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  • Author: Aparna Das, Anindita Mukherjee, Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The spatial morphology of Indian cities mirrors a disconnect between the urban statutory spatial plans and Revenue records. The Revenue Department instituted during the colonial times had an overarching mandate to collect land taxes and, till today, is referred to as the "custodian of the land." This was a key institution that prepared robust cadastre maps to support the revenue collection. Post-independence, these spatial records are not updated. The institutional disconnect between the Revenue and Registration departments and Urban Land Administration Institutions in the urban and peri-urban areas coupled with poor land records affect the overall confidence in the land administration system. This further limit the nurturing of a robust land market. Taking two land titling programmes: JAGA mission, Odisha, and LIFE mission, Kerala, this paper argues that to achieve the full potential of such land titling programmes, the role of the Revenue and Registration Departments need to be reimagined.
  • Topic: Governance, Urban, Resilience, Revenue Management
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Avani Kapur, Sharad Pandey, U Ranjan, Vastav Irava
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The ‘Study of State Finances 2020-21’ Working Paper delves into the revenue and expenditure performance of 17 States. As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, this timely analysis offers a unique window into the fiscal space available with States prior to the lockdown. This information is critical at a time when they are expected to craft adequate social protection responses and restart their economies.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance, Finance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Ashwini K. Swain, Parth Bhatia, Ira Sharma, Prasanna Sarada Das, Navroz K. Dubash
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, released on April 17, 2020, is an improvement from its predecessors. It has dropped some significant proposals that were resisted and has added new provisions. Are these reform proposals adequate and appropriate to address India’s long-standing electricity challenges? Are these prescriptions based on a proper diagnosis of current trends and future challenges? How will these reforms proposals affect India’s ongoing transition to 21st century electricity? 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.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Governance, Legislation, Electricity, Public Service, Utilities
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Shibani Ghosh
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has proposed a new notification to supersede the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 that is currently in force. The Ministry has sought comments from the public on this draft EIA Notification 2020. Shibani Ghosh, Fellow, CPR, in her comments to the Ministry has highlighted that there is a crying need to overhaul the EIA Notification 2006 and the regulatory framework built around it – not only to address its various inherent weaknesses that have been identified over the years, but also to put in place systems and processes that respond to the steadily degrading environmental quality in the country. However, the draft EIA Notification 2020 fails to do so. According to Ghosh, in its current form, the draft Notification is legally untenable as it does not conform to its parent Act – the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, and is in the teeth of various judgments of the Supreme Court, High Courts and the National Green Tribunal. It dilutes the already weak processes of environmental impact assessment, expert scrutiny and public consultation, and wrongly condones violations and illegalities. The comments are divided into two sections. Section I discusses four specific reasons why the draft notification is legally untenable and Section II highlights five major concerns that arise from the proposed regulatory design.
  • Topic: Environment, Governance, Judiciary
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Arkaja Singh
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: COVID-19 produced an acute and widespread crisis of hunger across India, which was felt most acutely by migrant workers and those who were outside the reach of India’s highly organised but rigid Public Distribution System (PDS). The hunger was incidental to the actual disease itself, but severe enough to be considered a crisis of governance on its own as it brought the Indian state face-t0-face with one of its oldest and most enduring challenges: how to ensure that essential supplies of food reach those in need of it? Could the Indian government simply have ‘universalised’ the PDS, and made it accessible to all? It was pointed out that the Indian state had adequate buffer stocks of food grain to make this feasible. However, for reasons that were never articulated, this option was never seriously considered by the government of India. Instead, governments tried to extend the reach of the PDS delivery mechanism, and to devise ways to deliver relief outside of the PDS framework. These strategies were however quite challenging for the risk-averse, (nominally) rule-bound Indian state that is disinclined to allow for discretion in spending of government funds, making purchases and allocation of largesse. Typically, the Indian state is all the more reluctant to delegate power to exercise discretion to lower levels of government. For this reason, the Indian state governments (who were at the frontline of this response) seemed to need to devise a framework of rules for the identification of beneficiaries, even in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. As a related problem, the states also did not necessarily have the organisational wherewithal to take up rapid, decentralised and locally grounded interventions. The organisational wherewithal, so to speak, could come in various forms. Some examples of this, which we saw at play, were decentralised government, the capacity to make non-state collaborations and institutionalised systems for the ‘continuous updating’ of beneficiary lists. More fundamentally, however, what is needed is the capacity for high levels of government to be able to formulate responsive policy and to be able to trust in the ability of their subordinate ranks to carry out new interventions, often in case-specific and individualised ways. Arkaja Singh’s working paper explores these issues in the context of state response to the COVID hunger crisis in the states of Delhi, Kerala, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana,
  • Topic: Governance, Food Security, Hunger, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Deepak Sanan, Sanjay Mitra
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Reforms designed to address core issues and their sequencing and timing would be critical to ensure the eventual success of the latest initiatives in the power sector. Lessons from the experience of earlier sectoral reform programmes and recommendations regarding the general architecture of central interventions, would need to be taken on board. Through a simple scenario building exercise, this paper concludes that the parlous financial position of the distribution utilities after lockdown requires that “reforms” follow “recovery”. The concurrent roll out of stringent reform measures on several fronts during a period of severe financial stress could seriously impair the prospects of a viable power sector in the near future. This, in turn, will not only hamper our planned promotion of renewables-based electricity but act as a brake on the entire process of economic recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Namita Wahi
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper, the first in a series of three papers, constitutes the first systematic legal attempt since the late nineteenth century to describe the changing configuration of property rights of zamindars (landlords) and ryots or raiyats (peasants) relative to the English East India Company in colonial India over a period of two hundred years from 1600 to 1800. This period begins with the Company’s first arrival in India to the court of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir in 1600 as merely a trading company. It ends with the introduction of the Permanent Settlement in Bengal by Lord Cornwallis, the Governor General of Bengal in 1793, pursuant to the Company’s exercise of sovereign authority over the provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. As described in the paper, during this period of great political upheaval, scandal, and intrigue, as the East India Company gradually transitioned from a monopoly trading company to a conquering and then an administering power, Company officials, including the Governor General, and later the Supreme Council of Bengal, created, destroyed, and resurrected property rights of landlords and tenant cultivators. Following a series of experiments with land revenue administration and the lives of zamindars and raiyats, with the sole objective of maximising revenue for the East India Company, Lord Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement of Land Revenue in 1793, which completely destroyed the rights of peasant cultivators in favour of zamindars, and wreaked great injustice and misery upon the people of Bengal. It would take nearly seventy years for British government to begin to reverse this injustice through tenancy protection legislation enacted in 1859, and this reversal in law would only be completed following land reforms introduced by provincial governments post India’s independence in 1947. These later developments will be the subject of the next two papers in this series.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, History, Governance, Property
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, South Asia, India
  • 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: 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: 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: Shibani Ghosh
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The recent uproar about the toxic levels of pollution in the country’s national capital region has once again brought to fore the failure of the regulatory and legal mechanisms in India to control air pollution. Despite an early legislative acknowledgment of the issues relating to air pollution, and regulatory mechanisms set up consequently, India has not been able to restrict the sharp upward trajectory of air pollution. While several issues with regard to the legal and regulatory regime governing air quality in the country deserve serious and urgent consideration, this paper focuses on one issue in particular – the liability regime for violation of air quality standards. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part discusses the relevant provisions of the law pertaining to liability - civil and criminal - for causing air pollution. The second part identifies three critical issues that have emerged in the current liability regime: (1) the Pollution Control Boards do not have the power to levy penalties; (2) criminal prosecution is not an effective solution; and (3) the National Green Tribunal Act does not provide complete relief. The third and final part of the essay proposes a way forward. It is suggested that the Pollution Control Boards need to be granted additional enforcement powers, and administrative fines for violations should be introduced, albeit with certain conditions.
  • Topic: Environment, Health, Governance, Law Enforcement, Law, Reform, Pollution
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia