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

Articles by S Mahendra DevSubscribe to S Mahendra Dev

Employment and Unemployment

The authors analyse the nature of the employment problem in Andhra Pradesh based on recent trends in employment and unemployment and in the quality of employment. Against the backdrop of projections of employment up to 2020, policies for promotion of employment are explored.

Causes of Fertility Decline in India and Bangladesh

Conventional approaches to studies on fertility decline have long assumed the primacy of the household as the prime decision-maker. Aspects of the household such as its economic standard of living, social standing, exposure to mass media, work status were some of the influential factors at work on a couple's decision on their number of children. However, individual and household level factors have been unable in several instances to explain the full course of fertility transition seen in some Indian states and Bangladesh, where in some regions fertility transition cuts across socio-economic and cultural boundaries.Gaps in understanding such trends have been as this paper suggests due to the conventional emphasis on household level variables. It argues instead for the need to look at the influence the community plays in south Asia and to understand the levels of interaction that exist at household level and at the community level.

Bold Initiatives Needed on Agriculture and Rural Employment

The specific proposals of Budget 2002-03 for agriculture and rural development do not live up to expectations. There is need for bold initiatives on public investment, credit and creating incentives for private investment to revive agricultural growth and expansion of rural employment.

Social Sector Expenditures in the 1990s

This paper focuses on social sector expenditure in the 1990s, and looks at several aspects, including overall levels of allocation, expenditure on health and education and interstate disparities. India's social sector expenditure in the 1990s was lower than that in the 1980s and also less than that of most other developing countries. With India ranking 115th in the Human Development Index, there is an obvious need to step up social sector expenditure and improve fund utilisation.

Concerns on Food Security

India's food security is likely to worsen given that demand is likely to grow faster than supply. Integration into world trade will probably worsen matters. PDS is one answer, but targeting remains a problem. A long-term solution can come only from R and D in agriculture. Report on a national seminar on food security in the context of economic liberalisation.

Agricultural Development and PDS

There are no major initiatives in the Budget to arrest the disturbing trends in agriculture, rural development and poverty. In the case of the public distribution system (PDS), the government is following poor strategies and these are reflected in the budget. Some strategies needed for agricultural development and for improving the effectiveness of the PDS in the light of the Budget proposals.

Economic Reforms, Poverty, Income Distribution and Employment

The paper puts together various indicators on poverty, income distribution and employment in the pre- and post-reform periods, identifying the components of reforms having impact on these indicators. Given the newly emerging disparities with regard to urban and rural poverty, interstate inequalities, and agricultural sector, the paper argues for a more emphasis on agricultural growth and rural infrastructure, increasing social sector expenditure, and involvement of local level institutions during the phase of second generation of reforms.

Economic Liberalisation and Employment in South Asia - II

The fears that liberalisation would severely undermine employment growth in south Asia have been proved, at least at the aggregate level, to have been unwarranted. Empirical evidence also shows, on the other hand, that employment growth has picked up despite the continued existence of 'labour-market rigidities'. To improve the employment climate in the region governments should accord priority to investment in physical and human capital, institution development and the reduction of inequalities. [This paper appears in two parts. The first part was published last week.]

Rising Food Prices and Rural Poverty-Going Beyond Correlations

Going Beyond Correlations Introduction HOW does an increase in the relative price of food (RPF) affect rural poverty in India? This question begs an analytical and empirical understanding, and many pages of this journal have been recently devoted to a discussion and debate over this question. Sen (1996) claims that econometric models which include RPF1 along with other explanatory variables such as agricultural productivity and public development expenditure result in a much better explanation of pre-reform and post- reform poverty, than econometric models which ignore RPF. Furthermore Sen shows that RPF does better in tracking poverty than the inflation rate. Ravallion (1998a) uses 24 observations of the NSS rounds from 1958 to 1993-94. and obtains a correlation of 0,76 between poverty (the head count ratio, HCR) and RPF,2 Although this confirms the claim made by critics of the economic reforms of a strong positive correlation between measured poverty and RPF, Ravallion rejects the explanation that this correlation is driven by the adverse distributional effect of changes in relative food prices, and maintains that the correlation is due to the mean effect, via, depressed mean per capita consumption. In rebutting Mohan Rao's [Rao 1998] objection that econometric tests of distributional impact, which ignore d ecile specific changes in real income lead to misleading conclusions, Ravallion (1998b) claims that his conclusions are on solid ground si nee (a) EngeI expenditure curves3 are flat for the poorest four deciles and (b) using the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL) actually overestimates the loss of real income to the poor, since their budget shares on food are lower than What the CPIAL assumes.4 While the last word might not have been said in the debate on the distributional consequence of a rise in RPF, in this paper while we comment on the correlation aspect, we wish to nudge the debate a bit away from the correlation issue and into a territory far less contentious. Specifically we will discuss (a) who among the rural poor are unambiguously hurt by rising RPF-the 'net purchasers of food;;(b) what is the received wisdom on the mechanism by which rising RPF is supposed to benefit the rural poor (the 'terms of trade' and the supply response), and why it might not work, and finally (c) what should be the appropriate mix of policy that goes along with the reforms induced rising food prices. In this paper we take it as an incontrovertible observation that economic reforms have led to an increase in food prices. The explanations for this may be varied5 and sometimes opposites of each other, but the crux of the matter is that economic liberalisation along with structural adjustment has meant that input subsidies are lower, and output (food) prices closer to international prices, which are typically higher than domestic prices.6 One of the sources of controversy surrounding the question of higher food prices and benefits to agriculture, is the theoretical possibility that the resultant surge in demand for rural labour, and hence wages, might more than compensate for the rise in food prices.

Public Distribution System Impact on Poor and Options for Reform

and Options for Reform S Mahendra Dev India's Public Distribution System: A National and International Perspective by R Radhakrishna, K Subbarao with S Indrakant and C Ravi; World Bank Discussion Paper No 380; The World Bank, Washington DC, 1997; pp xiii + 98.

Food Security PDS vs EGS-A Tale of Two States

Food Security: PDS vs EGS A Tale of Two States Introduction IMPROVING food security at the household level is an issue of great importance for a developing country tike India where millions of poor suffer from persistent hunger and malnutrition and some others are at the risk of doing so in the future. There are various definitions of food security. In this paper, we consider poverty as the major determinant of chronic and to some extent transient food insecurity. It is known that poor do not have adequate means to gain access to food in the quantities needed for a healthy life.


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