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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 »

Topic: Corruption

The development disconnect: MNREGA in Bihar’s Jamui district
Amrita Dhiman
Posted on: 02/06/2017 02:35:13
Topics:   Corruption , Jobs


In this note, Amrita Dhiman describes her team’s visit to Jamui district in Bihar – the district that is supposed to have generated the highest number of person-days under MNREGA in its division in 2015-16. While almost all villagers they met had MNREGA cards, there was no MNREGA work to be seen, which was paradoxical given the obvious scope of work in the area.
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Building connections: Political corruption and road construction in India
Jonathan Lehne , Jacob Shapiro , Oliver Vanden Eynde
Posted on: 13/09/2016 10:10:30
Tags:  


Rural infrastructure programmes of the government create new opportunities for growth but also for corruption. This column studies India’s flagship rural road construction programme and finds evidence that local politicians favour members of their caste or kinship networks in the allocation of contracts. This raises construction costs, adversely affects road quality, and increases the likelihood of ‘missing’ roads.
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Food Security Act: How are India’s poorest states faring?
Jean Drèze , Prankur Gupta , Reetika Khera , Isabel Pimenta
Posted on: 29/06/2016 09:57:28

The National Food Security Act was passed in 2013. This column reports findings from a recent survey on the status of the Act in six of India’s poorest states. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are doing quite well - the PDS is in good shape and most people are covered; however, Bihar and Jharkhand are yet to complete essential PDS reforms.
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‘I Paid A Bribe’: Using technology to fight corruption in India
Venkatesh Kannaiah
Posted on: 06/06/2016 09:40:46
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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Local political elite capture and BPL card allocation
Sitakanta Panda
Posted on: 08/04/2016 09:58:55
Tags:   PDS


There is significant anecdotal evidence for the fact that local political connections at the grassroots level is an important channel through which leakages take place in welfare schemes in India such as the PDS. Analysing data from a nationally representative household survey, this column finds that politically-connected households are more likely to be allocated a BPL card - a gateway to obtaining various benefits from the government.
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MNREGA: Vision and reality
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 16/03/2016 09:39:11
Tags:   MNREGA , Bihar


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

Tweet using #MNREGA10yrs

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How a corruption scam brought MNREGA to a standstill in Nanded
Sangita Jadhav , Ashwini Kulkarni , Aysha Shamsuddin
Posted on: 28/01/2016 09:34:46
Topics:   Corruption , Jobs


Nanded district in Maharashtra demonstrated exemplary performance in MNREGA until 2012-13, when the exposure of a corruption scam brought the programme to a virtual standstill. In this note, researchers from the NGO Pragati Abhiyan show how the manner in which the incident was dealt with discouraged local authorities from actively implementing MNREGA and hence, adversely affected villagers that had earlier benefitted from the programme.
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Boom and Bust: Institutional causes of India’s growth slowdown in 2011
Kunal Sen
Posted on: 22/12/2015 09:31:23
Tags:  


The slowdown in India’s growth in 2011 is generally attributed to the global financial crisis and domestic policy paralysis. In this article, Kunal Sen argues that the high growth rates in the 2000s were driven by ‘closed deals’ between the political and business elites. Mobilisation of the masses against corruption and actions by accountability institutions in 2011 disrupted this trend and halted the growth.
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What do we know about corruption in India?
Sandip Sukhtankar , Milan Vaishnav
Posted on: 16/09/2015 09:20:38
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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The significance of local power structures in Bihar’s coupon-based PDS
Chetan Choithani , Bill Pritchard
Posted on: 17/08/2015 01:36:36
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   Bihar , PDS


In 2007, Bihar introduced the coupon system in PDS to curb leakages at fair price shops. This column argues that even though the administrative logic of the coupon system is fundamentally sound, such reform can be effective only when accompanied by institutional transformations that broker change in the existing local politics of inclusion and exclusion.
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Building state capacity for better programme implementation: Lessons from the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme
Karthik Muralidharan , Paul Niehaus , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 03/12/2014 00:00:00

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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Politics and MNREGA: A limited Link in Andhra Pradesh
Christopher B. Barrett , Yanyan Liu , Sudha Narayanan , Megan Sheahan
Posted on: 19/11/2014 00:00:00

The Ministry of Rural Development claims that MNREGA needs to be changed in order to reduce politics and corruption in the scheme. One of the studies cited by the Ministry is an analysis of the extent of political manipulation of MNREGA funds in Andhra Pradesh. In this column, the authors of the study assert that while politics may influence programme expenditure in some places and to a small extent, this is not universally true and does not undermine the effective targeting and good work of the scheme at large.
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Can social media and internet help reduce corruption?
Chandan Jha
Posted on: 07/10/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   bribes


The extensive use of social media was a key factor in the success of the anti-corruption movement in India in 2011. This column uses cross-country data to explore the role of social media and internet in reducing corruption and promoting transparency in government. It finds that the use of social media and internet is associated with lower levels of corruption across countries.
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Estimating kerosene leakages from the Public Distribution System
Prankur Gupta
Posted on: 24/09/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   PDS


Kerosene – the primary fuel used by the poor in India for cooking and lighting – is made available at subsidised rates by the government through the Public Distribution System. This column seeks to estimate the extent of leakage of kerosene in the PDS. It is found that, on average, 45% of kerosene that is taken up by state governments does not reach intended beneficiaries.
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Do women in power have an impact on corruption?
Chandan Jha , Sudipta Sarangi
Posted on: 21/05/2014 00:00:00
Tags:   bribes


The recently elected 16th Lok Sabha of India will have a record number of 61 women parliamentarians. This column assesses whether women in the labour force or positions of power can have an impact on corruption. Analysing data from over 125 countries, it finds that women can reduce corruption but only in policymaking positions. They can do so via policies and not because they are necessarily less corrupt.
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Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption in public programme delivery?
Farzana Afridi , Vegard Iversen
Posted on: 12/03/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption


MNREGA mandates social audits of public work projects undertaken under the Act in order to empower beneficiaries to scrutinise programme expenditures, and monitor programme delivery. Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption and improve programme delivery? This column presents results from the first study that rigorously assesses the impact of India’s only large-scale community monitoring initiative - in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
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UID project: Does evidence matter?
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 05/02/2014 00:00:00

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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Bihar’s malnutrition crisis and potential solutions
Ronald Abraham , Andrew Fraker
Posted on: 24/05/2013 00:00:00
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 role of informal caste networks in public service delivery
Sriniketh Nagavarapu , Sheetal Sekhri
Posted on: 06/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption , Caste


Large public programmes designed at the national level are often undermined by corruption at the local level. This column proposes local level monitoring and enforcement through informal networks as a potential low-cost solution. It shows how caste networks can facilitate monitoring and enforcement in the Targeted Public Distribution System, and infers implications of these findings for the food security bill.
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Should bribe-givers be let off?
Tarun Jain
Posted on: 28/03/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   bribes


In 2011, Economist Kaushik Basu argued that for a class of bribes, the law should not punish the bribe-giver. This column presents results of experiments conducted to test this idea and provides insights for anti-corruption efforts.
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Two questions about the 2G scandal
Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 25/03/2013 00:00:00
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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Casteism and Corruption: Beyond Political Correctness
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste , Corruption
Tags:   West Bengal


Sociologist Ashis Nandy’s recent remark that most corrupt people belong to lower castes drew a lot of flak. In this column, Pranab Bardhan shares his views on what he considers to be the two substantive issues coming out of this controversy – Freedom of expression, and the corruptibility of historically disadvantaged groups.
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Economic policy agenda for India in 2013
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 02/01/2013 00:00:00

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: 29/11/2012 10:42:21

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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How do Indian voters respond to candidates with criminal charges: Evidence from Lok Sabha elections
Bhaskar Dutta , Poonam Gupta
Posted on: 30/07/2012 00:00:00
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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Corruption and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 16/07/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption


Corruption continues to strangle India’s public finances. This column presents evidence of embezzlement in India’s flagship rural employment programme and suggests new ways policymakers can test what works in the struggle against corruption.
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