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

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Rural Electrification in India

Over the past decade and a half, India has evidenced substantial investments in rural electrification. As per official estimates, 100% village electrification and over 90% household connections have been achieved. But, if this investment is to return rural development dividends, it is important to focus on the issues of affordability, sufficiency, and quality of electricity supply, especially for small consumers. Without this, there is a danger that the new rural infrastructure will fall to disuse, as had happened in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh after the first wave of rural electrification. Both policies and politics need to shift focus from universal connections to upgradation of quality of supply and services.

Financial Inclusion of Female Sex Workers

The clandestine nature of sex work and the stigma surrounding it restricts access to and utilisation of financial services by female sex workers, and makes it more difficult for policymakers to design appropriate programmes for their empowerment. An examination of the factors that contribute to the utilisation of financial services focused on FSWs reveals that there is an urgent need to strengthen linkages with formal banking institutions for the financial inclusion and empowerment of FSWs.

Decentralisation of Environmental Regulations in India

The decentralisation of Environment Impact Assessment processes has improved the enforcement of environmental regulations and been successful in reducing polluting activities in India. Evidence suggests that decentralisation was associated with relatively fewer firm births in states with stricter environmental law enforcement. In such a scenario, the development of stronger collaborations between various stakeholders would enhance the enforcement of environmental regulations and reduce disparities between states, through knowledge and resource sharing, and improving technical, financial and administrative capabilities.

Protection of Traditional Knowledge

The new National Intellectual Property Rights Policy advocates an aggressive, neo-liberal agenda of commodification of knowledge, and extends this to traditional knowledge as well. However, there is a need to revisit the primary, still unresolved issues regarding the protection of traditional knowledge and their tentative solutions. Considering the inevitability of participation in the global trade order, a case is made for equipping traditional knowledge holders and indigenous and local communities with the wherewithal to participate in the market economy, proactively assert their rights over their traditional knowledge, and derive benefits from its use.

The Role of Teacher Education Programmes

Based on a study that explores the conceptions of citizenship among students of two popular teacher education programmes in Delhi, this article reveals how teacher education programmes are critical in influencing notions of citizenship, either by reinforcing the prevalent notions or in expanding the horizons within which citizenship is understood and practised. A strong empirical case is made for taking the curriculum and pedagogic processes of preparing teachers seriously, especially if educators hold the conviction that teachers can play a critical role in social transformation.

Rights-based Approaches to Development in Odisha

Two strategies employed by non-governmental organisations that are key to a rights-based approach to development are examined, ensuring the active engagement of state duty-bearers and building alliances at multiple levels. The aim is to understand how sustainable alliances between NGOs, the state, communities, and other stakeholders are built at the grass-roots level. The findings indicate the importance of ensuring the active participation of communities in development activities, especially through continuous interactions with government duty-bearers and networking with different grass-roots groups.

Grappling with Foxes and Hedgehogs of India’s Senior Civil Services

One of the neglected areas of reforms of India’s organised senior civil services relates to the rationalisation of its branching structure and the related debate of generalist vs specialist services. The present structure is a confusing hotchpotch of specialist and generalist branches, at different layers of government, and has largely resulted in inter-branch rivalries,dissatisfaction, and a dysfunctional organisational structure, affecting the efficiency of the senior management and governance. In light of this, a rationalised redesign, effected through a mix of mergers, abolitions, and reinvention and with specialised–generalist branches responsible for broad domains of functions, appears to be the most suitable strategy for reform.

A Less Acknowledged Source of Gandhi’s Ideas of Trusteeship

Mahatma Gandhi’s views on trusteeship deserve special attention as part of the discipline of political economy. He repeatedly opposed the idea of expropriating wealth or property from the rich, yet, for him, wealth did not “belong” to the rich owner. The owner was merely the “trustee,” one who was duty-bound to take care of the wealth and use it not just for his personal welfare but for the welfare of many. Similarly, the firm too was in his opinion held “in trust” by the person in control in a tripartite partnership along with its employees and customers. The different nuances of Gandhian trusteeship are examined by tracing the infl uences on Gandhi that led him to his conclusions.

Dalit Politics and Its Fragments in Punjab

​ The enigmatic marginality of Dalit politics in Punjab, despite having the highest proportion of Scheduled Castes, partly exposes the limitation of numbers as indicators of social dynamics in a democracy. The key may lie in the critical role that multiple religious traditions play within the Dalit community across regions in Punjab, inhibiting a larger Dalit consolidation. Ethnographic profiles of three distinct, organic Dalit intellectuals in Punjab show their convergence in accepting B R Ambedkar as a political icon but divergence on the latter’s prescription of conversion to Buddhism.

‘We Were, Are, and Will Remain Discriminated Against’

That transgender persons are discriminated against and victimised in society has been widely recognised. However, in light of progressive judicial and state interventions, has the status of transgender persons improved? Through an analysis of narratives of transgender persons, with respect to their sociopolitical position, economic security, political participation, and health services available to them, an attempt has been made to understand the living conditions of transgender persons in Odisha, and provide a qualitative account of their status in society.

Non-performing Assets of Commercial Banks

The restructuring of loans of commercial banks permitted by the Reserve Bank of India under the corporate debt restructuring scheme enabled the banks to upgrade the loans of some of the potentially viable units from the substandard to the standard category. In view of the recent directives of the RBI—realistic assessment of the restructured assets and standardisation of the asset classification—there is a reversal of entries in some cases, which attracted higher provisioning, resulting in losses or a dip in profits of the commercial banks.

Transcending Ethnic Differences

On the basis of a one-day meeting of 24 women from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh at a migrant camp in the Jammu region—as part of Conciliation Resources’ Women’s Project—the use of storytelling as a method of peace building has been investigated. It demonstrates how telling their stories has an impact on women’s psyche, allows them to transcend ethnic and religious differences, mitigates perceived differences, and paves the way for peace-building efforts.

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