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  • Author: Shamindra Nath Roy, Partha Mukhopadhyay
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India is one of the lowest globally in terms of female labour force participation (FLFP), ranking only better than Pakistan in South Asia. While the decline in FLFP in rural areas is starkly visible, the urban FLFP has been consistently low since the 1980s despite higher economic growth and increasing level of education among females. The economic cost of such low FLFP (16.8%) is huge and if, for instance, it could be raised to the level of FLFP in China (61.5%), it has the potential to raise India’s GDP up to 27%. This paper attempts to investigate the structural deficiencies behind this consistently low urban FLFP through a variety of perspectives, ranging from measuring the complexity of women’s work to the implications of caste, location and family structure. It finds factors like presence of female-friendly industries, provision of regular salaried jobs and policies that cater to women’s needs to work near home like availability of part-time work, can improve the situation, though prejudices arising from patriarchy require to be addressed to make these measures truly transformative and not palliative.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Anindita Mukherjee, Shubhagato Dasgupta, Aparna Das
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: “Housing for All”, an often-stated vision for housing policies in India, has come to mean ownership houses for all residents. This singular focus has been part of programs from the early 1970s and has failed to recognize the range of housing tenures that may enable a viable, sustainable market. This paper reviews the evolution of housing policies since independence and shows that the emphasis on rental housing has not been a central part of housing programs to date. It then broadly characterizes the rental housing market in India, based on national statistics, to show how rental housing for the urban poor, is half of the rental housing market and is the least understood. Thereafter based on primary survey findings, it identifies the main issues that may inform a comprehensive rental housing program was to be developed in India.
  • Topic: Poverty, Inequality, Urban, Housing
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • 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: 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: Ananth Padmanabhan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper, authored as part of the New America US-India Public Interest Technologies Fellowship 2019, examines the privacy implications of drones in civilian airspaces. Though a technology with significant benefits, drones can also carry out extensive snooping and surveillance. As India transitions to a regulatory ecosystem supportive of drone technology, it is imperative that the attention of policy makers be directed to the various privacy harms that lie in store. Here, the different kinds of harms are mapped into two: traditional privacy challenges arising from a spatial invasion by drones into private spaces, and big data risks on account of the business models that the drone industry has paved the path for. Dealing with the first category of risks, the paper argues that serious criminal enforcement, along the lines of what some States in the United States have pursued, is imperative to safeguard the private domain from the prying eyes of third parties. It also points out serious gaps in Indian constitutional jurisprudence when it comes to structural interventions like drone surveillance, and recommends an overall assessment of the impact on privacy baseline from such technologies when the judiciary evaluates their legality against the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy. On the second kind of risk, the paper argues for privacy dashboards that help citizens evaluate the purpose of drone operations and assess whether equipments retrofitted alongside the drone are truly required to fulfil these purposes or merely meant to gather unrestricted amount of personal and community data.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Privacy, Drones, Surveillance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ankit Bhardwaj, Federico De Lorenzo, Marie-Hélène Zérah
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Despite the potential of cities to foster a low-carbon energy transition, the governance of energy in India broadly remains within the purview of central and state governments. However, the Smart Cities Mission, a new urban scheme launched in 2015, gives Indian cities new powers to govern energy, a surprising departure from previous urban and energy policies. We argue that this shift is significant and we therefore raise three questions: 1) what kind of energy projects are planned and what does it reveal about the cities’ vision towards energy? 2) does the Smart Cities Mission foster a low-carbon energy transition and if so, how is this transition envisaged? 3) and finally, what are the rationale and the drivers behind this apparent shift? To address these questions, we build on a database of projects and financing plans submitted by the first 60 cities selected in the Smart Cities Mission. We find that cities have earmarked an immense 13,161 INR crore (~1.4 billion GBP) for energy projects, with most funds dedicated to basic infrastructure, primarily focused on enhancing the grid and supply. Cities also proposed projects in solar energy, electric vehicles, waste to energy and LED lighting, indicating their appetite for low-carbon projects. While cities were given institutional space to prioritise certain technologies, their interventions were conditioned by centrally sources of financing which were limited to certain mandated technologies. A focus on technology, rather than planning, undermined the role of cities as strategic decision-makers. What emerges is a dual faced reading of the Smart Cities Mission, indicating the potential and pitfalls of contemporary decentralized energy governance in the Global South.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Social Policy, Urban
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • 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: 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: Shamindra Nath Roy, Jaya Prakash Pradhan
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The surge in census towns (CTs) during Census 2011 has drawn a lot of attention to the ongoing and future dynamics of these in-situ urban settlements in India. Using the village level information from the previous and current censuses, the present study attempts to identify the villages that can be classified as a census town in 2021. While the prevailing dataset bears some obstacles for a neat identification of such settlements, it can be observed that a fairly high number of rural areas may be classified as CTs in future, which currently accommodates a population of 17.9 million. While the current nature of regional distribution of these areas may not vary much over the future, their areal characteristics over time portray multiple spatial processes undergirding India’s urban trajectory. A lot of these prospective CTs are also relatively prosperous than their current rural neighbourhoods, which reinforces the persistence of similar pattern of urban transformation in future.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Urbanization, Census, Rural
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • 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: Ashish Ranjan, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: After 22 years in power, the BJP is feeling the heat this year in Gujarat's election campaign. This paper analyses the reasons for this sudden frustration with the BJP – with a particular focus on caste mobilisation, urban-rural division, and emerging class politics in Gujarat.
  • Topic: Politics, Urbanization, Elections, Class, Rural, Caste
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: S. Chandrasekhar, Mukta Naik, Shamindra Nath Roy
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Beyond summing up salient migration trends from existing data sources; a new working paper by researchers from Centre for Policy Research and Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research (IGIDR) builds on a critique of the estimations made by the Economic Survey 2017 to outline fresh ideas for developing leading indicators that will help inform policy. This is particularly needed because even as Indian policymakers are increasingly recognising the linkages between migration, labour markets and economic development, the lack of frequently updated datasets limits our understanding of migration.
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Labor Issues, Economy, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kanchi Kohli, Debayan Gupta
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Even as the Joint Parliamentary Committee’s report on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) is awaited, several states have already brought about changes that severely compromise the scope of clauses related to consent, Social Impact Assessment (SIA), food security and higher compensations. These changes also restrict the applicability of the 2013 law at state level. States have executed these changes through Rules under Section 109 of the Act, or have enacted their own state level land acquisition legislations using Article 254(2) of the Constitution of India. States, which have exercised the latter option, have managed to override the provisions of the central law. In the present case this has meant doing away with the provisions of consent and Social Impact Assessment. This paper traces how, and to what extent, the provisions of the central law have been diluted by the states.
  • Topic: Security, Constitution, Land Law, 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: Susan Esme Chaplin
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Even though sanitation was established as a separate human right by the United Nations General Assembly in January 2016, there has an been overall failure to reduce by half the proportion of the global population without access to basic sanitation (Millennium Development Goal 7, Target C). The Sustainable Development Goals have targets of gender equality, and the sustainable and universal provision of sanitation. Hopefully this will mean increased attention being given to the interests and well-being of poor women and girls living in slums and informal settlements who still lack access to adequate sanitation. The sanitation needs of women and girls are different from those of men and boys because of the former’s requirements of personal safety, dignity and menstrual hygiene; there is also the issue of the disproportionate burden of unpaid labour in managing household sanitary needs. These inequalities in urban sanitation access have a great impact on the health, well-being and socio-economic status of women and girls. These inequalities continue to exist despite efforts to make the needs of poor urban women and girls an integral part of sanitation policies and project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Despite the emphasis of low-income countries on gender inequalities and sanitation in their development goals, programmes and projects, there is still only a limited number of qualitative and quantitative evidence-based research articles available focusing on gender and sanitation continue to be available. This number further decreases when it comes to gender and urban sanitation in the Global South. The grey literature is more numerous, particularly that commissioned by international development agencies and non-government organisations. Missing from much of this evidence-based and grey literature are studies on the broader social, economic and environmental impacts on poor women and girls of daily life without access to adequate and safe sanitation. This means that there is very little evidence-based literature which examines how these inequalities in sanitation access affect the lives of poor women and girls who have to queue each morning to use public toilets, or decide which open defecation (OD) sites are the least dangerous to use. Also missing are studies on the socio-economic, health and well-being impacts on and coping strategies of women working in the informal sector, poor women and girls with a disability, elderly women, adolescent girls and homeless women or those living on the pavements, who all lack access to adequate and safe sanitation facilities. These sanitation inequalities are exemplified by the time poor women and girls have to spend each morning queueing to use the toilet or getting up earlier to go with other women to OD sites. The necessity for such actions furthers gender inequalities because it puts at risk the time women have available for paid employment and other household responsibilities. Truelove (2011, p. 148) has argued that this ‘curtailment of opportunities (from income to education) due to water and sanitation activities reinforces a further level of physical insecurity and emotional violence, as some women become locked in a feedback cycle that brings them into distinct spaces and networks in order to access water and sanitation’. Women and girls living in slums often report instances of gender-based violence, shame and loss of dignity when walking along badly lit narrow paths to poorly designed and maintained community toilets or places of OD (Bapat & Agarwal 2003, Lennon 2011, McFarlane 2015, SHARE 2015 and Amnesty International 2010a). Phadke, Khan & Ranade (2011, p. 85), in a study of women and risk in Mumbai, have suggested that ‘[what] the lack of public toilets says is that women are less equal citizens than men and don’t deserve the same consideration’ in the design of urban spaces and the provision of urban infrastructures such as sanitation facilities. These gender inequalities continue to exist despite the use of the concept of ‘gender mainstreaming’ in water and sanitation projects since the mid-1990s, which was designed to make the needs of women and girls an integral part of sanitation policies and project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Instead, gender has become a term that is widely used in project documents and organisational policy documents ‘but is little theorised and ill-defined in most projects and supporting policy documents’ (O‘Reilly 2010, p. 49). Gender, according to the Water and Sanitation Program (2010, p. 9): is a concept that refers to socially constructed roles, behaviour, activities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate and ascribes to men and women. These distinct roles and the relations between them may give rise to gender inequalities where one group is systematically favoured and holds advantages over another. Inequality in the position of men and women can and has worked against societies.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Water, Urbanization, Women, Inequality, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Ashwin Parulkar
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This working paper from CPR’s and TISS' Understanding Metropolitan Homelessness project tells stories of six migrant homeless men from Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland who live, for various durations, in shelters along the western bank of the Yamuna river in North Delhi, locally referred to as ‘Yamuna Pushta’. Through tracing their journeys from villages and towns to Delhi’s streets, the paper explores how these men became homeless and how they survive homelessness in Delhi. This project, which is funded by ICSSR and is being conducted by CPR and TISS is led by Partha Mukhopadhyay and Ashwin Parulkar at CPR and Tarique Mohammed at TISS. A key objective of the project in general, and this paper in particular, is to better understand the structural causes of homelessness (e.g. poverty, unemployment) and how these are interlinked – through capturing the lived experiences of the homeless in their voice. This research aims to inform successful policy and implementation responses to address the current ineffectiveness of outreach efforts to homeless people in Delhi, despite interventions by the Supreme Court and support schemes designed by the government. The six stories in the paper uncover conditions, and combinations, of extreme poverty and physical abuse experienced by these men in their native places before they left home. It traces how they secure jobs, and survive, in daily wage, informal economies without housing, as well as access social services like shelter, health and drug de-addiction programs to endure the streets of Delhi. According to a 2010 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey, 87% of nearly 55,955 homeless adults worked jobs in the informal economy, entailing ‘the most rigorous activities which are essential for movement and building in the city.’ This paper describes in detail the varied experiences these six men have in such jobs that they find through contractors in informal labour ‘markets’ (mandis); as cooks and servers in small eateries (dhabas), and as wedding catering party workers. Through their trajectories, Parulkar also explores differences between working homeless men who return home to support families and those who have no ties with their native places and live on the streets indefinitely. For a sense of how these men became homeless and the work conditions they experience while homeless, listen to audio samples of interviews (above) conducted during field research.
  • Topic: Migration, Poverty, Social Policy, Unemployment, Homelessness
  • 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: Partha Mukhopadhyay, Marie-Hélène Zérah, Gopa Samanta, Augustin Maria
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper presents the results of an investigation of selected census towns in northern India. Census towns are settlements that India’s census classifies as urban although they continue to be governed as rural settlements. The 2011 census featured a remarkable increase in the number of census towns, which nearly tripled between 2001 and 2011, from 1,362 to 3,894. This increase contributed to nearly a third (29.5 percent) of the total increase in the urban population during this period. Only part of this evolution can be attributed to the gradual urbanization of settlements in the vicinity or larger towns. Instead, the majority of census towns appear as small “market towns,” providing trade and other local services to a growing rural market. The case studies of representative census towns in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal show the role of increased connectivity and growing rural incomes in driving the demand for the small scale and non-tradable services, which are the main sources of nonfarm employment in these settlements.The case studies also reveal that the trade-offs between urban and rural administrative statuses are actively debated in many of these settlements. Although statistical comparisons do not show a significant impact of urban or rural administrative status on access to basic services, urban status is often favored by the social groups involved in the growing commercial and services sectors, and resisted by the residents still involved in the traditional farming sectors.
  • Topic: Urbanization, Economy, Census, Rural
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Shyam Saran
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In the next decade, how US-China relations unfold will shape the external environment for countries like India. How does China perceive the Trump presidency?
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trump
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Daljit Singh
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Introduction of competition and providing consumers choice of supplier have been two of the main aims of reform of the electricity sector in India. This paper examines the experience with three measures to fulfill these aims: (1) open-access to the transmission and distribution system; (2) allowing multiple distribution licensees in an area; and (3) proposed Electricity Act Amendments (EAA) for separation of carriage and content in the distribution system for electricity. Open access and multiple distribution licenses have not been very successful for two main reasons. First, there is a mismatch between the perspective of the Centre and the States; the Centre has a long-term perspective focused on competition and efficiency while the States are concerned about more immediate issues of protecting the discoms’ revenues and maintaining affordable tariffs. Second, incomplete and/or faulty legislation and regulations have resulted in ad-hoc rule-making and the Courts having to step in to fill the legislative and regulatory gaps. Two particularly significant examples are: (1) provision in the Electricity Act allowing multiple distribution licensees in the same area that has led to duplication of resources and high tariffs for consumers in Mumbai; and (2) the lack of comprehensive regulations defining the relationship between discoms and open access consumers that has led to difficulties for discoms in managing load swings and in power procurement planning; development of model regulations would be useful. The paper also identifies difficulties in achieving retail competition due to fragmented fuel markets, and suggests ensuring effective wholesale competition first. The proposed framework for separation of carriage and content in EAA is very cumbersome and may not achieve the stated goals. In addition, there are concerns about the impact on small consumers and the finances of the provider of last resort. The implications of EAA should to be thought through more thoroughly before implementation.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Legislation, Electricity
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Megha Kaladharan
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India emerged as a key player in the recent international climate talks in Paris. On the global stage, India reiterated its commitment towards clean energy and reducing carbon emissions.1 India’s increased thrust on renewable energy is outlined in the 2015 national budget, which set a five-fold increase in renewable energy targets to achieve 175 GW by 2022. This comprises 100 GW solar, 60 GW wind, 10 GW biomass and 5 GW small hydropower capacity, supported by a substantial budgetary allocation. The existing generation capacity is dominated by conventional coal-fired thermal power (211 GW as of May, 2016, 70% of total capacity). State distribution companies (Discoms) are by far the largest purchaser of electricity, including that from renewable energy sources. Therefore, the ability of the Discoms to purchase such power lies at the heart of the success of the national level directional shift from conventional to renewable power. However, presently, Discoms are reeling under massive debts and their actions are often dictated by local political factors rather than the achievement of operational and technical efficiency. Working towards the ambitious national renewable energy targets necessarily requires a revamp of the electricity distribution sector. Major legislative amendments and policy changes have been made and are underway at the central level to create an enabling environment for the nationwide growth of renewable energy. This paper proposes to analyse the existing constitutional and regulatory framework within which Discoms and other key stakeholders in the renewable power sector operate. The implications of the recently proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003 (Electricity Act), the National Tariff Policy and provisions of the Draft Renewable Energy Act will be discussed in detail. A discussion on renewable energy is incomplete without an understanding of the legislative and judicial trends that govern the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) imposed on Discoms. The paper offers an insight into the perspectives of Discoms, regulators and governments on RPO compliance. Further, the larger debate surrounding electricity sector reform and its implications for the renewable power sector have been analysed.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Regulation, Renewable Energy
  • 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: 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: Shyam Saran
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Pupul Jayakar was influenced deeply by theosophy and became a follower of one of its best known spiritual masters, J. Krishnamurti. One of my treasured possessions is an autographed copy of her celebrated biography of the spiritual guide and teacher. This was her gift to me in the midst of the Festival of India in Japan in 1987/88, which I regard as one of our most successful forays in cultural diplomac y, showcasing the breathtaking range of cultural experiences that India has to offer. The Festival in Japan, just like the earlier Festivals in the US and France, was meticulously choreographed by Pupul Jayakar. As coordinator of the Festival in the Indian Embassy in Japan, I had the rare privilege of working closely with her, putting in place nearly 30 events – performing arts, theatre, exhibitions, fashion shows and film festivals, which eventually covered as many locations throughout Japan. Japanese TV channels carried Festival related programming of over 100 hours, all without cost, bringing Indian culture as a living phenomenon into the homes of millions of Japanese. And over this veritable cultural feast presided Pupul Jayakar, not inappropriately known as the Czarina of Indian culture. I am honoured to have been invited to deliver this address in her memory.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Soft Power, Spirituality
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • 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: Geetima Das Krishna, Ankit Bhardwaj
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: After three decades of double-digit growth, China is slowing as it is rebalancing its economy from export-driven to less-volatile domestic consumption driven economy. The paper looks at the impact of China slowdown on India through different channels. Even though India is usurping China as the fastest growing major economy in the world, Indian economy being a fifth of the Chinese economy and also less material intensive can hardly substitute for China as a global growth driver. China has emerged as the largest trading partner of India but India’s trade still remains less vulnerable to Chinese slowdown directly as India’s services exports account for as much as 50% of India’s overall exports (merchandise and services). On the other hand, China’s total FDI investment in India has been miniscule $1.2 billion till September 2015 and India’s infrastructure sector, with its massive investment needs, can be the natural destination for Chinese investments. India reaped the indirect benefit of lower commodity prices in terms of narrower CAD, softening inflation, lower interest rate, increased government fiscal bonanza, all of which contributed to greater macro-stability in India. It was also found that a 50bps decline in China’s growth rate is likely to lower India’s growth by 30bp in the short run.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Economic Growth, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Shibani Ghosh
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In October 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released a Draft Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposing amendments to the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and the National Green Tribunal Act 2010. The stated objective of the Bill is to provide ‘effective deterrent penal provisions’ and to introduce the concept of monetary penalty. It also aims ‘to minimise the exercise of discretion and make an unambiguous framework’. This paper summarises the text of the Bill and analyses whether it will complement the environmental objectives the parent laws espouse. It discusses some of the major concerns relating to the proposed amendments under three broad themes: environmental damage and penalties, adjudicating authorities and rule making powers. It concludes that although penalties that effectively deter violators are certainly the need of the hour, the proposed amendments are unlikely to achieve this objective.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Law Enforcement, Law, Legislation, Deterrence
  • 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: 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
  • Author: Geetima Das Krishna, Vardhana Pawaskar, Ankit Bhardwaj
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Savings provides the means for investments. Typically, investments are primarily funded through domestic savings and the rest through foreign capital inflows. Domestic savings are from three sources -- households, private and public sector. Household savings form the largest part of total savings. As domestic savings contributes the most to capital formation, it can also be a limiting factor to investments. The paper deals with changing pattern of Household savings, its shift away from capital (financial) markets towards unproductive assets like gold and possibilities of channelization household savings to investment rather than speculative assets. The paper looks at the current policy incentives in terms of tax to boost capital market investment and whether it has served the purpose of long term capital formation. The current savings environment indicates a high proportion being in physical rather than financial assets. Within financial assets derivatives are preferred over the cash equity. We propose that an investment of incentive structure should support a pyramid where the small investors would hold maximum in the less risky assets and reduce the holdings as they move towards risky assets. Our paper is organized as, section (2) studies trends in current macro-economic scenario in terms of the savings; section (3), deals with, the capital formation and share of capital markets in terms of raising new capital. In section (4), we look at the current investment pattern in Indian capital markets and the incentives provides to boost trading in the equity and derivative products. Section (5) we give our proposal on the layered approach to investment architecture. Finally, section (6) concludes the paper.
  • Topic: Finance, Economy, Capital Flows, Investment
  • 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