


In an attempt to curb electoral malpractices, Electronic Voting Machines were introduced on a national scale by the Election Commission of India in the 1990s. Using data from state assembly elections during 1976-2007, this column analyses the impact of the machines on electoral processes. It finds that the change in voting technology made elections more competitive, which in turn promoted development.
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The first two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 11/05/2016 09:29:40
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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Aadhaar Bill: UID without excessively compromising privacy?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 06/05/2016 09:31:31
Tags:   Aadhaar , IT


Can something like UID be created without compromising privacy beyond acceptable limits? If so, how should the Aadhaar Bill have been written? What are its specific and avoidable weaknesses?

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Aadhaar: Move towards a surveillance State?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 05/05/2016 09:31:37
Tags:   Aadhaar , IT


Most advanced economies have had some version of UID for a long time, example, the Social Security number in the US, the Social Insurance Number in Canada, etc. This is recorded not only in interactions with the State (example, tax filing) but also in many kinds of non-governmental transactions (example, college admissions or property purchase). Yet, it is arguable that these nations have not become police States, occasional abuse notwithstanding. If privacy concerns in India are justified, is it a reflection of the trust deficit in government specific to India (or poorer countries more generally)? Or do schemes like UID inevitably lead to a surveillance State anywhere in the world?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Better targeting and reduced corruption?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 04/05/2016 09:28:28

Supporters of Aadhaar express the hope that will reduce inclusion errors and corruption by eliminating ghost beneficiaries, say in schemes like MNREGA. Are there substantial benefits to be reaped on this account?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Risk of increasing exclusion?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 03/05/2016 09:28:26

The Supreme Court verdict that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to receive benefits reflects the concern that it may increase exclusion errors, either by leaving people out of the net or through technological malfunction. Is this a serious concern?

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Aadhaar: Incremental information-gathering powers for government?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 02/05/2016 11:59:47
Tags:   Aadhaar , IT


The government already has the means to collect a lot of information on citizens (example, phone conversations and logs, credit card transactions, income tax records, bank account details, etc.). Conversely, there are many activities which happen under the radar (example, cash transactions, informal sector employment, etc.). What kind of information-gathering powers will Aadhaar confer on the State over and above what it already has?

Tweet using: #AadhaarBill

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Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Parikshit Ghosh , Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 02/05/2016 11:53:43
Tags:   Aadhaar , IT


In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will weigh in on issues around potential benefits and privacy concerns.

Tweet using: #AadhaarBill

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Quality of governance and welfare outcomes
Salma Ahmed , Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 27/04/2016 09:11:40
Topics:   Political Economy


As the MDGs gave way to the SDGs, considerable attention has been focussed on movements in key welfare indicators for women and children in the past decade. In this context, this column compares India with Bangladesh, and also looks at the relative performance of Indian states. Further, it provides evidence on the strength of association between the quality of governance and welfare outcomes in India.
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Rethinking clientelism: Politics of service delivery in rural India
Aditya Dasgupta
Posted on: 19/04/2016 20:55:13
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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Caste quotas in politics and development outcomes
Francesca R. Jensenius
Posted on: 14/04/2016 09:25:35

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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Local political elite capture and BPL card allocation
Sitakanta Panda
Posted on: 08/04/2016 09:58:55
Tags:   PDS


There is significant anecdotal evidence for the fact that local political connections at the grassroots level is an important channel through which leakages take place in welfare schemes in India such as the PDS. Analysing data from a nationally representative household survey, this column finds that politically-connected households are more likely to be allocated a BPL card - a gateway to obtaining various benefits from the government.
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Asking the right question to get the right policy
Eric Dodge , Charity Troyer Moore , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 04/04/2016 09:25:54
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   MNREGA , data


There is consensus in the development community on the importance of bridging the gap between researchers and practitioners; however, misaligned incentives underlie this gap. In this article, Pande, Moore and Dodge of Harvard Kennedy School, explain how bringing policymakers together with researchers to work more iteratively ensured that data from MNREGS - the world’s largest public works programme - became accessible and relevant to those who use it.
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Union Budget 2016: A UPA-III Budget
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 04/03/2016 03:03:54

In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, contends that the Modi government presented a reasonably good United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-III Budget that tinkers at the margin. However, in his view, minor tweaks may not suffice in the current growth scenario.
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How are India’s new states faring?
Amrita Dhillon , Pramila Krishnan , Manasa Patnam , Carlo Perroni
Posted on: 02/03/2016 22:36:16
Topics:   Political Economy


In the year 2000, three new states – Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand – were carved out of the large states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh respectively. This column analyses the performance of the new entities before and after breakup, and in relation to their respective rump states.
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A conversation on development – II
Kaushik Basu , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 03/02/2016 09:50:00

Parikshit Ghosh (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics) speaks with Kaushik Basu (Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on issues ranging from the use of economic knowledge in policy decisions, role of values in public service delivery, to the need for pluralism and tolerance for economic growth, and the importance of communicating good ideas effectively to policymakers and the general public.

This part of the interview focuses on India-specific issues. This is the fourth in the series of I4I Conversations.

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Unleashing the full potential of India’s ‘Open Government Data’ initiative
Natasha Agarwal
Posted on: 22/01/2016 09:34:45
Topics:   Political Economy


In October 2012, India embarked upon its ‘Open Government Data’ journey, by opening up access to government-owned shareable data in machine-readable formats for the use of general public. In this article, Natasha Agarwal, an independent research economist, discusses issues in the design and implementation of the initiative particularly through the lens of its governing policy - the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy, and makes recommendations to enhance its effectiveness in achieving stated objectives.
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Criminally accused politicians and economic outcomes
Tasneem Ahmed , Nishith Prakash , Marc Rockmore , Yogesh Uppal
Posted on: 15/01/2016 00:12:54

Despite a history of widely contested and transparent elections, and presence of vibrant and open media, an increasing number of criminally accused politicians are being elected in India. Based on an analysis of elections to State Legislative Assemblies during 2004-2008 in 20 states, this column finds that electing a politician accused of a serious or financial crime adversely affects economic growth and public service delivery in the constituency.
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Boom and Bust: Institutional causes of India’s growth slowdown in 2011
Kunal Sen
Posted on: 22/12/2015 09:31:23
Tags:  


The slowdown in India’s growth in 2011 is generally attributed to the global financial crisis and domestic policy paralysis. In this article, Kunal Sen argues that the high growth rates in the 2000s were driven by ‘closed deals’ between the political and business elites. Mobilisation of the masses against corruption and actions by accountability institutions in 2011 disrupted this trend and halted the growth.
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Bihar’s alcohol ban: Prudent policy or tail-chasing?
Sanjeev Kumar , Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 21/12/2015 10:10:17

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to implement prohibition in the state from 1 April 2016 is based on the rationale that alcohol consumption is the primary reason for violence against women. In this article, Kumar and Prakash argue that a blanket ban on alcohol won’t stem violence against women – but making alcohol costlier may help.
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Tolerance and respect for economic progress
Raghuram Rajan
Posted on: 08/12/2015 09:39:32
Tags:   democracy


In his recent speech at IIT Delhi, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan contends that ideas are the key to economic growth. The two essentials to keep the ideas factory open are to foster competition in the marketplace for ideas, and to protect the right to question and challenge in an environment of respect and tolerance
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Democracy, inclusion, and prosperity
Raghuram Rajan
Posted on: 17/11/2015 11:22:29
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


In his speech at the D.D. Kosambi Ideas Festival in February 2015 in Goa, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan put on his hat as a professor of political economy and spoke about the development of a liberal market democracy.
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Bihar verdict: Development, cow politics, and caste
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 12/11/2015 11:40:53
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:  


The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance of JD(U)-RJD-Congress defeated the Modi-led NDA in the recent Bihar assembly elections. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, analyses the role of alternative models of development associated with the two leaders, divisive social issues, and caste-based politics in the verdict.
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Education reform and frontline administrators: A case study from Bihar – II
Yamini Aiyar , Vincy Davis , Ambrish Dongre
Posted on: 16/10/2015 09:52:56

The frontline administration in India is infamous for corruption and patronage, indifference towards citizens, low effort and high absenteeism. This column reports findings from a year-long qualitative study on frontline education administrators in Bihar. Part 1 captured perspectives of frontline administrators on their role in the education hierarchy and how organisational design and culture shapes everyday behaviour. This part offers insights into how the frontline responds to reform efforts, and how this impacts institutionalisation and scaling up of reforms.

This is the second of a two-part series.

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Education reform and frontline administrators: A case study from Bihar - I
Yamini Aiyar , Vincy Davis , Ambrish Dongre
Posted on: 15/10/2015 09:55:44

The frontline administration in India is infamous for corruption and patronage, indifference towards citizens, low effort and high absenteeism. This column reports findings from a year-long qualitative study on frontline education administrators in Bihar. It captures perspectives of frontline administrators on their role in the education hierarchy and how organisational design and culture shape everyday behaviour.

This is the first of a two-part series.

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Role model effects? Women’s political participation in India
Sonia Bhalotra , Irma Clots-Figueras , Lakshmi Iyer
Posted on: 14/09/2015 02:25:52

Women’s political candidacy in India is very low and appears to be an important barrier to their representation in government. Does a deficiency of female role models hold back women’s candidacy? Analysing data from state elections during 1980-2007 in India, this column reports no entry of new women candidates following a woman’s electoral victory, and a decline in entry in states with an entrenched gender bias.
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The need for police reform
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 09/09/2015 09:37:00

The police in India are still mainly governed by the Police Act of 1861. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee, Professor of Economics at MIT, emphasises the need for police reform in order to check misuse of power by the State.
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The political economy of data
Florian Blum , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 21/08/2015 15:33:37
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   data


Recent experiences, especially from Scandinavian countries, show that opening administrative data sources can substantially improve public policymaking. In this article, Pande and Blum contend that while investment in data infrastructure is needed to produce and use statistics, the decision to collect and open data also depends on political economy considerations. Such forces are particularly strong in India and pose a major constraint on effective policy reform.
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Charting a course for the Indian economy
Karthik Muralidharan , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 05/08/2015 09:56:35

Karthik Muralidharan (Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego) speaks with Arvind Subramanian (Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on a broad set of issues ranging from the uniqueness of the Indian development model, the political economy of reforms, reducing factor misallocation in the economy, enhancing State capacity, financing India´s infrastructure needs, to the implications of the Fourteenth Finance Commission, improving the design of social welfare programmes, and climate change.

This is the third in the series of I4I Conversations.

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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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Why numbers matter
V. Ramani
Posted on: 23/07/2015 11:52:30
Tags:   data


The delayed and partial release of data from the ‘Rapid Survey on Children’ by the Indian government has given rise to questions and speculation. In this article, former bureaucrat V. Ramani discusses the broader issue of the lack of suitable, public data on the social sector in India and the inability or unwillingness of the government to use existing data to monitor outcomes.
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PDS computerisation: What other states can learn from Kerala
Silvia Masiero
Posted on: 06/07/2015 09:57:48
Topics:   Political Economy


Given the leakage in the Public Distribution System, Indian states are being encouraged to computerise their PDS. This column analyses Kerala’s experience with PDS computerisation and highlights mechanisms through which technology combats leakage in the state’s PDS. However, it argues that computerisation needs to be coupled with deeper interventions to remove incentives for corruption.
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Do ruling coalition-affiliated MLAs bring more development to their constituencies?
Samuel Asher , Paul Novosad
Posted on: 22/06/2015 10:10:31

Despite the dismantling of the License Raj in the 1990s, interaction with government officials remains an important impediment to doing business in India. This column analyses the role of politics in determining which regions succeed and fail, and finds that MLAs from ruling parties make it easier for firms to do business in their constituencies. They do so not by providing public goods, but by helping firms clear bureaucratic hurdles that would otherwise hinder their operations.
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Citizens’ trust in local politicians and implications for good governance
Lata Gangadharan , Tarun Jain , Pushkar Maitra , Joseph Vecci
Posted on: 10/06/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy


The new state of Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, after a prolonged movement by the people of Telangana region for a separate state. Based on field experiments among citizens in the two successor states, this column finds greater trust in politicians in Andhra relative to Telangana, which may facilitate effective functioning of the State and signal citizens’ expectations from the government.
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How effective are gram sabhas?
Sabyasachi Das
Posted on: 06/05/2015 00:00:00
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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14th Finance Commission: A trust-based approach towards local governments
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 27/04/2015 00:00:00

The 14th Finance Commission has been hailed as ‘path-breaking’ for recommending larger fund allocations to state governments and giving them more autonomy in spending these funds. In this article, Meera Mehta and Dinesh Mehta highlight that the Commission has also recognised the need to trust and respect local government bodies, and has allocated much larger funds to them. Will this approach work and will state governments cooperate?
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Getting centre-state relations right for health in India
Amanda Glassman , Anit Mukherjee
Posted on: 01/04/2015 00:00:00

The 14th Finance Commission has recommended devolving a greater share of revenues to states in order to give them more control over spending. In this article, Amanda Glassman and Anit Mukherjee examine the current centre-state relationships in the context of the health sector in India. They recommend that centre-to-state transfers should be performance-related, and should seek to, at least partly, level the playing field across states.
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Land acquisition debate: The price is not right
Maitreesh Ghatak , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 31/03/2015 00:00:00

The central government’s move to amend the 2013 land acquisition Act has come under criticism for being ‘anti-farmer’. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak and Parikshit Ghosh argue that while the amendments would streamline the land acquisition process, the law will still be fatally flawed unless a more rational method of determining compensation for land owners is put in place.
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How serious is the government about Swachh Bharat Mission?
Sangita Vyas
Posted on: 20/03/2015 00:00:00

The recently announced Union budget 2015-16 has reduced the central government allocation for Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the government. In this article, Sangita Vyas, Managing Director for Sanitation at r.i.c.e., questions the commitment of the government to eliminating open defecation in India by 2019.
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Impact of the two-child limit for local politicians
S. Anukriti , Abhishek Chakravarty
Posted on: 02/03/2015 00:00:00

Some Indian states debar individuals with more than two children from contesting local elections. This column finds that while the law has significantly reduced fertility among the general population in those states, it has worsened the sex ratio at birth among upper-caste families. It suggests that Indians have strong local leadership aspirations, and that policies altering access to political power can effect social change.
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Modi’s economic reforms: Foundation laid but time running out
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 27/02/2015 00:00:00

Anticipation is running high that the Modi government will announce sweeping economic reforms in their first full-year budget, especially since their tenure so far has been bereft of any dramatic changes. In this article, Eswar Prasad, Senior Professor of Trade Policy, Cornell University, contends that Modi has laid a good foundation for reforms in his first nine months in office. But the hard work still lies ahead and time is running out.
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Should the less educated be barred from village council elections?
Rohini Pande
Posted on: 23/02/2015 00:00:00

In December 2014, the state government of Rajasthan issued an executive order barring citizens with less than eight years of formal education from running for village council chief elections in all but tribal areas. In this article, Rohini Pande, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, contends that this will discriminate against able leaders who have been denied schooling because of gender, poverty or caste.
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Three concerns about AAP’s promise
V. Ramani
Posted on: 18/02/2015 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy


The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has come to power in Delhi with a historic mandate. In this article, V Ramani, Partner at Access Advisory and former bureaucrat, flags three key concerns around their approach towards tackling corruption, public finance, and economic growth.
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‘Cry, the Beloved Country’: Mending Punjab’s economy
Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 11/02/2015 00:00:00

The growth rate of Punjab, which once ranked among India’s most affluent states, is slowing. In this article, Nirvikar Singh, who holds the Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair of Sikh and Punjabi Studies at University of California Santa Cruz, diagnoses key issues with the Punjab economy and provides his perspective on what it would take to mend it.
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Women leaders and deceptive behaviour
Lata Gangadharan , Tarun Jain , Pushkar Maitra , Joseph Vecci
Posted on: 29/01/2015 00:00:00

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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India’s macroeconomic outlook
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 16/12/2014 00:00:00

With falling inflation, high forex reserves and the new government embarking on a broad reform agenda, things seem to be looking up for India. In this article, Eswar Prasad shares his macroeconomic outlook for the economy. He provides his perspective on foreign inflows, disinvestment, fiscal position, the reform agenda, and escaping the low-growth trap.
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Response to the Bhagwati-Panagariya rejoinder on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 14/12/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   MNREGA


In a recent article, Abreu et al. refuted the Bhagwati-Panagariya argument for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. respond to claims in a rejoinder by Bhagwati-Panagariya, regarding net benefits of MNREGA employment, the self-selection feature of the programme, and rural asset creation.
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Building state capacity for better programme implementation: Lessons from the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme
Karthik Muralidharan , Paul Niehaus , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 03/12/2014 00:00:00

Biometric payment systems are posited to reduce leakages in public welfare programmes but there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. This column presents evidence on the impact of the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme on MNREGS and Social Security Pension beneficiaries, based on a large-scale randomised controlled trial. It finds substantial economic benefits, and concludes that using biometric payment infrastructure to deliver welfare payments can be a game changer for governance in India.
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What´s the plan for MNREGA?
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 02/12/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   MNREGA


The new government’s plans to scale back MNREGA have elicited a mixed response. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee contends that both supporters and critics, and indeed the entire nation, deserve to be told why this is the one programme of the previous government that has been singled out for the axe, if for no other reason than to inform our views about the design of future programmes.
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The Bihar story: Resurrection of the state
Jitan Ram Manjhi
Posted on: 26/11/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   Bihar


In the not so distant past, the Indian state of Bihar was a byword for corruption, lawlessness, poverty, and absence of governance. Over the last decade or so, the state has demonstrated a remarkable turnaround and has consistently been amongst the fastest growing regions in the country. At IGC Growth Week, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi outlined the key initiatives that made this possible.
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The Planning Commission and federal transfers
Antra Bhatt Hakhu
Posted on: 20/11/2014 10:00:00

A key function of the Planning Commission was to allocate financial assistance from the centre to the states in support of the five-year plan. In view of the impending replacement of the Planning Commission, Antra Bhatt Hakhu analyses the nature of federal transfers – both by the Planning Commission and the Finance Commission – during 1990-2010 to derive lessons for the body that will be allocating plan transfers going forward.
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Politics and MNREGA: A limited Link in Andhra Pradesh
Christopher B. Barrett , Yanyan Liu , Sudha Narayanan , Megan Sheahan
Posted on: 19/11/2014 00:00:00

The Ministry of Rural Development claims that MNREGA needs to be changed in order to reduce politics and corruption in the scheme. One of the studies cited by the Ministry is an analysis of the extent of political manipulation of MNREGA funds in Andhra Pradesh. In this column, the authors of the study assert that while politics may influence programme expenditure in some places and to a small extent, this is not universally true and does not undermine the effective targeting and good work of the scheme at large.
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MNREGA´s swan song: Not everyone´s idea of ´achche din´
Amitava Gupta
Posted on: 14/11/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   MNREGA


Over the last few months, the central government announced a set of measures to restrict MNREGA. The rationale essentially revolves around corruption in the scheme and lack of economic viability. In this article, Amitava Gupta refutes this justification and argues that the attack on MNREGA is a attack on the rights of the poor to a fair share in the nation’s prosperity.
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(Mis)Leading attack on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 12/11/2014 02:02:35
Tags:   MNREGA


Bhagwati and Panagariya have argued for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. contend that the argument is based on inflating the costs of the programme and deflating the benefits. While they do not claim that all is well with MNREGA, they believe it needs better governance, not slow suffocation.
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Slow and steady: Lessons from MNREGA
Anindita Adhikari , Inayat Sabhikhi
Posted on: 10/11/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy


As the new government in India is considering changes to MNREGA, it is timely to reflect on its implementation trajectory so far. In this note, Adhikari and Sabhikhi discuss five aspects of programme delivery under MNREGA pertaining to management information systems, financial inclusion, fund management, state capacity and participatory planning. In their view, the programme has made massive strides in strengthening public service delivery.
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Building a new house, returning to an original foundation
Jessica Seddon , T. N. Srinivasan
Posted on: 05/11/2014 00:00:00

Most commentators in the Planning Commission debate believe that the new body should be some form of national think-tank focusing on the technical function of formulating an economy-wide strategic vision. In this article, Seddon and Srinivasan argue that the choice of strategic vision is political as well as technical, and make a case for a strengthened Inter-State Council to succeed the Commission and perform both roles.
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Is the proposed restructuring of MNREGA desirable?
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 20/10/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   MNREGA


The rural development ministry plans to restrict MNREGA to the 200 most backward districts, and reduce the wage component of the total expenditure of the programme. In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni - a member of the National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations working on MNREGA - argues against the proposed changes.
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From ‘Mess in India’ to ‘Made in India’ as a global brand?
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 15/10/2014 00:00:00

PM Modi recently launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign to attract investment and boost manufacturing. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak contrasts the campaign with the Chinese model of economic governance, and reflects on its potential to enable higher growth and poverty reduction.
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To decentralise or not to decentralise? The dilemma of MNREGA in Andhra Pradesh
Diego Maiorano
Posted on: 14/10/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy


Employment generated under MNREGA has been on the decline in recent years across India. This column analyses whether political dynamics influence the implementation of MNREGA by contrasting the implementation models of two of the top performing states – Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. It concludes that a combination of the top-down, supply-driven approach of AP and the demand-driven Rajasthan model is required.
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In lieu of the Planning Commission: Part V
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 09/10/2014 00:00:00

In this post, Ashwini Kulkarni, who works with the NGO Pragati Abhiyan in the state of Maharashtra, provides her perspective on some of the issues involved in replacing the Planning Commission. In her view, an institution such as the Planning Commission that is outside of the government ministries but committed to the government, has an important crosscutting role and should be given a statutory status.
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In lieu of the Planning Commission: Part IV
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 30/09/2014 00:00:00

In this post, Pronab Sen – former Principal Adviser, Planning Commission of India – provides his perspective on some of the issues involved in replacing the Planning Commission. In his view, none of the functions that were performed by the Planning Commission are entirely dispensable for any central government in a federal democratic system; the issue is the manner in which they are performed and who performs them.
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In lieu of the Planning Commission: Part III
Sunil Jain
Posted on: 25/09/2014 00:00:00

In this post, Sunil Jain – Managing Editor, Financial Express – provides his perspective on some of the issues involved in replacing the Planning Commission. In his view, the new body should focus on providing advice on policy issues, and undertaking neutral assessment of government policies in the long run. It should not be involved in allocation of funds across levels of government.
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In lieu of the Planning Commission: Part II
Chandrajit Banerjee
Posted on: 19/09/2014 00:00:00

In this post, Chandrajit Banerjee - Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) - provides his perspective on some of the issues involved in replacing the Planning Commission. In his view, Five Year Plans can be dispensed with, while the function of fund allocation across levels of government and ministries can be undertaken by the Ministry of Finance. He suggests having a group of private sector advisors that can provide feedback to the new body.
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In lieu of the Planning Commission: Part I
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 11/09/2014 00:00:00

The Indian government plans to replace the Planning Commission with a more contemporary think tank. Over the next few weeks, we will present views of experts from various stakeholder groups – private sector, civil society, academia, media and the government – on what should be the character and functions of the new body.

In this post, Pranab Bardhan – Professor of Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley – provides a perspective on some of the issues involved in replacing the Planning Commission. In his view, several functions that were performed by the Planning Commission can now be located in other existing bodies. He outlines the functions that the new body should perform and contends that it needs to be more than just a think tank.

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The future of economic planning in India
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 09/09/2014 00:00:00

Economic planning has been a central tenet of India’s development strategy since independence. In this article, Pronab Sen – former Principal Adviser to the Planning Commission of India – presents his views on the criticisms leveled against Indian planning from time to time, and reflects upon the continuing utility of planning in the future.
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The new plan body must have a certain oomph
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 21/08/2014 10:39:42

PM Modi has announced that his government plans to scrap the six-decade old Planning Commission and replace it with a more contemporary think tank. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee outlines the various functions that the Planning Commission has served over the years, and presents his view on the type of alternative that may be able to fit the role.
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Emerging challenges: Economic and social
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 06/08/2014 10:50:37
Topics:   Political Economy


To mark the second anniversary of I4I in July 2014, we invited two eminent scholars – Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) and Mukul Kesavan (Jamia Milia) – to discuss the emerging economic and social challenges in India, post the recent parliamentary election. Take a look at a ‘highlights’ video of the discussion here!
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The challenge of fulfilling aspirations
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 15/07/2014 00:00:00

This year’s election is a watershed in Indian history. This editorial discusses possible reasons for the stunning defeat of the previous government. While there is no denying that the previous government could be faulted for many things including creating a leadership vacuum and letting corruption go unchecked, the knockout blow came from its inability to reform the institutions that are responsible for fulfilling legitimate aspirations of the masses. What should the central government do?

Ashok Kotwal will be moderating a Panel Discussion on “Emerging Challenges: Economic and Social” between Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) and Mukul Kesavan (Jamia Milia) on 16th July, 6-8 pm, Le Meridien Hotel, New Delhi.

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Keys to successful reform in India
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 09/07/2014 10:36:33

The new Indian government’s first budget - due to be unveiled this week – will be an important indicator of how forcefully the new PM intends to translate his mandate of putting India’s economy back on track into effective actions. This article contends that both strategy and specifics will be crucial for this budget to effectively kick-start economic reforms.
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An economic roadmap for India
Iqbal Dhaliwal , Gita Gopinath
Posted on: 30/05/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   GDP


With a new government at the Centre, there is an expectation of a revival of growth of the Indian economy. This article contends that India can return to the path of sustainable growth by investing in capital, promoting growth of industry, improving environment for doing business, prioritising fiscal discipline, and improving education and healthcare.
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Do women in power have an impact on corruption?
Chandan Jha , Sudipta Sarangi
Posted on: 21/05/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   bribes


The recently elected 16th Lok Sabha of India will have a record number of 61 women parliamentarians. This column assesses whether women in the labour force or positions of power can have an impact on corruption. Analysing data from over 125 countries, it finds that women can reduce corruption but only in policymaking positions. They can do so via policies and not because they are necessarily less corrupt.
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Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most dynamic state of them all?
Maitreesh Ghatak , Sanchari Roy
Posted on: 23/03/2014 00:00:00

This column analyses the economic performance of 16 major Indian states over the last three decades. It finds that Bihar has improved the most during the 2000s, Kerala has always been a star performer in terms of HDI, Rajasthan has achieved the maximum decline in inequality, Tamil Nadu tops in poverty reduction, and the levels and growth rates of per capita income of Maharashtra and Gujarat have consistently been the highest. However, no one state can be singled out as the top performer in the 2000s. Moreover, while Gujarat’s overall record is undoubtedly very good all through the last three decades, its performance in the 2000s does not seem to justify the wild euphoria and exuberant optimism about Modi’s economic leadership. In particular, there is no evidence of any significant growth acceleration in Gujarat in the 2000s.
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Governance by ordinance
Pushparaj Deshpande
Posted on: 17/03/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


The UPA government recently explored taking the ordinance route to promulgate six anti-corruption bills. This article traces the shift from the post-Independence culture of healthy parliamentary debate in India, to ordinance-making powers becoming a procedural device to pass bills without debate. In the interest of a well-functioning democracy, it emphasises the need for the Legislature to engage in debate on legislation, and for the Executive to moderate its ordinance-making powers.
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India’s illiberal speech climate
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 05/03/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy


India’s cultural watchdogs and hate speech laws are increasingly seeking to restrict free expression in the country. This article contends that the right to take offence is fundamentally incompatible with the right to speak freely, and outlines three reasons for protecting free speech.
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Why so few women in politics in India?
Mudit Kapoor , Shamika Ravi
Posted on: 02/01/2014 00:00:00

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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The power of women’s political voice
Lakshmi Iyer , Anandi Mani
Posted on: 17/06/2013 00:00:00

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: 17/01/2013 00:00:00

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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Economic policy agenda for India in 2013
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 02/01/2013 00:00:00

What should the priorities be for economic policymakers in India in the coming year? This column emphasises the need for greater transparency, and improved governance and regulation for reviving economic growth in 2013.
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Political reservation in India: The effect on poverty
Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 10/12/2012 00:00:00

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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The fight against left-wing extremism
Varad Pande
Posted on: 23/10/2012 00:00:00
Tags:   naxalism


In this Note From the Field, Varad Pande of the Ministry of Rural Development argues that left-wing extremism and violence is a major challenge for India. He says that while this is definitely a security issue, it is as much a political and a development issue. We will not end this war by bullets alone; we will win it only if we win over hearts and minds.
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The political economies of land acquisition
Sanjoy Chakravorty
Posted on: 17/10/2012 00:00:00

India is in the process of reforming the way that land is bought and sold – a source of heated debate as many blame the current laws for unfairly forcing millions from their homes and livelihoods. This column argues that the latest proposals focus on the politics and overlook the economics. As a result, they are in danger of solving one problem by creating another.
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Is economic growth always the best policy?
Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 05/10/2012 00:00:00

Is economic growth the best way to reduce poverty, raise life expectancy, and improve people’s health? This column looks at different Indian states over the last 20 years. It argues that governments that pursue economic growth cannot be accused of neglecting their social aims.
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Violence, organisation and skills
Steven Wilkinson
Posted on: 28/08/2012 00:00:00
Tags:  


This column seeks to understand the effect of violent conflict on a country’s subsequent political and economic development. It argues that measuring post-conflict effects is extremely challenging due to data and other methodological concerns. Using a new methodology and data from the Partition of India, it shows that there is a relationship between a group’s combat exposure and subsequent political activities such as ethnic cleansing, however this depends on the relative sizes of various groups and the specific context of the state.
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Caste dominance in rural India: Cause and effect
Siwan Anderson
Posted on: 16/08/2012 00:00:00
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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A plague on all houses
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 13/08/2012 00:00:00

Which is better, India´s liberal capitalism modelled on the US or China´s authoritarian state-controlled capitalism? This column argues that dysfunctional governments in both systems are leading to dangerous levels of inequality and triggering populism.
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The Transfer Raj
Lakshmi Iyer , Anandi Mani
Posted on: 01/08/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   bureaucracy


When Chief Ministers come to power in India, they extensively reshuffle civil servants postings. This column asks why state politicians transfer bureaucrats, whether they favour loyalty over competence, what this means for the administrative efficiency of the Indian state, and what can be done about it.
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How do Indian voters respond to candidates with criminal charges: Evidence from Lok Sabha elections
Bhaskar Dutta , Poonam Gupta
Posted on: 30/07/2012 00:00:00
Tags:   democracy


An alarming number of India’s politicians have criminal records or some charges against them. This column asks how they manage to get away with it. It looks at evidence from parliamentary elections in 2009 and suggests that while voters dislike crooked politicians, the amount these politicians spend on their campaigns do a good job of hiding the truth.
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