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

Tag: US

Give women credit
Erica Field , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 23 Nov 2017
Topics:   Finance , Gender


Since its inception in the 1970s microfinance has emerged as an important tool to support livelihoods among those who lack access to traditional banking services, though the method has its critics. Erica Field and Rohini Pande carried out a series of experiments in India that have given insights into ways microfinance can be refined to strengthen its beneficial impact for the world’s poorest women.
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Rags to riches? Understanding social mobility in India
Vegard Iversen , Anirudh Krishna , Kunal Sen
Posted on: 13 Nov 2017

To what extent is an individual’s status in society determined by the position of his or her parents? Analysing data from the Indian Human Development Survey, 2011-2012, this column finds that the probability of large intergenerational, occupational ascents in India is very low, and in fact, many face high risk of downward mobility.
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Purchasing power parity: Some concerns
Gurbachan Singh
Posted on: 04 Sep 2017

In this article, Dr Gurbachan Singh discusses how it may be problematic to make international comparisons using PPP that is based on observed prices, and why effective prices should be used instead.
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Financial inclusion: Concepts, issues, and policies for India
Nalini Gulati , Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 17 Aug 2017
Topics:   Finance


The International Growth Centre recently brought out a synthesis paper (Singh 2017) that lays out the basic concepts surrounding financial inclusion, and reviews a wide range of IGC and other studies on financial inclusion. At a workshop organised by the IGC in collaboration with Ideas for India and Indian Statistical Institute, Rohini Pande (Harvard Kennedy School), S. Krishnan (State government of Tamil Nadu), Ashok Bhattacharya (Business Standard), and R Gopalan (ex-Ministry of Finance) discussed the key lessons emerging from research, implications for policy, and areas where further work is needed.
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Post demonetisation: Is digital finance in India’s future?
Anit Mukherjee , Divyanshi Wadhwa
Posted on: 16 Aug 2017

Analysing RBI data from June 2017 – six months after demonetisation was announced on 9 November 2016 – Mukherjee and Wadhwa show that reliance on cash has reverted to pre-demonetisation levels, and the sharp increases in digital transactions did not sustain. While consumers don’t seem ready to give up cash just yet, the experience proves that the digital financial ecosystem of India is in good health.
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Should emerging markets worry about US monetary policy announcements?
Poonam Gupta , Oliver Masetti , David Rosenblatt
Posted on: 03 Aug 2017

Emerging economies are routinely affected by monetary policy announcements in the US. This column finds that US monetary policy surprises have a significant impact on emerging economies’ exchange rates, equity prices, and bond yields. The impact is larger for surprise tightening of policy than for surprise easing, and disproportionately larger for large surprises. The spillover effects of policy announcements of other advanced economies are much weaker than those of the US.
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Language and development
David D. Laitin , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 05 Jul 2017

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

For developing countries, it is difficult to find income mobility studies that rely on datasets linking parents with their children. Using a panel dataset spanning 1994-2012, this column presents improved estimates of intergenerational income mobility in rural India, which is found to be higher than analogous evidence from other developing countries. While India is progressing towards cross-caste equality, it is at a disappointingly slow rate.
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Economic benefits of transportation infrastructure: Historical evidence from India and America
Dave Donaldson
Posted on: 21 Jun 2017
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   transport , US


Significant public finance is devoted to transportation infrastructure, the economic benefits of which are often unclear. This column analyses two major railroad projects in India and US in the 19th century. It finds that the economic gains from transportation infrastructure can be substantial, and the true economic impact may not be known until years after a project is completed.
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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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Inequality and economics: Tony Atkinson’s enduring lessons
Andrea Brandolini
Posted on: 25 Apr 2017

Sir Tony Atkinson, the doyen of inequality economics, passed away in January. This article, by a longstanding friend and co-author, outlines his contributions to the analysis and measurement of inequality – and many other areas of economics, including taxation, social protection, and the welfare State. The ultimate goal of Atkinson’s research was to translate economic analysis into policy actions: economics is a tool for understanding the world and taking informed decisions on policies, but economists must strive to communicate their results beyond the narrow circles of decision-makers, making them accessible for public discussion.
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Smart policy for women’s economic empowerment in South Asia
Nalini Gulati , Jennifer Johnson
Posted on: 18 Apr 2017
Topics:   Gender , Jobs


In this article, Jennifer Johnson and Nalini Gulati highlight the different trajectories of women’s economic empowerment across South Asia, based on a recent policy dialogue hosted by Evidence for Policy Design.

Tweet using #womenandwork

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Income inequality in a globalising world
Miguel Niño-Zarazúa , Laurence Roope , Finn Tarp
Posted on: 17 Feb 2017

Since the turn of the century, income inequality has risen to be among the most prominent policy issues of our time. This column looks at inequality trends in recent decades. While relative global inequality has fallen, insufficient economic convergence, together with substantial growth in per capita incomes, has resulted in increased absolute inequality since the mid-1970s. The inclusivity aspect of growth is now more imperative than ever.
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An economist’s view on recent domestic and world events
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 31 Jan 2017

Dilip Mookherjee spoke to Hindu Business Line at length on a variety of issues including demonetisation, the upcoming Budget, and the Trump Presidency’s impact on the world economy.
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Assessing the impact of demonetisation through the gender lens
Mitali Nikore
Posted on: 04 Jan 2017

In this article, Mitali Nikore, Senior Consultant at PwC India, highlights how demonetisation is impacting women differentially, and offers policy suggestions on how the negative effects can be mitigated.
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Policymaking in the ‘grey zone’?
Prerna Mukharya
Posted on: 17 Nov 2016

Prerna Mukharya, Founder of Outline India – a social enterprise that focuses on data collection, impact assessments and evaluation studies, predominantly working with rural populations in remote areas – discusses the impact of the currency ban on their work.
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What do we know about the wealthy in India? A pre-liberalisation analysis
Rishabh Kumar
Posted on: 26 Oct 2016

Academic attention on the metamorphosis and concentration of wealth has so far excluded poor countries. This column analyses wealth distribution in India, post-independence and pre-liberalisation. It finds that during this period of modest economic growth, the importance of the elite, especially the top 0.01%, declined quite dramatically relative to national income.
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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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Should the rupee trade with Russia be revived?
Pronab Sen
Posted on: 20 Jun 2016
Topics:   Trade
Tags:   Russia


The issue of revival of the bilateral rupee-denominated trade between India and Russia is back on the table after a break of over 20 years. This column contends that while there is justification for India’s hesitancy in reviving this trade, the prevailing conditions are such that it makes eminent sense for both sides - provided appropriate precautions are taken.
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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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Caste quotas in politics and development outcomes
Francesca R. Jensenius
Posted on: 14 Apr 2016

To guarantee the political inclusion of the historically marginalised groups, electoral quotas have been in place for them in India since 1950. Analysing the constituency-level impact of quotas for Scheduled Castes in state assemblies, this column finds no detectable effects on overall development or redistribution to Scheduled Castes during 1971-2000. However, these quotas have had several important positive effects beyond development.
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Achieving financial inclusion: Going cashless
Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay
Posted on: 06 Apr 2016
Topics:   Finance


A World Bank survey reveals that while about half of all individuals in India had bank accounts in 2014, only 12% had made a cashless transaction in the past year. In this article, Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Economics and Finance at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, contends that cashless transactions can be encouraged by ensuring that payments – beyond government transfers - are made directly into the bank accounts of recipients.
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How doorstep banking increased savings and income in Sri Lanka
Michael Callen , Suresh de Mel , Craig McIntosh , Christopher Woodruff
Posted on: 30 Mar 2016

Recent findings in development economics indicate that microloans are likely to perform best when accompanied by financial education, insurance, and savings products. This column presents evidence from an experiment in Sri Lanka, which involved offering saving accounts with door-to-door deposit collection services to otherwise unbanked rural households. It suggests that the programme incentivised participants to increase savings by increasing their income.
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Increasing economic divide within backward castes
Ashish Singh
Posted on: 28 Mar 2016

While the high level of socioeconomic inequality between the forward and backward caste groups in India is well documented, there is little research on inequalities within the backward caste groups. This column finds that economic divide within Scheduled Castes and within Scheduled Tribes has been on the rise over the past three decades.
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Financial inclusion for the poor: Using RCTs for effective programme design
Ruchira Bhattamishra
Posted on: 06 Jan 2016
Topics:   Finance


While the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana – the Indian government’s flagship financial inclusion scheme - is impressive in its mission, it does not seem to have achieved meaningful results so far. In this article, Ruchira Bhattamishra, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Development Research, Sustainability and Technical Advancement, makes a case for the use of the Randomised Controlled Trial methodology for impact evaluation to gather credible evidence on the effectiveness of pilot financial programmes/particular components of programmes, before the government invests heavily in scaling them up.
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How US interest rates influence the world economy
Eswar Prasad
Posted on: 23 Dec 2015
Topics:   Global Economy
Tags:   US


For the first time in nearly a decade, the US Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points. In this article, Eswar Prasad, the Tolani Senior Professor of Trade and Policy at Cornell University, explores the potential impact of this move on the rest of the world. In his view, India is well positioned to weather the effects, as the economy still has growth momentum and room to tolerate some currency depreciation without adverse domestic consequences.
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When higher volatility is good news
Rudrani Bhattacharya , Ila Patnaik
Posted on: 16 Dec 2015
Topics:   Finance


Conventional wisdom suggests that access to financial services such as banks and bond markets, providing savings and borrowing instruments, allows smoothing consumption over lifetime, irrespective of income fluctuations. Yet, India and other emerging economies have witnessed an increase in consumption volatility relative to income volatility after financial sector development. This column argues that large permanent income shocks in emerging economies explain this puzzle.
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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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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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Income inequality in India: Trends from the World Top Incomes Database
Amit Basole
Posted on: 31 Aug 2015

Given the lack of reliable wage or asset data, tax returns-based World Top Incomes Database is important for measuring income and wealth inequalities. Analysing the India series of the database, this column find that starting in the 1980s average incomes grew faster than ever before, but that most of the gains went to the super rich. The trends mirror massive shifts in Indian political economy during that period.
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Moving beyond the growth-versus-redistribution debate
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 14 Aug 2015

The two dominant narratives on the state of the Indian economy – one centred on growth and the other on poverty – are in a constant state of conflict. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, argues that we need to move beyond the stale growth-versus-redistribution debate and focus on economic mobility through investments in human capital.
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Inclusive finance for inclusive growth: A gender perspective
Vigneshwara Swamy
Posted on: 31 Jul 2015

While research has established that financial inclusion programmes lead to economic upliftment of poor families owing to the participation of women, the evidence on the impact of such programmes on women empowerment is mixed. Based on a household survey data in India, this column finds that female-headed households that participate in financial inclusion programmes gain more in terms of economic well-being, vis-à-vis male-headed households.
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Do ruling coalition-affiliated MLAs bring more development to their constituencies?
Samuel Asher , Paul Novosad
Posted on: 22 Jun 2015

Despite the dismantling of the License Raj in the 1990s, interaction with government officials remains an important impediment to doing business in India. This column analyses the role of politics in determining which regions succeed and fail, and finds that MLAs from ruling parties make it easier for firms to do business in their constituencies. They do so not by providing public goods, but by helping firms clear bureaucratic hurdles that would otherwise hinder their operations.
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A symposium on Piketty - II: Capitalist dynamics and the plutocrats
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 17 Jun 2015

In the last part of the series on Piketty, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, discusses the implications for further study that Piketty’s book has for developing countries such as India. He emphasises the need for collecting more serious information on wealth ownership in India.
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A symposium on Piketty – I: Nit-Piketty
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 15 Jun 2015

In this part of the series on Piketty, Debraj Ray, Professor of Economics, New York University, attempts to clear the confusion caused by the theoretical discussion in Piketty’s book.
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A symposium on Piketty: Introduction
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 15 Jun 2015

Thomas Piketty’s book on ´Capital in the Twenty First Century’ has made waves. The fact that a 700-odd page tome full of numbers and graphs can become an international bestseller is itself noteworthy. It may be a testament to the concern that people have over the growing inequality within developed countries. What is startling is its claim that the developed world may be gravitating to the pattern of wealth distribution based on inheritance that characterised the pre-modern world. The contribution this book has made in putting together historical data that clearly indicate the trend of growing inequality is truly monumental. However, the notion that the crux of the matter is the fact that the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of income growth may be confusing even to well-trained economists. Our motivation in putting together this symposium on Piketty’s book is to clarify the ideas in this important book on the burning issue of the day – ‘growing inequality’.
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Barriers to basic banking in India
Camille Boudot , A.J. Mowl
Posted on: 29 May 2015
Topics:   Finance


The Indian government is promoting the Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile banking – or the “JAM trinity” — as the pathway to financial inclusion. But are banks capable or even willing take on their role in this ambitious agenda? Based on a field study in Chennai, this column highlights the range of costs and constraints imposed by banks on customers attempting to enter the formal financial sector.
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Impact of American FDI in India

Posted on: 15 May 2015
Topics:   Finance


The United States is one of India’s largest trade and investment partners. This column discusses the impact of American FDI in India in terms of direct effects such as job creation, exports and technology transfers, as well as indirect effects like spillovers from R&D and adoption of best practices. It also highlights challenges faced by American firms while investing in India.
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The crisis of farmer suicides
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 04 May 2015

More than 15,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide per year, on average, in the last two decades – a suicide rate that appears to be higher than that of the general population. In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak emphasises the need to think of farmer suicides as a policy problem, rather than tragedy, and to deliberate on the causes and remedies.
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Can bank account-based payments boost savings?
Vincent Somville , Lore Vandewalle
Posted on: 06 Apr 2015
Topics:   Finance


?The Finance Ministry plans to focus on mobilising savings in the next phase of PMJDY, the financial inclusion scheme. This column presents results from an experiment in Chhattisgarh, which tests whether the method of payment of wages and other transfers affects household finances. It finds that people that are paid through their bank account save more than those that are paid in cash.
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Why do so few women in India work?
Piritta Sorsa
Posted on: 27 Mar 2015

Only about a third of working-age women in India have jobs. This column analyses the determinants of women’s participation in the labour market in India and finds that factors such as family income, cultural norms and gender wage gap play an important role. It suggests that raising female labour force participation could boost economic growth by up to 2 percentage points.
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Transit networks and regional development in India
Gaurav Khanna
Posted on: 26 Mar 2015
Topics:   Infrastructure


Recent research illustrates the immediate positive effects of transit networks in India on rural employment, manufacturing growth and so on. This column focuses on the long-term impact of national highways and shows that they gave rise to a dynamic pattern of regional development over time. Regions along the highways were the first to develop, after which economic activity spread to their neighbours, and then to their neighbours’ neighbours.
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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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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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Why the World Bank’s International Comparison Program has limited use for India
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 20 Feb 2015

Preliminary results from the World Bank’s International Comparison Program, which seeks to compare the economies of 199 countries across the globe, were released recently. In this article, Ranjan Ray, Professor of Economics, Monash University, highlights several features of the exercise that limits its usefulness for a diverse country such as India, and makes recommendations for the next round.
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Financial literacy: When, what and how
Parul Agarwal
Posted on: 05 Jan 2015

The need for financial literacy and its importance for financial inclusion have been widely recognised. Based on various research studies on financial literacy initiatives, this column outlines financial services’ needs of a poor household at various stages of its life cycle. It contends that customising financial literacy programmes according to the stage of life of targeted individuals is crucial for their effectiveness.
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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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From tapering to tightening: The impact of the Fed’s exit on India
Kaushik Basu , Barry Eichengreen , Poonam Gupta
Posted on: 27 Nov 2014
Tags:   US


India was among the hardest hit by the Fed’s ‘taper talks’. This column argues that this impact was large for two reasons. First, India received huge capital flows before. This had made it a convenient target for investors seeking to rebalance away from emerging markets. Second, macroeconomic conditions had worsened, which rendered the economy vulnerable. The measures adopted in response were ineffective in stabilising the financial markets. Implementing a medium-term framework that limits vulnerabilities and restricts spillovers could be more successful.
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Challenges and priorities for financial sector reform in India
K.P. Krishnan , Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 17 Nov 2014

I4I Editor Nirvikar Singh (Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz) interviews K.P. Krishnan (Former Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance) on the central government’s plans and priorities for financial sector reform, and associated challenges. Dr Krishnan provides his perspective on issues including the regulatory architecture, financial inclusion initiatives, strengthening the banking system, and infrastructure financing.
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Do location-based incentives promote industrialisation?
Ritam Chaurey
Posted on: 23 Sep 2014

In a bid to industrialise the relatively under-industrialised states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the government implemented a tax incentive and capital subsidy scheme in the two states in 2003. This column finds the policy change led to new business creation and growth of existing firms in these states, most of which was not at the cost of neighbouring regions.
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What impedes SMEs from joining Asian supply chains?
Ganeshan Wignaraja
Posted on: 01 Sep 2014
Topics:   Jobs , Trade


While Small and Medium Enterprises play a significant role in job creation at the country level in Asia, they are underrepresented in Asian supply chains. This column analyses data from 5,900 manufacturing enterprises from five Southeast Asian economies - Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam - to assess the extent of and constraints on SME participation in Asian supply chains.
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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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The challenge of fulfilling aspirations
Ashok Kotwal
Posted on: 15 Jul 2014

This year’s election is a watershed in Indian history. This editorial discusses possible reasons for the stunning defeat of the previous government. While there is no denying that the previous government could be faulted for many things including creating a leadership vacuum and letting corruption go unchecked, the knockout blow came from its inability to reform the institutions that are responsible for fulfilling legitimate aspirations of the masses. What should the central government do?

Ashok Kotwal will be moderating a Panel Discussion on “Emerging Challenges: Economic and Social” between Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) and Mukul Kesavan (Jamia Milia) on 16th July, 6-8 pm, Le Meridien Hotel, New Delhi.

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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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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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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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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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Understanding India’s unbalanced growth
Chetan Ghate , Peter Robertson
Posted on: 03 Feb 2014
Topics:   Economic Growth


Growing regional disparities in India are a cause for concern. But little is known about the relative importance of possible reasons for the varied growth experiences across the country. This column explores growth imbalances among Indian districts. Proximity to cities, infrastructure, degree of urbanisation and state government policies are found to be key determinants.
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Expanding productive employment in India
Mahendra Dev
Posted on: 20 Jan 2014
Topics:   Economic Growth , Jobs


While India’s relatively high growth has not entirely been ‘jobless’, employment generation has been low, and mostly in the form of informal jobs. This column examines the employment experience of India, and says that the current thinking of Indian policymakers on employment is in line with the post-2015 global development agenda. The focus is on skill development, worker productivity and social protection.
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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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Economists on the wrong foot
Ashish Kothari , Aseem Shrivastava
Posted on: 11 Sep 2013

This article asserts that the Sen-Bhagwati debate misses out two crucial elements – communities as agents of development, and ecological sustainability. It emphasises the importance of community empowerment, and backing community initiatives through state policies.
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Getting India wrong
Partha Dasgupta
Posted on: 12 Aug 2013

In this article, Partha Dasgupta argues that deliberations on economic development, as in the recently published books by Bhagwati-Panagariya and Dreze-Sen respectively, are of little instrumental use if they ignore the role that high population growth and environmental destruction play in the persistence of poverty.
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Star Wars
Debraj Ray
Posted on: 05 Aug 2013

Debraj Ray gets to the heart of the growth versus redistribution debate and argues that a sectoral imbalance in growth is inevitable. While occupational choice is an important way to deal with this, it is slow and imprecise. Action on the part of the government may be critical to even things out.
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Economic growth versus social development: The spatial dimension
Ranjan Ray
Posted on: 31 Jul 2013

In the context of the economic growth versus social development debate sparked off by Bhagwati and Sen, this column argues for a more nuanced approach to assessing progress. Combining nationally representative data on expenditure and social indicators for the different states in India, it explores the spatial dimension of the country’s economic development.
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What explains the steep poverty decline in India from 2004 to 2011?
Ashok Kotwal , Pronab Sen
Posted on: 29 Jul 2013

Ashok Kotwal, Editor-in-Chief, Ideas for India, interviews Pronab Sen on the recent poverty figures that show a steep decline in poverty in India between 2004 and 2011. According to him, the shift in terms of trade in favour of agriculture and higher rural wages accelerated the trickle down of the fast economic growth to the poor.
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Food Bill: Neither populist nor unaffordable
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 19 Jun 2013

Criticism of the National Food Security Bill has led to the government dropping the idea of issuing an Ordinance and instead, saying it would try to get the Bill passed in a special session of Parliament. This article addresses some of the key questions raised by critics of the Bill.
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US-China relations: Role reversal will slow climate change
Aaditya Mattoo , Arvind Subramanian
Posted on: 23 Jan 2013
Topics:   Environment


This column proposes a new approach to climate change that involves China, and eventually other developing countries, offering inducements to the West to take steps to foster a private-sector led green technology revolution.
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Helping the poor to save
Parul Agarwal , Deepti KC , Mudita Tiwari
Posted on: 23 Jan 2013

Do poor people save? This column portrays the saving and financial behaviours and preferences of the poor. It recommends designing and marketing savings products that address the constraints they currently face.
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India’s five-year plan – what’s the big deal?
Varad Pande
Posted on: 17 Dec 2012
Topics:   Economic Growth


‘Faster, inclusive, and more sustainable growth’ is the defining motto of India’s latest economic plan. But how will it work? This column outlines the five big ideas in India’s Five-Year Plan.
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Understanding the differing fortunes of poor people in India and China
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 18 Jul 2012

It is no secret that India and China have both been growing impressively and that the incidence of extreme poverty has been falling. But this column shows that if India’s economic growth had been as inclusive as China’s, poverty would have reduced by twice as much over the past two decades. It argues that India is missing an opportunity if it doesn’t allow its poor to participate more fully in its rapid growth.
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