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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 »
A symposium on Piketty: Introduction
Posted on: 15 Jun 2015
Thomas Piketty’s book on ´Capital in the Twenty First Century’ has made waves. The f ... read on »
Emerging challenges: Economic and social
Posted on: 06 Aug 2014
To mark the second anniversary of I4I in July 2014, we invited two eminent scholars – Abhi ... read on »

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

Ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab, the state government granted ‘Other Backward Classes’ status to Rajput Sikhs. In this article, Rohini Somanathan contends that caste reservations first emerged to promote equal treatment in a society where untouchability was widely practised, but have now degenerated into a scramble for privilege and a catalyst for communal conflict.
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Clearing the air
Naini Jayaseelan
Posted on: 22 Feb 2017
Topics:   Environment
Tags:   pollution


In this article, Naini Jayaseelan, former Secretary, Environment, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, discusses the pitfalls of basing policies to curb air pollution on comparisons of air quality indices across countries or cities.
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Demand for environmental quality information and household response to information: Evidence from Bihar
Prabhat Barnwal , Chander Kumar Singh , Alexander van Geen , Jan von der Goltz
Posted on: 20 Feb 2017
Topics:   Environment , Health


Groundwater contaminated with arsenic is a serious public health threat in rural India. This column presents results from a field experiment conducted in Bihar to assess the demand for fee-based testing of wells for arsenic, and to study the behavioural responses of households to well-specific arsenic information.
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Income inequality in a globalising world
Miguel Niño-Zarazúa , Laurence Roope , Finn Tarp
Posted on: 17 Feb 2017

Since the turn of the century, income inequality has risen to be among the most prominent policy issues of our time. This column looks at inequality trends in recent decades. While relative global inequality has fallen, insufficient economic convergence, together with substantial growth in per capita incomes, has resulted in increased absolute inequality since the mid-1970s. The inclusivity aspect of growth is now more imperative than ever.
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The tale and maths of universal basic income
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 15 Feb 2017

Commenting on the discussion on universal basic income in the recently released Economic Survey, Jean Drèze argues that UBI is an idea whose time will come, but that time is still quite distant as far as India is concerned.

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Reviving the informal sector from the throes of demonetisation
Kaushik Bhattacharya , Siddhartha Mitra , Sarmistha Pal , Bibhas Saha
Posted on: 13 Feb 2017

While recent measures announced by the government indicate some awareness of the hardships inflicted on the informal sector by the note ban, more needs to be done. In this article, Bhattacharya, Mitra, Pal and Saha summarise the emerging evidence on the significant adverse impact of demonetisation on the informal sector, and suggest policy measures to ensure a steady recovery.
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Inequality in the typical country in the last 25 years
Jose Cuesta , Christoph Lakner , Mario Negre , Ani Silwal
Posted on: 10 Feb 2017
Tags:  


While inequality has received a great deal of attention in the public debate in recent times, the poor quality of data available on this issue is a constraint. Based on a recently-compiled database of the World Bank, this column presents the trend for within-country inequality for the average country.
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Deconstructing the global wave of right-wing populism
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 08 Feb 2017

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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Union Budget 2017-18: No amends for the sins of demonetisation
Siddharth Varadarajan
Posted on: 06 Feb 2017

Commenting on India’s Union Budget 2017-18, Siddharth Varadarajan, a Founding Editor of The Wire, contends that dealing with the aftereffects of demonetisation requires a fiscal and monetary boost, but the government appears to be in no mood to deliver it. In his view, this is because the fiscal cushion that demonetisation was supposed to provide never materialised.
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Has regulatory intervention been effective in maintaining stability of Indian banks?
Mostak Ahamed , Sushanta Mallick
Posted on: 06 Feb 2017
Topics:   Finance


To address the challenges that Indian corporates faced in the early 2000s in meeting their debt-servicing obligations to banks/financial institutions, RBI introduced a corporate debt restructuring programme in 2002. This column finds that in the absence of a strong legal system, this out-of-court regulatory mechanism has indeed helped Indian banks remain stable, as there has been no bank failure in India unlike in other countries.
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India’s Union Budget 2017-18: Status quo for the social sector
Yamini Aiyar
Posted on: 03 Feb 2017

On 1 February, The Finance Minister of India presented the Union Budget 2017-18. In this article, Yamini Aiyar, Director of Accountability Initiative, contends that for social policy, the Budget suggests more continuity than radical change in India’s welfare architecture. However, it lacks a coherent vision for health and education.
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How agricultural debt waiver impacts beneficiary households
Mrinal Mishra
Posted on: 02 Feb 2017
Topics:   Finance , Agriculture


How a large-scale and unanticipated debt-relief programme impacts beneficiary households is a question that has not been clearly answered by the existing literature. This column analyses the impact of India’s Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme of 2008. It finds that beneficiary households increase precautionary savings by increasing investment in jewellery as they anticipate higher credit constraints in the post-waiver period. Consumption levels remain unaffected.
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An economist’s view on recent domestic and world events
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 31 Jan 2017

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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How to go about chasing black money
Indira Rajaraman
Posted on: 30 Jan 2017

In the context of demonetisation, Indira Rajaraman argues that the focus of any sustainable reform of the taxation structure must be on reducing flows of tax evasion, not going after existing caches of black money.
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Land acquisition: Need for a shift in discourse?
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 25 Jan 2017

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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Do firms in India perceive themselves to be e-ready?
Bornali Bhandari , Ajaya Kumar Sahu
Posted on: 24 Jan 2017
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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Decoding universal basic income for India
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 20 Jan 2017

In this article, Jean Drèze argues that while universal basic income is a good idea in principle, as far as India today is concerned, it sounds like premature articulation. It could also become a Trojan horse for the dismantling of hard-won entitlements of the underprivileged.

Tweet using #basicincome

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Rural electrification in India: Focus on service quality
Karthik Ganesan , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2017
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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Reconsidering the 4% inflation target
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 16 Jan 2017
Tags:   inflation


The RBI targets an inflation rate of 4%. In this article, Gurbachan Singh takes an in-depth look at the prevailing macroeconomic policy regime. This exercise provides an insight, which forms the basis for an alternative policy regime under which it is makes sense to target a lower inflation rate.
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The historical roots of India’s booming service economy
Stephen Broadberry , Bishnupriya Gupta
Posted on: 13 Jan 2017
Tags:   services , UK


India stands out from other emerging economies because its growth has been led by the service sector rather than labour-intensive manufactures. This column summarises recent research showing that India has a long history of strength in services, and its service-led development may play to historical strengths rather than hindering its progress.
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A five-minute loan to unlock micro-entrepreneurship in India
Vibhor Goyal , Niloufer Memon , Varad Pande
Posted on: 11 Jan 2017
Topics:   Finance


Micro-entrepreneurs are grossly underserved by traditional lenders, as they typically do not have collateral or credit histories to make them creditworthy. In this article, Pande, Memon and Goyal of Dalberg Global Development Advisors, describe how digital infrastructure created by ‘India Stack’ can help provide paperless, presence-less, and cashless credit to micro-entrepreneurs, in a way that is sustainable for lenders.
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Aadhaar, demonetisation, and the poor
Silvia Masiero
Posted on: 09 Jan 2017

There is a view that an Aadhaar-centred apparatus of digital inclusion can shield the poor from the problematic effects of demonetisation. In this article, Silvia Masiero argues that constraints of technology ownership, access to informational networks, and infrastructural readiness prove the argument wrong. Other means are needed to reduce the severe humanitarian consequences of sudden cashlessness.
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School consolidation in Himachal Pradesh: Achieving quality and inclusion
Shrikant Wad
Posted on: 06 Jan 2017
Topics:   Education


While the emphasis on neighbourhood schooling in India’s education policy over the past 15 years has increased enrolment, it has also contributed to a proliferation of poor quality, small schools. To address this, the state government of Himachal Pradesh has announced its intent to consolidate existing schools. In this article, Shrikant Wad discusses the issue and recommends measures that would enable the consolidation policy to achieve quality along with inclusion.
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Assessing the impact of demonetisation through the gender lens
Mitali Nikore
Posted on: 04 Jan 2017

In this article, Mitali Nikore, Senior Consultant at PwC India, highlights how demonetisation is impacting women differentially, and offers policy suggestions on how the negative effects can be mitigated.
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Unified agricultural markets: Where are the reforms lacking?
Nidhi Aggarwal , Sargam Jain , Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 02 Jan 2017
Topics:   Agriculture
Tags:   Karnataka , IT


In April 2016, Modi government launched the e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform – a pan-India electronic marketplace for trading of agricultural commodities. However, rather than ushering in a revolution, concerns have been raised regarding lack of traded volumes on the platform. To understand the reluctant progress of e-NAM, this column analyses the experience of the state of Karnataka that embarked on agricultural market reforms in 2007.
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On demonetisation
Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016

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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Unique Health Identification and Aadhaar: A case for mandatory linkage
Mudit Kapoor
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
Topics:   Health


As part of the Digital India initiative, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) issues a Unique Health Identification (UHID) number to each patient, which documents their entire journey in the hospital. AIIMS has called for a mandatory linkage between UHID and Aadhaar. In this article, Mudit Kapoor, Associate Professor at ISI Delhi Centre, explains how this step can have significant positive implications for delivery and democratisation of healthcare.
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Demonetisation: A thunderbolt in search of a target
Ajit Karnik
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016

In this article, Ajit Karnik, Professor of Economics at Middlesex University, Dubai, examines the various rationales that have been trotted out to justify demonetisation and finds little evidence to back these up. In his view, this seems to have been done mainly because a dramatic gesture was required to keep the supporters of the current government enthused.
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Post-demonetisation: Can the old notes return?
Badri Sunderarajan
Posted on: 22 Dec 2016

Banks in India are reported to have received about 87.7% of the demonetised currency notes so far. In this article, Badri Sunderarajan argues that when once all the old notes have come in, it would make sense to reintroduce them into the system as legal tender.
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Book review: ´India’s long road´ by Vijay Joshi
Pulapre Balakrishnan
Posted on: 21 Dec 2016
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 Dec 2016

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 Dec 2016
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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Demonetisation: Some very counterintuitive effects in practice
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 18 Dec 2016

Due to demonetisation, holders of black money lose if they cannot exchange their notes or sell these in the black market. It is widely reasoned that this implies an equal financial gain for the public authorities. In this article, Gurbachan Singh shows that this logic is flawed.
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Will demonetisation lead to a protracted economic slowdown?
Radhika Pandey , Rajeswari Sengupta
Posted on: 15 Dec 2016

In this article, Pandey and Sengupta argue that the impact of the contractionary demand shock triggered by the note ban will gradually radiate from cash-intensive activities to virtually every sector of the economy.
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Governance performance of Indian states: 2001-02 and 2011-12
Samik Chowdhury , Sudipto Mundle , Satadru Sikdar
Posted on: 13 Dec 2016
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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The devil is in the details: Successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform
Iqbal Dhaliwal , Rema Hanna , Rebecca Toole
Posted on: 09 Dec 2016
Topics:   Health


To address absenteeism among staff at public healthcare facilities, the government of Karnataka introduced an innovative biometric device to monitor and enforce attendance rules. This column presents findings of a large randomised evaluation of the programme. While some health gains were achieved, imperfect enforcement illustrates the limits of monitoring solutions if there are constraints on full implementation in practice.
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Land acquisition law: The buck stops with the states
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 07 Dec 2016

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 Eco