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  • Author: Ashwin Parulkar, Sunil Kumar
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In May 2017, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished a Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) shelter located in an informal settlement in South Delhi’s Amir Khusro Park. DUSIB had built the shelter in response to a 2014 Delhi High Court Order. DDA demolished the same structure in cognizance of a 2015 Delhi High Court Order, issued in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a private citizen urging the state to remove illegal encroachments in the area. The demolition of the shelter led to the eviction of various groups of people in Khusro Park: families in self-constructed ‘jhuggis’; women in the DUSIB shelter managed by a local NGO; and various people in a temporary shelter not authorized by government agencies. Field visits revealed connections between these settlements. Women and children of some jhuggi families, for instance, lived in the shelter where food, nutrition, documentation, education and health services were provided by the managing NGO for shelter residents and joint and nuclear jhuggi families. In this context, the report raises and responds to two salient questions. What makes homeless shelters in Delhi vulnerable to government sanctioned demolition and eviction? What is the implication of the particular case of Amir Khusro Park on the fate of shelters in Delhi’s other numerous informal geographies? The authors examine events that preceded and unfolded during and after the demolition through ethnographic research in Khusro Park, interviews with government officials and NGO social workers, and legal analysis of both Supreme and High Court Orders and policies that assign powers to various federal, state and municipal land owning agencies. The report finds that Khusro Park residents’ Court-substantiated, though broadly defined, rights to live in shelters and urban informal settlements were violated by government agencies, such as DDA. Such government agencies are permitted to undermine general rights urban poor people have to city spaces and resettlement through the existence of specific provisions that categorize jhuggi and shelter residents on government land ‘encroachers’. The authors conclude that due process measures of DUSIB’s current resettlement policy – land surveys, provision of notice and rehousing – should be based on a thorough understanding of (a) types and nature of settlements along the informal urban housing continuum (b) infrastructure and services used by residents and (c) the nature of contracts between (i) state and federal agencies and (ii) government agencies and NGOs that authorize land use and service provision.
  • Topic: Government, Poverty, Public Policy, Resettlement, Urban, Informal Settlement, Homelessness
  • 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: Ashwini K. Swain, Parth Bhatia, Navroz K. Dubash
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The proposed amendments to the Electricity Act 2003, released on 7th September 2018, are most critical among the set of planned reforms in the power sector. With significant changes, it seeks to provide an enabling framework for transformations in electricity market, pricing reforms, regulatory oversight, quality of supply and energy security. While we appreciate the endeavours and intent, in our comments we focus on some serious concerns the draft raises, vital gaps and issues that need serious consideration. These comments have been drafted based on an internal discussion at the Centre for Policy Research, and should not be considered an institutional position, as CPR does not take institutional positions on issues. Rather, these comments reflect the result of internal deliberations, aimed at understanding and reflecting on the draft amendments, with the aim of constructive feedback to the Ministry of Power.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Government, Social Policy, Legislation
  • 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: Pranav Kuttaiah, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Pranav Kuttaiah and Neelanjan Sircar discuss the complexities of the Karnataka election before vote counting the following day.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Ethnicity, Class, Caste
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, Karnataka
  • Author: Partha Mukhopadhyay
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: It is now almost axiomatic that cities are the engines of growth. Historically, federal support programmes have focused on rural areas, but over the past fifteen years, the need to devise such programmes for urban local bodies has come to be recognised, with JNNURM in its various forms, being the most visible early manifestation. This trend has continued, even strengthened, in this government and among the menu of urban support programmes on offer from the Government of India, the vision of the city as the engine of growth is most clearly evident in the Smart City Mission, with its focus on area based development – like an engine within the city. Yet, even in the mainstream economics literature, while there is evidence for cities as places of higher productivity, there is less evidence for cities as drivers of growth – with learning being the primary driver and urban primacy being an important obstacle. The primary questions are whether cities are places of learning, whether there are identifiable mechanisms of such learning and the kind of city institutions – economic, social and political – that facilitate such learning. This paper will interrogate the empirical characteristics of such urban institutions in India in the context of the theoretical literature and learning mechanisms that emerge from international evidence. In particular, it will argue that the nature of the labour market, which is largely contractual, the transfer of rural fragmentation in social relations to cities and the absence of city-level political agency, all reduce the potential of the city as a location of learning economies. For cities to even have the possibility of being engines of growth, we need to ensure that drivers of these engines are in place and we have a mechanism to think about paths to follow.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Urbanization, Economic Growth
  • 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: Navroz K. Dubash, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Radhika Khosla, Shibani Ghosh, Ankit Bhardwaj, Swetha Sridhar
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Draft National Energy Policy released by the Niti Aayog in June 2017 was a roadmap describing the priorities of the government with regards to India's energy future and a critical reference document for all actors working in this field. This working paper reflects the result of internal deliberations, aimed at understanding and reflecting on the draft NEP, with the aim of constructive feedback to NITI Aayog.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Government, Finance, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Krithika A. Dinesh, Kanchi Kohli
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Between March 15 2017 and June 15 2017, 207 projects that violated the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification applied for an environmental clearance. These applications have come as a result of a notification that the Environment Ministry had passed on March 14th 2017 which gives an opportunity to projects that have violated conditions of the EIA Notification to apply for a clearance within a period of six months, ie by September 15. This notification was passed despite much criticism of the draft notification that was issued on 10 May 2016. The CPR-Namati Environmental Justice Program has analysed these applications to see what are the kind of geographical and sectorial spread of these violations and whether there are any trends emerging out of the applications that have come in till June 15. The Environment Ministry has already started looking at the applications through a Committee that has been set up for this. This Committee is headed by Dr SR Wate and had its first meeting on 22 June 2017. The Committee in its first meeting has examined ten applications. Out of these ten applications, the committee has already recommended seven for grant for a Terms of Reference subject to conditions. This working paper would be updated with the analysis of the applications that are coming in as well as the progress of these applications.
  • Topic: Environment, Government, Natural Resources, Courts, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kanchi Kohli, Debayan Gupta
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: For the last two years, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 has been in the eye of debate and discussed for the controversial changes the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had sought to bring about through ordinances. Even though fate of the amendments rests currently with the Joint Parliamentary Committee report, several states have already brought about changes through Rules under Section 109 of the Act. An examination of these state specific Rules reveals they are headed towards: Adopting the changes proposed in the ordinances amending the central law; Diluting the applicability of the progressive clauses like consent or SIA; Clarifying procedures for implementation at the state level. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 with the newly enacted RFCLARR Act, 2013. Though critiqued for expanding the definition of public purpose to include the private sector, the new legislations had been welcomed by social movements, farmers groups and NGOs. This is primarily for the need for a Social Impact Assessment (SIA), the requirement for prior consent, food security provisions and clear compensation related provisions. What was also central to this discussion were the clauses which allow for unused land to be returned to original owners. The Rules framed by the States aim to make the process of land acquisition much simpler for investors. While certain States reduce the time period for the conducting of the SIA process or do away with it in its entirety, there are others who make reductions in the compensation award or modify the applicability of the retrospective clause. There are also States which directly adopt the provisions in the ordinance that aim to remove the requirement for consent from the land acquisition procedure. This working paper paper attempts to trace and analyse how the state governments have modified and built upon the central Act. It also looks briefly at litigation that has emerged especially around the applicability of the retrospective clause of the law, ie. which requires the return of unused land to original owners or reinitiating processes under the 2013 law.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Law, Food Security, Land Law, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In 2011, Mamata Banerjee and party, Trinamool Congress, stormed to power in West Bengal under the simple slogan poriborton (change). In this piece, Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, and Neelanjan explore how Mamata went about demonstrating this change to the West Bengal, as well as the architecture of Trinamool Congress’ thumping victory in the 2016 state election.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Governance, Elections, Social Policy
  • 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: Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Muslims comprise 34 percent of Assam’s population, and this population may play a large role in the outcome of Assam’s election. In this piece, CPR researchers Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan, and Neelanjan Sircar examine the complex contours of the Muslim vote in Assam, with a particular focus on the Lower Assam region where seven of the thirteen districts have a majority of Muslims. They argue that there is no discernible Muslim “vote bank” and any understanding of the role Muslims will play in this election requires a significant amount of nuance.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Elections
  • 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
  • Author: Neelanjan Sircar, Gilles Verniers
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The 2015 Bihar election represented a stunning reversal of fortune for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 2014 national election, the NDA won 172 out of 243 assembly constituency (AC) segments. But in the 2015 Bihar election, just 18 months later, the NDA won only 58 ACs. In this piece, we investigate electoral data from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to provide a nuanced picture of the shift in Bihar. We argue that poor party coordination within the NDA, in addition to campaign dynamics, account for the magnitude of the NDA’s defeat. Prior to 2014, the JD(U) and the BJP were in alliance together under the NDA banner, but the JD(U) left the coalition over the choice of Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate and decided to contest the 2014 election alone. In 2014, without the JD(U), the NDA won 31 out of 40 parliamentary constituencies, with the JD(U) winning just two seats. In the 18 months between the 2014 and 2015 election, once bitter foes, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav, and their respective parties, Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), joined forces along with the Congress to form the mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance to defeat the NDA. The NDA, comprised of the BJP, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) in 2014, stayed intact and added a new party, the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), to its ranks. In the election post-mortem, many have offered explanations for the NDA’s reversal of fortune. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has argued that the NDA’s poor performance was due to the “social arithmetic” of caste and less about the its message or campaign strategy (1). Observers of the Grand Alliance have pointed to campaign manager Prashant Kishor’s effective campaign strategy and coordination across all parties in ticket distribution and voter mobilization (2). Our data analysis suggests that the outcome of these elections was less about caste arithmetic and more about the poor coalition strategy of the BJP. In particular, the ways in which the BJP treated its allies contributed to the magnitude of the NDA’s defeat. At the same time, we find that although the parties in the Grand Alliance coordinated their efforts better than the NDA, they did not attract more voters than in 2014.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Rajiv Kumar, Geetima Das Krishna, Ankit Bhardwaj
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Indradhanush framework with its seven pronged plan was unveiled by Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley on 14th August 2015 for revamping Public Sector Banks (PSBs) of India. In this paper, we look at the deteriorating profitability, asset quality, capital position of PSBs along with previous bank recapitalisation expenditure of the government. The seven reform initiatives in Indradhanush are compared with Nayak Committee recommendations. We summarise that Indradhanush does not propose any ground-breaking reforms for the PSBs. Re-capitalisation or infusion of capital into PSBs is its central theme. This opens up a debate on whether the capital infusion is adequate for all banks. Given various constraints for the government, we feel Indradhanush is definitely the step in the right direction. It does incorporate some of the initiatives mentioned in Nayak Committee report but does not fully embrace the essence of the bold Nayak recommendations. PSBs accounting for 70 percent of the banking system and saddled with high NPAs will be an impediment to growth unless the government acts fast to revamp this sector.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, Finance, Banks
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Neelanjan Sircar, Bhanu Joshi, Ashish Ranjan
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The exit polls are out in Bihar, and we are none the wiser. It is seemingly a photo finish between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Janata Dal United [JD(U)]-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-Congress Grand Alliance. The Bihar election is ending as it began, full of theatre and intrigue. We can only guess how it ends. We were making our way to East Champaran; we didn’t realise Narendra Modi’s rally would be in Gopalganj district that day. The rally was over, but traffic had stopped moving 2 km from the rally site; we would be stuck at the same spot for the next few hours. Nowhere else to go, we got out of the car and started chatting with rally-goers. An exuberant BJP supporter exclaimed, “We have 8-10 lakh people today!” This was clearly an overestimate, but the crowd was bigger than we had seen elsewhere. We stopped in at a roadside stand where 4-5 men were being served their thalis and asked from where they had come to attend the rally. “Dewaria,” responded one man (Dewaria is in Uttar Pradesh (UP), not Bihar). He went on, “None of us are from Bihar. People are coming from Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Allahabad. The Party gives us enough money to eat lunch as well.” The Muslim shopkeeper who was cooking for them, the only person there who would actually be voting in Bihar, was clearly supporting the Grand Alliance, but he was happy for the extra money generated from the rally. The real reason for the traffic bottleneck then became clear. The road had narrowed to a single lane. While we headed further into Bihar, bus after bus, each with a “UP” license plate, was headed the other way. We analysts often mistakenly use rallies to gauge the hawa for a party. But, ultimately, rallies are about theatre and spectacle, while elections are won on the strength of the ground-level campaign. Privately, a section of BJP workers have been telling us that they can now see the NDA losing in this election, not something we heard in the first couple of weeks of the campaign. In our previous piece, using available data, we argued that the NDA would have to do very well in the third and fourth phases of this five-phase election if it is to win, something that even BJP leaders have now said publicly. Given that the NDA was well ahead in 2014, the NDA might still pull off this victory. It is clear, however, that the Grand Alliance has run a stronger ground campaign than the NDA, and that the campaign has had a major impact on changing voters’ minds. The NDA now seems unlikely to get near the 172 assembly constituency (AC) segments it won in 2014. In the remainder of this piece, we assess the structure of the Grand Alliance, how it shaped the campaign, as well as how the campaigns, for both NDA and the Grand Alliance, conducted themselves during this election.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Navroz K. Dubash, Neha B. Joseph
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: While there is growing attention to climate policy, effective coordination, design and implementation of policy require attention to institutional design for climate governance. This paper examines the case of India, organized around three periods: pre-2007; 2007–2009 and 2010-mid-2014, providing institutional charts for each. Several key themes emerge. First, the formation of climate institutions have frequently been driven by international negotiations, even while filtered through domestic context. Second, once established, institutions tend not to be stable or long-lasting. Third, while various efforts at knowledge generation have been attempted, they do not add up to a mechanism for sustained and consistent strategic thinking on climate change. Fourth, coordination across government has been uneven and episodic, reaching a high point with a specialised envoy in the Prime Minister’s Office. Fifth, the overall capacity within government, in terms of specialised skills and sheer numbers of personnel remains limited. Sixth, capacity shortfalls are exacerbated by closed structures of governance that only partially draw on external expertise. Seventh, institutional structures are not explicitly designed to enable India’s stated objective of climate policy in the context of development, which implies specific attention to co-benefits and mainstreaming.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government, Policy Implementation, Institutions
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Jishnu Das, Alaka Holla, Aakash Mohpal, Karthik Muralidharan
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: We present among the first direct evidence on the quality of healthcare in low-income settings using a unique and original set of audit studies, where standardized patients were presented to a nearly-representative sample of rural public and private primary care providers in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. We report three main findings. First, private providers are mostly unqualified but spent more time with patients, and completed more items on a checklist of essential history and examination items than public providers, while being no different in their diagnostic and treatment accuracy. Second, we identify the private practices of qualified public sector doctors, and show that the same doctors exert higher effort and are more likely to provide correct treatment in their private practices. Third, we find a strong positive correlation between provider effort and prices charged in the private sector, whereas we find no correlation between effort and wages in the public sector. Our results suggest that market-based accountability in the unregulated private sector may be providing better incentives for provider effort than administrative accountability in the public sector in this setting. While the overall quality of care is low in both the public and private sectors, these differences in provider effort may partly explain the dominant market share of fee-charging private providers even in the presence of a system of free public healthcare.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Privatization, Health Care Policy, Social Policy, Rural
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia