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

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Portability in the Public Distribution System

The public distribution system in India is a major instrument for achieving the goal of “Zero Hunger.” Despite the vast amounts of resources spent, the PDS suffers from several inefficiencies largely attributable to the monopoly of agents involved in the last-mile delivery of grains. To address this issue, several state governments in India have started implementing a novel intervention called portability. This intervention offers beneficiaries the choice of when and where they can avail of their food entitlements while the government controls what and how much. We use detailed and large-scale programme data from Andhra Pradesh to analyse the uptake of portability among the beneficiaries and identify its underlying drivers.

Gift or Bribe?

What distinguishes the delightful act of gift-bearing from the crime of giving a bribe?

Professionalising Election Campaigns

The 2014 and 2019 general elections in India were referred to as “WhatsApp elections,” which had IT cells, bots, and political consultants strategically using data mining tools to build resonant narratives to tell voters what they wanted to hear. By the 2014 national election, the industry was reported to be worth $40–$47 million. Between 2014 and 2018, industry specialists approximated that the number of firms in this market had at least doubled. These unprecedented tools of technological campaigning come with new forms of identifying, targeting, and defining issues of political importance. This article suggests that such developments are turning electoral politics into a thriving business being data-driven, technologically oriented, and having far-reaching implications for democratic processes.

What Is the Effective Delivery Mechanism of Food Support in India?

The public distribution system is the cornerstone of anti-poverty initiatives in India to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, but is plagued with leakages and corruption. Though several possible reasons account for these problems, one factor that is generally overlooked is the lack of assessment of the preference of the beneficiaries in terms of product portfolio, selection, and delivery mechanisms. Through a mixed methods analysis across Bihar, Odisha and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh, this paper assesses the factors explaining the diversity in the preference for the delivery mechanism. What would be a straightforward choice problem among delivery mechanisms turns out to be far more intricate when mediated by contextual heterogeneity and unequal power relations at different levels. The results highlight the centrality of demand and build a case for demand assessment in improving the effectiveness of the system.

Notes from India’s State Border Highways: Changing Rules, Institutional Corruption and Hoping for Too Much from GST

This essay looks at institutionalised corruption and its effect on Indian roadways, especially the Golden Quadrilateral. Despite higher speeds, delays of crossing states borders nullifies gains from speed. Will the goods and services tax change things?

Everyday Politics and Corruption in West Bengal

Trinamool Congress’s decisive second term in West Bengal in 2016, even after serious corruption charges were levied on the party, makes it clear that corruption is not as important as was thought by the opposition. It is argued that corruption is conceived as a “necessary evil,” linked with quick and tangible delivery of public services. The recent rise of Bharatiya Janata Party, parallel to religious polarisation in the state, indicates a shrinking political space for non-BJP opposition in West Bengal.

Business of Teacher Education in Haryana

It seems that the National Council for Teacher Education has failed to maintain the required standards of teacher education after promoting self-financed teacher-education institutions to meet the demand for and supply of teachers at primary, upper primary and secondary levels. A study conducted in Haryana shows how such institutions are a threat to the entire education system. Haryana has become a hub for getting degrees without attending classes in the privately-managed teacher-education colleges. The study also reviews various issues such as violation of rules and regulations, corruption, non-existing resources, poor teaching–learning process, etc.

Decentralising Accountability

Ensuring good governance while devolving the 3Fs— functions, funds and functionaries—is a formidable challenge. An action research conducted in Sikkim from 2010 to 2016 focused on four questions: where is the corruption, what are the different types of corruption, how much is the quantum, and how do we reduce it effectively? A set of anti-corruption tools was integrated in the programme delivery, and corruption practices were broadly grouped into “easy to prevent,” “difficult to prevent but easy to detect,” and “difficult to prevent and detect.” By applying this strategy, we found that the corruption level dropped more than three times from 1.74% to 0.55%, and the savings from sanctioned cost rose to 20% (₹30.16 crore). This reduction was achieved despite weak enforcement, highlighting that a dynamic anti-corruption strategy that increases the probability of being caught can significantly reduce corruption by decentralising accountability.

Credibility and Portability?

Examining the Centralised Online Real-time Electronic Public Distribution System reforms introduced by the Government of Chhattisgarh to understand the processes and conditions under which such reforms strengthen accountability and affect the delivery of public services, it is found that while earlier reforms have been successful, the contribution of CORE PDS has been useful but limited. A significant finding was that technological fixes for social protection programmes are only feasible insofar as they work within the political logic of the context in question. CORE PDS reforms could not address the issues of power imbalances between shop owners and cardholders which continue to shape interactions between them. Introducing transparency, accountability and quasi-market reforms in this context offered limited possibilities in what they could achieve.

Concentration, Collusion and Corruption in India’s Banks

Why would companies, for whom costs rise with higher interest rates, choose to amass credit as interest rates rise? Were more and more loans taken with the understanding that default would be inevitable? Only a commission of inquiry with a specifi c mandate to understand the years of loose lending by banks in India can answer these and other uncomfortable questions. These answers are needed in the interest of securing our economy, and indeed our democracy.

Electrified without Electricity

Tingsong village located in Senapati District, Manipur is 45 kilometre away from National Highway-2. According to the 2011 Census, the village has 246 households with a population of 1,377 persons. The following is a case of blatant corruption in rural electrifications programmes, and was learnt...

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