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Showing posts from February 1, 2017

Demonetisation’s long shadow (Hindu)

e Economic Survey presented on the eve of the Union Budget has been dominated by a singular action of the government. As Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian stated, “To deify or demonise demonetisation that is the difficult question the world is asking, to which the survey tries to respond.” Describing the November 8 decision to withdraw high-value currency notes as a “radical governance-cum-social engineering measure” aimed at punitively raising the cost of illicit activities, Mr. Subramanian and his team acknowledge the complexities in assessing its potential impact as well as the lack of historical precedent to make reliable predictions. The Survey, however, emphatically asserts that while there have been short-term costs to the economy, which would need to be expeditiously addressed, there will be long-term benefits. Real GDP growth in the current fiscal, the Survey projects, will see a likely reduction by one quarter to half a percentage point relative to the baseline of a…

This land is their land (Hindu)

Despite the new land acquisition law, questions of resettlement and rehabilitation persist

The Bhangar violence in West Bengal recalls yet again the intensity of conflicts over the acquisition of land for infrastructure projects. These conflicts continue despite the new and ostensibly improved land acquisition law, with its higher terms of compensation, social impact assessments, and prior informed consent for projects involving the private sector. But if the 2013 law was enacted to comprehensively address opposition to land acquisition, why do governments still get land acquisition wrong?

Infrastructure projects are initiated for the “greater common good”, but the people dispossessed by them of their land, livelihood, and environment rarely benefit from all their goodness. The scale of the projects keeps growing. The information regarding them is little or often not accessible at all, and those affected discover the project’s full implications either by accident or by doggedly exerc…

Drawing up a diet plan (Hindu)

The welfare challenge lies in providing assistance to needy households to ensure adequate diets without creating conditions in which they opt for inferior diets that are too heavy on cereals With the Kerala government’s decision to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from April, the whole country will be covered by the legislation. However, if we expect the NFSA to improve India’s malnutrition statistics, we may well be disappointed. According to a study by Himanshu and Abhijit Sen, even before the NFSA is fully implemented, use of the public distribution system (PDS) expanded sharply with proportion of households getting PDS subsidy rising from about 25% in 2004-05 to 50% in 2011-12. However, decline in child malnutrition has been far more modest. A patchy record While we still do not have nationwide data on malnutrition, State-wise data from Annual Health Survey/District Level Health Surveys of 2012-14 as well as National Family Health Survey IV of 2015-16 suggest only …

American carnage: Trump’s road to ruin Hindu

The Trump presidency in the U.S. is less than two weeks old, but it is already clear that it represents an unusually fierce assault on civic, political, and moral values

As a student of international politics, I can certainly suggest various ways in which U.S. President Donald J. Trump may be good for one country or another. From the vantage point of New Delhi, his focus on terrorism, his business interests in India, and his radical indifference to non-proliferation all present strategic opportunities. From my perch in London, I also understand why Theresa May, Prime Minister of the U.K., is aggressively courting the Trump administration. A trade deal with Washington would bolster the government’s hand in departure negotiations with the European Union, and American support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation remains crucial to Britain’s interests. This is all legitimate diplomacy, of course. If we work with those who imprison journalists (Turkey), shoot demonstrators (Iran) or…