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Ashok Kotwal
GST Explainer: Introduction
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Seventeen years after its framework was formed, India’s biggest tax reform – the goods and ... read on »
Introducing a new feature: ‘Explainers’
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Our day-to-day lives are tossed around due to economic changes, resulting sometimes from g ... read on »
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »

Tag: public finance

Straw men in the debate on basic income versus targeting
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 11 Aug 2017

A universal basic income as a poverty-reduction policy is often contrasted unfavourably with targeted transfers. In this article, Martin Ravallion argues that five of the common arguments employed against basic income are really straw men that overstate the relative effectiveness of targeted transfers. While a universal basic income is not yet feasible in many countries, more universality and less fine targeting would create better social policies.
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Health policy and economic growth in India
Nalini Gulati , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 27 Jul 2017

A new synthesis paper (Menon 2017) produced by the International Growth Centre brings together evidence from various health-related IGC studies on India undertaken over the past seven years, to draw implications for health policy. At a workshop organised by IGC in collaboration with Ideas for India and Indian Statistical Institute, Srinath Reddy (Public Health Foundation of India), Alok Kumar (NITI Aayog), and Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) discussed key policy lessons emerging from research, and areas where further work is required.
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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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Impact of disinvestment policy on public sector enterprises in India
Ritika Jain
Posted on: 12 Jun 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


To address operational inefficiencies in PSEs without comprising on their social objectives, disinvestment policy is often used. However, there are concerns regarding the extent of impact on firm performance since disinvestment may involve transfer of ownership but not control. Analysing data from 1991-2010 on all manufacturing PSEs owned by the central government, this column shows that the average annual efficiency score of disinvested enterprises rose by almost 20%.
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When windmills tilt: The FRBM debate
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 08 May 2017

In this article, Dr Pronab Sen presents his views on the ongoing debate on the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.
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A proposal for public funding of elections and political parties in India
M.V. Rajeev Gowda , Varun Santhosh
Posted on: 21 Apr 2017
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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Disintermediating the State: Would a universal basic income reduce poverty more than targeted programmes?
Justin Sandefur
Posted on: 31 Mar 2017

Commenting on the discussion of the universal basic income in India’s Economic Survey 2016-17, Justin Sandefur contends that a modest version of UBI could potentially save money and shift expenditure in a progressive, pro-poor direction.

Tweet using #basicincome

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Budget subsidies of the central government and 14 major Indian states: 1987-88 and 2011-12
Sudipto Mundle , Satadru Sikdar
Posted on: 14 Mar 2017

This column presents estimates of the flow of subsidies through the budgets of the central government and 14 major Indian states in 1987-88 and 2011-12. The estimates show that the overall level of subsidies relative to GDP has declined, as has the share of non-merit subsidies. This suggests some improvement in efficiency in this aspect of public expenditure.
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Chasing one’s own tail: Dealing with tax non-compliance
Sangram Gaikwad , Kailash Pundlik Gaikwad
Posted on: 01 Mar 2017

A key, stated objective of the recent denotification of high-denomination currency notes was to eliminate black money arising from tax evasion, and to expand the tax net. In this article, Sangram Gaikwad and Kailash Gaikwad, officers of the Indian Revenue Service, outline the challenges faced by the tax administration in dealing with rampant evasion in direct taxation, and what can be done to address the issue.
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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.

Tweet using #basicincome

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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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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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Panel Discussion: Two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan , Parikshit Ghosh , Pratap Bhanu Mehta , Mihir Sharma
Posted on: 29 Aug 2016
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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Is India a tax haven for the rich?
Himanshu
Posted on: 10 Aug 2016

In April, the government released tax data, which provided a break-up of taxes by income categories for the year 2012-13. In this article, Himanshu, Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, contends that by increasing tax exemptions and subsidies for the wealthy, and through various tax giveaways, the government has reduced its capacity to spend more on essential sectors such as health, nutrition and education.
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The first two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 11 May 2016
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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Recapitalising public sector banks by disinvesting in RBI: Right and wrong
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 09 May 2016

The Economic Survey 2015-16 put forth the argument that the Government of India could reduce its capital in the RBI from its current large level and use it to increase its capital in public sector banks, which face a capital shortage. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has stated that this argument is not valid. In this article, Prof. Gurbachan Singh contends that while the argument does not hold in general, it does so for all practical purposes under the present conditions.
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Charting a course for the Indian economy
Karthik Muralidharan , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 05 Aug 2015

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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14th Finance Commission: A trust-based approach towards local governments
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 27 Apr 2015

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 Apr 2015

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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The 2015-16 Union budget and India’s growth
Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 04 Mar 2015

The 2015-16 Union budget – the first full-year budget of the new government – was presented last week. In this article, Nirvikar Singh, Professor of Economics at the University of California Santa Cruz, contends that the budget is a welcome return to transparency and sanity, and has a host of small changes that add up to a promising reform agenda.
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Three concerns about AAP’s promise
V. Ramani
Posted on: 18 Feb 2015
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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Public spending on health coverage: Are we raising the right questions?
Samik Chowdhury , Indrani Gupta
Posted on: 13 Feb 2015
Topics:   Health


The National Health Assurance Mission – India’s first move towards Universal Health Coverage – is expected to be launched soon. In this context, this column analyses the extent, distribution and quality of current public spending on healthcare. It suggests that the planning for a national programme for health coverage should take into account issues of fragmentation, inequity and inefficiency in the public healthcare system.
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How much does India spend on elementary education?
Ambrish Dongre , Avani Kapur
Posted on: 02 Feb 2015
Topics:   Education


There has been a significant policy focus on expanding elementary education in India in recent years. Yet, estimates of public and private expenditure on elementary education are not available. This column seeks to fill this gap by estimating annual public expenditure per student in government schools, and annual private expenditure per student for those enrolled in private schools, for 16 selected states in India.
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Corruption and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 16 Jul 2012
Topics:   Corruption


Corruption continues to strangle India’s public finances. This column presents evidence of embezzlement in India’s flagship rural employment programme and suggests new ways policymakers can test what works in the struggle against corruption.
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