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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: Bihar

Improving nutritional outcomes through conditional cash transfers
Alok Kumar , Sneha Palit
Posted on: 22 Nov 2017
Topics:   Health


The Indian government plans to universalise the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana – a conditional cash transfer programme for pregnant women and lactating mothers that aims to improve maternal and child health. In this context, this column presents findings from a pilot undertaken in Bihar to test the efficacy of conditional cash transfers to improve nutritional outcomes.
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Breaking the clientelist trap: Can reform create demand for good governance in Bihar?
Jonathan Phillips
Posted on: 14 Nov 2017
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   Bihar


How has over a decade of rapid and programmatic policy reform in Bihar affected voters? Based on a household survey comparing political attitudes of residents on either side of the Bihar-Jharkhand border, this column shows that Bihar’s policy reforms have raised voters’ expectations, but have not yet produced a fundamental change in their willingness to vote against clientelist politicians.
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Impact of community mobilisation on land rights governance
Sanjay Kumar , Andre Nickow
Posted on: 05 Oct 2017
Topics:   Land


Homestead land rights, that is, the security a household enjoys over the plot of land on which its dwelling is built, shape livelihoods and living standards for poor and marginalised populations in rural areas. This column reports initial findings from an impact evaluation of a programme that seeks to improve homestead rights in Bihar through the formation of village-level community-based organisations.
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Women empowerment in nutrition: Role of common pool resources
Nirali Bakhla
Posted on: 15 Sep 2017

Absence of effective public service delivery and well-functioning markets makes the rural poor highly dependent on common pool resources such as forests and water resources for their livelihoods. In this note, Nirali Bakhla discusses the importance of these resources for poor women in particular.

This is the fifth post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Role of seasonality in food security
Ankita Mondal
Posted on: 14 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


In this note, Ankita Mondal provides an account of the impact of seasonality on nutrition and livelihoods of the rural poor, especially women.

This is the fourth post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Access to healthcare
Udayan Rathore
Posted on: 14 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


Access to healthcare is constrained by three key factors – physical access to healthcare facilities, ability to pay, and quality of care. In this note, Udayan Rathore discusses how within poor households, women and children suffer disproportionately more on account of these constraints.

This is the third post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Do women really have a say in preparing and providing food?
Sweta Bhusan
Posted on: 13 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


Decision-making capacity of women within the household and in the community is considered to be a reflection of their empowerment. In this note, Sweta Bhusan discusses one dimension of decision-making that revolves around procuring, preparing and serving food to household members.

This is the second post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Ideas of empowerment
Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 13 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


As part of the ‘Women’s Empowerment in Nutrition Index’ project, a group of researchers spoke with rural women and community workers from Araria in Bihar, and Ganjam, Rayagada, Kandhmal, and Nayagarh in Odisha, on a range of issues around women’s empowerment, agriculture, and nutrition. In this note, Sudha Narayanan discusses how women in resource-constrained rural settings perceive the idea of empowerment, and the gap between their perception and the wider conceptualisation of empowerment.

This is the first post of a five-part series.

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Political decentralisation, female leadership, and health in rural Bihar
Santosh Kumar , Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 23 Aug 2017

Political decentralisation and female representation in governance are known to improve social welfare by influencing policy decisions in favour of women and children. Analysing data from rural Bihar, this column finds that having a female leader at the village council level has a strong positive association with institutional births, and child survival rates for richer households.
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Understanding livelihood resilience in Bihar
Surya Bhushan , K. V. Raju
Posted on: 16 Jun 2017
Topics:   Finance
Tags:   Bihar


This column develops a livelihood resilience index including three key components – bio-physical, economic, and social resources – and estimates the index for districts in the state of Bihar.
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The development disconnect: MNREGA in Bihar’s Jamui district
Amrita Dhiman
Posted on: 02 Jun 2017
Topics:   Corruption , Jobs


In this note, Amrita Dhiman describes her team’s visit to Jamui district in Bihar – the district that is supposed to have generated the highest number of person-days under MNREGA in its division in 2015-16. While almost all villagers they met had MNREGA cards, there was no MNREGA work to be seen, which was paradoxical given the obvious scope of work in the area.
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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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Solar micro-grids in India: A reality check
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 01 Nov 2016

Much of India’s strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels relies on a transition to solar energy. Based on a survey of potential solar micro-grid customers in Bihar, this column highlights the challenges associated with solar electricity becoming a sustainable and scalable solution, and the need for a new approach.
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MNREGA: Vision and reality
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 16 Mar 2016
Tags:   MNREGA , Bihar


In this article, Martin Ravallion, Professor of Economics at Georgetown University, contends that the main proximate reason for MNREGA’s disappointing performance is that many people in poor areas of rural India who want work under the scheme have not been able to get it. To match the reality of MNREGA with its grand vision, poor people need to be made more aware of their rights and entitlements under the scheme, and the supply side needs to be more responsive.

Tweet using #MNREGA10yrs

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How are India’s new states faring?
Amrita Dhillon , Pramila Krishnan , Manasa Patnam , Carlo Perroni
Posted on: 02 Mar 2016
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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Bihar’s alcohol ban: Prudent policy or tail-chasing?
Sanjeev Kumar , Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 21 Dec 2015

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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Education reform and frontline administrators: A case study from Bihar – II
Yamini Aiyar , Vincy Davis , Ambrish Dongre
Posted on: 16 Oct 2015

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 Oct 2015

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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Are self-help groups helpful?
Upamanyu Datta
Posted on: 11 Sep 2015

While a lot of funding goes towards community-driven development projects, rigorous evidence on their socioeconomic impact is limited. This column evaluates the impact of JEEViKA – a rural livelihoods project in Bihar that seeks to empower marginalised women by organising them into self-help groups. It also highlights the importance of understanding how these initiatives work, and the challenges involved in evaluating their impact.
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The significance of local power structures in Bihar’s coupon-based PDS
Chetan Choithani , Bill Pritchard
Posted on: 17 Aug 2015
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   Bihar , PDS


In 2007, Bihar introduced the coupon system in PDS to curb leakages at fair price shops. This column argues that even though the administrative logic of the coupon system is fundamentally sound, such reform can be effective only when accompanied by institutional transformations that broker change in the existing local politics of inclusion and exclusion.
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A campaign to end malnutrition in Bihar
Hena Naqvi
Posted on: 08 May 2015
Topics:   Health


About 55% of 0-3 year old children in the state of Bihar are malnourished. In this article, Hena Naqvi, State Programme Officer at the Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bihar, describes an ambitious campaign launched by the government in October 2014 to reduce child malnutrition in the state to 30% by 2017.
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Solar power for street vendors? Lessons from an experiment in Bihar
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 06 Feb 2015

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries is aggravating the issue of insufficient access to energy for basic needs such as lighting. This column discusses lessons from an experiment in Bihar wherein street vendors were provided solar-powered lights, the batteries of which were charged at centralised stations installed in urban marketplaces. Based on problems encountered in terms of the mode and cost of operation, it suggests that the provision of electric grid connections, with stand-alone solar lights as backup, may be a better approach.
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Women leaders and deceptive behaviour
Lata Gangadharan , Tarun Jain , Pushkar Maitra , Joseph Vecci
Posted on: 29 Jan 2015

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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The Bihar story: Resurrection of the state
Jitan Ram Manjhi
Posted on: 26 Nov 2014
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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A conversation on Bihar
Karthik Muralidharan , Anjani Kumar Singh
Posted on: 03 Nov 2014
Topics:   Economic Growth


I4I Guest Editor Karthik Muralidharan (Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego) speaks with Anjani Kumar Singh (Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar) during the IGC Growth Week in London, on issues ranging from the successes and challenges of Bihar in the past five years, constraints on industrialisation, skilling, spatial distribution of development, to frequent transfer of bureaucrats and role of research inputs in policymaking.
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Education for all: Fixing classroom processes
Amarjeet Sinha
Posted on: 11 Jun 2014
Topics:   Education


While India has achieved near universal enrolment in schools, the quality of education is far from satisfactory. There is an urgent need to change classroom processes to ensure that those who go to school actually learn. In this article, former Principal Secretary, Department of Education, Government of Bihar outlines various initiatives undertaken by the state to address this issue, and makes recommendations based on their experience.
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Why is Maharashtra´s average income five times that of Bihar?
Areendam Chanda
Posted on: 09 Dec 2013

Income gaps among Indian states are large, persistent and increasing over time. Differences in technology and efficiency in production processes have been found to be the primary explanation for income gaps across countries. Does the same apply to Indian states? This column attempts to answer this question, with a particular focus on Bihar – the state with the lowest average income in the country.
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Delivering health services through schools in rural India
Anjini Kochar
Posted on: 04 Oct 2013
Topics:   Health


Given that India has better infrastructure for schooling relative to healthcare, and near universal primary school enrolment rates, many believe that providing basic health services through schools rather than clinics may be more cost effective. This column finds that coverage achieved by health programmes administered through schools is also low, even lower than the average school attendance rates. The key constraint on coverage is shortage of healthcare personnel.
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Bihar’s malnutrition crisis and potential solutions
Ronald Abraham , Andrew Fraker
Posted on: 24 May 2013
Topics:   Corruption , Health


The prevalence of underweight children in Bihar is higher than in any country in the world, and the provision of public services to address malnutrition is poor. Based on an assessment of the government’s nutritional support to mothers and children, this column sheds light on the grim public service delivery, likely causes, and ideas to address the problem.
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Reducing poisoning by arsenic in tubewell water
Chander Kumar Singh , Alexander van Geen
Posted on: 11 Mar 2013
Topics:   Health , Environment


Millions of tubewells across the Indo-Gangetic plain supply drinking water that is relatively free of microbial contaminants. However, many of these tubewells tap groundwater that is high in arsenic and should be used only for washing. This column explores a new approach to field testing in order to distinguish safe from unsafe wells, and suggests that people are willing to pay for tubewell testing.
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Education in Bihar: Still a long road ahead
Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 07 Sep 2012
Topics:   Education


In the north Indian state of Bihar, education has been improving faster than in the rest of the country. But as this column reminds us, Bihar is starting from the bottom. For education to continue to improve, Bihar needs to universally provide drinking water facilities, separate toilets for girls in schools, and more teachers and classrooms per student.
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