ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Have the State Finance Commissions Fulfilled Their Constitutional Mandates?

The State Finance Commission, although a technical and quasijudicial constitutional entity like the Union Finance Commission, has to help local governments plan for economic development and deliver social justice and public services at the local level. This article evaluates the history of the performance of SFCs in general and shows that they have missed a great opportunity to contribute to the process of building a more inclusive, participatory and environmentfriendly fi scal federalism via promoting decentralised governance in the country. It argues that the blame is to be collectively shared and shouldered by the union, state and local governments.

Limits of a 'Devolution Index'

The National Council of Applied Economic Research and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj have prepared an index to measure and assess how far the states have progressed in "empowering" panchayati raj institutions. The devolution index measures the functions, finance and functionaries of the PRIs as also accountability in the institutions, and accordingly ranks states. This article critically discusses the experiment to measure and compare states in the empowerment of PRIs.

The Finance Commission and the Third Tier

The 73rd/74th amendments to the Constitution took up the task of building a viable local government system and gave the Union Finance Commission an important role in this process. How can the Thirteenth Finance Commission work towards building a new public finance structure that involves the third tier in the country?

Reforms and the Kerala Model

A model, which is not sustainable, is a tragedy. In the context of neoliberal reforms, this article raises certain emerging issues relating to equity and sustainability of the "Kerala model" of development.

Kerala: Why the ADB Loan for Urban Development?

Against the backdrop of Kerala's recent furore over the acceptance of a loan from the Asian Development Bank, this article examines the salient features of the loan. It asks why such a loan is relevant for the sustainable urban infrastructure development of Kerala and recommends certain modifications of some of the clauses of the agreement.

Fiscal Decentralisation to the Sub-State Level Governments

Even after more than a decade of decentralised governance, the fiscal decentralisation scenario is disturbing. There is a decline in the percentage of local government expenditure in relation to the total government expenditure and in the progress of expenditure decentralisation in 11 out of the 15 major states. The revenue decentralisation trend is also no better and the average rate of growth in the tax revenue of panchayati raj institutions as well as the urban local bodies in most of the states has been negative. It renders efforts to build autonomous local governments impossible.

Twelfth Finance Commission and Local Bodies

The TFC has contributed significantly towards healthy fiscal federalism. But local bodies are yet to be put prominently on the public finance map of India. This is needed to facilitate an inclusive and equitable economic growth and to secure better horizontal equity. The available local data are of poor quality and need drastic improvement. Future finance commissions and their counterparts at the state level will have to play a more important role to make fiscal decentralisation a working reality in Indian fiscal federalism.

Eleventh Finance Commission and Local Bodies-Tasks and Options

in the provision is 'shall', which makes it binding on India to accept the information provided by the patent applicant unconditionally. The unconditional acceptance of the information provided by the applicant on the patent grant and marketing approval has two serious implications arising from exclusive nature of rights. The first is that India would have to give a patent-like monopoly on a product which has not even been examined from the viewpoint of patentability in the country. In fact, it is entirely possible that a product that would enjoy EMR for a five-year period because of the imposition of Article 70.9 might not be granted a patent after it has been examined by the Indian patent examiners after 2005. This situation could arise if the product patent applications waiting to receive exclusive marketing rights to take advantage of the transitional arrangements (there are 3,000 applica- tions, according to a recent count) include products based on-traditional medicines (based on turmeric, for instance) which have been granted patents in the US in the recent past. Thus, while the adoption of the EMR route would make it obligatory for India to grant marketing rights on any such application, examination for a grant of patent in India after 2005 would render such a product non-patentable in India simply because the product in question would not have met the basic criteria of novelty. What the above means in other words is the following: products based on turmeric or neem may be given EMRs in India during the period up to 2005 since they have been patented in the US and have marketing approval to boot, but it is highly unlikely that the Indian Patent Office would grant a patent to such products after the product patent regime becomes fully operational The second implication, related to first, has in fact longer-term significance. By acceding to the demand for granting EMR, or a patent-like monopoly in the market, for the product covered by the patent application, on the basis of a patent granted in any other WTO member country, India would have de facto surrendered even the little space it has in terms of exercising its sovereign right, which is the freedom to apply its own standards while examining a patent application and apply the patentability criteria. Patent on turmeric, referred to above, is a case in point. This could be the first step towards pushing the Indian Patent Office into a situation where it can be influenced by whether or not the applicant has already obtained a patent in some other country. The full impact of this situation could be felt in the years to come given the trend in several industri-alised countries, led by the US, where patents are being granted for virtually every form of invention or even discovery.

Searching for New Development Strategies-More Basic Issues Involved

Searching for New Development Strategies More Basic Issues Involved? M A Oommen SEARCHING for New Development Strategies: Challenges of Social Summit' by Ignacy Sachs (IS for short) (EPW, July 8, 1995), though written in the context of the UN Social Summit held in Copenhagen in March 1995, raises several basic issues which probably need to be further explored as they relate to new strategies for development. That market mediated economic growth has emerged in the post-cold war era as the unchallenged ideology apparently with no alternative gives considerable significance to any quest or search for alternative paradigms and strategies, This note is not in the nature of a critique, but rather by way of taking a few relevant issues raised by Sachs (indeed from a big lot) lor further discussion in order to promote further investigations.

Towards an Alternative Union Budget

M A Oommen Alternative formulation of the budget or the economic survey needs to he hacked by substantial research if they are to challenge the government's contention that there is no alternative to implementing the IMF-World Bank prescriptions and structural adjustment programmes.

MPs Local Area Development Scheme-Dangerous Portent

of the Tamil society which include the need to unite the Adi Dravidas and oppressed sections of the backward castes on the basis of their shared experience of economic and socio-cultural exploitation, the heed to counter the resurgence of Brahmin ism in the guise of Hindu right wing political outfits such as the BJP, the RSS and the Hindu Munnani, and the need to safeguard the cultural and linguistic rights of the Tamil people from the homogenising onslaught of the centre. The non-Brahmin elites in question are the ones who, at the local level systematically fatten themselves by pillaging the Adi Dravidas and the poorer sections of the backward castes, both economically and socio-culturally. To expect them to carry forward the agenda of Adi Dravida- lower Sudra unity is to expect the impossible. Similarly, these are precisely the sections, which, given their economic ascendency, are searching for cultural supremacy by backing the forces of Hindutva in the state. The elite sections of the Nadars, Kallars, Goundcrs and others are actively participating in the present phase of Brahminica) revival which has now adopted a more inclusive strategy in terms of caste. What is more, they, with their recently acquired economic and socio-cultural strengths, are finding it possible to express a pan-Indian desire, which is partly reflected in their drift towards the Hindu right. Such pan-Indian desire is already acting as an important constraint for taking up issues such as the imposition of Hindi by the union government.


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