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

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Right to Information: The Promise of Participatory Democracy and Accountability

In July 2019, the parliament passed an amendment to the Right to Information Act, 2005, that reduces its effectiveness. The amendment adds to the long list of erosions the Act has weathered by prior governments.

The AAP Audit: Can ‘Alternative Politics’ Work?

The Aam Aadmi Party was founded on the belief that Indian politics could be transformed. This reading list examines if this political project has been a success, or if the party's idealism is incompatible with the way politics in India functions.

Indian Official Statistics

Official statistics is a public good that informs, supports, and sustains democracy and advances socio-economic development. The Indian statistical system is analysed and methods for modernising it are suggested by using information and communications technology to improve the quality, credibility, coherence, and timeliness of data. An integrated, decentralised information system populated with granular data will enable data to be carried flexibly wherever required, queried, and analysed in business contexts at all levels of governance for a deeper insight. Such a system will help the government to inform stakeholders about the economy and honour our commitments to the United Nations resolution of 2014.

Reorganisation of Districts in Telangana

The 21 new districts created in Telangana may not entail a proportional increase in the bureaucracy needed for functional district administrations. There is a case to merge departments with similar functions in order to ensure a well-functioning administrative machinery.

Estimates of High GDP Growth for 2015-16

In producing the new series, the Central Statistics Office with its rebased National Accounts Statistics has done a studious job of marshalling diverse sources of data and weaving them together into a composite new source. However, the final picture of NAS data would have been more acceptable if better caution was exercised in using new concepts as well as new sources of data, and in weighing the growth results against frequent and extensive revisions. The CSO has failed to refine the growth results juxtaposed against the repetitive and substantial revisions that the data sources have impelled and have completely ignored the analytical construct of gross domestic product at factor cost.

A Half-baked Attempt at Revamping Environmental Law

The Environment Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 is a major policy attempt to make structural changes in environmental governance. But the bill fails in bringing any change to the institutional mechanism for enforcement of the law. Moreover, the bill attempts to introduce a monetary penalty for environmental damages, which is not in consonance with the well-established polluter pays principle.

Globalisation and the Management of Indian Cities

Cities in Europe and North America have been through three decades of innovation in institutions and practices as they seek to accommodate the new environment of global economic integration. Many have learned to facilitate the creation of new economies that have institutionalised incremental change with a changing political consensus, liberating themselves in part from those rigidities that make for extreme vulnerability in conditions of crisis. The same is also true of cities in Latin America and in China. However, elsewhere - including possibly India - the sovereign state is often still struggling to retain its monopoly control. In doing so, the state stifles the full potential role of cities to advance the world, to reduce the burden of world poverty. Liberating the cities is thus a key part of the agenda for the new century and for the eradication of poverty.

Making Social Science Matter - II

Part I of this paper, which appeared last week, described the patterns of participation of the rural poor in state-sponsored schemes and the characteristics of political society in each of the blocks and districts studied. It also provided evidence on the scale and significane of rent-seeking behaviour, and a preliminary mapping of what has been called 'the anthropology of the everyday state'. We turn now to a discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from our 'academic' research. This project involved the research team in a prolonged dialogue with different groups of actors in Malda and Bhojpur districts that we had identified as 'failing' districts from the point of view of effective pro-poor governance. We comment briefly on the background to this research and describe how we organised the action research process before proceeding to present the main findings of the workshops that we held in these two districts. These findings speak of the ways in which different groups of stakeholders, and members of the rural poor most especially, see the state in Bhojpur and Malda and how they would like to see certain practices of the state abolished, extended or reformed.

SARS: Public Health and Social Science Perspectives

SARS is unprecedented in many ways. For one, we may well be the first real epidemic of a globalised Asia. Second, it has prompted new measures put in place rapidly and with wide scope to counter the spread of the disease. How has SARS been perceived by the public and what are the social consequences of the outbreak and the responses? What can we learn about governance from the SARS outbreak? How will it impact on the planning of public health systems, much neglected in this region in the race for economic development in the era of globalisation?

Market Scandals and Regulatory Governance

What has happened in Wall Street over the past 18 months raises several issues of regulatory governance which are immensely relevant for countries such as India that have embarked on reform of their financial and capital markets. There is deep concern that the regulating agencies are not adequately equipped and capable of discharging their primary responsibility of preserving the integrity of the market processes.

Assam : Vote against Misgovernance

The tea labourers in Assam have always played a significant role in electoral politics. The recently held by-election for the Khumtai assembly constituency, dominated by tea tribes, has brought to the fore important issues - regionalism, intra-party, politics and most importantly, misgovernance - that will impact on electoral politics in the state, especially the Lok Sabha polls in 2004.

Maharashtra: Able Handling of Recent Riots

Although there have been some serious communal incidents in the state, the government's able handling and that of local community leaders has played a significant role in limiting the damage. Only in the absence of community leadership as in Sholapur recently has the situation threatened to get out of control.

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