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  • Author: Shamindra Nath Roy, Partha Mukhopadhyay
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: India is one of the lowest globally in terms of female labour force participation (FLFP), ranking only better than Pakistan in South Asia. While the decline in FLFP in rural areas is starkly visible, the urban FLFP has been consistently low since the 1980s despite higher economic growth and increasing level of education among females. The economic cost of such low FLFP (16.8%) is huge and if, for instance, it could be raised to the level of FLFP in China (61.5%), it has the potential to raise India’s GDP up to 27%. This paper attempts to investigate the structural deficiencies behind this consistently low urban FLFP through a variety of perspectives, ranging from measuring the complexity of women’s work to the implications of caste, location and family structure. It finds factors like presence of female-friendly industries, provision of regular salaried jobs and policies that cater to women’s needs to work near home like availability of part-time work, can improve the situation, though prejudices arising from patriarchy require to be addressed to make these measures truly transformative and not palliative.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Josh Felman
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: We examine the pattern of growth in the 2010s. Standard explanations cannot account for the long slowdown, followed by a sharp collapse. Our explanation stresses both structural and cyclical factors, with finance as the distinctive, common element. In the immediate aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), two key drivers of growth decelerated. Export growth slowed sharply as world trade stagnated, while investment fell victim to a homegrown Balance Sheet crisis, which came in two waves. The first wave—the Twin Balance Sheet crisis, encompassing banks and infrastructure companies—arrived when the infrastructure projects started during India’s investment boom of the mid-2000s began to go sour. The economy nonetheless continued to grow, despite temporary, adverse demonetization and GST shocks, propelled first by income gains from the large fall in international oil prices, then by government spending and a non-bank financial company (NBFC)-led credit boom. This credit boom financed unsustainable real estate inventory accumulation, inflating a bubble that finally burst in 2019. Consequently, consumption too has now sputtered, causing growth to collapse. As a result, India is now facing a Four Balance Sheet challenge—the original two sectors, plus NBFCs and real estate companies—and is trapped in an adverse interest-growth dynamic, in which risk aversion is leading to high interest rates, depressing growth, and generating more risk aversion. Standard remedies are unavailable: monetary policy is stymied by a broken transmission mechanism; large fiscal stimulus will only push up already-high interest rates, worsening the growth dynamic. The traditional structural reform agenda—land and labour market measures—are important for the medium run but will not address the current problems. Addressing the Four Balance Sheet problem decisively will be critical to durably reviving growth. Raising agricultural productivity is also high priority. And even before that, a Data Big Bang is needed to restore trust and enable better policy design.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Economy, Global Political Economy, Economic growth, Global Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: My recent research paper “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” (hereafter “GDP paper”) and the associated op-ed in the Indian Express on June 11, 2019 have generated considerable debate. This is encouraging because serious argument and counter-argument are the basis for good policy-making. Since the issue itself is of great importance, the counter-arguments to my analysis warrant a considered response. That is the aim of this note, which is a complement to the original paper, addressing both the larger issues and some of the specific points that have been raised. The note is structured as follows. Section II describes my engagement with India’s GDP estimation when I was Chief Economic Adviser. Section III elaborates on the framework/approach underlying the GDP paper. Section IV makes explicit the key puzzle surrounding India’s growth estimates, and addresses the possible explanations for it. Section V explores the puzzle in greater detail. Section VI provides additional cross-country evidence on growth and price deflators, which support the findings of the original paper, namely that growth during 2011-16 was likely overestimated by a significant margin. Section VII addresses two broad objections to the main findings. Section VIII discusses some of the methodological critiques of the paper. Section IX offers some thoughts on the way forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: India changed its data sources and methodology for estimating real gross domestic product (GDP) for the period since 2011-12. This paper shows that this change has led to a significant overestimation of growth. Official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent. We estimate that actual growth may have been about 4.5 percent with a 95 percent confidence interval of 3.5 - 5.5 percent. The evidence, based on disaggregated data from India and cross-sectional/panel regressions, is robust. Lending further credence to the evidence, part of the overestimation can be related to a key methodological change, which affected the measurement of the formal manufacturing sector. These findings alter our understanding of India’s growth performance after the Global Financial Crisis, from spectacular to solid. Two important policy implications follow: the entire national income accounts estimation should be revisited, harnessing new opportunities created by the Goods and Services Tax to significantly improve it; and restoring growth should be the urgent priority for the new government.
  • Topic: GDP, Global Political Economy, Economic growth, Global Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Ashwin Parulkar, Sunil Kumar
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In May 2017, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished a Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) shelter located in an informal settlement in South Delhi’s Amir Khusro Park. DUSIB had built the shelter in response to a 2014 Delhi High Court Order. DDA demolished the same structure in cognizance of a 2015 Delhi High Court Order, issued in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a private citizen urging the state to remove illegal encroachments in the area. The demolition of the shelter led to the eviction of various groups of people in Khusro Park: families in self-constructed ‘jhuggis’; women in the DUSIB shelter managed by a local NGO; and various people in a temporary shelter not authorized by government agencies. Field visits revealed connections between these settlements. Women and children of some jhuggi families, for instance, lived in the shelter where food, nutrition, documentation, education and health services were provided by the managing NGO for shelter residents and joint and nuclear jhuggi families. In this context, the report raises and responds to two salient questions. What makes homeless shelters in Delhi vulnerable to government sanctioned demolition and eviction? What is the implication of the particular case of Amir Khusro Park on the fate of shelters in Delhi’s other numerous informal geographies? The authors examine events that preceded and unfolded during and after the demolition through ethnographic research in Khusro Park, interviews with government officials and NGO social workers, and legal analysis of both Supreme and High Court Orders and policies that assign powers to various federal, state and municipal land owning agencies. The report finds that Khusro Park residents’ Court-substantiated, though broadly defined, rights to live in shelters and urban informal settlements were violated by government agencies, such as DDA. Such government agencies are permitted to undermine general rights urban poor people have to city spaces and resettlement through the existence of specific provisions that categorize jhuggi and shelter residents on government land ‘encroachers’. The authors conclude that due process measures of DUSIB’s current resettlement policy – land surveys, provision of notice and rehousing – should be based on a thorough understanding of (a) types and nature of settlements along the informal urban housing continuum (b) infrastructure and services used by residents and (c) the nature of contracts between (i) state and federal agencies and (ii) government agencies and NGOs that authorize land use and service provision.
  • Topic: Government, Poverty, Public Policy, Resettlement, Urban, Informal Settlement, Homelessness
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Ananth Padmanabhan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper, authored as part of the New America US-India Public Interest Technologies Fellowship 2019, examines the privacy implications of drones in civilian airspaces. Though a technology with significant benefits, drones can also carry out extensive snooping and surveillance. As India transitions to a regulatory ecosystem supportive of drone technology, it is imperative that the attention of policy makers be directed to the various privacy harms that lie in store. Here, the different kinds of harms are mapped into two: traditional privacy challenges arising from a spatial invasion by drones into private spaces, and big data risks on account of the business models that the drone industry has paved the path for. Dealing with the first category of risks, the paper argues that serious criminal enforcement, along the lines of what some States in the United States have pursued, is imperative to safeguard the private domain from the prying eyes of third parties. It also points out serious gaps in Indian constitutional jurisprudence when it comes to structural interventions like drone surveillance, and recommends an overall assessment of the impact on privacy baseline from such technologies when the judiciary evaluates their legality against the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy. On the second kind of risk, the paper argues for privacy dashboards that help citizens evaluate the purpose of drone operations and assess whether equipments retrofitted alongside the drone are truly required to fulfil these purposes or merely meant to gather unrestricted amount of personal and community data.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Privacy, Drones, Surveillance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ankit Bhardwaj, Federico De Lorenzo, Marie-Hélène Zérah
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: Despite the potential of cities to foster a low-carbon energy transition, the governance of energy in India broadly remains within the purview of central and state governments. However, the Smart Cities Mission, a new urban scheme launched in 2015, gives Indian cities new powers to govern energy, a surprising departure from previous urban and energy policies. We argue that this shift is significant and we therefore raise three questions: 1) what kind of energy projects are planned and what does it reveal about the cities’ vision towards energy? 2) does the Smart Cities Mission foster a low-carbon energy transition and if so, how is this transition envisaged? 3) and finally, what are the rationale and the drivers behind this apparent shift? To address these questions, we build on a database of projects and financing plans submitted by the first 60 cities selected in the Smart Cities Mission. We find that cities have earmarked an immense 13,161 INR crore (~1.4 billion GBP) for energy projects, with most funds dedicated to basic infrastructure, primarily focused on enhancing the grid and supply. Cities also proposed projects in solar energy, electric vehicles, waste to energy and LED lighting, indicating their appetite for low-carbon projects. While cities were given institutional space to prioritise certain technologies, their interventions were conditioned by centrally sources of financing which were limited to certain mandated technologies. A focus on technology, rather than planning, undermined the role of cities as strategic decision-makers. What emerges is a dual faced reading of the Smart Cities Mission, indicating the potential and pitfalls of contemporary decentralized energy governance in the Global South.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Social Policy, Urban
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Mridusmita Bordoloi, Ritwik Shukla
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This paper attempts to add to the given literature by undertaking a detailed analysis of school consolidation process in Rajasthan. It seeks to answer the following questions:- First, what are the specific criteria and conditions for closure of schools and their consolidation with other schools and whether they were adhered to by the state administration? Second, whether school consolidation led to improvements in enrolment, availability of teachers, and essential school infrastructure facilities as mandated by the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2010.
  • Topic: Education, Infrastructure, Social Policy, Legislation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Kanchi Kohli
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: This essay examines the role of India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act in the procedures that regulate transfer of forest land to large infrastructure projects. Specifically, it shows the gap between the legally mandated requirements and how these are implemented in project approval processes. This is illustrated through a case study of the coal mining approvals in the Hasdeo Arand forest region in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The essay also outlines the different actors who have influenced the discourses on forest rights of Adivasi and other forest dwelling communities and what they identify as factors that challenge the implementation of this law on the ground. It juxtaposes this analysis in the context of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of India on eviction of forest dwellers and examines whether that would bring in any structural change in the way the law is implemented.
  • Topic: Environment, Human Rights, Infrastructure, Courts, Conservation, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Manju Menon
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: In 2000, the central government declared Northeast India as India’s hydropower hub. Over 165 large dam projects were proposed to come up in the region. These projects were held as crucial to India’s energy and environmental security as well as the economic development of the country’s marginalised northeastern borderlands.However, nearly two decades on, this proposal to regulate the region's water resources remains unimplemented. In addition, the projects have generated a lot of public opposition in Arunachal Pradesh where most of these dams are supposed to be situated, and in the downstream Brahmaputra valley of Assam. This article will look into the government's hype and failure to construct hydropower dams in the Northeast region. It points to the need for a reflexive political decision on water resource management from the BJP-led governments in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and at the Centre.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Government, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia