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

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Burgeoning Edible Oil Imports and Price Shock(s)

The ever-increasing import bill of edible oil has become a chronic problem for India with edible oil being the third largest among imported goods in India, next only to crude oil and gold. There are structural issues in production, productivity, and trade of edible oils. These energy-rich crops are grown in energy-starved conditions where more than 70% of the area under cultivation is rain-fed and often cultivated with low-quality seeds in a fragmented landholding and outdated agri-management practices. It further studies the trade liberalisation measures of a liberal trade policy regime, lower import duties, duty-exemptions under free trade agreements, and changes that India has witnessed in consumption as well as retail of edible oil.

COVID-19 and Contractual Disputes in India

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a catena of contractual disputes. The paper synthesises the Indian Contract Act and relevant case laws to present a legal position on force majeure , frustration of contract and contractual gaps, in the context of COVID-19. Using the economic analysis of law, it examines contractual disputes from various sectors, including power, construction and real estate, rental, event management and hospitality, and analyses these disputes from legal- and economic-efficiency points of view. Where contracts are not a good instrument for achieving equitable distribution of economic gains and losses, public policy is better suited to address equity and other related issues arising from long-term contracts.

Restricting Third Country Imports

The Government of India has rolled out new rules to restrict third country imports routed through free trade agreement partners for availing preferential tariff benefits. However, the regulatory and compliance-related burdens of the new rules will burden both import-dependent and value chain led export-oriented sectors, and make them uncompetitive in global markets.

The Many Interpretations of Law and Economics

The Republic of Beliefs: A New Approach to Law and Economics by Kaushik Basu, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018; pp 264, £30.

Inefficiency and Abuse of Compulsory Land Acquisition

This paper focuses on two aspects of the laws that govern the acquisition and transfer of agricultural land for other purposes: (a) litigation over compensation, and (b) the regulatory impediments obstructing voluntary land transactions. It shows that there is excessive litigation under the current land acquisition law. It is argued that any compulsory acquisition-based process is inherently prone to litigation, even if accompanied by presumably benevolent schemes such as land-for-land and the rehabilitation and resettlement packages. The paper offers suggestions on how to reform the regulatory framework that governs agricultural land and its use. It discusses the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 and reveals how the bill leaves open several back doors for states to favour companies, and how it fails to address the fundamental causes behind the rampant disputes and litigation over compensation.

Delays and Cost Overruns in Infrastructure Projects: Extent, Causes and Remedies

I am grateful to T C A Anant, Lee Benham, Neha Jain, J V Meenakshi, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Anusha Nath, Bharat Ramaswami and Rohini Somanathan for their comments and suggestions. Atika Gupta and Nitya Mittal provided excellent research support. Digvijay Negi, Nitin Madan and Pawan Gopalakrishnan provided crucial help in compilation of an extensive dataset. Finally, I thank the Centre for Development Economics for research and institutional support. Ram Singh ( ) is with the department of economics at the Delhi School of Economics. This study, based on a large dataset of 894 projects from 17 infrastructure sectors, attempts to answer certain important questions on time and cost overruns in publicly-funded infrastructure projects: How common and how large are the overruns? What are the essential causes? Are contractual and institutional failures among the significant causes? What are the policy implications for planning, development and implementation of infrastructure projects? Among other results of an econometric analysis, the study shows that the contractual and institutional failures are economically and statistically significant causes behind cost and time overruns.

A High-handed Approach to National Highways

The B K Chaturvedi Committee, set up to recommend ways to expedite the National Highways Development Project, seems to have been guided by the misconception that infrastructure can be built by simply doling out additional concessions to the investors. The new rules make inadequate capacity highly rewarding for investors, and offer the entire viability gap-funding grant during the construction phase itself. The question, however, is whether these concessions are necessary and justifiable, given the huge costs they impose on the road user and the taxpayer at large.

Economics of Judicial Decision-Making in Indian Tort Law

Indian courts have applied those rules that have been shown to be efficient in the economic analysis of liability rules. But, as a matter of practice, these rules as applied by Indian courts lead to various kinds of uncertainties regarding the compensation awards. Such uncertainties not only defeat the stated objective of the law of torts, but also cause economic inefficiency. Uncertainties, among other things, result in avoidable wastage of resources, since they induce more litigation by reducing the chances of out-of-court settlement. Many of these uncertainties can be reduced significantly, if courts make use of the relevant tools and techniques developed in the field of economics and statistics.
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