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  • Author: Anindita Mukherjee, Anju Dwivedi, Neha Agarwal
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The state of Odisha has made unprecedented strides in increasing access to individual toilets from 14% in 2011 to a purported 100% in 2019 under the Swachh Bharat Mission - Gramin. In light of the clarion call of a ‘Swachha Odisha, Sustha Odisha’, and the national imperatives set by the National Rural Sanitation Strategy, 2019-2029, the state has created a systematic framework towards the achievement of total sanitation in the form of the Odisha Rural Sanitation Policy, 2020. To inform the creation of the Policy and shape its contours for responding optimally to ground realities, we undertook a rapid assessment of the prevailing sanitation practices in three districts of the state. The present report discusses the resulting findings relating to varied aspects of rural sanitation - ranging from trends in toilet use and on-site sanitation systems to the availability and state of Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) infrastructure.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Governance, Rural, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Mekhala Krishnamurthy, Deepak Sanan, Karnamadakala Rahul Sharma, Aditya Unnikrishnan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused extraordinary hardship since India’s first case was reported in Thrissur, Kerala in January 2020. Individuals and communities have since then made drastic changes to their behaviours, daily routines and lives, quite often in response to announcements or regulatory direction provided by the state. Officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) are important actors at the forefront of framing, implementing and evaluating the state’s response to the pandemic, and uniquely positioned between the political executive and India’s massive frontline state. Their views on the state’s response, preparedness, the public and stakeholders in governance, and their positions on important normative debates underlying policy formulation and implementation therefore offer useful insights into both how the Indian state governs, and how it might govern better in the future. This report presents the results of a representative survey of over 500 IAS officers conducted between August and September 2020, 7-8 months into the pandemic. The survey sought to engage members of the IAS in reflecting on the critical challenges, decisions, and trade-offs that confronted public administrators charged with managing the state response at different levels. In doing so, it revealed both widely shared and sharply contested views on a range of subjects, including the role of the civil servant, executive and bureaucratic functioning in a crisis, and perceptions of and relations between the state, the public, and other important actors and institutions. The report finds that on the one hand, IAS officers are remarkably consistent in expressing high levels of motivation and public service commitment and endorse the view that the Indian state and bureaucracy galvanise resources and deliver reasonably well in times of crisis. On the other hand, there is a consistent tension between some strongly expressed ideals and the realities of administrative action, especially on engagement and communication with, and trust in the public. Finally, there is significant diversity among IAS officers when it comes to perceptions of key stakeholders (civil society, international agencies and the media) and a striking distrust of the private sector. The report also highlights the diversity in responses of officers across state cadres and seniority in several places through disaggregated analysis. This report, by the State Capacity Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is part of a larger body of work on understanding the norms and values underpinning different state institutions in India. As we develop this body of work over the coming years, our goal is to continue to probe not just how the state performs, but how it perceives its own capacity, why and how it makes choices, imagines possibilities for governance, and engages with citizens.
  • Topic: Governance, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • 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: Aparna Das, Anindita Mukherjee, Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar, Sudeshna Chatterjee, Arushi Gupta, Aastha Jain
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Government of Kerala dovetailed its state housing programme with the national scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2015 to realise the vision for ‘Housing for All’. The State Poverty Eradication Mission of the Government of Kerala, or Kudumbashree, is the state-level nodal agency for implementing the scheme in Kerala. The PMAY (U) is converged with the LIFE Mission (Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment), the comprehensive housing scheme of the Kerala government, and is implemented as PMAY (U)-LIFE. In Kerala, the PMAY’s Beneficiary-led Individual House Construction or Enhancement (BLC) vertical emerged as the most preferred vertical, owing to an increased subsidy outlay by the Government of Kerala. Further, recognising the lack of state-owned land as a significant hindrance to the uptake of the BLC scheme, the state government converged the implementation of the BLC scheme with the third phase of the LIFE Mission in 2017. This convergence provided an additional subsidy to the landless households to purchase private land, thereby enabling their inclusion under the ambit of the BLC scheme in the state. This report is based on a primary assessment of the state of habitat improvement in Kerala, under the ambit of PMAY (U)-LIFE, through a quantitative household survey in three cities of Kerala – Kochi, Trivandrum and Mukkam. It finds that the State’s interventions towards the Housing for All agenda have underscored the importance attributed to the landless and the homeless in the state, rather than slum dwellers exclusively. The State’s interventions have also successfully demonstrated an approach towards enabling livelihoods through housing and imbibing financial empowerment among women. While the Kerala model has exhibited various successful interventions to achieve a higher uptake of the BLC under PMAY, Kerala now needs to focus on adopting a city-wide, inclusive spatial planning approach. This report concludes by advocating for the provision of allied basic civic infrastructure across the new and existing housing in the state and for a spatial integration of the beneficiaries, to ensure habitat improvement.
  • Topic: Poverty, Governance, Urban, Housing
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India