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

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Towards financial prescription
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 24 Jul 2017

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has proposed that the distributors of mutual funds should only be allowed to sell financial products and not act as financial advisers for customers. Drawing analogies from the regulatory frameworks for driving on public roads and practising medicine, Gurbachan Singh contends that this is a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done to regulate financial advice.
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India’s slum leaders - II
Adam Auerbach , Tariq Thachil
Posted on: 21 Jul 2017

The second part of the two-part column on slum leaders discusses who these leaders are - their age, professions, and relationships with political parties - and how they build support within their communities.
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India’s slum leaders - I
Adam Auerbach , Tariq Thachil
Posted on: 20 Jul 2017

India’s demographic shift to cities has been accompanied by a number of pressing governance and developmental challenges, among the most serious of which is the rampant spread of slum settlements. Within these poor urban neighbourhoods, certain residents rise to prominent positions of local authority. Based on resident and leader surveys conducted during 2015-2016 in Jaipur and Bhopal, this two-part column provides insights on these informal slum leaders.

The first part focusses on the range of activities slum leaders perform for residents, and the ways in which leaders emerge from within their communities.

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Why ‘free’ speech is not always ‘costless’
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 19 Jul 2017
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:  


A recent CBI raid at the premises of the owners of NDTV has sparked off yet another round of debates about freedom of the media, the spectre of authoritarianism, and freedom of expression in India. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak contends that confusion over what ‘free speech’ means stems from equating the two different senses in which it is used: free as in unconstrained, and free in the sense of not having a price or cost.
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Off-grid solar power and the future of rural electrification in India
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Jul 2017
Topics:   Environment


Off-grid solar power is a potential alternative to grid extension in rural electrification. This column reports results from a recent experiment with an off-grid lighting intervention in Uttar Pradesh. While little evidence of broader socioeconomic changes was found, the study suggests that kerosene subsidies likely hold back the expansion of off-grid solar markets, and that there are many ways in which benefits of off-grid solar power can be enhanced.
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How much public debt is too little?
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 16 Jul 2017

Virtually the entire literature on public debt is focussed on determining how much is too much, beyond which it becomes a systemic threat to the economy. In this article, Pronab Sen outlines some of the considerations which should be taken into account while determining the minimum stock of public debt and its flow counterpart, the fiscal deficit.
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Changes in the nature of female workforce participation in India
P.C. Mohanan
Posted on: 14 Jul 2017
Topics:   Gender , Jobs
Tags:  


Declining female workforce participation in India is a matter of grave concern, and a puzzle in the face of increased overall economic growth. This column shows that although the proportion of working women – based on estimates from the National Sample Survey - has fallen, there is improvement in terms of the number of days of work by women in the workforce, especially in rural areas.

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Financing Indian cities
Nandan Sharalaya
Posted on: 12 Jul 2017
Topics:   Finance , Urbanisation
Tags:   cities


Indian cities are fund-starved and unprepared to handle the stresses of rapid urbanisation in the country. Urban local bodies and municipal corporations, particularly in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, do not have the necessary autonomy or capacity to raise revenue. In this article, Nandan Sharalaya discusses options available to the government for financing cities, above and beyond the traditional model of public-private partnerships.
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Why doesn’t anybody know if Swachh Bharat Mission is succeeding?
Diane Coffey , Dean Spears
Posted on: 10 Jul 2017
Topics:   Health


In 2014, the Prime Minister announced a goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019. In this article, Coffey and Spears, contend that now almost two-thirds of the way through the Swachh Bharat Mission, nobody knows whether it is succeeding because there is no credible, independent survey that can offer a useful estimate of the fraction of rural persons defecating in the open.
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Climate change: The potential impact on global agricultural markets
Arnaud Costinot , Dave Donaldson , Cory Smith
Posted on: 07 Jul 2017

Many fear that climate change will have severe effects on the global economy, particularly through the threat to food production and farmers’ earnings. This column suggests that much of the potential harm could be avoided if farmers can switch their crops in response to changing relative yields. But it is ‘intra-national trade’ – trade among farmers and between farmers and consumers within countries – rather than international trade that will be crucial in alleviating the consequences of climate change.
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Language and development
David D. Laitin , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 05 Jul 2017

Language choice is central to organisation of society, transmission of knowledge, and interpersonal communication, and hence, has implications for socioeconomic inequality. This column examines the consequences of language policies on developmental outcomes in post-colonial States.
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Estimating intergenerational income mobility in rural India
Shariq Mohammed
Posted on: 03 Jul 2017

For developing countries, it is difficult to find income mobility studies that rely on datasets linking parents with their children. Using a panel dataset spanning 1994-2012, this column presents improved estimates of intergenerational income mobility in rural India, which is found to be higher than analogous evidence from other developing countries. While India is progressing towards cross-caste equality, it is at a disappointingly slow rate.
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Backward or dominant? Political economy of demand for caste-based quotas
Ashwini Deshpande , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 30 Jun 2017
Topics:   Caste


Jats in Haryana have been demanding reservation under the ‘Other Backward Classes’ category. This column analyses socioeconomic data for three castes – Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat, and Marathas in Maharashtra - in relation to other broad caste groups in their respective states, in order to examine the validity of their claim to ‘backwardness’.
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Building institutional capacity for rural sanitation in Uttar Pradesh
Mariappa Kullappa
Posted on: 29 Jun 2017

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with about 200 million people, has historically not performed well on sanitation. In this article, Mariappa Kullappa of the World Bank Water Global Practice gives an account of the state administration’s experience of pushing ahead its sanitation agenda successfully in a few districts, and generating learning and confidence for wider replication.
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Good monsoon, bad test scores? Substituting away from schooling
Manisha Shah , Bryce Millett Steinberg
Posted on: 27 Jun 2017
Tags:   schooling


Good monsoons in India raise agricultural productivity and hence, bring added work and higher wages. Is this extra work at the expense of schooling for poor children? This column finds that increased household income benefits younger children as more can be invested in their human capital; however, older children may substitute away from schooling into domestic work, farm work, or wage labour, in response to higher wages.
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