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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 »

Tag: IT

Are farm loan waivers really so bad?
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 23 Jun 2017

Recent announcements by various state governments of their intent to waive farm loans to varying extents have been strongly criticised by the media and other commentators. In this article, Dr Pronab Sen examines the validity of the claims on which this opposition is based.
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Using drones for social sector research
Outline India
Posted on: 19 Jun 2017

While drones have historically been used in military operations, their application for peaceful purposes has risen steeply in recent years. In this note, representatives from Outline India - a research and development consultancy firm - discuss their efforts to integrate drones in social sector research to make data analysis more evidence-based, visualise policy performance, and produce actionable research materials to aid public policy making and monitoring.
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Impact of disinvestment policy on public sector enterprises in India
Lata Gangadharan , Tarun Jain , Pushkar Maitra , Joseph Vecci
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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Bank financing of stressed firms
Rajeswari Sengupta , Anjali Sharma
Posted on: 07 Jun 2017
Topics:   Finance


There is anecdotal evidence that banks in India have been extending credit to highly distressed firms. By delaying recognition of bad loans, banks may improve their own profitability in the short run, but in the long run, this has only exacerbated the non-performing asset crisis in the banking sector. This column provides preliminary empirical evidence that banks have indeed been throwing good money after bad.
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Aadhaar: It’s not black and white
Outline India
Posted on: 31 May 2017
Topics:   Infrastructure


Amidst the emerging privacy concerns surrounding the success of Aadhaar and its integration in our day-to-day lives, Outline India conducted a survey in Delhi to understand people's reception of Aadhaar card, its perceived impact on their lives, and their thoughts on making the scheme mandatory to access government services and schemes.
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How the American dream led to India’s IT boom
Gaurav Khanna , Nicolas Morales
Posted on: 29 May 2017

In the context of the ongoing global debate on migration policies, this column shows that the H-1B visa programme of the US had a powerful impact on the US IT sector, and played a prominent role in spreading the boom to India.
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The dangers that lie beneath India’s IT layoffs
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 24 May 2017
Topics:   Jobs


The ongoing layoffs in India’s IT sector are at a scale that has not been seen since the global financial crisis of 2008. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at LSE, contends that while this is a major shock, the country’s demographic dividend, and global trends such as automation, demand an economic strategy that prioritises job creation more broadly.
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Hazards of farm loan waivers
Tanika Chakraborty , Aarti Gupta
Posted on: 23 May 2017

In theory, debt waivers are expected to induce the optimal level of effort from the debtor for loan repayment. However, repeated waivers may distort household expectations about credit contract enforcements in the future. This column analyses the effect of Uttar Pradesh’s state-level debt waiver programme – announced right after India’s nationwide Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme – on consumption and investment behaviour of households.
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The state of the economy and mass perception
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 19 May 2017

In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni of NGO Pragati Abhiyan contends that the media should tap into the knowledge of practitioners that are familiar with the ground realities of social sector schemes – rather than those outside the sector - with regard to budget-related and other discussions on the sector. This will help provide the masses with a real picture of the developmental problems plaguing the economy.
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Assam’s Brahmaputra Community Radio Station: Innovation in health communication
Anjali Mariam Paul
Posted on: 12 May 2017

River Brahmaputra which flows across the Northeast Indian state of Assam, carves out a network of nearly 2,300 islands, isolating them from the mainland and excluding their inhabitants from access to basic infrastructure and health facilities. Based on her fieldwork, Anjali Mariam Paul describes the working of an innovative intervention in health communication – a non-commercial grassroots community radio station for these river islands.
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The size of personal bank credit in India
Renuka Sane , Anjali Sharma
Posted on: 10 May 2017

In May 2016, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code law was passed by Indian Parliament and received presidential assent. The law consists of provisions for both corporate and personal insolvency. However, only the corporate insolvency provisions are being implemented. In this article, Sane and Sharma focus on personal credit extended by banks with a view to informing policy actions on personal insolvency provisions of the Code.
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Moving towards a principles-based drug retail policy in India
Amey Sapre , Smriti Sharma
Posted on: 02 May 2017
Topics:   Health
Tags:   IT


The health ministry has proposed a new e-platform for tracking the country’s entire drug supply chain, including online sales. In this article, Smriti Sharma and Amey Sapre contend that the e-platform is a step in the right direction, but imposing the requirement of brick-and-mortar facilities on e-pharmacies is incorrect. Regulators should adopt an approach that promotes the principles of competition, innovation, and customer protection and responsibility in the drugs market.
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Leaving stunting behind: Evidence from ethnic Indians in England
Caterina Alacevich , Alessandro Tarozzi
Posted on: 27 Apr 2017
Topics:   Health


Despite impressive rates of economic growth in recent decades, India remains one of the worst-performing countries worldwide in terms of height, among children and adults. This column shows that height gaps exist, although decline substantially, among adult immigrants of Indian ethnicity in England, while virtually disappearing among their young children.
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Land acquisition and corporate investment: Legacy of historical land ceiling legislations?
Sarmistha Pal , Tiago Pinheiro , Zoya Saher
Posted on: 23 Apr 2017
Topics:   Land


Firms in India often find it difficult to purchase land, resulting in projects being delayed, relocated, or cancelled. Analysing firm- and state-level data, this column explores the impact of post-independence land reforms – especially those related to land ceilings - on corporate investment in the country.
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Constructing housing for the poor without destroying their communities
Rohini Pande
Posted on: 24 Mar 2017

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana aims to achieve housing for all by 2022. However, vacancy of 23% was reported last year in urban housing built under the programme. In this article, Rohini Pande, contends that take-up can be increased if policies are designed in a way that allows the intended beneficiaries to preserve their social networks when they relocate.
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The North-South urban paradox
Chinmay Tumbe
Posted on: 22 Mar 2017
Topics:   Urbanisation


Why is northern India experiencing faster urban growth but slower urbanisation relative to the South? This column addresses this question by highlighting the interconnection between the demographic transition and urban processes in India.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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Demonetisation and agricultural markets
Nidhi Aggarwal , Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 30 Nov 2016

In this article, Aggarwal and Narayanan contend that demonetisation alone cannot turn agricultural markets cashless. Such a shift would require sustained and focussed effort to expand the reach of formal institutions, especially for credit and storage.
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How do electricity shortages affect industry in India?
Hunt Allcott , Allan Collard-Wexler , Stephen D O'Connell
Posted on: 25 Nov 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


Poor electricity supply is widely recognised as a key impediment to firm growth and productivity. This column finds that average reported level of electricity shortages in India reduces annual plant revenues and producer surplus of the average manufacturing plant by 5-10%. While productivity losses are smaller, shortages distort plant size distribution due to significant economies of scale in generator costs.
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Kisan Credit Card programme: Expanded access to credit or expansion of credit?
Somdeep Chatterjee
Posted on: 03 Nov 2016
Topics:   Finance , Agriculture


Kisan Credit Card programme - a key reform in agricultural lending in India - has been operational for almost 20 years now. However, there is little empirical evidence of its impact on intended beneficiaries. This column finds that the programme has had significant positive impact on agricultural production and technology adoption. It is likely that the channel is enhanced borrowing ability of the already unconstrained, rather than expanded access to credit.
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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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Are grain procurement shocks inflationary?
Chetan Ghate , Sargam Gupta , Debdulal Mallick
Posted on: 17 Oct 2016

Central banks in emerging markets grapple with understanding the inflationary impact of grain procurement shocks because the precise link between the agriculture sector and the rest of the economy may not be well understood. This column presents a framework to understand how the government’s grain procurement policy in India can be inflationary, and what the appropriate monetary policy response should be.
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Moving towards better definitions of ‘urban’ in India
Komal Hiranandani , Mudit Kapoor , Vaidehi Tandel
Posted on: 15 Sep 2016
Topics:   Urbanisation


According to the 2011 Census, 31% of the country is ‘urban’. Using definitions of urbanisation that are different from those used by the government, this column demonstrates that this figure may be an underestimate. It is important to recognise and fix the flaws in the current method of defining urban areas as it forms the basis for important policies such as eligibility for government schemes.
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Making India open-defecation free by 2019
Bhaskar Pant
Posted on: 06 Sep 2016

Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to make India open-defecation free by 2019. However, this has only been achieved in 17 of 686 districts so far. In this article, Bhaskar Pant outlines the key reasons due to which the government’s efforts are not being reflected in the results, and makes suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the programme.
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Data openness and the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill
Samayita Ghosh , Khusdeep Malhotra
Posted on: 05 Sep 2016
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 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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Fast breeder reactors and the slow progress of India’s nuclear programme
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 16 Aug 2016

Breeder reactors have always underpinned the claims of India’s Department of Atomic Energy about generating large quantities of electricity. The first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor was expected to start sustaining a chain reaction back in 2010, but the reactor is massively delayed, taking more than twice the expected period. In this article, M.V. Ramana, a physicist at Princeton University, outlines the history of missed targets and contends that these reactors are best regarded as failed technology, in India and elsewhere.
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Using geospatial methods in estimating exposure to open defecation
Prashant Arya , Nikhil George , Amandeep Singh
Posted on: 03 Aug 2016
Topics:   Health


Eliminating open defecation is an important policy priority in India. In this article, Arya, George and Singh from the Centre for Policy Research, illustrate how using readily available geospatial data to estimate exposure to open defecation can help focus public investment and efforts in areas where it is needed the most.
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Water quality awareness and behaviour change
Gauri Kartini Shastry , Pinar Keskin , Hannah Ruebeck
Posted on: 28 Jul 2016
Topics:   Health


Universal access to clean water is far from a reality in many developing countries. This column examines a nationwide information campaign that attempted to minimise the use of arsenic-contaminated tubewells in Bangladesh. It finds that mothers in arsenic-contaminated areas are more likely to exclusively breastfeed their children, and breastfeed for longer after the campaign - likely out of concern for child well-being. It also finds that infant health improves.
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Land and financial misallocation in India
Gilles Duranton , Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 20 Jul 2016

Optimising the allocation of factors of production – land, capital and labour - improves productivity. In India, where evidence suggests land is severely misallocated to inefficient manufacturing firms, access to financing is disproportionately tied to access to land. This column examines the link between the misallocation of land and access to capital through financial markets. A very strong positive correlation emerges between the two, consistent with the fact that land and buildings can provide strong collateral support for accessing finance from the credit market.
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When does politics work for development?
Saad Gulzar , Ben Pasquale
Posted on: 15 Jul 2016
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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Indian agriculture: How to feed more people with fewer resources
Gareth Price , Ira Sharma , Ashwini Kumar Swain
Posted on: 05 Jul 2016

While agriculture in India has achieved grain self-sufficiency, it has become cereal-centric, regionally-biased and resource-intensive. In this article, Swain, Price and Sharma discuss the rising resource intensity in Indian agriculture and its implications for agricultural sustainability, productivity and future food production. They explore government initiatives to address the situation and suggest a strategy to increase production with fewer resources.
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Driving restrictions in Delhi: Real benefits and warning signs
Gabriel Kreindler
Posted on: 15 Jun 2016

The driving restrictions policy that Delhi experimented with in January was implemented for a second time in April for a fortnight. This column finds that the policy lowered traffic congestion; the impact was notable in size and consistent over the two rounds. However, drivers managed to partly circumvent the policy legally, and the policy caused some disruption to economic activity.
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‘I Paid A Bribe’: Using technology to fight corruption in India
Venkatesh Kannaiah
Posted on: 06 Jun 2016
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   bribes , IT


‘I Paid A bribe’ (ipaidabribe.com) harnesses the collective energy of Indian citizens against corruption by enabling them to report anonymously on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of demands for bribes. In this note, Venkatesh Kannaiah, the editor of IPAB discusses the initiative and the value of technology in tackling corruption, both in India and globally.
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Case for electric vehicles through cleaner grid supply
Mudit Chordia
Posted on: 18 May 2016

The Indian government recently announced its plan to make India a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030. In this article, Mudit Chordia, a Consultant at the University of Chicago Urban Labs, discusses the viability of such a plan in the Indian context.
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Socially disadvantaged groups and microfinance in India
Jean-Marie Baland , Rohini Somanathan , Lore Vandewalle
Posted on: 16 May 2016

The benefits of microfinance are in the details. This column takes a look at lending by commercial banks in India to self-help groups – smaller, informal community-based groups – as a new and successful microfinance initiative. Different ways of thinking about getting credit to the poorest and most marginalised in society can work, but only if the institutions are properly geared up for their customers
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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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Aadhaar Bill: UID without excessively compromising privacy?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 06 May 2016
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 May 2016
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 May 2016

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 May 2016

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 May 2016
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?

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Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Parikshit Ghosh , Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 02 May 2016
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.

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Early life nutrition and future educational outcomes: Findings from ICDS
Ramanan Laxminarayan , Arindam Nandi
Posted on: 25 Apr 2016
Topics:   Education , Health


Integrated Child Development Services – India’s flagship child nutrition programme – has recently suffered a major cut in funding. This column shows that supplementary nutrition provided under the programme positively influences long-term educational outcomes of children. The findings suggest that funding for the programme should be fully restored and efforts should be made to address its systemic inefficiencies.
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MNREGA: Technology vs. technocracy
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 17 Mar 2016

In this article, Reetika Khera, Associate Professor of Economics at IIT Delhi, argues that for MNREGA to flourish in the future, technologies that empower workers should be encouraged, and the tendency to over-centralise the implementation of the programme should be reversed.

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Four key administrative reforms to strengthen MNREGA
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 17 Mar 2016

In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni of NGO Pragati Abhiyan, discusses four key administrative reforms that can strengthen the implementation of MNREGA, and enable the programme to fulfill its objectives more effectively.

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Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: Why invest in cross-border power-trading
Deb Chattopadhyay , P. N. Fernando , Priyantha DC Wijayatunga
Posted on: 07 Mar 2016

Despite improvements to energy supply over the years, many Indian states still face frequent power shortages. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have large reserves of untapped hydropower with the potential to meet unserved demand for energy in major load centres. Investing in interconnections could also contribute to significant reductions in carbon emissions. This column quantifies potential gains from an integrated South Asian power.
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Access to information and the poor
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 19 Feb 2016
Tags:   IT , MNREGA


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently ruled against charging different subscribers different prices for data services. In this article, Martin Ravallion, Edmond D. Villani Chair of Economics at Georgetown University, contends that we certainly need to improve access of the poor to knowledge about public services that can help them, but such efforts should be explicitly targeted at them. Relying on prevailing processes of knowledge diffusion may simply reflect and even reinforce existing inequalities.
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Fiscal deficit and growth slowdown
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 17 Feb 2016

Ahead of the Union Budget, several policymakers and economists in India have advocated increasing public spending to spur economic growth. In this article, Gurbachan Singh argues that even if India is facing a slowdown, a larger fiscal deficit is not the solution – more so now that RBI and the government have adopted inflation targeting. The prospect of a fiscal crisis may be farfetched but India may be incurring costs differently.
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Regulating land markets: The colonial inheritance
Anand Swamy
Posted on: 10 Feb 2016
Topics:   Land


State intervention in markets is usually thought of as a post-independence phenomenon. However, this column demonstrates that extensive State intervention in land and credit transactions can be traced back to policies adopted by the British Raj in India, beginning in the late 19th century.
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Driving Delhi: The impact of driving restrictions on driver behaviour
Gabriel Kreindler , Jasmine Shah
Posted on: 08 Feb 2016

In an attempt to address Delhi’s grave pollution problem, the state government experimented with a driving restrictions policy for a fortnight in January. Based on a phone survey of a sample of 614 drivers in the city, this column describes how the policy changed drivers’ behaviour in terms of labour supply, number of daily trips, travel modes, and satisfaction, between restricted and unrestricted days while the policy was in effect.
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Data-jam: Could data reduce road congestion in Dhaka?
Filippo Sebastio
Posted on: 01 Feb 2016
Topics:   Urbanisation


While urbanisation is key to economic growth, failure to address the downsides of the process - such as congestion - may deter the ability of cities to achieve their full growth potential. This column examines the challenges of road congestion in Dhaka, and explores the potential for traffic data to uncover evidenced-based policy designs that can effectively mitigate the problem.
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Unleashing the full potential of India’s ‘Open Government Data’ initiative
Natasha Agarwal
Posted on: 22 Jan 2016
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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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Chao-yo Cheng , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


While access to energy is crucial for socioeconomic development, statistically representative surveys on the issue are missing in India. Based on a survey on energy access in six energy-poor states in north India, this column finds that although domestic electricity connections in rural areas have increased rapidly, quality of supply remains poor. In terms of clean cooking fuels, people strongly prefer LPG but poor availability and high upfront costs of connections limit access.
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How has land acquisition impacted dalits? A case study from Maharashtra
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 17 Dec 2015
Topics:   Caste , Land


Land ownership in Indian villages is inextricably linked to caste, with dalits owing little or no land. Based on a survey in Maharashtra, this column assesses the impact of land acquisition and subsequent development on dalits vis-à-vis non-dalits. The findings suggest that while economic development can make inroads into the caste system, it possibly cannot end casteism in the short run.
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Transforming Indian agriculture: The role of credit policy
Amartya Lahiri , Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 14 Dec 2015
Topics:   Finance , Agriculture


Despite various policy attempts at priority sector lending to poor farmers, very little progress has been made on the ground, suggesting problems in the design and implementation of these policies. In this article, Amartya Lahiri and Dilip Mookherjee and explore where the problem really lies and what can be done to address the issues.
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Beyond leaky pipes: Fixing enrolment systems of welfare schemes
Shrayana Bhattacharya , Soumya Kapoor Mehta , Rinku Murgai
Posted on: 09 Dec 2015

Policy initiatives of JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, Mobile numbers) trinity and direct benefit transfer focus on unclogging the supply of benefits under welfare schemes by reducing payment leakages. This column shows that bottlenecks to the entry of deserving beneficiaries into such schemes and misallocation of resources to the ineligible are even more significant, and deserve similarly high-profiled attention.
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JAM and the pursuit of nirvana
Jean Drèze
Posted on: 13 Nov 2015

The Finance Ministry is proposing to roll all subsidies into a single, lump-sum cash transfer to households, on the back of the JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, Mobile numbers) trinity. In this article, Jean Drèze, Honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, argues that a single-minded focus on high-tech cash transfers as a foundation for social policy in India is fraught with dangers.
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India’s energy efficiency
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 10 Nov 2015

India is the fourth largest energy consumer in the world but is not well endowed with energy resources, making efficiency in energy use very important. This column analyses the spatial dynamics of electricity usage in India’s manufacturing sector. Such an understanding can help in defining a more focused and targeted energy policy.
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Has the ICDS helped reduce stunting in India?
Monica Jain
Posted on: 09 Oct 2015
Topics:   Health


While stunting has declined sharply in India, the levels remain disturbingly high at 38.7%. This column evaluates the impact of the supplementary feeding component of ICDS – India’s flagship programme for early child development - and finds sizable positive effects on heights of 0-2 year olds. However, these gains are achievable only if the programme is focused on this age group and if food is delivered regularly.
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Are banks responsive to credit demand shocks in rural India?
Sankar De , Siddharth Vij
Posted on: 05 Oct 2015
Topics:   Finance


The output of Kharif crops is estimated to decrease by about 2% this year due to deficient monsoon rains in some Indian states. How responsive are commercial banks to a credit demand shock in rural India? Analysing data on rainfall and agricultural credit during 1993-2010, this column finds that banks increase the supply of agricultural credit to farmers following a drought, but that the additional credit is directed towards existing customers.
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No toilet, no bride: Toilet ownership and marriage prospects of men in India
Britta Augsburg , Paul Andrés Rodríguez Lesmes
Posted on: 30 Sep 2015
Topics:   Health


A growing body of research shows that costs are a key barrier to sanitation investments by households. Based on a survey in Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, this column finds that apart from financial and health considerations, the decision of households to acquire toilets is influenced by the belief that toilet ownership improves prospects of finding good marriage matches for sons.
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Can microcredit improve food security among the rural poor?
Asad Islam , Chandana Maitra , Debayan Pakrashi , Russell Smyth
Posted on: 28 Sep 2015

A core objective of microcredit in Bangladesh is to make the rural poor more food secure. To what extent has this been achieved? Analysing household data from Bangladesh, this column finds that participants of microcredit programmes are more food secure, with improved calorie availability, reduced child stunting and better maternal nutritional status. However, programme participation in itself does not improve dietary diversity.
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Household savings and India’s current account deficit
Nikhil Gupta
Posted on: 25 Sep 2015

India’s current account deficit widened consistently in the post-crisis period between 2008-09 and 2012-13. This column finds that while the public sector was the key driver of this trend in the first two years, the increased consumption/investment by households was responsible for the high deficit in the later period. It recommends that policymakers should now incentivise household savings rather than consumption/investments, which implies limited scope for further interest rate cuts.
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What do we know about corruption in India?
Sandip Sukhtankar , Milan Vaishnav
Posted on: 16 Sep 2015
Topics:   Corruption


Despite ample media coverage of corruption, there remains a gap between headline-making scandals, policy options under discussion, and the actual evidence base drawn from empirical research on corruption. Based on an extensive review of the literature on corruption in India, this column highlights the underlying factors driving corruption, establishes a classification of corrupt activities, and distills five general principles that should guide future reform efforts.
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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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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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Political distortions in the Indian electricity sector
Thushyanthan Baskaran , Brian Min , Yogesh Uppal
Posted on: 03 Aug 2015

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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Land acquisition Act: Addressing both justice and prosperity
Maitreesh Ghatak , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 29 Jul 2015
Topics:   Land


The Modi government’s land acquisition ordinance did away with the consent and social impact assessment requirements for private projects in certain sectors under UPA’s 2013 land Act. In this article, Ghatak and Ghosh contend that in seeking to eliminate these hurdles, the ordinance puts more weight on prosperity and less on justice. In their view, justice and prosperity need not be irreconcilable objectives.
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Beyond toilets: Improving the sanitation value chain
Sujaya Rathi
Posted on: 21 Jul 2015

Besides access to toilets, proper treatment and disposal of waste is essential for effective sanitation. In this article, Sujaya Rathi - Principal Research Scientist at CSTEP who is currently involved with developing decision-support tool for sanitation - discusses alternate sanitation systems and the importance of adopting a system that is well-suited to the context and needs of particular cities.
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PDS computerisation: What other states can learn from Kerala
Silvia Masiero
Posted on: 06 Jul 2015
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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Religion and health in early childhood: Evidence from South Asia
Elizabeth Brainerd , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 03 Jul 2015
Topics:   Health


The widespread malnutrition of children in South Asia is persistent and troubling. Given the importance of religion in the region, this column examines the relationship between inequalities in child health and religious identity across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It finds a consistent trend of Muslim advantage in infancy, vis-à-vis Hindus, and its reversal after 12 months of age across the three countries.
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Land acquisition, industrialisation, and displaced households
Saumik Paul , Vengadeshvaran J. Sarma
Posted on: 01 Jul 2015

Does industrialisation on acquired land benefit those displaced? Evaluating the long-term livelihood effects of the first Special Economic Zone in the state of West Bengal, this column finds that the impact on displaced households is mixed. While they are more likely to be employed in the industrial zone, their returns to education are lower than that of other households.
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Using science to improve Indian agriculture
Robert S. Zeigler
Posted on: 26 Jun 2015

Five years ago, the Indian government imposed a ‘temporary’ moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal – a genetically modified crop - even after it had passed through the due regulatory processes. In this article, Robert S Zeigler, a plant pathology expert, outlines the benefits of transgenic crops and emphasises the need to expedite their adoption in India.
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Women’s empowerment and child malnutrition in rural India
Samuel Annim , Raghav Gaiha , Katsushi Imai , Veena S. Kulkarni
Posted on: 19 Jun 2015
Topics:   Gender , Health


Research has found mother’s empowerment to have a positive impact on the nutrition status of their children. This column analyses this relationship for data from rural India for the period 1992-2006. Among other factors, it highlights the importance of mother’s education in relation to father’s education in determining children’s nutrition.
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How development affects climate sensitivity of electricity demand in India
Eshita Gupta
Posted on: 20 May 2015

The annual average temperature in India in 2009 was about 0.91°C above the average temperature recorded during the 1961-1990 period. This column analyses the impact of daily weather as well as long-term climate change on electricity demand in India, and how income growth influences this relationship. It shows that the marginal effect of hotter climate on electricity demand is greater when incomes are higher.
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Clicks and editorial decisions: How does popularity shape online news coverage?
Ananya Sen , Pinar Yildirim
Posted on: 18 May 2015
Topics:  


Identifying whether newspaper editors focus on what is ‘newsworthy’ or what is ‘trendy’ when choosing stories is important for the design of media regulation. This column shows how the popularity of an article, reflected by online clicks, influences the coverage of the story. However, this strategy operates differently for ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ news and hence, does not lead to a general decline of the quality of content.
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Encouraging household investment in sanitation
Raymond Guiteras , James Levinsohn , Mushfiq Mobarak
Posted on: 13 May 2015
Topics:   Health


While the detrimental effects of poor sanitation are widely known, there is disagreement about the key barriers to expanding improved sanitation coverage. This column presents results from a field experiment in Bangladesh that designs, implements and tests a range of sanitation marketing strategies. It finds that cost is the primary barrier to adoption, and that investment decisions are interlinked across neighbours.
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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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Responding to external shocks
Ashima Goyal
Posted on: 30 Apr 2015

Following the global financial crisis of 2007-08, the Indian economy was exposed to various shocks. While the major source of shocks was external, the effects were magnified by certain lapses in domestic policy. This column discusses what policies worked and what did not work to reduce excessive rupee volatility, and how the lessons were applied to prepare for any future shocks.
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Making the best out of waste
Sourabh Bhattacharjee , Ujjwal Kumar Sinha
Posted on: 24 Apr 2015

Given rapid urbanisation and the increasing amounts of solid waste generated in India cities, there is a pressing need for effective waste management processes. In this article, Sourabh Bhattacharjee and Ujjwal Sinha, who have been associated with a successful waste management project in Saharanpur, provide an outline of the project and highlight lessons for other Indian cities.
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Analysing net foreign earnings of India’s corporate sector
J. Dennis Rajakumar
Posted on: 22 Apr 2015
Topics:   Trade


The corporate sector is the linchpin of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. This column finds that the sector is increasingly relying on imported inputs and its net foreign earnings are on the decline, thus contributing to the country’s current account deficit. It suggests that ‘Make in India’ should emphasise domestic procurement of inputs and strengthen technological capabilities in the country.
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Can solar micro-grids deliver basic electricity access in Indian villages?
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Apr 2015

About one-third of India´s population remains without access to basic electricity services. This column discusses preliminary lessons from an experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that seeks to set up solar micro-grids in unelectrified habitations. It finds that while the cost of solar power is a potential obstacle to its adoption, the technology does generate substantial benefits in the form of improved lighting and reduced kerosene expenditures.
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Land acquisition debate: The price is not right
Maitreesh Ghatak , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 31 Mar 2015

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 Mar 2015

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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The financial inclusion agenda and Aadhaar
MS Sriram
Posted on: 18 Mar 2015

The central government is pushing financial inclusion in a big way. In this article, MS Sriram discusses the role of identity in financial inclusion, and the importance of Aadhaar in this context. He argues that while Aadhaar has facilitated opening of bank accounts by providing a verifiable identity to the poor, it has distracted the financial inclusion agenda by claiming to be a ‘fix-all’ solution.
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Harnessing India’s wind power potential
Deepthi Swamy
Posted on: 09 Mar 2015

While India’s wind power sector has progressed significantly in the past decade, only about 22% of its potential has been harnessed so far. In this article, Deepthi Swamy - who was part of a team that worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop a framework for the National Wind Energy Mission - discusses the issues faced by the sector, need for a mission-mode approach, and the proposed contours for such a mission.
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Modi’s economic reforms: Foundation laid but time running out
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 27 Feb 2015

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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Enhancing women’s participation in water governance
Priyam Das
Posted on: 25 Feb 2015
Topics:   Gender , Urbanisation


Women’s participation has become a key theme in water and sanitation projects. However, projects that have made provisions for women’s participation have yielded mixed results in terms of the quality of their participation. This column analyses community-managed urban water supply projects in Madhya Pradesh to understand the gap between women’s motivation to participate and their ability to do so, and what can be done to close the gap.
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‘Cry, the Beloved Country’: Mending Punjab’s economy
Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 11 Feb 2015

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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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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Big and small ideas in development economics: Theory, evidence and practice
Kaushik Basu , Karthik Muralidharan
Posted on: 03 Feb 2015

Karthik Muralidharan, Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego speaks with Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India, on the World Bank’s global development agenda; inequality and the design of anti-poverty policies; contribution of recent academic research to development policy; research evidence, political economy and policymaking; State capacity for implementation; and law and economics.
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Droughts and child health
Santosh Kumar , Ramona Molitor , Sebastian Vollmer
Posted on: 27 Jan 2015
Topics:   Health


Research has pointed towards the importance of foetal health in child development. Assessing the impact of rainfall variability on child health, this column finds that exposure to drought in the womb increases the child’s likelihood of being underweight. It suggests that policies aimed at reducing child malnutrition need to start at the beginning of human life, that is, in the womb.
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Teacher accountability and assessment of student learning levels
Anjini Kochar
Posted on: 15 Jan 2015
Topics:   Education


Research has found that holding teachers accountable to the local community has scant impact on student learning. Based on a survey of government schools in Karnataka, this column suggests that this need not signal a failure of local accountability. Rather, the issue is that schools are held accountable for student performance on tests that teachers themselves design and administer, and which do not adequately capture learning.
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An economist’s view on the new government’s initiatives
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 19 Dec 2014
Topics:   Finance


In this article, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, provides his perspective on some of the initiatives of the new Indian government at the centre in their first six months in office – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan Dhan Yojana, ‘Make in India’ campaign, and the proposed changes to MNREGA. In his view, inefficient subsidies must give way to a basic monthly income for all citizens.
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India’s macroeconomic outlook
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 16 Dec 2014

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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Financial inclusion for agricultural growth: An alternative approach
Pushkar Maitra , Sandip Mitra , Dilip Mookherjee , Alberto Motta , Sujata Visaria
Posted on: 08 Dec 2014

Traditional, group-based microcredit has had limited success at enabling farmers to expand the cultivation of risky but profitable cash crops. Evidence suggests that this is mainly because of its mechanisms for borrower selection and enforcement of repayment. This column proposes a new approach that leverages local intermediaries and aligns their incentives with farmer profits, to generate better outcomes for agricultural production and incomes.
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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 Dec 2014

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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Financing sanitation
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 11 Nov 2014
Topics:   Health


The Government of India has set a rather ambitious goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019. For urban areas, this implies providing toilets to about 22 million households. This column contends that it is possible to achieve this goal if the limited public funds are leveraged to facilitate innovative financing mechanisms, through a demand-led scheme for toilets.
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Saving people’s livelihoods
Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 28 Oct 2014
Topics:   Jobs , Agriculture


The new government is seeking to alter the essence of MNREGA based on the premise that it is not useful in its current form. In this article, Sudha Narayanan criticises the move and argues that despite its shortcomings, MNREGA is the best available institutional mechanism to preserve the resource base for food production and build resilience of Indian agriculture.
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Land-shackled - II
Devesh Kapur , T.V. Somanathan , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 22 Oct 2014
Topics:   Land


Rising land scarcity and land market distortions are increasingly becoming a binding constraint on development in India. In their previous article, Kapur, Somanathan and Subramanian diagnosed India’s land problem. In this part, they propose policy reforms for addressing the problem and ensuring that land facilitates rather than impedes development.
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Land-shackled
Devesh Kapur , T.V. Somanathan , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 17 Oct 2014
Topics:   Land


Rising land scarcity and land market distortions are increasingly becoming a binding constraint on development in India. In the first of a two-part series, Kapur, Somanathan and Subramanian diagnose India’s land problem. In the next part, they propose policy reforms for addressing the problem and ensuring that land facilitates rather than impedes development.
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Swachh Bharat Mission: The long walk from rhetoric to implementation
Varad Pande
Posted on: 01 Oct 2014
Topics:   Health


Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to realise the dream of a ‘clean India’ by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In this article, Varad Pande contends that while the renewed rhetoric on sanitation is welcome, the devil will be in the detail. We must learn from past experience and global and Indian best practice, and not repeat the same mistakes.
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The youngest are hungriest
Seema Jayachandran , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 17 Sep 2014
Topics:   Health , Gender


Babies born in India are more likely to be stunted than those in sub-Saharan Africa, even though the former are better off on average. This column examines how the India-Africa height gap varies by birth order within the family and finds that it begins with the second-born and becomes more pronounced with each subsequent baby. Favouritism toward firstborn sons in India explains this trend.
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Left, right, and toilets
Dean Spears
Posted on: 19 Aug 2014
Topics:   Health


Eliminating open defecation in India is a policy priority. This column contends that successful strategies for reducing open defecation may not fit policy stereotypes of the left or the right. While rural sanitation policy in states where this practice is most concentrated has been focused on latrine construction, promotion of latrine use is what will make a difference.
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What the Muslim mortality paradox reveals about importance of sanitation for all children in India
Michael Geruso
Posted on: 18 Aug 2014
Topics:   Health


It has long been noted that in India, Hindu children face substantially higher mortality rates than Muslim children, despite being relatively richer on average. This column shows that differences in latrine use by religion can fully explain this pattern. This phenomenon sheds new light on how the open defecation practices of a household can influence the health of its neighbours.
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Culture, religion and open defecation in rural north India
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 14 Aug 2014
Topics:   Health


Open defecation in rural India is a human development emergency that is causing infant deaths, child stunting, and widespread infectious diseases. This column presents surprising qualitative and quantitative research about why so many people in rural India defecate in the open, even when latrines are available.
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Protectionism under the guise of food security
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 10 Aug 2014
Topics:   Trade , Agriculture


India has backed out of the commitment it made at the WTO negotiations in Bali in November 2013. The implicit explanation is that the government needs to accumulate food grain stocks to provide subsidised grain to the poor and ensure food security. In this article, Kotwal, Murugkar and Ramaswami critique this reasoning and India’s position on the issue.
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Emerging challenges: Economic and social
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 06 Aug 2014
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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How well does DBT work on the ground?
Sweta Trayambak
Posted on: 04 Aug 2014

PM Modi has emphasised fast-tracking roll-out of the Adhaar-based Direct Benefits Transfer programme. In this note, Sweta Trayambak – who has worked with the district administration of Ramgarh in Jharkhand on the roll-out of DBT - highlights the key strengths of the programme, and problems faced in implementation on the ground.
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India’s WTO problem: A proposal
Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 31 Jul 2014
Topics:   Trade , Agriculture


India is threatening to block the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement unless its agricultural policies are exempted from multilateral scrutiny. This article contends that while India’s objectives on agriculture are valid, its tactics in withholding support for TFA are perhaps less so. India should withdraw its opposition, reformulate its position on agriculture to persuade others of its merits, and revisit the WTO issue in the near future.
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Two views on the Budget
Eswar Prasad , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 12 Jul 2014

The Modi government’s first Budget has received a mixed response. Eswar Prasad and Bharat Ramaswami present two distinct views on the Budget. While Prasad is of the opinion that the Budget hits the right notes and emphasises some key policy priorities, Ramaswami believes that a coherent policy and worldview is yet to emerge.
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Keys to successful reform in India
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 09 Jul 2014

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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Financial inclusion of women: Myth or reality?
Deepti KC , Mudita Tiwari
Posted on: 04 Jul 2014
Topics:   Finance , Gender


Research indicates that initiatives targeted at financial inclusion of women have had limited success. This column contends that limited formal ownership of material assets by women and a lack of understanding of their socio-economic and cultural constraints are key explanations. It recommends innovative measures to promote financial inclusion and entrepreneurship among women.
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Putting undernutrition higher on the political agenda in India
Lawrence Haddad
Posted on: 02 Jul 2014
Topics:   Health


In his previous article, Lawrence Haddad contented that globally, we are in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ for ending undernutrition, and maximum effort is required to take advantage of this transformative opportunity. In this part, he discusses how the new government generates a new opportunity to put undernutrition prevention higher on the political agenda in India.
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Ending undernutrition: In clear sight?
Lawrence Haddad
Posted on: 30 Jun 2014
Topics:   Health


The World Health Assembly is targeting a decline of 100 million in the number of stunted under-five children by 2025; a 10% decline in stunting rates in India by 2014 can close a fifth of the gap. This article contents that we are in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ for ending undernutrition, and maximum effort is required to take advantage of this transformative opportunity.
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The Jaitley Budget: Planning for crisis
Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 23 Jun 2014

El Nino can potentially derail the best-laid plans of the new government in India. The article contends that the finance minister would do well to plan his first Budget by attaching a reasonable probability to a food crisis this year. The Budget will need to be as much about creating a basis for successful crisis action later in the year as about launching epochal reforms now.
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Growing through cities in India
Ejaz Ghani , William Kerr , Ishani Tewari
Posted on: 20 Jun 2014

Do cities grow through specialisation or diversity? This column measures specialisation and diversity for the manufacturing and services sectors in India. It finds that Indian districts with a broader set of industries exhibit greater employment growth. This is particularly true for low population densities, rural areas and unorganised sector, reflecting knowledge flow and the inclusive nature of employment growth due to diversity.
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What explains declining calorie consumption in India?
Amit Basole , Deepankar Basu
Posted on: 16 Jun 2014
Topics:   Health


It is puzzling to note that while real household expenditures and incomes in rural India have been on the rise, average calorie intake has declined. Analysing data from the National Sample Survey, this column finds that this is an outcome of a food-budget squeeze; rapidly rising expenses on non-food essentials such as cooking fuel are absorbing all the increases in real total expenditures
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Reconstructing facts in Bt cotton: Why scepticism fails
Ronald Herring
Posted on: 02 Jun 2014

In disputes around Bt cotton, a “triumph narrative” is alleged to have emerged from researchers - mainly economists - catering to vested interests of the biotech industry, its funding and allied journals promoting biotechnology. This column explains why the ‘conspiracy theory’ fails, and then illustrates why the main claims of the peer-reviewed literature demonstrating agro-economic success of Bt cotton are consistent with the near universal adoption of the technology by farmers in India.
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Corporate debt market in India: Issues and challenges
Vaibhav Anand , Rajeswari Sengupta
Posted on: 19 May 2014
Topics:   Finance
Tags:   credit


While it is true that the Indian corporate debt market has transformed itself into a much more vibrant trading field for debt instruments from the elementary market that it was about a decade ago, there is still a long way to go. This column systematically lays down the issues and challenges facing the corporate debt market in India.
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India´s power sector reforms: Who reaped the benefits?
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 02 May 2014
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


The cornerstone of India´s power sector reforms is the 2003 National Electricity Act that limited state intervention in the power sector. This column analyses the effects of the Act on Indian manufacturing firms. It finds that political clout of firms played a key role in the distribution of gains from the reforms in terms of improved electricity supply.
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The nutrition puzzles: Need for more holistic solutions
Uma Lele
Posted on: 28 Apr 2014
Topics:   Health , Agriculture


In this column, the author critiques the approach of only focusing on nutrition and health sector-related solutions for achieving food security. She calls for more holistic approaches that take into account the various contextual factors that influence food and nutrition outcomes for the majority of the undernourished, such as food production and systems, agricultural policies, food and beverage industry, sanitation, and the extent of social inclusion in government programmes and in the society at large.
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Open defecation in cities: A faltering India story
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 23 Apr 2014
Topics:   Health , Urbanisation


Despite significant public investment in urban sanitation, over 37 million people in Indian cities resort to open defecation. This column examines the existing information on open defecation in urban India, and finds that the most important determinant is access to on-premise toilets. Local government leadership, targeted and smart subsidies, stakeholder collaboration and innovative financing options can help increase such access and accelerate elimination of the problem.
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Giving up too early on malnourished children? Catch-up growth and Midday Meals
Abhijeet Singh
Posted on: 14 Apr 2014
Topics:   Health


It is widely believed that malnourishment in the first few years of childhood adversely affects cognition and adult economic outcomes. This column presents new research which shows that full recovery from early malnourishment is possible. Based on data from the state of Andhra Pradesh, it is found that the Midday Meals programme of the Government of India has been successful in compensating for early nutritional deprivation.
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Can MNREGA improve credit worthiness of participating households?
Subhasish Dey
Posted on: 11 Apr 2014

Based on household survey data from West Bengal, this column analyses the impact of MNREGA on economic outcomes of participating households. It finds that the ‘local’, ‘guaranteed’ and ‘government-related’ nature of MNREGA work helps improve credibility of workers with potential lenders such as grocery store owners, if they participate in the programme in a sustained manner. Access to informal credit helps improve consumption.
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How innovations in telecom can promote inclusive growth
Ashima Goyal
Posted on: 28 Mar 2014

Applications of Information and Communications Technology, such as mobile banking, have potential to promote inclusive growth and equity. This column analyses conditions under which innovations in ICT can benefit the less well off, and how such innovations can be expedited. It recommends public provision of supporting infrastructure, focusing on consumer needs and reducing transaction costs for consumers.
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Can a clean energy agenda take off in Delhi?
Marie-Hélène Zérah
Posted on: 19 Mar 2014
Topics:   Environment


Energy transition in cities, through energy conservation measures and increased reliance on renewable energy, has become a key focus of climate change policies. This column outlines the clean energy agenda of the power sector in Delhi, and discusses the endorsement of or resistance to the agenda by public institutions, power distribution companies and users of electricity.
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Direct Benefits Transfer: An idea whose time has come
Varad Pande
Posted on: 14 Mar 2014

About a year ago, the Government of India launched a Direct Benefits Transfer programme that involves transferring government benefits and subsidies directly to residents through a biometric identification system. In this Note from the Field, Varad Pande, a government official who has been closely associated with the roll-out of the programme, reviews its promise and potential.
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What makes cities more competitive in India?
Ejaz Ghani , William Kerr , Stephen D O'Connell
Posted on: 07 Mar 2014
Topics:   Urbanisation


Policymakers in both developed and developing countries want to make cities more competitive, attract new entrepreneurs, boost economic growth, and promote job creation. This column shows that the two most consistent factors that bring entrepreneurs in manufacturing and services to a district in India are its education and quality of local physical infrastructure.
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Why taxing property is essential for local government accountability
Devesh Kapur , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 03 Mar 2014

With rapid decentralisation and urbanisation, wealth is increasingly vested and locked up in land and property in India. In their previous article, Kapur and Subramanian emphasised the importance of direct taxes in ensuring citizen participation in holding the government accountable. In this part, they recommend that the 14th Finance Commission should promote tax decentralisation by incentivising state and local government to increase the property tax net.
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Proposing a solution for Indo-US ‘solar wars’
Saptak Ghosh
Posted on: 28 Feb 2014

India’s national solar programme mandates the use of domestically manufactured components in solar power installations in the country. The US has filed a WTO case against India, alleging that the policy discriminates against US exports. This column proposes a solution that would address the concerns of US as well as create a domestic market for solar products produced in India.
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Taxation´s fatal neglect?
Devesh Kapur , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 14 Feb 2014

Today, the public discourse on government finances in India is largely focused on spending. This article emphasises the importance of taxes, particularly income tax, in ensuring citizen participation in holding the government accountable. It shows that while economic growth in the past decade was faster than in preceding years, expansion of the direct tax net slowed down.
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Does the quality of electricity matter?
Ujjayant Chakravorty , Martino Pelli
Posted on: 10 Feb 2014
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


India is home to almost a quarter of the world population that does not have access to electricity. This column estimates the impact of increased access to and improved quality of electricity on incomes in rural India. It suggests that merely providing grid connections does not enable full realisation of the potential benefits of electricity; high quality power supply is at least as important.
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UID project: Does evidence matter?
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 05 Feb 2014

The Indian government has been pushing to make UID compulsory, and is now moving towards charging for use of authentication services. This article asserts that the three key selling points of UID – corruption control, inclusion and portability – have been achieved in several states in major welfare programmes, by creatively using simpler technology that is free of the hassles attached to UID.
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Sanitation in India: First things first
Jeffrey Hammer
Posted on: 27 Jan 2014
Topics:   Health


Recent research points towards the role of poor sanitation in ill health and stunting. This column demonstrates the negative impact of open defecation habits and poor nutritional status on the height of children in India. It recommends that the government should prioritise sanitation by building infrastructure and spreading awareness, before focusing on providing publicly funded medical care.
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India’s spatial disparities: Have big cities become too congested?
Klaus Desmet , Ejaz Ghani , Stephen D O'Connell , Esteban Rossi-Hansberg
Posted on: 17 Jan 2014
Topics:   Urbanisation


A key driver of the Indian economy is its rapidly growing service sector. This column compares the spatial growth pattern of the sector in India and other countries. It is found that while in US and Europe, the service sector is becoming increasing concentrated in medium-sized locations, high-density locations in India such as Mumbai and Chennai continue to attract more service sector jobs, causing congestion.
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Changing dynamics of the Indian gold market
Misha Sharma
Posted on: 13 Jan 2014

The demand for gold and its import have been on the rise in India, despite rising gold prices. The RBI has responded by introducing various measures to curb the demand for gold and gold loans. This column discusses the implications of these measures, and suggests complementing such curbs with innovative financial products that can act as substitutes for gold loans.
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India's unique crisis – a short term fix
Devesh Kapur , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 20 Dec 2013

While the current turbulence in the Indian economy bears a resemblance to the situation of other emerging economies, it is unique when compared with historical experiences of economic crises. In their previous article, Kapur and Subramanian discussed the misdiagnosis of India’s crisis, and consequent errors in policy remedies. In this part, they outline short-term actions for reversing the growth slowdown, reducing current account deficit and preventing inflation.
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Running out of water, walking away from farming
Ram Fishman
Posted on: 18 Dec 2013

Groundwater tables are falling in India. What will happen when water actually runs out? This column analyses the impact of water scarcity on farmers in Gujarat. It finds that farmers are failing to or choosing not to adapt to the availability of less water. They are forced to shrink cultivation, leave farming or migrate to cities - thereby, reducing food production.
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India's unique crisis
Devesh Kapur , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 16 Dec 2013

While the current turbulence in the Indian economy bears a resemblance to the situation of other emerging economies, it is unique when compared with historical experiences of economic crises. In the first of a two-part article, Kapur and Subramanian discuss the misdiagnoses of India’s crisis, and the consequent errors in policy remedies. In the next part, the authors provide a short-term solution for India’s unique crisis.
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Some reflections on the National Food Security Act
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 10 Dec 2013

The Food Security Bill became an Act with little parliamentary opposition. Yet the public debate has lingered. Would subsidised food grains reduce malnutrition? Won’t it be better to invest in health and education instead? Can we afford the cost of subsidising food for such a large chunk of the population? Should we continue to waste money on the flawed PDS system? How will the grain markets be affected? This column offers a perspective on these important questions.
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What is mitigating a financial crisis in India?
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 08 Nov 2013

The recent turmoil in the currency market and the general slowdown in growth in India are disturbing. However, India has by and large performed better in terms of macro-financial stability as compared to many parts of the world. This column discusses the problems confronting policymakers, and current policy responses and associated costs, and suggests alternative policies.
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The new land law: Are the states up to the challenge?
Ram Singh
Posted on: 25 Oct 2013
Topics:   Land


In the third part of the land law debate, Ram Singh asserts that the Act is biased against projects of state governments, and emphasises the need for states to undertake long overdue land reforms. He suggests amending the Act such that Public Private Partnerships and private companies are clearly distinguished, and there is no scope for strategic manipulations during the acquisition process.
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The Land Acquisition Act is deeply flawed
Maitreesh Ghatak , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 23 Oct 2013
Topics:   Land


In the second part of the Land Acquisition Act debate, Ghatak and Ghosh argue that the legislation is ill-conceived and falls short on several counts. They contend that the formula for compensation is arbitrary, and recommend holding large-scale land auctions to discover the true value of land. They contradict Pande’s point that the Act strikes a fine balance between industrialists and farmers.
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A second debate on the Land Acquisition Act
Varad Pande
Posted on: 21 Oct 2013
Topics:   Land


Of all the recently enacted parliamentary legislations, none is more important for industrial investment and growth than the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. We have already had a debate on this Bill before it became an Act. The series of three articles we are featuring this week, though not presented in the form of a debate as previously done, present arguments on different sides of the same issue. In effect, it is a debate – our second debate on the Act. The first article below by Varad Pande (Ministry of Rural Development) lays out the motivation for the Act and defends its provisions as a balanced trade-off. The two articles that follow: one by Parikshit Ghosh (Delhi School of Economics) and Maitreesh Ghatak (London School of Economics) and another by Ram Singh (Delhi School of Economics), raise some questions about its provisions. We are hoping that the series will lead to further exchange clarifying the arguments on both sides.
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JNNURM and environmental sustainability
Kavita Wankhade
Posted on: 30 Sep 2013

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was launched in 2005 as India’s urban flagship programme to close investment gaps in urban infrastructure, and to implement reforms for better urban management. This column assesses the extent to which sustainability concerns are addressed by the programme, and makes recommendations in this regard.
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Migrating out of poverty: The role of finance
Meghana Ayyagiri , Thorsten Beck , Mohammad Hoseini
Posted on: 13 Sep 2013

Financial liberalisation has been controversial as it is not clear whom the expanded credit allocation actually benefits. Using variation across time and states in India, this column finds strong evidence that financial deepening reduces rural poverty, especially among the self-employed. Financial deepening is also found to be associated with an inter-state migration trend from rural areas into the tertiary sector in urban areas.
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The unintended child health consequences of the Green Revolution in India
Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 09 Sep 2013
Topics:   Health , Agriculture


While the Green Revolution in India greatly enhanced agricultural production, the enhanced use of fertilisers led to the contamination of surface and ground water. This column analyses the impact of fertiliser agrichemicals in water on infant and child health. It is found that exposure of mothers to these contaminants in the month after conception increases the chances of infant death within a month of birth, and also has long-lasting negative effects on child health.
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In pursuit of low-carbon electricity
Ashwini Kumar Swain
Posted on: 06 Sep 2013
Topics:   Environment


The policy debate on low-carbon energy often tends to focus solely on setting targets. This column argues that the State’s capacity to meet targets and the strategies followed to build the required capacity are equally important. Meeting the targets requires creative manoeuvres such as involving and incentivising market players to participate.
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Monkeying with the rupee
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 04 Sep 2013

In this article, Debraj Ray discusses the sharp depreciation of the rupee and the ongoing outflow of foreign capital from India. Further, he refutes claims that the costs associated with the Food Security Bill are having a negative impact on the Indian currency.
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On tackling child malnutrition
Prakarsh Singh
Posted on: 30 Aug 2013
Topics:   Health


Is it the lack of information on nutrition given to mothers, or the lack of child care worker motivation that makes child malnutrition persist? This column cites results from a study undertaken in the slums of Chandigarh in North India to investigate this question. The findings suggest that that offering performance pay to child care workers is likely to be ineffective unless mothers have nutritional information available to them.
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Is there public support for higher electricity prices in India?
Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 23 Aug 2013
Topics:   Infrastructure


Even though India´s power sector does not generate enough electricity to meet the rapidly growing demand, policymakers hesitate to increase tariffs due to popular opposition. This column discusses results from a survey experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that shows that providing people with information about the relationship between low electricity tariffs and inadequate generation has a significantly positive effect on public support for higher prices. However, privatisation is unpopular, as people have a strong preference for state control of the power sector.
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Why are children in India so short?
Sangita Vyas
Posted on: 19 Aug 2013
Topics:   Health


Several scholars across disciplines provide converging evidence of the key role of open defecation in explaining child stunting in India. This column summarises the key themes of a recent conference at the Delhi School of Economics on child height in India.
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I4I turns 1!
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 06 Aug 2013
Topics:  
Tags:   I4Iturns1


Foreign investors under stress: Evidence from India
Ila Patnaik , Ajay Shah , Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 19 Jul 2013

Emerging market policymakers are concerned about the effects of foreign portfolio flows on financial stability. This column focuses on the behaviour of investors in extreme events, allowing for the possibility that what happens under stressed market conditions may differ from day-to-day outcomes. The findings for India suggest that while on good days, foreign investors exacerbate the boom by bringing in additional capital, no significant effects are found on very bad days in the local economy.
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The role of Bt cotton in improving food security
Shahzad Kouser , Matin Qaim
Posted on: 24 Jun 2013
Topics:   Agriculture


The role of genetically modified crops in the fight against hunger remains disputed. The debate primarily focuses on whether or not these crops can contribute to sustainable increases in food production. However, food security is not only a question of production, but also of economic and social access to food. This column summarises research showing that the adoption of genetically modified cotton has improved food security among Indian smallholder farmers.
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A case for including migrants’ remittances in inter-state comparisons
Chinmay Tumbe
Posted on: 21 Jun 2013
Topics:   Economic Growth


Gross State Domestic Product, a widely used measure to compare incomes across states in India, does not include migrants’ remittances. This column argues that remittances have a bearing on drawing valid inter-state comparisons, especially for high-remittance receiving states like Kerala, Punjab and Goa, and on deliberations on fiscal federalism.
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Does caste influence access to agricultural loans in rural India?
Sunil Mitra Kumar
Posted on: 03 Jun 2013
Tags:   credit


Increasing access to agricultural credit in rural India is a major policy priority. This column examines whether farmers’ access to formal agricultural loans depends on their caste. It is found that while commercial banks do not discriminate against lower caste farmers in lending, cooperative banks do as they are prone to interest-group capture at the local level.
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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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The Golden Quadrilateral: Highway to success
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 10 May 2013
Topics:   Infrastructure


The Golden Quadrilateral, which connects four major cities in India, is the fifth-longest highway in the world. This column presents research that finds that by improving connectivity, the highway has helped with the efficient distribution of industries across locations. It has facilitated the shift of land and building intensive industries from the core to peripheries of cities, and has made medium-sized cities more attractive locations for manufacturing activity.
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The Land Acquisition Bill
Participants: Pranab Bardhan , Shri Vallabh Goyal , Dilip Mookherjee , Abhirup Sarkar
Posted on: 26 Apr 2013
Topics:   Land


Will the new Land Acquisition Bill make protests like those in Singur and Bhatta-Parsaul a thing of the past? Will it make land acquisition so expensive and difficult that the pace of industrialisation will suffer? Will it achieve justice? Development? Neither? Experts from academia and industry examine a piece of legislation that is likely to have far reaching consequences for the future of the country.
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Long term recovery of the Indian economy depends on reforms
Sarah Chan
Posted on: 24 Apr 2013

The Indian economy has been facing challenges in the form of sluggish growth, high inflation, and rising fiscal and current account deficits. This column highlights trends in the economic conditions, and outlines policy actions and reforms needed to put the economy back on track.
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Electricity demand in urban Indian households: Influencing consumer behaviour
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 08 Apr 2013
Tags:   electricity


The huge and fast growing urban middle class of India uses a significant amount of electricity at their homes. This column argues that there is a need to focus on managing demand of electricity, and demonstrates how social norms can be used to encourage households to consume less electricity.
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Why India should not further delay a credit line from the IMF
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 03 Apr 2013

India is expected to run a current account deficit of more than 4% of its GDP this year. At the moment this can be paid for with money coming in from abroad – but what if the flow of money were to suddenly stop? This column argues that India should not further delay a credit line from the IMF.
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Two questions about the 2G scandal
Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 25 Mar 2013
Topics:   Corruption


The scandal involving corruption in the allocation of 2G licenses left the nation stunned. This column presents estimates of the revenue loss to the government, and says that while the common man was affected indirectly as social spending may have been reduced due to the losses, there was no direct negative impact on the telecom market in terms of lower quality of services or higher prices.
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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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Property rights and technology transfer: Evidence from developing countries
Sunil Kanwar
Posted on: 01 Mar 2013

The transfer of technology to poorer countries is essential for development. This column asks how this process is affected by intellectual property rights and whether the data can provide some policy insights.
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Child stunting and open defecation: How much of the South Asian height “enigma” is a toilet gap?
Dean Spears
Posted on: 18 Feb 2013
Topics:   Health


Children in India are shorter on average than children in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though Indians are richer on average. What explains this paradox? This column suggests open defecation as a possible explanation, and recommends that policymakers in India should work towards achieving widespread latrine use.
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Is India’s manufacturing sector moving out of cities?
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 15 Feb 2013
Topics:   Urbanisation


While urbanisation is moving ahead at a rapid pace in India, industrialisation has slowed down. What explains this disconnect between urbanisation and infrastructure? This column presents results of a study that suggests that the formal manufacturing sector is moving from urban to rural locations, and the informal sector is moving from rural to urban locations.
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Use of technology to improve public service delivery
Chandrasekhar Bhuyan , Animesh Ghosh , Kshovan Guha , Dipti Paridhi Kindo , Priyanka Kumari , Ankush Singh , Sushma Taywade , Sweta Trayambak
Posted on: 06 Feb 2013

How is technology being used to improve public service delivery at the grass root level? In this Note from the Field, the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows that are working with district administrations across the country, share their experiences.
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Capital controls in India: Did they work?
Ila Patnaik , Ajay Shah
Posted on: 21 Jan 2013

Are capital controls the right way to manage an economy? This column looks at what we can learn from India’s experience, where capital controls have never been fully dismantled.
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Economic policy agenda for India in 2013
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 02 Jan 2013

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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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: is it working?
Participants: Jean Drèze , Ashwini Kulkarni , Neelakshi Mann , Varad Pande , Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 29 Nov 2012

MNREGA is one of the government´s largest flagship schemes, and is the largest job creation programme of its kind in the world. Supporters believe that it is necessary to help rural workers smooth income in times of distress and increase labour market access for marginalised groups, whereas critics argue that it is taking labour from the troubled agricultural sector and doing more harm than good. What does the evidence really tell us - is MNREGA working or would resources be better spent elsewhere?
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The political economies of land acquisition
Sanjoy Chakravorty
Posted on: 17 Oct 2012

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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Child malnutrition in India and what can be done about it
Pushkar Maitra , Anu Rammohan
Posted on: 15 Oct 2012

While many things are getting better in India, the disturbing levels of child malnutrition are hardly changing. This column explores why and asks what can be done. It calls for more conditional cash transfers to poor rural families and better education on how to feed their children.
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Cutting delays in MNREGA wages
Saloni Chopra , Reetika Khera
Posted on: 10 Oct 2012

Officials in charge of paying MNREGA wages in the state of Andhra Pradesh can now expect to receive fines if there are delays. This column shows how this move was made possible by a simple automated system, how effective it has been, and how the rest of India should follow suit.
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Child malnutrition: Why wealth isn’t the only problem
Nisha Malhotra
Posted on: 08 Oct 2012
Topics:   Education , Health


Why does child malnutrition persist in India? This column argues that the reason is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of knowledge about healthy nutrition plays a vital role.
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On ideology
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 12 Sep 2012
Topics:  


In recent debates over issues such as the National Food Security Bill or the use of the Unique Identification, we seem to find people with similar values in opposing ideological camps. This editorial seeks to understand why that might be, and argues that we should steer clear of misidentifying the mechanics of achieving certain goals as fundamental ideological differences.
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Developing a Land Acquisition Policy for India
Maitreesh Ghatak , Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 05 Sep 2012
Topics:   Land


The Land Acquisition Bill is a key piece of legislation under consideration in the Indian Parliament. This column argues that the current policy on compensating landowners, as proposed in the Bill, is misguided and could adversely affect the pace and character of future growth in India. It draws lessons from economic theory as well as the failed land acquisition experience in Singur to propose a workable model for determining appropriate compensation for land acquisition.
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The value of land administration information for financial development
Aparajita Goyal
Posted on: 28 Aug 2012
Topics:   Land , Finance


While the effect of improved property rights on economic development has been extensively studied, the specific relationship between better land administration information and improved credit access is understudied. This column uses evidence to demonstrate that the computerisation of land registries reduces the cost of lending and can result in expanded access to credit for urban borrowers. It lists certain factors that can dilute these positive effects and argues that these need to be managed.
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Measuring India’s Capital Control Regime
Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 23 Aug 2012

India’s policies on international capital flows are extremely complex, in part due to the absence of a consensus on the value of capital account controls. This column argues that the tools for measuring the implementation of the policy need to be revisited, and presents new evidence to suggest that India’s capital account has been liberalised – without leading to economic disaster.
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Multi-dimensional deprivation in India: Comparisons with China and Vietnam
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 03 Aug 2012
Topics:   Health


While several studies have compared India with China on economic measures such as GDP per capita, this column looks at a measure of people’s deprivation across a wide range of indicators. It finds India lagging behind in several dimensions, particularly on children’s health.
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A national shame: Hunger and malnutrition in India
Anil Deolalikar
Posted on: 23 Jul 2012

One area where India’s development falls desperately short is nutrition. Child malnutrition rates are higher in India than in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. This column argues that there can be no excuses. Policymakers need to better understand the reasons behind this ‘national shame’ and need to start doing something about it.
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Land acquisition: Is there a way out?
Maitreesh Ghatak , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 16 Jul 2012
Topics:   Land


India is hungry for space to grow into a developed economy. Yet this hunger is increasingly raiding farmland and threatening traditional livelihoods. For some, this is a necessary evil, for others it is unjustified exploitation. This column argues that the debate need not be so stark and that politicians, policymakers and the public need to see that another way is possible.
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