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

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Social Choice and Political Economy of Health

The National Health Policy, 2017 can be credited for an alternative vision towards the development of the health sector in India, but it falls short of expectations on certain counts. The core idea of strategic purchasing from the private sector is relevant, but can be incompatible with the existence of a robust public sector, particularly when reforms for enhancing the competitiveness of the public sector are undermined. Thus, the NHP essentially reopens the fundamental debate regarding the role of social choice mechanisms while deciding upon policy instruments and desirable outcomes. This has profound implications for the political economy of the health sector and can unintentionally catapult health as a salient feature in electoral politics.

Calcutta Diary

Unchanging India, and even the World Bank has now joined the troupe of excuse-mongers: India has been unable to reap the full advantages of liberalisation because of natural calamities that have befallen the country. Suppose some dull character were to ask whether the entire point of development was not to extricate the economy from the vicissitudes of nature, what answer would the mandarins, including the foreign ones, provide?

Partial Divestiture and Performance of Indian Public Sector Enterprises

Global empirical studies of privatised firms show a significant improvement in their performance after privatisation. This is true in case of fully as well as partly privatised firms. What is the evidence for Indian divested enterprises in this regard? This paper attempts an analysis by empirically examining the impact of divestiture. The results indicate that in case of partial divestiture, where divested equity is thinly spread with the majority shareholding still with the government, there has been no improvement in terms of profitability and operational efficiency. The paper therefore endorses the government's current policy of strategic sale, where management control passes to the strategic partner.

Public Sector Textile Mills

A review of the productivity performance of the National Textile Corporation in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry presents a disturbing picture of poor capacity utilisation, outdated technology and machinery, poor maintenance and excess humanpower. The situation calls for drastic restructuring to improve the economic viability of the Corporation

Calcutta Diary

If disinvestment boils down to a network of arrangements which enables those close to the centre of power to make mindboggling profit on their money, while the rest of the species are condemned to a paltry profit, none amongst the latter will be agreeable to graze in the village common any more; about everyone who has the animal instinct implanted in him or her will try to cultivate the appropriate contacts.

Perils of a Self-Serving Bureaucracy

This article suggests that without diverting expenditures from large-sized, overstaffed establishments the government will not be able to address the problems of corruption and incompetence in the public sector. The lack of clarity on the role of government and an over-extended regulatory framework also act as a brake on private sector investment and production.

Why Big Sell-Offs Irk Politicians

Dare one suggest that politicians could have good reasons to be wary of big-ticket privatisation? With their instinctual understanding of the polity, they might have a better sense of the 'agency' problems inherent in privatisation than the cerebral types who are forever running them down.

Privatisation: Compulsions and Options for Economic Reform

Privatisation is an evocative subject even in the developed economies. In a developing economy like India, with its tradition of successful and pervasive public intervention, it generates unique mind-blocks. Its implementation therefore requires persistent, persuasive zeal. However, the compulsions of ensuring higher levels of investment at progressively higher levels of efficiency and productivity require a complete restructuring of the economic environment. Low levels of public savings, inadequate competition and low export orientation are barriers which need to be transcended. Privatisation and liberalisation of the licensing regime for Foreign Direct Investment are two initiatives which can meet the objectives of efficiency enhancement, domestic and foreign resource mobilisation and incremental capital outlays. The pace of privatisation has quickened since 2000. The adoption of a strategy of block sale of government stock in identified PSEs to a strategic partner, along with transfer of management control, as opposed to market sale of shares in small lots, has enhanced the value received by the government through disinvestment. It also ensures that these assets are put to productive use in the most optimum time frame and with the maximum benefit. While it is too early to quantify such benefits, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence of significant welfare gains for employees, institutional investors and the economy, along with the quantifiable gains for government, from the additional resources freed by the sale of PSEs.

Holding Company for Public Sector Enterprises

The institution of the holding company, successfully used by the private sector to manage a portfolio of businesses, could be a powerful tool for addressing several structural problems of public sector enterprises and for managing disinvestment with a long-term perspective.

D R Gadgil on Planning at the District Level

There is now very great need and scope for public sector planning in which district level planning must have a very important place. There is not only need but now a much greater possibility of transferring much larger resources to district level planning. Such plans, as D R Gadgil argued and his Wardha Plan demonstrated, have to be prepared with the help of experts and local level representatives and concerned people. The development needs of the vast rural India require this. Social scientists, activists as well as the Planning Commission and the state governments should now start afresh on this vital task.

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