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

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Rural Credit in 20th Century India

This overview of rural credit in 20th century India finds a remarkable continuity in the problems faced by the poor throughout the period. These include dependence on usurious moneylenders and the operation of a deeply exploitative grid of interlocked, imperfect markets. We articulate the theoretical and historical case for nationalisation of banks and provide evidence of its positive impact on rural credit and development. Certain excesses led to the reforms of the 1990s, which did increase bank profitability but at the cost of the poor and backward regions. While the microfinance institution model is unsustainable, the self-help group-bank linkage approach of MF can make a positive impact on security and empowerment of the disadvantaged. Much more than MF is, however, needed to overcome the problems that have persisted over the last 100 years.

A New Beginning for CAPART

The Hameed Committee has come up with recommendations that could go a long way in reinventing the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology. It could also trigger a long overdue process of public sector reforms in rural development.

Reforms for Watersheds

Reforms for Watersheds MIHIR SHAH In his comments on the Report of the Technical Committee on Watershed Programmes in India (Parthasarathy Committee report, henceforth PCR), V Ratna Reddy (EPW, October 7, 2006) repeatedly ties himself in knots. His piece is riddled with factual misrepresentations, internal inconsistencies and poor argumentation.

Towards Reforms

The report of the Technical Committee on Watershed Programmes (the Parthasarathy Committee) on watershed reforms recommends a reformed and expanded activity which holds the key to livelihood security. It analyses the drawbacks of the current Hariyali guidelines - a panchayat-centred watershed programme - and emphasises the major role of civil society in guiding reforms in the state sector. This article is a synoptic view of the main findings and recommendations of the report.

The Bank Comes Full Circle

aquifer associations to monitor their The Bank Comes Full Circle India

Government 'Schedule of Rates'

The Schedule of Rates that state governments currently use to value work done by labour employed in schemes needs to be substantially revised if the promise of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is to be realised. The schedules now have an inherent pro-contractor bias, encourage the use of machinery and make it virtually impossible for labourers to earn minimum wages.

Ecology, Exclusion and Reform in Madhya Pradesh

Abundantly endowed with water, forest and mineral resources, Madhya Pradesh has yet become a symbol of the uneven development of the Indian economy and society. Nearly a quarter of the population of the state consists of members of the scheduled tribes, who have historically been one of the most disadvantaged sections of Indian society. In many respects, MP typifies the most difficult problems faced by the poorest regions of India. For this reason alone a study of MP's development trajectory would be instructive. An understanding of MP's development experience can also help us fathom some of the limitations of mainstream economic theory. With some creativity and imagination, it could enable formulation of new and effective strategies to tackle the most complex challenges of our time. This special edition of the EPW researches a few dimensions of the social, economic and political dynamics in the state.

Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Mid-day Meals in MP

This first-ever report, based on a survey in Madhya Pradesh, on the functioning of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana reveals that the scheme has made a significant contribution to the survival of families on the verge of destitution. However, with the poor outreach of the public distribution system in the tribal areas and the insufficient coverage of the AAY within each village, the yojana fails to make the difference it potentially can to the food security of the poorest of the poor. This article also evaluates the "ruchikar" (relishing) mid-day meal programme of the MP government as a result of which enrolment in schools has dramatically increased despite the poor meal quality and inadequate infrastructure. But the absence of a separate administration for meal management has placed an enormous burden on teachers, which poses a danger of further compromising the already very poor quality of primary education.

First You Push Them In, Then You Throw Them Out

The interests of the adivasis are largely ignored in the development paradigm. The well-being of these weak and voiceless communities gets trampled over the process. The proposed Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2005 is an attempt to redress this wrong. While the strength of the bill is that it is trying to convert an existing reality into an opportunity, its biggest weakness lies in its cut-off date, i e, 1980, because it could spark off a fresh round of contention and confrontation in forest areas.

Saving the Employment Guarantee Act

The 2004 Employment Guarantee Bill needs to be modified if its objective is to be realised. The critics and supporters of the programme should be able to reach a compromise on the identification of beneficiaries, coverage and wage rates. However, if the bill in its present form is passed by parliament, this cure could be worse than the disease.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act : A Historic Opportunity

The proposed employment guarantee programme will generate work for the poorest; it is also an opportunity to revive public investment in agriculture, tackle the prevailing environmental crisis that is gripping rural India and galvanise the panchayat raj institutions. The proposed legislation should not put in place a weak and diluted jobs programme.

Water Crisis in Dewas-Is Rainfall the Culprit

Water scarcity is becoming a chronic phenomenon and is increasingly becoming apparent even in sub-humid areas. Changes in rainfall patterns have been held to be responsible for this water crisis. The factual basis of this popular understanding is examined here with reference to Dewas town which is experiencing a severe water crisis.


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