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

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Need for a Comprehensive Monitoring Framework of Indian Forests

Forests are one of the crucial ecosystems in the world covering about 31% of the global terrestrial area (FAO 2020). More than 1.6 billion people worldwide are dependent on various forest resources and about 350 million people rely directly on them for their livelihoods, also contributing greatly to strengthen the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of nations (World Bank 2002; Li et al 2019). This has led to a decrease in forests globally due to the conversion to other land use and unsustainable extraction of timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to meet the demands of the growing population (FAO 2020). Owing to the numerous benefits that forests provide, a comprehensive framework focusing on a multidimensional aspect is necessary for sustainable management and effective utilisation.

Equity in Global Climate Policy and Implications for India’s Energy Future

The remaining carbon budget available to the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius or to “well below 2°C” very small and is being rapidly depleted. The year 2021 has witnessed a flurry of pledges by countries to achieve net-zero emissions around the second half of this century. But the analysis shows the pledges of Annex-I parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be highly inadequate to limit the temperature rise to below 1.5°C. In this context, this paper reviews India’s climate change mitigation efforts and policies over the last decade and assesses the recently declared net-zero emissions pledge against a range of illustrative emissions pathways and the implied cumulative emissions of these pathways. The ambition of India’s pledge is assessed, with a discussion of the challenges that lie ahead for India’s energy sector.

Narratives of Natural Resource Corruption and Environmental Regulatory Reforms in India

The shifting discourses on the purposes, objectives, and forms of India’s environment regulations are discussed within the broader domestic, political, and economic contexts. The environmental law reforms are being designed to legalise and protect financial investments in projects, irrespective of their environmental performance, and to monetise their impacts and damages.

Hospitalised Care among Larger States

Though the global spending on health is rising worldwide, people were still paying too much out of their pockets. This article examined the comparative expenditure on hospitalised care in India using three rounds of the National Sample Surveys. As there is low footfall in public facilities, the Government of India needs to take necessary measures to strengthen the public health system.

NEP 2020 and the Language-in-Education Policy in India

The National Education Policy of India 2020 is a significant policy document laying the national-level strategy for the new millennium. It is ambitious and claims universal access to quality education as its key aim, keeping with the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the United Nations Agenda 2030. One of the highlights of the NEP is its emphasis on mother tongue education at the primary levels in both state- and privately owned schools. The present paper critically assesses the NEP 2020, primarily in relation to the language-in-education policy. The paper argues that it presents a “contradiction of intentions,” aspiring towards inclusion of the historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups on the one hand, while practising a policy of aggressive privatisation and disinvestment in public education on the other.

Social Science Research and Public Policy

The Third Eye of Governance: Rise of Populism, Decline in Social Research by Dr N Bhaskara Rao, New Delhi: Speaking Tiger, 2021; pp 301, ₹ 599, Paperback.

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.

The Interstate Variation in Mortality from COVID-19 in India

While the response to COVID-19 by the Government of India has been more or less uniform across the country, in that a lockdown was imposed throughout, the death rate has varied across the states. This suggests that region-specific factors are likely to be relevant to the determination of this rate. A significant aspect of this study is the use of three different measures of the death rate in the empirical exercise. This showed all three measures of the death rate to be strongly related to health expenditure as a share of the gross domestic product but hardly at all to public health infrastructure. This can be interpreted as a sign of the role of the public health system—comprising medical personnel, infrastructure and protocols—in the prevention of death, with health expenditure as a key determinant of its effectiveness. It has an implication for public policy beyond the immediate health emergency due to COVID-19.

Reimagining Public Policy Studies in India

Public Policy: A View from the South by Vishal Narain, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2018; pp x + 213, ₹ 495.

Extending Design Thinking to Public Policy

Design thinking as a subject has grown enormously in theoretical content over the past 50 years. However, both design thinkers and policymakers have not come closer to developing design thinking in policymaking. Recognising this research gap, a prototype called the basic resource gap model has been designed as a supplement to the extant fiscal rule, with fiscal deficit as its target. The study highlights both the potential applicability of the design-thinking approach to the process and specifies an application that can supplement the extant fiscal rule and potentially enhance fiscal management.

Policy Studies, Policymaking, and Knowledge-driven Governance

The academic and policy worlds have drifted apart since the early years of the Indian Republic. Can a new Public Policy field help reconnect academia to policymaking? The genesis and evolution of Public Policy in the United States holds important learning lessons. The raison d'être of Public Policy, the academic discipline, is to aid and inform public policy, the process; sans state imprimatur, cross-institutional coordination and demand-scoping, discrete supply-driven initiatives are unlikely to have substantive impact. Public Policy has considerable scope in India, provided academia and government join hands to create a policy ecosystem for meeting the specific challenges of Indian governance.

Public Provisioning for Social Protection and Its Implications for Food Security

Persistent hunger and pervasive malnutrition are serious problems in the developing world. Recent literature suggests that well-designed public policies towards provisioning of social protection/security and strengthening of support measures to smallholder agriculture appear to be effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. An investigation of the role of public provisioning on social protection in combating hunger using the recent evidence for 64 countries in the global South makes a strong case for a substantial push in public provisioning in favour of social protection, which, along with other policy measures, could play a vital role in strengthening national food security. Further, low levels of per capita income must not become an excuse for addressing the most basic human needs, as adequate fiscal space can be created even at low levels of income.

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