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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: democracy

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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A proposal for public funding of elections and political parties in India
M.V. Rajeev Gowda , Varun Santhosh
Posted on: 21 Apr 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


The Finance Minister of India recently introduced measures aimed at cleaning up political party funding in the country. In this article, Gowda and Santhosh highlight the limitations of these measures, and alternatively propose public funding of elections and political parties to improve electoral processes and outcomes.
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Consumption spikes and election days
Shabana Mitra , Anirban Mitra , Arnab Mukherji
Posted on: 20 Apr 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


There is ample anecdotal evidence on political parties bribing voters with cash or consumption goods prior to elections, in India and other developing countries. However, there is an expected lack of hard evidence on the extent and form of vote-buying. Using data from Indian states, this column analyses consumption patterns of households around elections, and finds a spike for some items just before elections.
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Do Gram Panchayat leaders favour their own constituencies in MNREGA fund allocation?
Subhasish Dey , Kunal Sen
Posted on: 19 Dec 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Political incentives are known to play a role in the allocation of public resources from upper- to lower-tier governments. This column seeks to examine whether ruling parties in local governments favour their own constituencies in allocating MNREGA funds, if they target their core supporters or swing voters, and if this has any electoral returns.
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Politician’s pain is poor man’s gain: Income distribution in close-election constituencies
Shabana Mitra , Anirban Mitra
Posted on: 09 Nov 2016
Tags:   democracy


Studies have highlighted the role of electoral competition in directing the flow of public funds. Analysing data from India, this column finds lower income inequality and polarisation in tightly contested constituencies, implying that the poor gain more from electoral competition relative to the rich.
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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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Courting women’s votes: What does this mean for women?
Sarah Khan
Posted on: 01 Jul 2016

In the recent state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, political parties targeted women voters with specific handouts and proposed policies such as alcohol bans. This column contends that while the increasing political attention to women is a positive trend, it needs to be explored whether the proposed policies are indeed effective solutions to the issues faced by women.
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Does democracy cause growth?
Daron Acemoglu , Suresh Naidu , Pascual Restrepo , James Robinson
Posted on: 03 Jun 2016

Many analysts view democracy as a neutral or negative factor for growth. This column discusses new evidence showing that democracy has a robust and sizeable pro-growth effect. It finds that a country that switches from non-democracy to democracy achieves about 20% higher GDP per capita over the subsequent three decades.
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Impact of Electronic Voting Machines on electoral frauds, democracy, and development
Sisir Debnath
Posted on: 19 May 2016
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


In an attempt to curb electoral malpractices, Electronic Voting Machines were introduced on a national scale by the Election Commission of India in the 1990s. Using data from state assembly elections during 1976-2007, this column analyses the impact of the machines on electoral processes. It finds that the change in voting technology made elections more competitive, which in turn promoted development.
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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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Criminally accused politicians and economic outcomes
Tasneem Ahmed , Nishith Prakash , Marc Rockmore , Yogesh Uppal
Posted on: 15 Jan 2016

Despite a history of widely contested and transparent elections, and presence of vibrant and open media, an increasing number of criminally accused politicians are being elected in India. Based on an analysis of elections to State Legislative Assemblies during 2004-2008 in 20 states, this column finds that electing a politician accused of a serious or financial crime adversely affects economic growth and public service delivery in the constituency.
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Tolerance and respect for economic progress
Raghuram Rajan
Posted on: 08 Dec 2015
Tags:   democracy


In his recent speech at IIT Delhi, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan contends that ideas are the key to economic growth. The two essentials to keep the ideas factory open are to foster competition in the marketplace for ideas, and to protect the right to question and challenge in an environment of respect and tolerance
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Democracy, inclusion, and prosperity
Raghuram Rajan
Posted on: 17 Nov 2015
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


In his speech at the D.D. Kosambi Ideas Festival in February 2015 in Goa, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan put on his hat as a professor of political economy and spoke about the development of a liberal market democracy.
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Role model effects? Women’s political participation in India
Sonia Bhalotra , Irma Clots-Figueras , Lakshmi Iyer
Posted on: 14 Sep 2015

Women’s political candidacy in India is very low and appears to be an important barrier to their representation in government. Does a deficiency of female role models hold back women’s candidacy? Analysing data from state elections during 1980-2007 in India, this column reports no entry of new women candidates following a woman’s electoral victory, and a decline in entry in states with an entrenched gender bias.
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The need for police reform
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 09 Sep 2015

The police in India are still mainly governed by the Police Act of 1861. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee, Professor of Economics at MIT, emphasises the need for police reform in order to check misuse of power by the State.
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How effective are gram sabhas?
Sabyasachi Das
Posted on: 06 May 2015
Topics:   Political Economy


Village panchayats across India are mandated to organise local public meetings called gram sabhas several times a year, wherein villagers discuss issues such as local public good provision. This column finds that gram sabhas are indeed effective in altering the composition of local public goods provided. Promoting the institution of gram sabha can make policymaking more sensitive to the preferences of discriminated groups such as women.
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Impact of the two-child limit for local politicians
S. Anukriti , Abhishek Chakravarty
Posted on: 02 Mar 2015

Some Indian states debar individuals with more than two children from contesting local elections. This column finds that while the law has significantly reduced fertility among the general population in those states, it has worsened the sex ratio at birth among upper-caste families. It suggests that Indians have strong local leadership aspirations, and that policies altering access to political power can effect social change.
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Should the less educated be barred from village council elections?
Rohini Pande
Posted on: 23 Feb 2015

In December 2014, the state government of Rajasthan issued an executive order barring citizens with less than eight years of formal education from running for village council chief elections in all but tribal areas. In this article, Rohini Pande, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, contends that this will discriminate against able leaders who have been denied schooling because of gender, poverty or caste.
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What voters reward: Evidence from the 2009 Indian parliamentary elections
Poonam Gupta , Arvind Panagariya
Posted on: 12 May 2014
Topics:   Finance
Tags:   democracy


Do voters care about economic outcomes? This column analyses the 2009 parliamentary elections in India and finds that voters favoured parties that delivered high growth in their states and rejected those that did not. It also finds that voters preferred candidates who had served in the parliament before, were wealthy, educated, and affiliated with a large party.
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Governance by ordinance
Pushparaj Deshpande
Posted on: 17 Mar 2014
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   democracy


The UPA government recently explored taking the ordinance route to promulgate six anti-corruption bills. This article traces the shift from the post-Independence culture of healthy parliamentary debate in India, to ordinance-making powers becoming a procedural device to pass bills without debate. In the interest of a well-functioning democracy, it emphasises the need for the Legislature to engage in debate on legislation, and for the Executive to moderate its ordinance-making powers.
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Why so few women in politics in India?
Mudit Kapoor , Shamika Ravi
Posted on: 02 Jan 2014

Women are severely under-represented in political positions across the world. This column analyses constituency-level election data from Indian states to explore why this is so. It finds that while women are more likely to contest elections in backward states where there are more male electors than female electors, they are less likely to win elections in such states.
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A plague on all houses
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 13 Aug 2012

Which is better, India´s liberal capitalism modelled on the US or China´s authoritarian state-controlled capitalism? This column argues that dysfunctional governments in both systems are leading to dangerous levels of inequality and triggering populism.
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How do Indian voters respond to candidates with criminal charges: Evidence from Lok Sabha elections
Bhaskar Dutta , Poonam Gupta
Posted on: 30 Jul 2012
Tags:   democracy


An alarming number of India’s politicians have criminal records or some charges against them. This column asks how they manage to get away with it. It looks at evidence from parliamentary elections in 2009 and suggests that while voters dislike crooked politicians, the amount these politicians spend on their campaigns do a good job of hiding the truth.
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