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

Articles by S Mahendra DevSubscribe to S Mahendra Dev

The Challenge of Employment in Globalising India

India Labour and Employment Report 2014, principal author and editor, Alakh N Sharma (Institute for Human Development and Academic Foundation, New Delhi), 2014; pp 248, Rs 995.

A Nutrition Secure India

India continues to suffer from under-nutrition among large sections of its population. The country is unlikely to realise the first millennium development goal by 2015. How can agriculture be used to improve nutritional status?

A Mentor beyond D-School

talk about market failure and so forth. He answered all my questions patiently, but we remained on opposite sides of the divide.
However, he had a deep commitment to empirical rigour and to a careful, minute scrutiny of data, and thus, would not accept an argument simply because of its laissez-faire stance. I noticed this on several occasions, but recall a recent incident vividly. Early this year, there was a conference in Delhi with extremely high-profile participants. Tendulkar was the discussant for a paper on India

Agricultural Price Policy, Farm Profitability and Food Security

Agricultural price policy has come under serious attack recently for recommending support prices higher than what the costs of production warrant, supposedly leading to a distortion of the market, and, therefore, to food deprivation. With an in-depth analysis of costs and returns in rice and wheat, which are the most state-protected crops and underlie the livelihoods of millions of farmers, this paper examines the effectiveness of agricultural price policy in enabling farmers to obtain sufficient profits to promote investment, technology and productivity and thereby to food security. The rising cost of production due to the overemphasis on getting input prices right is a major factor that has led to higher support prices. Another factor is the percolation of volatility in global prices through trade liberalisation. Because of this, wheat support prices had to be hiked steeply in recent years so that sufficient quantities are procured. This has distorted parity between the prices of rice and wheat.

Biotechnology and Pro-Poor Agricultural Development

Until now the debate on agricultural biotechnology mainly focused on the environmental impact, biosafety issues and intellectual property rights. This paper looks at the nature of commercialised biotech products, the changing locus of agricultural research, the emerging market failures in biotech product development, and the likely impact on poverty and employment. The evidence shows that Bt cotton is scale neutral and profitable to all groups of farmers. But research in biotechnology is mainly in the hands of a few large multinational companies which focus on crops and traits that are significant to the developed countries and not the resource-poor farmers. The public sector, therefore, must step in to pursue basic research that will benefit the poorer farmers.

Economics of Handloom Weaving: A Field Study in Andhra Pradesh

Based on fieldwork, this paper examines the problems and prospects of the handloom sector in Andhra Pradesh. One major finding is that the growth performance of cooperatives determines the growth of other institutions - the master weavers, middle men and independent weavers. Well-performing cooperatives are the best safeguard for the handloom sector, as they protect the weaver and also provide a counterbalance to the master weaver. Competition from powerlooms is an obvious threat, but this can be countered if the sector produces high value, unique (brand value) products or medium value products which can be marketed locally or abroad, as distinct from powerloom products.

Agriculture: Absence of a Big Push

What are the implications of the loan waiver announced in the budget 2008-09? How well has the budget tackled the core issues in agriculture?

Revising Estimates of Poverty

One of the criticisms of the official poverty line is that it does not capture the cost of basic necessities, particularly non-food components such as health and education. This issue gains importance due to an increase in household private expenditure on education and health services in recent years. This article estimates poverty ratios at the all India level and for the states in 2004-05 by including the minimum private expenditure on health and education. The estimated poverty ratios are substantially higher than the official poverty ratios.

Safety Net Programmes: Outreach and Effectiveness

The safety net programmes, which are designed with three main purposes, protection (ex post), insurance (ex ante) and poverty alleviation, offer help to households during a period of crisis. This article evaluates the efficiency, awareness, participation, targeting and distributive outcomes of these programmes, based on household/village-level surveys conducted in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. In addition, the article pays special attention to the functioning of village-level institutions and social capital. Besides giving an overview of the risks and shocks faced by households in these states, the article shows that the current safety net programmes do not seriously address the health risk. , , ,

No 'New Deal' for Farm Revival

Finance minister P Chidambaram claims that Budget 2007 addresses the challenges confronting Indian agriculture. How true is this claim?

Poverty and Inequality: All-India and States, 1983-2005

With published data available from the 61st round (2004-05) of the National Sample Survey, analysis over the period 1983-2005 shows unambiguously that in spite of higher overall growth, the extent of decline in poverty in the post-reform period (1993-2005) has not been higher than in the pre-reform period (1983-1993). The second clear conclusion is that inequality has increased significantly in the post-reform period and seems to have slowed down the rate of poverty reduction. However, changes in poverty in the two sub-periods of the post-reform era, based on mixed reference period data from the NSS, suggest that the extent of decline in 1999-05 seems to have been higher than in 1993-2000, which is surprising given that the latter years witnessed slower growth in agriculture. This needs to be further investigated.

Financial Inclusion: Issues and Challenges

Financial inclusion is important for improving the living conditions of poor farmers, rural non-farm enterprises and other vulnerable groups. Financial exclusion, in terms of lack of access to credit from formal institutions, is high for small and marginal farmers and some social groups. Apart from formal banking institutions, which should look at inclusion both as a business opportunity and social responsibility, the role of the self-help group movement and microfinance institutions is important to improve financial inclusion. This requires new regulatory procedures and depoliticisation of the financial system.


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