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Striving for Begumpura: Traversing the Intellectual Activism of Gail Omvedt

​Writer, researcher, life-long fellow traveller of the progressive movements and long-time author with the Economic & Political Weekly, Gail Omvedt passed away on 25 August 2021. In this reading list, we present some of the highlights of her scholarship published in EPW.

Labour Force and Employment Growth in India

This study analyses the changing structure of the labour force and employment in India using the Employment and Unemployment Survey (2011–12) and the Periodic Labour Force Surveys I and II (2017–18 and 2018–19). The estimates indicate that there was a mere improvement in employment from 2017–18 to 2018–19; however, as this was accompanied by a decline in the size of the workforce between 2011–12 and 2017–18, this does not indicate recovery. The unemployment rate, especially that of youth, remains at a historic high. A remarkable decline in the share of agriculture in the workforce without a corresponding increase in the non-agricultural sector indicates a somewhat distorted structural transformation. A sizeable portion of the female population has been withdrawn from the labour and workforces.

The Land Pooling Scheme in Andhra Pradesh

The Land Pooling Scheme employed by the state of Andhra Pradesh has procured nearly 33,000 acres of agricultural land to implement the master plan of its new capital city Amaravati. This article explores the intervention made by the LPS as an alternative to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and the various discourses associated with its implementation in AP.

Impending Water Crisis in India

Emerging Water Insecurity in India: Lessons from an Agriculturally Advanced State by Ranjit Singh Ghuman and Rajeev Sharma, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018; pp xxvi + 298, price not indicated .

Pesticide Poisoning in India

Across the world, studies show rising numbers in pesticide poisonings. Pesticide poisoning is a big problem in India. Due to various challenges, the data on pesticide poisoning compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau is not comprehensive. There is a direct linkage between intensive pesticide usage and poisoning. Pesticide poisoning—a growing public health issue—is ignored by the medical community, police, agriculture departments, and other regulatory authorities.

Rural–Urban Disparity in the Standard of Living across States of India

The rural–urban disparity in the standard of living in India is estimated on the basis of per capita consumption or use of non-durable goods, durable consumer goods, and house and living facilities enjoyed by the population of the rural and urban sectors in major states of India in 2011–12. This estimate shows that the rural–urban disparity in the standard of living is the highest in Jharkhand and Odisha and the lowest in Punjab and Kerala. The interstate variation in rural–urban disparity is negatively correlated with per capita state domestic product, degree of urbanisation, level of agricultural development, and per capita amount of remittances received by rural households. It is positively correlated with the percentage of state population below the poverty line.

Intersecting Journeys

Gail Omvedt widened the horizons of scholarship on caste, class, and gender by probing into hitherto unexplored areas and inspired fellow scholars and activists to pursue new inquiries. A fellow traveller on the path of transformative theory and praxis looks back on these intertwined journeys.

Changing Profile of Punjab Agriculture

This article examines the overtime profile of Punjab agriculture and the impact of paddy–wheat monoculture on agroecology. It is argued that it becomes imperative to diversify the cropping pattern, especially replacing the area under paddy towards other alternative crops, for sustainable agriculture.

Drivers of Foodgrain Productivity in Uttar Pradesh

The present study using district-wise panel data for the period between 2000–01 and 2016–17 assesses trends and acceleration or deceleration of growth in area, production and productivity of foodgrains in Uttar Pradesh. Though agriculture production growth in the state is primarily attributed to...

Farmers’ Solidarity in the Wake of UP Elections

Recognising social and political fissures amidst a call for unity is essential.

How Unstable Are the Sources of Livelihood?

This paper, based on the data from the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey, reflects on the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood and the phenomenon of multiple activities pursued simultaneously. A thorough analysis of the quarterly data suggests that in the rural areas, workers largely dependent on agriculture are compelled to shift to other activities in the off season. The nature of employment also varies, particularly in the urban areas. The occupational choice model estimated based on the quarterly data is indicative of changes in the marginal effect for workers of a given caste or an individual with a certain educational attainment. Certain social categories and workers with less educational attainments are more susceptible to changing probability of joining a particular activity and adopting multiple activities.

Water and Agricultural Transformation in India

An argument for twin propositions is presented in this two-part paper: (i) that solving India’s water problem requires a paradigm shift in agriculture (Part I), and (ii) that the crisis in Indian agriculture cannot be resolved without a paradigm shift in water management and governance (Part II). If farming takes up 90% of India’s water and just three water-intensive crops continue to use 80% of agricultural water, the basic water needs of millions of people, for drinking water or protective irrigation, cannot be met. This first part argues that the paradigm shift in agriculture requires a shift in cropping patterns suited to each agroecological region, a movement from monoculture to polycultural crop biodiversity, a decisive move towards agroecological farming, and greater emphasis on soil rejuvenation.

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