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

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Mobility in India

The changing trends in migration in rural and urban India over the past four decades are analysed, considering males and females separately, using the data from both the population census and National Sample Survey. It reviews the migration pattern brought out by the Economic Survey 2017, employing rail traffic data and age cohort-based analysis. The migration trends for socio-economically vulnerable populations comprising the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Muslim population are analysed to bring out how their access to urban and metropolitan space has declined over time. Probing into the COVID-19-induced migration, which resulted in a massive dislocation of population, suggests that it has left no significant mark on the long-term trend of migration. The paper argues that euphemisms such as “India is on the move” or “growing regionalism and the risks of pandemics would subvert mobility” are unwarranted. The migration pattern is unlikely to exhibit sudden long-term shifts as it is determined by disparities in economic and social well-being and will continue to be so in the coming decades.

Beyond Introductory Theory

Introductory models in public economics find cash transfers as welfare-maximising policies. However, a large body of literature finds support for in-kind transfers in the context of the developing world. Focusing on India, this article intends to outline two streams of thought on how welfare programmes can be structured for the maximisation of welfare, both from an empirical and theoretical basis. By synthesising the two streams, this article finds the optimality of policy design to be linked with specific contexts and shows that a blanket policy may lead to suboptimal results in India and other developing countries with similar characteristics.

Women’s Contribution in the Rural Production Process

Women and Work in Rural India edited by Madhura Swaminathan, Shruti Nagbhushan and V K Ramachandran, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2020; pp 380, `995.

Is Extreme Poverty Declining?

The latest round of the Situation Ass­essment Survey of Agricultural Households is used to calculate income poverty instead of commenting on consumption poverty across non-comparable data sets. Using three different poverty lines, it is demonstrated that at least 21.1% of agricultural households are extremely income poor. Though the so-called “Great Indian Poverty Debate 2.0,” with statistical assu­mptions on consumption distribution or relative prices, may provide certain estimates of poverty, those seem to be disproportionate to the actualities of the extremely poor in recent times.

Household Consumption Expenditure Inequality in Rural India (1993–94 to 2011–12)

The comparative role of determinants of household-level consumption expenditure inequalities (henceforth, inequalities) in rural India between two sub-periods, 1994–2005 and 2005–12 are examined, using three rounds of the National Sample Survey Consumer Expenditure Survey. The changes in the components of consumption expenditure and population characteristics are explored that explain inequalities during the two sub-periods, which represent distinct policy environments. We use both a priori and regression-based decomposition methods for the analysis. We find that there is a complete reversal of the role of education in explaining inequalities. It shifted from being an inequality-increasing factor during 1994–2005 to an inequality-equalising factor during 2005–12. This reversal is induced by decreasing consumption returns to education due to the depressed job market. The role of locational factors has increased in explaining the increase in inequalities over time. The non-food components induce an increase in the overall inequalities via an increased expenditure on durables. The within-group component contributes the most to the level of and change in inequalities.

Determinants and Dynamics of Food Insecurity during COVID-19 in Rural Eastern India

Using comprehensive telephone survey data from 2,599 households, the paper estimates the status of food insecurity using the food insecurity experience scale in rural households in eastern India. The results indicate that households belonging to lower social strata with less land and fewer years of education are more likely to suffer from food insecurity.

 

Striving for Begumpura: Traversing the Intellectual Activism of Gail Omvedt

​Writer, researcher, life-long fellow traveller of the progressive movements and long-time author with the Economic & Political Weekly, Gail Omvedt passed away on 25 August 2021. In this reading list, we present some of the highlights of her scholarship published in EPW.

Maternity Entitlements

Maternity benefits of at least `6,000 per child are a legal right of all Indian women under the National Food Security Act, 2013. In practice, a large majority are still deprived of maternity benefits. A recent survey, conducted in six states of North India, reveals that pregnant women’s basic needs for nutritious food, proper rest, and healthcare are rarely satisfied. Among the women who had recently delivered a child, about half had eaten less than the usual during pregnancy and nearly 40% complained of a lack of rest at that time. The average weight gain during pregnancy was just 7 kg. There is, thus, an urgent need for better recognition of the special needs of pregnancy, provision of maternity benefits in accordance with the law, and better support for pregnant women, including quality healthcare.

Rural–Urban Linkages in Bihar

The growth of the manufacturing sector is important for employing a growing labour force and much is also dependent on their skill level. Enterprise surveys in six sample towns of Bihar, a state characterised by slow industrialisation and urbanisation, find evidence of fairly strong rural–urban linkages for manufacturing enterprises. Although the linkages indicate that the manufacturing sector has the maximum potential to create employment by absorbing the surplus labour in the rural areas, it was found that this sector has been languishing in the sample towns. The findings also flag the challenges and areas of growth for industries.

 

Rural–Urban Disparity in the Standard of Living across States of India

The rural–urban disparity in the standard of living in India is estimated on the basis of per capita consumption or use of non-durable goods, durable consumer goods, and house and living facilities enjoyed by the population of the rural and urban sectors in major states of India in 2011–12. This estimate shows that the rural–urban disparity in the standard of living is the highest in Jharkhand and Odisha and the lowest in Punjab and Kerala. The interstate variation in rural–urban disparity is negatively correlated with per capita state domestic product, degree of urbanisation, level of agricultural development, and per capita amount of remittances received by rural households. It is positively correlated with the percentage of state population below the poverty line.

 

NEP 2020 and the Language-in-Education Policy in India

The National Education Policy of India 2020 is a significant policy document laying the national-level strategy for the new millennium. It is ambitious and claims universal access to quality education as its key aim, keeping with the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the United Nations Agenda 2030. One of the highlights of the NEP is its emphasis on mother tongue education at the primary levels in both state- and privately owned schools. The present paper critically assesses the NEP 2020, primarily in relation to the language-in-education policy. The paper argues that it presents a “contradiction of intentions,” aspiring towards inclusion of the historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups on the one hand, while practising a policy of aggressive privatisation and disinvestment in public education on the other.

 

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