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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: inclusive growth

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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