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  • Author: Mridusmita Bordoloi, Ritwik Shukla
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper attempts to add to the given literature by undertaking a detailed analysis of school consolidation process in Rajasthan. It seeks to answer the following questions:- First, what are the specific criteria and conditions for closure of schools and their consolidation with other schools and whether they were adhered to by the state administration? Second, whether school consolidation led to improvements in enrolment, availability of teachers, and essential school infrastructure facilities as mandated by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2010.
  • Topic: Education, Infrastructure, Social Policy, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kanchi Kohli
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This essay examines the role of India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act in the procedures that regulate transfer of forest land to large infrastructure projects. Specifically, it shows the gap between the legally mandated requirements and how these are implemented in project approval processes. This is illustrated through a case study of the coal mining approvals in the Hasdeo Arand forest region in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The essay also outlines the different actors who have influenced the discourses on forest rights of Adivasi and other forest dwelling communities and what they identify as factors that challenge the implementation of this law on the ground. It juxtaposes this analysis in the context of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of India on eviction of forest dwellers and examines whether that would bring in any structural change in the way the law is implemented.
  • Topic: Environment, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Courts, Conservation, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Manju Menon
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In 2000, the central government declared Northeast India as India’s hydropower hub. Over 165 large dam projects were proposed to come up in the region. These projects were held as crucial to India’s energy and environmental security as well as the economic development of the country’s marginalised northeastern borderlands.However, nearly two decades on, this proposal to regulate the region's water resources remains unimplemented. In addition, the projects have generated a lot of public opposition in Arunachal Pradesh where most of these dams are supposed to be situated, and in the downstream Brahmaputra valley of Assam. This article will look into the government's hype and failure to construct hydropower dams in the Northeast region. It points to the need for a reflexive political decision on water resource management from the BJP-led governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and at the Centre.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Government, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Shahana Chattaraj
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: How does the state govern cities where much of the economy is informal, on the margins of state regulatory institutions? In this paper, I draw on field research in Mumbai to a present an empirically-based conceptualization of the workings of the state in cities where’ informality is a pervasive feature of work and built environment.’ I draw on the popular notion of ‘jugaad,’- makeshift adaptations, workarounds and improvisation under constraints, to describe the state in Mumbai. ‘Jugaad’ practices and strategies of governance – adaptive, flexible, negotiated and contingent - are routinely applied by state actors at different levels in Mumbai, in spaces “illegible” to formal state institutions. ‘Jugaad’ governance practices are not arbitrary or merely corrupt, but rational, if ad hoc and extra-legal, adaptations around formal rules. These processes embed state actors in local power structures and crosscutting networks that span state, market and political organisations. While they enable the state to apprehend and partially incorporate the city’s informal spaces, they dissipate centralised state power and cohesiveness . The ‘jugaad’ state concept encapsulates how the formal and informal workings of the state interact and shape urban governance in largely informal cities. It draws attention to tensions and disjunctions within the state and in state-society relations in such contexts.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Governance, Social Policy, State, Urban
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Persis Taraporevala
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The newly elected federal Government of India (GoI) launched the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) in 2015 with the stated purpose of improving the governance and infrastructural deficiencies that plague Indian cities. Missing, however, in the pageantry of the new programme is a cohesive understanding of a smart city. While the government documentation repeatedly implies infinite liberty for cities to self-define their understanding of ‘smartness’, the actions demonstrate that there is a larger idea of ‘smartness’ that the federal government seeks to implement. It is at this disjunction, between the rhetoric and practice of the Mission, that this paper finds its core research question – ‘What constitutes a smart city in India?’ Through a detailed reading of the government documentation of the top 99 cities, the paper argues that the there is a profound chasm between the professed objectives of the Mission and the strategies enacted to achieve these objectives.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Infrastructure, Social Policy, Urban
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Bhanu Joshi, Kanhu Charan Pradhan
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Financial incentives including government support grants for infrastructure creation, health and education development in many countries is contingent on where people live. In India, the allocation of critical government subsidies explicitly recognises urban population as a criterion for budgetary allocation. Yet, the fundamental question about what is an urban area and what does it entail to be recognised as an urban settlement in India remains understudied. This paper aims to understand the definitional paradigm of statutory towns in India. We create a novel dataset of all state laws in India on the constitution of urban local governments. We analyse the eligibility criteria that would qualify any area to become urban local bodies under the law in different states and find large variation among states. In our dataset, only fifteen of the twenty-seven states explicitly define and have laws on urban settlements. Within these fifteen states, we find that many small and transitional urban areas violate the eligibility criteria laid down by the state laws constituting them. We further find that states which do not provide statutory laws rely on executive fiat, i.e. it is the prerogative of the state government to declare the creation of a statutory town. What then becomes or “unbecomes” urban in these states is open to dispute. The full extent of this variation and reasons thereof can open up new avenues of scholarship.
  • Topic: Government, Infrastructure, Urbanization, Budget, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Aditya Bhol
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Burgeoning urbanisation coupled with policy implementation gaps have resulted in growing disparities in the provision of public infrastructure services in urban areas of India. Apart from the impact of this, a household’s ability to procure basic amenities is also subject to its economic and social condition and the prevalence of social or spatial inequalities. This paper considers a basic household amenity – toilets – and using survey data gauges a household’s likelihood of owning one based on economic and social conditions and infrastructural parameters such as water supply and drainage using a binary multivariate logistic regression model. Horizontal or social group-based inequalities, which are often neglected in the sanitation discourse in India, are found to have a significant impact on access to toilets along with the existence of disparities based on consumption expenditure and drainage. The findings ascertain the existence of multidimensional disparities at the state level, refuting centralised programmes adopted to meet Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Urbanization, Inequality, Sustainable Development Goals, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kiran Bhatty, Radhika Saraf, Vrinda Gupta
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The focus of the study, and the analysis in this paper, is on the issue of student attendance, in order to capture its extent – both continuous and sporadic - as well as to highlight its relevance in the larger meaning of an “out-of-school child”. The analysis is focused on possible household and school factors that can explain the variation in attendance across social groups and gender as well as across school type. In other words, this paper is an attempt to i) provide a more accurate estimate of OOSC using both household and school level data on children as well as an expanded definition of dropped out by including sporadic attendance data; ii) document the variation in attendance patterns by social groups and iii) unpack reasons for low attendance based on a set of household and school level factors. Accordingly, after describing the research and data collection, the paper is divided into two parts: Part I describes the survey findings and estimates of OOSC and attendance patterns of students and teachers. Part II provides an analysis of the links between child attendance and various household and school level factors.
  • Topic: Education, Infrastructure, Children, Child Poverty
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kiran Bhatty, Ambrish Dongre
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Even as the reach of education has expanded enormously in India in the last few decades, it has been accompanied by differential access and the continuing spectre of inequalities. This inequality could take various forms but the extent to which opportunities, access, and outcome are distributed across different sections of the population, broadly describes a measure of the inequality that exists. There are different causes of inequality in education – the most common being the consequence of inequality in income, wages and living standards. But, in addition, social parameters also affect access to education. While some of these, such as caste, tribe and religious minority affiliation, might have bases in economics as well, others such as gender run across economic and social categories. Needless to say, girls from lower caste or tribal communities, thus suffer the burden of multiple disadvantages. While outcomes have dominated the discourse on education in recent years, in order to understand inequality more comprehensively, it is important to move beyond measuring inequality as the difference in the final outcomes and encompass the differences in equality of opportunity as well. The latter approach pays greater attention to the wider social, political and economic circumstances, which hinder individuals from accessing and competing at the same level. Various sets of contingencies affect the real opportunities people have, generating variations in the process of converting economic resources or social contexts into educational achievements. This approach follows the shift in twentieth century thought on inequality and justice, which made a distinction between “outcomes” (i.e., utility and welfare) and “opportunities” (i.e., primary goods; capabilities etc.). 2 The main arguments in this system of thought are that the process of acquiring outcomes must also be considered in determining justice (Dworkin, 1981) and that the process is dependent not only on initial endowments but on individual agency as well. This shift from a utilitarian approach, which focused on equality of outcomes to one that highlighted equality of opportunity as the basis for social justice marked a major shift in the philosophical traditions surrounding social policy. Not only did it give primacy to the “original position” (Rawls, 1971) it brought in the idea of individual responsibility, which had been the major criticism of anti-egalitarian thought. However, in recognizing the extent to which individuals are responsible for the outcomes they enjoy allowance must be made for the fact that outcomes may also be determined by factors beyond individual control. This is especially so for children, where inequalities experienced by them are predominantly due to their circumstance, and thus mostly beyond the pale of their agency. Primary and secondary education, for instance, take place when the person is still, arguably, below the age of consent, that is, the age at which children could be held at least partially responsible for the various choices they make (Paes de Barros et al 2009, Reomer 1998). In other words, the contribution of this tradition is to suggest that a just society could be achieved through ensuring equality of opportunity by providing “primary goods” (Rawls, 1971) or a set of “capabilities” (Sen, 1980) that would enable every citizen to achieve his/her life plan. Following this approach, we examine the broad trends in education in India to unpack the implications for social policy with respect to the objective of equality of opportunity.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Infrastructure, Inequality, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Ashwini K. Swain
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Despite sustained efforts to reform the sector, electricity distribution in India remains amidst complex problems, manifested in the form of loss-making distribution utilities, poor quality of service, governance ambiguities, and absence of basic data. The current wave of reforms seeks to turnaround the sector’s performance by transforming the generation mix, strengthening the network infrastructure, ensuring universal access and better consumer experience, and financial revival of discoms. While policy signals from the centre appear to be promising and ambitious, given the past records, execution of these reform plans at the state level is uncertain. Against this backdrop, the paper analyses the distribution reform initiated from the centre and the role played by the central government in shaping ideas and stimulating change at the state level. Looking into various diagnoses of the challenges and subsequent reform initiatives, the paper seeks to explain the political economy of successive reform attempts and their outcomes. It also identifies gaps in the current wave of reforms and raises questions for further exploration.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Political Economy, Infrastructure, Governance, Reform, Electricity
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kiran Bhatty, Radhika Saraf
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This study attempts to understand the effectiveness of education governance, specifically the monitoring function, through the perspectives of frontline officials in India. It locates institutions within social and political structures marked by deep inequalities and analyses the manner in which these institutional arrangements influence the behaviour of frontline officials. It finds that poor state capacities in terms of inadequate resources and systemic infirmities contribute significantly to ineffective monitoring. In addition, the social distance of frontline bureaucrats from their clients reinforces their low levels of motivation, preventing them from using discretion to achieve official objectives.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Infrastructure, Governance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Ashish Ranjan, Bhanu Joshi, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: We were warned not to take the bus from Silchar to Guwahati. Unfortunately, the train was fully booked, so we had no other option. As soon as we left the city limits of Silchar, we began to make our way through the soggy, bumpy mess that was supposedly the route to Guwahati. We could only discern that this was intended to be a road by the fact that a few other buses, trucks and cars were similarly trying to maneuver through this muddle. A fellow traveler offered, “Roads in Sikkim and Meghalaya have improved in the last five years; here we still search for a pucca road.
  • Topic: Government, Migration, Politics, Infrastructure, Elections
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, Assam