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Issn 0012-9976
Ever since the first issue in 1966,
EPW has been Indias premier journal for Proteinaceous productivity of pulse crops. It has enabled
comment on current affairs us to extend pulse cultivation from tra-
and research in the social sciences.
It succeeded Economic Weekly (19491965),
which was launched and shepherded
by Sachin Chaudhuri,
T his is with reference to the incisive
article, Making Pulses Affordable
Again: Policy Options from the Farm to
ditional areas to other areas as well. For
example, arhar from eastern India, Bihar
and eastern Uttar Pradesh is now grown
who was also the founder-editor of EPW.
As editor for 35 years (19692004) Retail in India by P K Joshi, Avinash in Punjab and Haryana. Similarly, gram
Krishna Raj
gave EPW the reputation it now enjoys. Kishore and Devesh Roy (EPW, 7 January which was grown earlier in the North is
2017). The importance of pulses in the now grown in the South too. Indeed,
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta vegetarian diet could hardly be overem- technology is very beneficial, provided
EXECUTIVE Editor phasised. Pulses are lacking in certain people understand it and it is tested
Lina Mathias amino acids, while cereals are lacking in thoroughly. Modern biotechnology, par-
Deputy Editor others. But they complement each other ticularly genetic engineeringpopularly
Bernard DMello and the balanced amino acid composition called genetic modificationhas opened
SENIOR Assistant editorS of cereals and pulses protein blend seems unusual opportunities to boost production
lubna duggal
ABHISHEK SHAW to match the milk protein, the high-quality of pulses. However, there are a number
copy editor protein that gets broken down and is ab- of unanswered questions. We need to go
jyoti shetty sorbed into our bloodstream quickly. by Socrates definition of wisdom: know-
Assistant editorS Moreover, pulses are rich in fibre and ing that you do not know. Biotechnology
P S Leela
minerals. Their high iron and zinc con- research should be hastened, but to avert
tents also help combat anaemia in wom- a terrible backlash, if any, we must be slow
SHIREEN AZAM en and children. As pulses are cheaper in application until we gather enough data.
EDITORIAL Assistant than meat (animal protein), they are of- Jaydev Jana
Advait Rao Palepu ten referred to as poor mans meat in Kolkata
production developing countries like India.
u raghunathan
Besides being a rich source of protein Indian Non-profit
s lesline corera
suneethi nair and other nutrients, pulses are also im- Organisations
Circulation MANAGER portant for sustainable agriculture since

B S Sharma they improve physical, chemical and bio- read with much interest Rajesh Tandons
Advertisement Manager
logical properties of soil and function as insight into the The Hidden Universe
Kamal G Fanibanda
mini nitrogen factories. It has rightly been of Non-profit Organisations in India
General Manager
Gauraang Pradhan pointed out in the article that among all published in EPW dated 21 January 2017. I
Publisher protein-rich foods we consume pulses fully agree with his analysis on the legal
K Vijayakumar have the lowest carbon and water foot- complexity, diversity and intentions of the
editorial print. Indeed, pulses emit less green- wide variety of non-profit organisations
house gases. According to a study, the (NPOs) that are operating in 21st century
Circulation production of 1 kilogram (kg) of pulses India. It is also true that there are issues of
Advertising emits only 0.5 kg of CO2, whereas 1 kg of transparency and hidden agendas in these beef produces 9.5 kg of CO2. Due to tap organisations, which are under scrutiny
Economic and Political Weekly root system, these crops open up soil by by various government organisations.
320321, A to Z Industrial Estate which soil aeration improves. The heavy I think the point raised by Tandon is
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel
Mumbai 400 013 leaf drop increases the organic matter in valid, that is, nobody knows the numbers!
Phone: (022) 4063 8282 the soil. Moreover, pulses also have an Why is it so? Who is responsible for this?
FAX: (022) 2493 4515
inherent quality to trap moisture from Is it just the lack of modernisation of
EPW Research Foundation
EPW Research Foundation, established in 1993, conducts lower strata of the soil; therefore, they data collection practices? Or is it the lack
research on financial and macro-economic issues in India. are considerably drought tolerant and fit of interest from the political, judiciary
Director well in a rain-fed environment. One kg and bureaucracy circlesbecause they
C 212, Akurli Industrial Estate of pulses requires 50 litres of water for are the ones, perhaps, owning or run-
Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101 production while 1 kg of chicken or meat ning a small number of NPOs indirectly,
Phones: (022) 2887 3038/41
Fax: (022) 2887 3038 requires 4,325 and 5,520 litres of water, but with an annual turnover of millions respectively. of rupeeswhose self-interests are at
Printed by K Vijayakumar at Modern Arts and Industries,
151, A-Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg,
Pulses are the backbone of the Indian stake if the sector is modernised and
Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013 and meal and constitute the main protein more transparency is sought? Or is it
published by him on behalf of Sameeksha Trust
from 320321, A-Z Industrial Estate,
element of the Indian diet. The Indian that the market will take care of the sector,
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013. Council of Agricultural Research has that is, survival of the fittest? Good NPOs
Editor: Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.
taken many initiatives to improve the will survive and the rest will die. So,
4 february 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
there is no need to spend huge resources clause has resulted in the reaction that teachers is bound to be motivated; and,
to count them. we find at the school level. multiple-choice tests are the best mode.
Tandons work amply describes the One of the reasons why schoolteachers There is a difference between assessment
legal complexities and the irrelevance of and the administration appear to welcome as an aid for learning and assessment as
some of the provisions under which mil- this move back to the board examina- production of evidence for marks allotted.
lions of non-governmental organisations tion system at the Class 10 level is the This may be a caricature, but it does cap-
(NGOs)/NPOs are operating in modern great dissatisfaction with which CCE ture the differences in the stance adopted
India. Hence, further discussion on the was implemented. The forms required by these two bodies. This dialogue was
difficulties of conducting a census of NPOs to be filled and reported acquired a life of essential if one has to reconcile the ele-
may not be relevant. I argue that where their own and defeated the purpose of pro- ments of a progressive pedagogy with
there are initiatives like the Aadhaar viding feedback to teachers and increasing the demands of a fair and tamper-proof
scheme, a nationally recognised election their confidence levels. As some colleagues national test.
card, or for that matter a ration card being pointed out, this was ceaseless monitoring There are experiences of programmes
issued to millions of Indians and their and disempowerment for all concerned. within the country and abroad that could
families, why is it that we are not able to The spirit of CCE was overturned. easily contribute. A genuine dialogue
account for a few million NPOs? Why The current move, more of a reaction to between these two institutions, and open-
cannot we think of allocating a unique this situation, would lead to an increase ness to seek support, can break this
number to each one of these NPOs (not just in guidebooks, selected questions, model impasse. A genuine attempt should be
the FCRA [Foreign Contribution (Regula- answers and all the paraphernalia around made to evolve methods through the
tion) Act] approved ones, but every single special coaching for board examinations. active participation and orientation of
registered NGO in any part of India) and But, more than this, it determines the teachers. Teacher involvement in under-
bring them under single legal purview? atmosphere that will prevail in thousands standing the perspective of the textbooks
Finally, the formation of a national of classrooms, even for students in non- has been minimal and has largely been
commission with independent powers is board examination years. Teachers would left to individual school managements.
needed to look into the nurturing and be guided by the practice of teaching to The NCERT shies away from active teacher
monitoring of this very important sector, the test. This impact is far-reaching as orientation because of the sheer scale in-
which has all the potential to become a teachers will avoid and deem irrelevant volved, and the CBSE does not utilise its
lifeline for a transparent India. the suggested activities of the textbooks, network of school-groups, Sahodaya, to
Bala Raju Nikku students questions would be put aside, actively engage in intensive teacher work-
Nepal School of Social Work, and, most importantly, they will ignore shops by seeking faculty from the NCERT
Kathmandu, Nepal their own innate sense of what is best for or related institutions. Some teacher
their classrooms. workshops are held by both institutions,
Open Letter to CBSE and NCERT We need to acknowledge in a forth- but not at the required scale or through
right manner that the lack of dialogue active collaboration. Teacher voices would

T he Central Board of Secondary Educa-

tions (CBSE) decision to go back to the
compulsory mode of national-level Class
and collaboration between the CBSE and
NCERT is one of the main reasons for this
state of affairs. When CCE was being
bring in what is reasonable in practice
and also give them an opportunity to
grapple with the changes, in perspective.
10 examinations is regrettable. As has been rolled out, there were attempts at dia- It would be best if the CBSE or rather
pointed out by many educationists, this logue, but that did not go very far. This the Central Advisory Board on Education
goes in the wrong direction and against collaboration is essential because the were to reconsider its decision. Regard-
the reforms that one expects in our school perspective on assessment, as embedded less, the CBSE and NCERT should actively
examination system. This decision is in in the textbooks and NCERT source books, collaborate and evolve a new pattern for
reaction to the no-detention policy accepted should match the views of the board board examinations. This would bring a
under the Right to Education Act, 2009. that conducts the final examination. The change in perspective through the crea-
The progressive clause of the act is being NCERTs view would allow for variation tion of a new format with an open mind
blamed for all the ills and dysfunctionality in answers, open-ended questions, reason- and with the widespread involvement of
within the government school system. ing in ones own words that may not fol- teachers, and not just of a select few. The
The spirit of the clause was to retain all low model answers, and, most impor- pressures of the outside world demand
children at school and provide them with tantly, new questions that would not be creative engagement between the ideal
an enabling atmosphere alongside regular labelled as out-of-course. and the real. The example that the CBSE
feedback through continuous and compre- CBSE is not disinclined to this, but views sets for other state boards should be a
hensive evaluation (CCE) as was suggested all these changes in operational terms. more creative one than one where it just
by the act. A lack of collaboration and fore- In its view, discretion in evaluation is backtracks to an old pattern.
sight between the CBSE and the National suspect; model answers must capture all Arvind Sardana
Council of Educational Research and variation(s) in minute terms and should Eklavya,
Training (NCERT) in implementing this be predetermined; self-assessment by Bhopal

Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 5
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6 february 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
FEBRuary 11, 2017

Trumping the Environment

A climate change denier in the White House is bad news for the world.

ith so much of the focus on United States (US) Presi- Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan and is paving the way for
dent Donald Trumps 27 January Muslim ban, the the fossil fuel lobby to operate without too many restrictions,
90/120-day ban on citizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, all in the name of making America great again and providing
Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US, his jobs to Americans.
executive orders affecting environmental regulations have slipped The consequences of this will be serious not just for the US
under the radar. Just as the visa ban is having repercussions but also for the rest of the world. The US did not sign on to the
around the world, so too will some of his actions with regard to legally-binding Kyoto Protocol, the first international climate
the environment. Of special concern are his current actions, and treaty that sought to put curbs on GHG emissions by the indus-
anticipated future ones, that will affect US greenhouse gas trialised countries held responsible for the global accumulation
(GHG) emissions. Given the levels of GHGs that the US continues of these gases. However in 2015, under the Obama administra-
to spew, any increase, or even the status quo, spells disaster for tion, it did come on board for the Paris Treaty that allowed every
efforts to contain processes of climate change and global warming. country to set its own Intended Nationally Determined Commit-
Trumps disdain for environmentalists was known even dur- ments (INDC) to reduce GHG emissions. The US committed to
ing his campaign. So his choice of advisors, including Myron reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 30% lower than 2005 levels
Ebell who is heading the Environmental Protection Agency by 2030 and has apparently already reached 27% of this target.
(EPA) in the transition team until Scott Pruitt, the nominee for But it has not made significant progress on other GHGs, including
director of the agency is confirmed, is not surprising. Ebell, a from transportation systems that account for 26% of emissions,
director in the ultra-conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, or agriculture accounting for 9% of emissions.
is on record describing the environmental movement as the Even if the US does not pull out of the Paris Treaty, as Trump
greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world. threatened it would during his election campaign, it could slide
Pruitt is a climate change denier who, as attorney general of the back on its commitments. According to the World Resources
state of Oklahoma, filed as many as 14 lawsuits against the EPA Institute, even if all the signatories of the Paris Treaty fulfil their
on behalf of oil companies. That these are the men who are pledges to reduce GHG emissions, the possibility of meeting the
tasked to protect the environment is an ominous indication of goal of capping global temperature rise to 2 Celsius is difficult.
what we can expect. Given this, if one of the worlds largest economies decides that it
Within days of being sworn in, Trump announced a freeze on need not bother about these commitments, the repercussions
funds to the EPA (he had actually suggested it be disbanded would be grave.
during his campaign) and called for a drastic reduction in its As serious as the possibility that the Trump administration will
staff of 15,000 engineers and scientists. He also placed a virtual actively dilute its commitment to the climate change treaty is the
gag order on the EPA staff saying they could not communicate or issue of funding. In Paris, the US had committed to contribute $3
discuss research findings with anyone, including the press. billion by 2020 towards the $100 billion United Nations Green
What this means is that the latest data on GHG emissions, for Climate Fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change and
instance, will not be available in the public realm. It is also not adopt cleaner energy. So far it has only given $500 million, partly
surprising that the White House Climate Change page has now due to resistance from the Republican-dominated Congress. It is
been replaced by An America First Energy Plan page in which more than likely, given the Trump administrations attitude towards
there is no mention of climate change. This energy plan, ac- climate change, that the US will not fulfil this commitment.
cording to Trump, envisages clearing an estimated $50 tril- It is clear already that a climate change denier sitting in the
lion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, especially White House is bad news for the world in more respects than
on federal lands. In other words, the Trump administration is one. First, the Trump administration will encourage greater
setting aside, as quickly as it can, what had begun to be put in use of fossil fuels, thereby disregarding existing environmental
place by the previous administration as part of the Climate regulations. So it is unlikely that the US will meet the targets
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 7

on GHG emissions that it has set for itself following the Paris that a country that is turning back people fleeing from wars
Treaty. Secondly, this will lead to a severe setback to global that it has partly been responsible for triggering, is now on the
efforts to deal with the environmental catastrophe triggered verge of pushing millions of people in poorer countries to
by global warming that is already on our doorsteps. How tragic become environmental refugees.

8 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The Universal Basic Income Proposal

A watered-down UBI based upon a dismantling of the existing social welfare schemes would be disastrous.

magine a world in which everyone is unconditionally given against market uncertainties. The PDS entails the states inter-
a subsistence-level income by the state. This, combined with ventions in agricultural commodity markets that have histori-
access to well-functioning public services would be, to quote cally resulted in more stable prices and a semblance of income
Jean Dreze, a fool-proof way of safeguarding the right to digni- security for farmers. The political currency of the public pro-
fied living. The chapter on Universal Basic Income (UBI): A curement system and minimum support prices is but an indica-
Conversation With and Within the Mahatma in the Economic tion of the significance of such market interventions. The
Survey 201617 (ES) begins with this. But unfortunately, given Mid-day Meal Scheme has shown that cooked meals in schools
self-imposed fiscal prudence, the proposed UBI, which is encourage school enrolment, apart from providing timely
neither universal nor basic, requires the dismantling of the nutrition. The MGNREGS not only promises minimum days of
most socially necessary welfare schemes, namely, the Public wage work, but also creates and helps maintain locally planned
Distribution System (PDS), the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural public infrastructure, protects against seasonality of work, and
Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Mid-day provides some bargaining power to workers in rural labour-
Meal Scheme. The envisioned UBI turns out to be no more than market wage setting. In fact the ES does make a passing refer-
a small compensatory transfer (or income top-up) to a part of encereplacing the PDS will increase market prices of cereals
the population, and that too, one that will require the govern- the poor face. Similarly, phasing down MGNREGS might reduce
ment to prune or do away with in-kind transfers of food, market wages for rural casual labourbut goes on to make a
guaranteed minimum days of wage work, and other public case against these interventions.
social security measures. Between 200405 and 201112, the offtake from the Food
The desire is to stick to budget neutrality even as its concep- Corporation of India (FCI) grew by 71%; and household pur-
tion is the most illogical part of the UBI vision. In the face of the chases through the PDS grew by 117%, indicating greater, more
monstrous economic inequality that plagues the country, surely efficient coverage, while leakages in the PDS have come down
a proper UBI can be financed from income and wealth taxation from 54% to 35%. The ES extrapolates the leakage figures up
of the very rich, as also, from indirect taxation of socially less to 2016, which points to a further reduction to 20.8%, without
desirable economic activities. Given that India has one of the accounting for improvements in technology and expansion
lowest tax to gross domestic product ratios in the world, more of coverage that must have occurred in the last five years.
so with respect to direct taxes (that include wealth and corpo- There has been a rise in rural wages, which in part is attribut-
rate taxes), it is inconceivable why the policymakers of this able to MGNREGS. Undeniably, rural infrastructure and more
country cannot envisage a UBI that builds on higher tax reve- recently, farm assets are being created substantially under
nue collections to expand the fiscal space. this scheme.
Instead, a UBI as seen in the ES is anchored on minimising What is important today is that provisioning of social secu-
fiscal cost and pruning the governments social-welfare ad- rity services and goods has become a matter of political impor-
ministrative machinery. The chapter argues that the current tance even in Indias northern states, as it has been for decades
social security system in India is bulky, inefficient, and in in the southern ones. In fact, in a few of these states, corrup-
large part misallocates resources, and that these realities tion and leakages have been reduced in the PDS and the
necessitate a serious thinking-through of better ways of spend- MGNREGS even as they cover a greater proportion of the
ing public money for social welfare. It emphasises the gross targeted population. This needs to be emulated in other states.
misallocation of resources under six welfare schemes, in To say that the time is ripe for serious discussion around a
two simplistic maps which show that the shares of welfare UBI that would entail dismantling existing hard-won social
spending in the poorer districts are less than the shares of welfare measures, does not seek to build on past gains or social
poor persons in these districts. The UBI, the authors of the ES experience. The past decade has shown that the implementa-
claim, is a way of rectifying this imbalance. However, any tion of social welfare programmes can be improved by the
such rectification would assume a targeted cash transfer, not participation of beneficiaries, ensuring greater transparency
a UBI. and accountability, the involvement of concerned non-govern-
Further, it must not be overlooked that each of these welfare mental organisations, a degree of political will, and a proactive
schemes has underlying mechanisms that ensure a safety net local administration.
8 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The Vulnerable Majority

Indias informal sector workers are growing in numbers and precariousness.

he World Employment and Social OutlookTrends 2016 One should expect that policymakers and those in government
report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in would make efforts to not only mitigate the insecurity that these
its predictions on global vulnerable employment, states workers face but also to ensure that they enter into more formal
that the number of jobless in India will increase from 17.7 mil- and therefore regularised and protected forms of employment.
lion in 2016 to 18 million by 2018 even though its employment This would entail legislating for greater regularisation of their
rate is expected to go down from 3.5% to 3.4% in 2017. The ILOs working conditions and wages and providing state support in
definition of vulnerable employment covers the own-account terms of better infrastructure and connectivity. It would also mean
workers and unpaid family workers more likely to lack decent paying attention to some of the biggest hurdles that small entrepre-
working conditions, proper social security and any form of ef- neurs and businesses facebyzantine red tape and corruption.
fective representation through unions or similar organisations. Yet, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the
The report predicts only marginal improvements in the share centre and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led states like Rajasthan and
of workers in vulnerable employment all over the world with Maharashtra seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick.
the rate of such employment expected to fall by less than 0.2 It must be noted here that the NDA governments much vaunted
percentage points per year over the next two years. This form of demonetisation drive most brutally affected the vast majority of
employment is expected to remain above 42% of the total workers in the informal sector, leaving them jobless and subjecting
employment in 2017 and accounts for 1.4 billion people all over their families to untold privations. Not only did the recently
the world. In emerging countries (India is classified as such by announced budget not take cognisance of their sufferings and the
the ILO), one in two workers fit this definition while in develop- many units forced to close down due to demonetisation, the
ing countries it is four out of five workers. The two regions most finance minister announced in his budget speech that existing
affected by vulnerable employment are Southern Asia and sub- labour laws would be simplified and merged into four codes
Saharan Africa with the number of such workers projected to wages, industrial relations, social security and welfare, and safety
grow globally by 11 million every year. and working conditions. Given the small percentage of workers
The ILOs statistics about India are not unexpected. The large within the organised sector who are supposed beneficiaries of
majority of Indias workers, 92% of them, are in the informal sector. existing laws and the poor implementation of these laws, it is
The slowdown in agriculture has pushed landless labourers and ironical that they are being blamed for investors shying off. The
small farmers also into this sector, notably into construction. term archaic is constantly used to describe labour laws, and the
More alarmingly, even the new jobs being created in the formal Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2016 and Wage Code Bill, 2016 are
sector are informal in nature due to the lack of employment ben- expected to take care of this state of affairs once they are passed.
efits and social security. Barely regulated by the government, this According to the ILO report, the vulnerable employment num-
sector nevertheless makes a significant contribution to the econo- bers look set to rise in the AsiaPacific region. The report echoes
my quite apart from providing employment to people the state familiar remedies for this: structural transformation, greater
cannot help. It stands to reason, therefore, that this would be the investment in education and skills for the most vulnerable groups
section of workers mostly found in manufacturing, construction, to take advantage of the so-called democratic dividend, incen-
transportation, storage and wholesale and retail trade. It is also a tives to labour-intensive sectors like clothing, leather, farming
known fact that women tend to be overwhelmingly employed in and food processing, and attending to Indias notorious high
this sector, subjected to even greater precariousness than their export duty structure. These are the suggestions the government
male counterparts, facing especially gender disparity in wages needs to heed to ensure that Indias ill-protected majority can
and sexual harassment at the workplace. look forward to job security and a dignified old age.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 9

From 50 Years Ago This was not, of course, the first instance of vio- While the warning was by no means irrele-
lence at an election meeting. Stones were thrown vant, by and large the opposition parties as well
at a meeting of the Congress President at Tiru- as the Congress have enough stake in the demo-
pati; election meetings of Morarji Desai have cratic process to recognise the futility of dis-
been repeatedly disturbed; in West Bengal the rupting the elections through violence. Some of
Vol II, No 6 FEBRUARY 11, 1967
Left Communist leader, Jyoti Basu, was recently the violence that we have seen has come from
injured by a brickbat; in Bombay poll meetings groups and organisations which do not have this
EDITORIALS stake. In Bhubaneshwar it was the students,
have ended in disorder more than once. Ad-
carrying on the legacy of the wave of student
Not Breaking Down, but dressing a press conference in New Delhi almost
unrest which swept through northern and eastern
The Deplorable Incident at Indira Gandhis elec- a week before the Bhubaneshwar incident, the India in the latter half of last year. In Bombay it
tion meeting in Bhubaneshwar on Wednesday, Chief Election Commissioner had referred to vi- was the Shiv Sena, a non-political, blatantly
in which the Prime Minister was hit in the face olence at election meetings as one of the most parochial, Maharashtra-for-Maharashtrians organi-
by a stone, has dramatically turned the atten- alarming developments and had warned politi- sation. Even when candidates or their supporters
tion of the whole country to the danger of the cal parties that it was time for them to sit up have been responsible for violence, the acts
elections being disrupted by acts of violence. and ponder whether they want elections or not. have been sporadic, purely locally initiated.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 9

local people. When police arrested the

Politics of Jallikattu protesters, the news spread like fire
through social networking sites and
WhatsApp messages, and a group of
Kalaiyarasan A students in Chennai gathered at the
Marina sands to demand the release of
The protest of Tamils against A condition for individual experiences to link the students. On the same day, people
up and form a movement is the existence of a all over Tamil Nadu organised impromptu
the ban on Jallikattu is a trigger. communication process that propagates the
protests, led by students and youth, and
The pent-up anger against the events and the emotions attached to it.
Manuel Castells (2015: 15) hence subsequently came to be called
successive policies of the central a Tamil Spring and also as a Thai

government and corporate he massive protest of Tamils Revolution (Thai referring to the Tamil
encroachment of resources is the against the ban on Jallikattu, a month that is synonymous with hope
bull sport held during the harvest and new opportunities).
main cause of massive turnout
festival of Pongal, attracted much atten- The protest acquired an iconic place
in the protests. The protests tion across the world. A sport that was in the history of Tamil Nadu for many
displayed the limits of the popular among only some communities reasons. Not only was it massive, non-
Hindu rights attempts to make of a few districts in Tamil Nadu suddenly violent, and spontaneous, it attracted
acquired an authentic Tamil identity, over people from all walks of life with a large
inroads into the states politics by
a decade after it drew the attention number of women participating in the
valorising Tamil language and of those who struggled to banish it. protest. The protesters saw the Jallikattu
culture. The protests indicate a Animal lovers have been waging a legal ban as an attack on Tamil culture and
continuity of Tamil politics with battle, besides embarking on a vicious identity, though many of them might not
campaign against Jallikattu on the charge have watched a live bull sport in their
renewed strength through
that it amounted to cruelty to bulls. But lifetime. Thus, Jallikattu became a symbol
social media activism. the argument of the protesters is that of Tamil pride.
the sport is not about bull taming but
embracing them. Taking a cue from the Jallikattu as a Trigger
ancient Tamil literature, Yeru Thazhu- So, if the protests saw a forced violent
vuthal (embracing bull), the supporters end, it is because the Tamil Spring
argue that the sport is more about em- earned the ire of not just animal lovers
bracing the bull than the show of human but an entire establishment sensed socio-
bravery over the bull. The literal mean- political repercussions in such mobilisa-
ing of Jallikattu isJalli/salli (coins) tions. If Tamil was used to produce hori-
and kattu (tied)grabbing a bag of zontal solidarities among the lower
coins tied to the horns of the bulls. castes and classes in the past, Jallikattu
However, as the debate raged for over was used as a symbol of Tamil pride now.
a decade in courtrooms, newsrooms and If Jallikattu is seen as a weird custom
other public fora, animal lovers, who of Tamils, the protest seeking its preser-
came under a slew of banners like Animal vation was seen as lawlessness by both
Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People the Tamil elites and their counterparts
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Delhi. They resented that Tamils have
(PETA), were ahead of those who wanted been taken over by passion and pride,
the conservation of their ancient culture. instead of reason and nuance. What they
Two Pongal festivals went by without a failed to note, however, was that Tamils
Jallikattu event much to the chagrin are more than emotional. The critics
and disappointment of the subaltern missed the context and history. It is not
communities. But this year, a group of new for Tamil elites to look down upon
supporters of the Jallikattu converged at such large-scale protests led by students.
The author thanks Ezhil, Babu Jayakumar and Alanganallur, the village near Madurai For instance, in 1939, C Rajagopalachari,
Anandhi S for their inputs in writing this article.
that is famous for the sport, demanding the premier of the Madras Presidency,
Kalaiyarasan A ( is with the lifting of the ban. ridiculed the first anti-Hindi martyr
the Institute for Studies in Industrial Many of the protesters were students L Nadarajan, who died in prison. It was
Development, New Delhi.
who were expressing solidarity with the due to his illiteracy that he picketed and
10 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

it was due to his picketing that he hap- corporate things are occupying my kitchen. that was projected as a natural ally of
pened to be in jail, but his illness was My children like junk food, noodles, soft the corporates.
drinks like Coke and Pepsi and so on. Now,
certainly due to other causes (Pandian
the corporate has brought in substandard
1996: 3327). Following Rajagopalachari, Anti-centre Politics
quality milk that would make my children
T N Seshan, in the case of 1965 anti- weak. But the milk from native cows would Among others, an issue which echoed
Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu, observes make him stronger. This understanding has during the protest is the Cauvery water
that, Mobs of illiterate and semi-literate pushed me to the protest that was called by dispute. The dispute has influenced the
Tamil people, mostly poor, lapsed into the students. politics of the state for long as the river
fits of fury in the cause of so remote By linking the ban on Jallikattu to the has a deep cultural and economic sig-
a language, English (Pandian and imagined corporate takeover of milk nificance. Despite its complex history,
Kalaiyarasan 2013). production in the state, protesters man- the dispute has generated a sense of
On the same lines, Nirupama Subra- aged to connect with the women who betrayal among Tamils. Karnataka has
manian (2017) called the current protest have been repeatedly told by various failed to implement the Supreme Court
an act of lawlessness which sets a dan- activists, carrying out different campaigns directive for the release of water to save
gerous new precedent in the country. on the need to follow traditional culi- the samba crops this year. Despite the
What she could not understand perhaps nary cultures by warning of corporate state governments efforts, the insuffi-
was that the Jallikattu is more than hurt baits. The story of cattle told to women is cient release of the Cauvery water was
sentiment and injured pride. Her coun- that the bulls used in Jallikattu are of seen as the main cause of the agrarian
terpart, Subramanian Swamy, calls the pure breed, and are preserved through crisis in 2016, which took a toll of more
protesters porukkis (thugs). As in the the sport. Jallikattu helps in segregating than 100 lives. The National Human
past, this protest too was dubbed as anti- the best bulls from the weak ones. The Rights Commission took suo motu cog-
national. The honour of being dubbed as cows that are bred from these bulls offer nisance of the deaths and issued a notice
anti-national is not new to Tamils, the the best milk. These cows are expected to the Tamil Nadu government seeking
protesters claim. As the anti-Hindi agita- to live long and offer milk enough for explanation (Janardhanan 2017).
tion was not simply about the language, both the calf and people. The indigenous The people of the state perceive that
Jallikattu protest was not just about a bulls known as Kangayam and Pulikulam the centre has not done enough to ensure
sport. Though, undoubtedly, Jallikattu are pure ones and they are preserved adequate water supply from the Cauvery
was the trigger, at least two other primarily for breeding and to take part to Tamil Nadu. The farmers deaths have,
strands of popular discontent were dis- in Jallikattu. thus, accentuated the resentment against
cernible at the various protest sites, in- If the sport is banned, we will lose the centre. The wound is still fresh in
cluding Marinaone, anti-corporate, these native cattle, resonated all along peoples memory. The slogan, enough
and two, anti-centre. the protest. Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, is enough is driven by this frustration.
who runs Cattle Research Foundation, The supporters also mentioned Mullai-
Anti-corporate Sentiment also spearheaded this campaign. He periyar water dispute where Tamil Nadu
The omnipresent placards conveying the said: is being seen as the victim of larger con-
message, PETA is a corporate lobby and The banning of Jallikattu and the demand spiracy of the centre. There was a strong
the ban is a corporate ploy, and the for banning of other rural sports like rekhla sentiment among the protesters that the
slogans that rang through the protest race will ultimately result in the vanishing centre has favoured Kerala and deceived
sites in the state were clear indicators that of native species and ultimately result in the Tamil Nadu. In some sites of protests,
anti-corporate sentiments have gripped country turning into import dependent on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue was also
bovine animals. (Babu 2017)
the collective psyche of the Tamils. So, articulated, where the centre was not
it is not a surprise that a fallout of the The fear among women in particular spared for its collusion with the Sri
protest is that at least the international is that losing these cattle is losing Lankan state for the massacre of Tamils
brands of soft drinks, Coke and Pepsi, the self-sufficiency in milk production. in 2009.
have gone off the shelves of many shops in It is a corporate ploy, they were told. In addition, there are other policies
Tamil Nadu. The slogans running down The corporate-run cross-bred cow has a initiated by the centre that the state has
Coke and Pepsi, along with PETA, were short life and produces a huge quantity been opposing or seeking an exemption.
repeatedly raised to drive home the point of milk. This milk has many health One such issue is the National Eligibility
that there was an international corporate issues affecting digestion and causing cum Entrance Test (NEET). The Supreme
ploy to play with the health of Tamils. allergies in infants. This campaign was Court made NEET mandatory for all
A housewife, Usha, when asked about done to such a level that it bordered medical admissions across the country.
her motive for attending the protest on neo-nativism. Not only did the Tamil Nadu has been opposing it stating
said: campaign capture the existing anti-cor- the need to preserve its social justice
Corporatisation is happening rapidly. All porate imagination of the people, it policy and other state-specific objec-
things we used are controlled now by the turned the protesters and the people in tives. All these issues have generated a
corporate. What worries me most is that general against the central government pent-up anger against the centre.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 11

This became evident when the pro- if you shout against Modi, but what slice of history would not be out of place
testers carried caricatures of Narendra about the nation? There are those in the here. The significant outcomes of the
crowd carrying placards which say that if
Modi. The slogans and placards asked Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu are
you dont allow Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu will
why Tamil Nadu should respect the secede. Portraits of LTTE leader Prab- achievements in social justice and asser-
Supreme Court when it cannot enforce hakaran are rampant at the venue. Small tion of Tamil identity. While the former
the water rights of Tamil Nadu. The children are carrying Modis placards with produced social and economic mobility
states inactions on several other issues denigrating words about the prime minister. for a substantial section across caste
(Ramasubramanian 2017)
ailing Tamil Nadu too resonated in the groups by innovative reservation poli-
protests. Jallikattu was just a trigger. The protests have also warmed the cies, the latter produced a well-informed
hearts of raucous Tamil nationalists. Tamil cultural public. The Dravidian
Tamil against Hindu Both share pure love for Tamil, though movements assertion of Tamil identity
A new yet significant player in this for different reasons. The symbol of Eru made this cultural public possible. As
politics of the sport is the Hindu right. Thazhuvuthal (embracing a bull) is seen Pandian (2000) sums up:
For the last two decades, the Hindu right as Tamil glorythe seal with the bull Avant-garde magazines, proliferation of
has been courting Tamil language and depicts the Tamil age. Does this protest publishing houses, an expanded reading
culture. Its new-found slogan appears signify redefining Tamil nationalism? public, globally-informed debates, and books
to be Tamil, Hindu and Hindustan Tamil identity was presented as one that which both in their content and design can
compete with the best in the world, are all
(Pandian 2000). Tamil used to be a sub- was beleaguered, and its defence carried a
hallmarks of the new self-confident Tamil
nationalist assertion for many in the past. broad appeal and performed the radical cultural public.
It is no longer so. When the early Dravida task of mobilising horizontal solidarities
Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) spoke of among different sections. It was more If the mobilisation for Jallikattu is
Tamil, it was more than a language. The than a language. It was a vehicle for driven by active social media, the latter
assertion of speaking Tamil is simulta- lower-caste assertion. Now the state itself became possible because of an
neously anti-caste, secularist and anti- has a vibrant Tamil culture, and a self- educated section of the people cutting
Sanskrit. Tamil is harmless now. One can confident segment of lower castes who across caste groups and Tamil cultural
be a good Tamil, good Hindu and a good are placed across the spectrum due to public in the state. The current uprising
Indian together. This option was not successive reser vation policies (Pandian of student and youth is being seen as
available earlier. The Hindu right could 2011). a Tamil Spring akin to the Arab Spring.
indeed find its takers in the state now. Does this mobilisation signify change It is indeed so in mobilisation if not
It mobilised Thirvalluvar, an ancient in Tamil identity? Whether it is more of in content. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Tamil poet, to display its new-found love pride now than the one which is rooted and WhatsApp have played a significant
for Tamil. Thirvalluvar, and his works in deprivations is yet to be seen. role in disseminating information, organ-
Thirukkural were seen as the symbols of ising rallies and planning the occupa-
secular tradition of the Tamils. Along New Social Movement? tion of public spaces. The social media
this line, the Hindu right attempted to Tamil Nadu has been witnessing a vibrant supplied slogans to the protest sites
take up the issue of Jallikattu to pre- social media-led activism in recent times. across the state.
serve Tamil culture. It backfired. The The student uprising against war crimes This sort of social media networks-led
weight of history is stronger than their in Sri Lanka in 2013, well-organised mobilisation changed the traditional
current political manoeuvres. flood relief in 2015 and the current mobi- protest or demonstration into what Cas-
The recent move by the centre impos- lisation for Jallikattu are evidence of tells (2015) calls the new social move-
ing Hindi and Sanskrit in schools did not such trends. For instance, Chennai and ment. He argues that the internet not
find many takers in Tamil Nadu. In addi- Cuddalore witnessed the worst floods in only facilitates instant communication
tion, the imprint of Hindi and Devanagari nearly a hundred years. The state gov- but also liberates individuals to shape a
numerals in the newly-introduced rupee ernments ineptitude in both preventive new autonomy and freedom. In the pro-
notes in November 2016 also attracted and post-flood relief efforts are still cess, mass self-communicated horizon-
wide oppositions in the state. The at- fresh in peoples memory. It is the youth tal networks get built which can criticise
tempt to subsume Tamil identity under and students who took a lead in rehabili- anyone, offer space to vent out all collec-
Hindu and Indian is perhaps not work- tation of flood victims and mobilised tive anger against powers that be and
ing. The Jallikattu protest shows the re- support across the state through social
fusal of Tamil to be subsumed. Those media. A similar style of work is evident
placards and slogans displayed in the during the Jallikattu protests.
available at
protest are witness to this. A quote of a A vibrant social media needs an edu-
senior leader of Bharatiya Janta Party in cated class, shared vocabularies and a Gyan Deep
Near Firayalal, H. B. Road
the state sums up this mood: cultural language to connect, communi-
Ranchi 834 001, Jharkhand
All sorts of anti-national elements are par- cate and mobilise the people. How does Ph: 0651-2205640
ticipating in the protests. We dont bother this become possible in Tamil Nadu? A
12 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

ensure mass participation. Since it offers comes from Madurai or from places became Arab spring, the Jallikattu is a
independent and autonomous space, other than Chennai, and starts narrating trigger for Tamil spring.
people can share their experiences and her/his experience in the city and life in
relate their lived stories with others. corporate workspaces, she/he gets a huge
Babu, Gireesh (2017): Jallikattu: Tug of War over
This helps them to overcome the power- applause from the crowd. The gathering Bull-taming Festival in Tamil Nadu Continues,
lessness of their solitary despair by net- in Chennai Marina is, thus, both protest Business Standard, 10 January.
Castells, Manuel (2015): Networks of Outrage and
working their desire (Castells 2015). and celebration. The claiming of a social Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age,
As a woman participant says: space which was not available for some- Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Janardhanan, Arun (2017): NHRC Notice to Tamil
This is the first protest I have ever partici- one in the city became a new-found Nadu over Farmer Deaths, Indian Express,
pated in. Though I have resentments over a source of freedom and joy for the one 6 January.
few other doings of the government, I have Pandian, M S S (1996): Towards National-Popular:
who is alienated from her/his work and Notes on Self-Respecters Tamil, Economic &
never come out boldly like this before. I also
her/his surroundings in the city. Political Weekly, Vol 31, No 51.
spoke among the gathering at the protest (2000): Tamil-Friendly Hindutva, Economic
venue in my first protest itself. I have left my If social media worked to coordinate, & Political Weekly, Vol 35, No 2122, pp 180506.
one year-old baby in my mother-in-laws care communicate and disseminate the mes- (2011): New Times in Tamil Nadu, Seminar,
and come to this protest with my husband. No 620.
sages, non-stop coverage of Tamil elec- Pandian, M S S and Kalaiyarasan A (2013): Tamil
When I said this in my speech, many women
appreciated me. I have come to know about tronic media helped in magnifying the Spring? Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 48,
No 15, pp 1011.
these issues through Whatsapp, Facebook movement, which drew women from Ramasubramanian, P (2017): Jallikattu Protestors
and YouTube videos. across various sections. As the self- Battle Tamil Nadu Police, but for Many, Modi,
Centre Are Main Target, Wire, 23 January.
Similarly, it is observed in the protests immolation of a young street vendor in Subramanian, Nirupama (2017): Lawless on the
that whenever a person says that she/he Tunisia triggered a sea of protest and Shore, Indian Express, 24 January.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 13

Is the Governments Overly indeed necessary to meet these commit-

ments (Tongia 2016: 17), but they have

Aggressive Solar Thrust in remained unanswered.

The government estimates the invest-

Public Interest? ment requirement for 100 GW of solar

generation to be of the order of `6 lakh
crore. Globally, renewable energy (RE) is
a favourite of investors, and the govern-
Kannan Kasturi ments solar programme has been enthusi-
astically received. Foreign investors, such

The government wants to raise ndias current solar capacity is less as SunEdison, SkyPower, Fortum India
solar power generation capacity than 8 GW. Shortly after coming to and SoftBank and Indian business hous-
power, the Modi government de- es, including Adani, Tata and Mahindra,
from the current 8 GW to 100 GW by
clared a fivefold increasein the 2022 have aggressively participated in the
2022. How will such an aggressive target for solar generation capacity in large solar tenders. Competition is fierce
solar programme impact Indias the countryto an eye-popping 100 GW. and the Ministry of New and Renewable
electricity distribution Less than a year before, Indias electri- Energy has had to hire large halls to
city establishment had estimated 100 accommodate all interested players dur-
companies? How will it affect the
GW to be Indias solar potential till 2032 ing pre-bid meetings (Kenning 2015).
cost, availability and quality of (MoP 2014: 22)! The target has been set
electricity for consumers? Does without reference to the coal-fired capa- Challenges of Renewable Energy
city addition in progress and at a time on the Grid
the pace of solar adoption being
when capacity utilisation of existing The thrust of the government is entirely
pushed by the government serve
thermal plants is very low and there is on grid connected solar energy. A little
the public interest? a large uncertainty on how electricity background is useful to understand the
demand will develop in the next few challenge this poses for electricity distri-
years (Singh 2016; Tongia 2016: 6). The bution. Electricity demand typically varies
only argument the government has through the day. For example, the all-
offered in favour of its aggressive solar India average pattern shows a higher
thrust is that this would help India meet demand during the day than at night
its international commitments on carbon with a sharp late evening peak (PGCIL
Kannan Kasturi ( emissions (GoI 2015a). Questions have 2012: 57). It is a basic requirement of
is an independent researcher and writes on been raised about whether such a rapid a stable electricity grid that demand
public interest and policy.
build-up of non-fossil fuel capacity is and supply be balanced, or in other
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 13

words, matched at all times and over dif- any storage capacity available as the of every state. The RE potential of a
ferent time scales. need for storage solutions has not been state depends on various factors, like
acutely felt in the past. the level of solar irradiation and wind
Balancing Demand and Supply conditions. Seven statesTamil Nadu,
There are several options for balancing. Implications of Renewable Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra,
On the supply side, the output of power Energy for Balancing Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
plants can be controlled to follow demand. The presence of solar energy generators are suitable for both wind and solar
On the demand side, the options can be on the grid makes balancing more chal- generation and account for 70% of the
to store energy when there is excess lenging for several reasons. One is that aggregate wind and solar capacity
supply and to curtail demand forcibly or electricity regulation in India incentivises planned across India (MNRE 2016). These
through economic disincentives when solar energy by conferring a must run have been termed RE rich states.
there is a deficit. Conventional power status on solar generators; their entire So far as generation goes, historically,
plantssuch as coal, gas-fired and res- output must be accepted into the grid. This states have had their own dedicated
ervoir-based hydropowerare amena- makes solar power plants inflexible power plants or shares in the capacity of
ble to output control to varying extents. from a balancing standpoint. A second is central public sector power plants. State
Their use in balancing is determined by that solar power is variable. Solar power distribution utilities procure a bulk of their
their operational flexibility: the range plants produce power only in daylight power requirements (89% in 201112)
over which their output can be changed hours and their output varies with the through long-term power purchase agree-
and the rate at which the change can be movement of the sun, peaking at mid- ments (PPA s) with these state-owned
made. The capacity available for flexible day. Balancing now needs to be carried plants and some private plants (NTPC
use is termed balancing capacity. out for load as well as supply variability. 2012). The remaining comes from gene-
The output of gas-fired and hydro- A third reason is that solar output is rators with untied capacity that are
power plants with reservoirs can be chan- dependent on weather. Cloudy or foggy either recently commissioned private
ged rapidly and over a large range to conditions lower output and introduce plants that have not found long-term
handle changing load. These plants are intermittency into the variations. The customers or private plants operating as
high in flexibility. The old (subcritical) expected output under such conditions, merchant producers. Long-term PPAs
coal-fired plants were designed to pro- obtained from models using weather pretty much fix the generation resources
vide a steady output. Output changes in forecasting data, has to be available suf- and balancing capacity in the portfolio
these plants happen relatively slowly ficiently in advance to enable scheduling of a state. They also come in the way of
and over a smaller range and frequent of conventional generators for balanc- states pooling their balancing resources.
output changes can lead to wear and ing. Since weather is not entirely pre- A state looking for additional balancing
tear with attendant costs. These plants dictable, actual generation will show capacity outside of its fixed portfolio has
are low on flexibility. Newer supercriti- deviations from forecasts and these have to find it from the limited pool of untied
cal coal-fired plants are by design more to be handled in real time. generators. For these reasons, there can
flexible and resilient than the older sub- Windmills are the other major source be a wide mismatch between the balanc-
critical plants (PGCIL 2012: 12024). of RE in the Indian context. Together ing capacity in different states and the
Currently, demand is typically asse- with solar, they account for over 90% RE capacity planned for them.
ssed from load profiles from the past (160 GW) of the RE target for 2022. These
(previous day, same day previous week plants also have a must run status and Experience of Tamil Nadu
or year) which can give an indication of produce output that is variable and in- Tamil Nadu has the highest RE capacity
the load variations to be expected. Con- fluenced by weather conditions. From a penetration currently among all states,
ventional generators are scheduled to balancing perspective, they have issues with RE (largely from windmills) ac-
match the expected load. The intra-day similar to solar. counting for 56% of its overall genera-
variation in demand is addressed mainly tion capacity. Its balancing capacity is
by varying output of reservoir-based Balancing Areas in the Federal inadequate for this level of penetration
hydro plants. Coal plants provide the base Electricity Set-up (GIZ 2015: 54, 6365). Use of its limited
load and their output is varied only in a There is another dimension to balancing reservoir-based hydro capacity for bal-
small range (PGCIL 2012: 125). In recent that derives from Indias federal electri- ancing is restricted by irrigation release
years, this range has been expanding city set-upelectricity provisioning is a schedules and periods of high inflows
steadily indicating the need for increas- state government responsibility. Each into reservoirs when hydropower gener-
ing balancing capacity (MoP 2016b: 28). state has to maintain the supplydemand ation cannot be curtailed. Neighbouring
The use of gas-fired plants in balancing balance in its own grid which becomes Karnataka and Telangana, which are
has been discouraged by non-availability the balancing area. Access to balanc- part of the southern electricity region,
of gas and high price. When there is ing capacity commensurate with the RE are rich in hydropower resources, but
insufficient supply, load shedding is capacity planned is required in each these are not available to Tamil Nadu.
resorted to. The Indian grid has hardly balancing area, that is, at the level The state has no flexible gas-fired plants
14 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

and limited flexibility available in its old identified a number of hydropower pro- and there is no visibility into when they
coal-fired plants (CEA 2013: 13). jects that can be developed to support will be ready.
Till early 2016, in the absence of capa- pumped storage (CEA 2013: 3943). The
bility for wind power forecasting, short- government, however, has just woken Flexible Generation
term power purchases were planned up to the need to identify concrete pro- There is little chance of capacity addi-
after making assumptions about wind jects and there is talk of setting up 10 GW tion in gas-fired thermal plants in the
generation. If wind power generation of pumped storage (ET Bureau 2016). 2022 time frame with existing gas-fired
was greater than expected, after exhau- Grid-level battery storage technologies plants running at partial capacity because
sting its limited balancing options, the are evolving and in one estimate, are of the cost of gas which has to be imported.
state utility would have only two opti- 38 times more expensive than pumped Hydropower projects totalling over 12 GW
onseither back down power from pri- storage (GIZ 2015: 80). There are several are under construction (CEA 2015). Possi-
vate coal plants contracted for short- vested interests active in promoting these bly less than half of this capacity will be
term power or cut off wind power plants technologies, including the USIndia amenable to flexible use. Most projects
from the grid. business council and the government are many years behind schedule because
Either option has been problematic for seems to have fallen for the hype created of environmental-related stand-offs and
the utilityviolating contract provisions around them. The public sector Solar opposition from local populations. Old
in one case and not respecting the must Energy Corporation of India has put out coal-fired plants can be made more
run status accorded to wind generators tenders for solar capacity with storage flexible through retrofitting. This will
in the other. The dispute involving the components potentially driving up the require capital expenditure and there
state utility, coal-fired plants and the cost of solar electricity (Clover 2016). are no signs that governments (who own
wind power producers is now in the The storage component is minuscule as most of these plants) are seriously con-
courts (Vaitheeswaran 2015). Legal is- of now and nowhere near the scale needed sidering this option. A total of 73 GW of
sues aside, there are negative economic to be practically useful to the distri- coal capacity is under construction of
consequences, either way. Varying pow- bution companies (DISCOMS). It seems which supercritical plants account for 50
er from coal plants means underutilisa- that storage can be safely discounted GW (CEA 2016; MoEFCC 2015: 72).
tion of capacity and higher costs related as an option for balancing in the run-up One can conclude that coal-fired
to wear and tear. Backing down wind to 2022. plants, in particular supercritical ones,
power means wasted energy. will be the mainstay of RE balancing.
Forecasting and Dispersing RE With conventional capacity addition, far
Preparations for RE Renewable energy management centres lower than planned RE capacity addition
The central governments massive RE (REMCs) are to be set up in at least all the (of 130 GW), Indias overall balancing
targets require a commensurate increase RE-rich states with the responsibility for potentialthe ratio of balancing capa-
in balancing capability at least in the RE- statewide forecasting of RE. The costs in- city to RE capacityis set to decrease in
rich states. Balancing resources can be curred in managing the uncertainty in the run-up to 2022.
augmented by dedicated transmission predicting renewable generation will
corridors distributing RE across states, not be part of its purchase cost; these Market for Balancing Capacity
grid storage and additional flexible gen- costs are to be socialised among grid The mere existence of flexibility in gene-
eration, which are all infrastructure of users (CERC 2015). Till mid-2015, there ration will not translate to flexible opera-
long gestation (PGCIL 2012: 116). Besides was no centralised forecasting for re- tions as the latter has negative financial
resources, accurate forecasting of RE newable generation anywhere in India implications for the operator. For in-
generation is essential for balancing. (GIZ 2015: 60). Tamil Nadu has inaugu- stance, in the case of coal-fired plants,
What follows is an assessment of the rated its REMC recently (Srikanth 2016). these are due to wear and tear reducing
central governments preparatory work Transmission corridors (termed Green the life of the plant, higher maintenance
in each of these areas. Energy Corridors) providing RE clusters costs and costs associated with capacity
in RE-rich states access to neighbouring underutilisation and lower efficiency.
Grid Storage states were a part of the Twelfth Plan. The government is therefore moving to
Pumped storage is not only the most The corridors are under implementation incentivise flexible operations. There is
widely deployed grid-level energy stor- with an enlarged scope to include con- already a regulation to compensate gen-
age technology, but also the most flexi- nectivity to the ultra mega solar parks erators for holding capacity in reserve
ble and competitive one (GIZ 2015: 80). and will enable RE generators to dis- for responding to grid management
Pumped storage hydroelectric plants perse electricity in a wider geography requests in real time. A framework for
store and generate electricity by moving with more balancing resources than market-based pricing for balancing capa-
water between reservoirs at two diffe- available in the RE-rich states (MoP city is just down the line.
rent heights. While India has a very 2016b: 42). Will market-based incentives solve the
limited capacity of operational pumped Both the forecasting and transmission problem of making adequate balancing
storage, the electricity establishment has infrastructure are early work in progress capacity available in the RE-rich states?
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 15

There are some constraints. First, the Of course, even if solar prices reach build-up is compatible with the balancing
generation capacity available in the grid parity it does not mean that solar has capacity available with the states and
electricity market untied to PPAs is cur- become cost-effective compared to other their ability to manage RE variability. The
rently limited, though it is slated to rise sources of energy. The cost of balancing government must pay as much attention
with the commissioning of new plants. variability in generation through flexi- to capacity building in inter-regional
Second, interregional transmission con- ble capacity held in reserve must also be transmission, pumped storage and highly
straints can come in the way of RE-rich attributed to solar power. To this must flexible generation as it is doing to solar
states using flexible capacity from regi- also be added the cost of infrastructure generation. Renewable energy targets
ons other than their own. The later prob- for forecasting RE and the costs arising based on these considerations rather than
lem is illustrated by the southern elec- from errors in forecasting. The govern- impetuous declarations will be sustain-
tricity region which has been facing a ment has not even hazarded a guess at able and allow steady decrease of carbon
generation capacity deficit for several these costs yet. As subsidies alone are not emissions. A slower adoption of solar gen-
years. Coal-fired generators in the west- enough to make solar power attractive, eration will be beneficial for yet another
ern electricity region are unable to pro- the government has also taken recourse reason: solar power, as long-term trends
vide power to the southern region bec- to coercion. The new tariff policy calls for suggest, will only get cheaper with time.
ause of transmission bottlenecks and high RE purchase obligations for DISCOMS
their capacity lies underutilised. Market- with the target for solar alone being 8% References
based pricing has not solved the problem of non-hydropower consumed by every CEA (2013): Large Scale Grid Integration of Re-
newable Energy SourcesWay Forward, Cen-
of electricity deficit in the southern region utility by 2022 (MoP 2016a). To make sure tral Electricity Authority, November, http://
in five years; electricity prices at the Indian that states comply with the Renewable
Electricity Exchange have remained sig- Purchase Obligation targets, such compli- scale_grid_integ.pdf.
(2015): Hydro Electric Projects under Execu-
nificantly higher for the southern region ance has been made part of the conditions tion, Central Electricity Authority, November,
compared to the western region from associated with the Ujwal Discom Assur-
2011 onwards (Kasturi 2016: 24). ance Yojana (UDAY) that provides relief (2016): Monthly Report on Broad Status of
Two years after announcing massive to indebted state DISCOMS (GoI 2015b). Thermal Projects in the Country, Central Elec-
tricity Authority, July,
RE targets, the government still does not reports/monthly/broadstatus/2016/broad_
have an assessment of the actual balanc- Negative Consequences of status-07.pdf.
ing capacity available with the RE-rich Force-feeding RE CERC (2015): Framework on Forecasting, Sched-
uling and Imbalance Handling for Variable Re-
states or how this will grow in future! It Forcing DISCOMS to absorb RE beyond newable Energy Sources (Wind and Solar):
appears to believe that the market for their ability to handle it will have conse- Statement of Reasons, Central Electricity
Regulatory Commission, http://www.cercind.
balancing capacity will somehow solve quences for their health and the cost and
all problems. quality of electricity supply. A key as- Clover, Ian (2016): India: Storage to be Included in
100 MW Tranche of Andhra Pradesh 750 MW
sumption behind UDAY is that power Solar Tender, PV Magazine, 15 March, http://
Real Cost of Solar costs will come down with lower cost of
State utilities are generally strained fin- coal and help DISCOM finances. Rapid so- nche-of-andhra-pradesh-750-mw-solar-tender
ancially and will not be keen to purchase lar penetration will push up the cost of _100023702/#axzz4Hs5QeTPR.
ET Bureau (2016): India Readies Plan to Improve
RE as long as it is relatively expensive. To power. Utilities are already hard put to Renewable Power Storage, Economic Times, 22
make RE more attractive, the central handle load variation, even today. They August,
government has worked out ways of sub- lack accurate load forecasting, flexibility -improve-renewable-power-storage/article-
sidising it at the cost of public sector in conventional generation, balancing show/53802021.cms.
companies in the power or fuel sector. resources such as pumped storage and GIZ (2015): Report on Forecasting, Concept of Re-
newable Energy Management Centres and
Interstate transmission charges for solar generation reserves to handle different Grid Balancing, Deutsche Gesellschaft fr In-
electricity have been waived at the cost eventualities on the grid (MoP 2016b: 11). ternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH,
May, Files/
of the Power Grid Corporation of India. For customers, this has meant a regime draft-report-fscb-remcs.pdf.
NTPC contracts for solar power from of poor quality and unscheduled power GoI (2015a): Revision of Cumulative Targets under
National Solar Mission from 20,000 MW by
producers and sells it to DISCOMS after cuts. With high RE penetration and an 202122 to 100000 MW, Government of India,
subsidising it in the following way. It expected further deterioration in bal- 17 June,
bundles solar power with low-cost ancing potential, this regime is bound to
(2015b): UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yo-
power from its coal-fired plants and continue in to the future. The govern- jana) for Financial Turnaround of Power Distri-
offers utilities power at a rate which is ment is also preparing to use demand bution Companies, Government of India, 5
lower than its purchase price for solar curtailment for balancing by pushing for lease.aspx?relid=130261.
electricity (Upadhyay 2015). This bundled large-scale installation of smart meters Kasturi, Kannan (2016): Private Thermal Power in
a Liberal Policy Regime, Economic & Political
price has to approach grid paritythe that will allow setting time-of-day tariff Weekly, Vol 51, No 10, pp 2226.
average price of electricity contracted by (MoP 2016a). Kenning Tom (2015): Indias Cutthroat Solar Auc-
tionsBehind the Hype, PVTECH, 22 Decem-
utilitiesfor NTPC to be able to find Public interest will be better served if ber,
willing buyers. the pace of solar (and wind) capacity cutthroat-solar-auctions-behind-the-hype.

16 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
MNRE (2016): Tentative State-wise Break-up of Need for Balancing, Deviation Settlement Srikanth, R (2016): Tangedco Sets Up Centre to
Renewable Power Target to be Achieved by the Mechanism and Associated Issues, Ministry of Tap Renewable Energy, Hindu, 26 March,
Year 2022 So That Cumulative Achievement Is Power, April,
175000 MW, Ministry of New and Renewable fault/files/uploads/Final_Consolidated_Report_ mil-nadu/tangedco-sets-up-centre-to-tap-re-
Energy, RE_Technical_Committee.pdf. newable-energy/article8398352.ece.
Files/Tentative-State-wise-break-up-of-Renew NTPC (2012): Annual Report, 201112, National Tongia, Rahul (2016): Indias Updated (2016) Re-
able-Power-by-2022.pdf (21 September 2016). Thermal Power Corporation, http://www.ntpc. newable Energy Guidelines: Bold Targets, But
MoEFCC (2015): First Biennial Update Report to Can We Meet Them?, Brookings India IMPACT
the United Nations Framework Convention on on-and-analysis-2011. Series, No 0820162.0.
Climate Change, Ministry of Environment, PGCIL (2012): Transmission Plan for Envisaged Upadhyay, Anindya (2015): Indias Modi Tells Coal
Forest and Climate Change, December, http:// Renewable Capacity, Vol 1, Power Grid Corpora- Power Plants to Subsidize Solar, Bloomberg, 7 tion of India Limited, July, http://www.power- September,
MoP (2014): Perspective Transmission Plan for /articles/2015-09-07/india-tells-coal-power-
Twenty Years (20142034), Ministry of Power, adData/file/ourBusiness/SmartGrid/Vol_1.pdf. plants-to-subsidize-15-gigawatts-of-solar.
August, Singh, Sarita (2016): Power Demand May be Low- Vaitheesvaran, Bharani (2015): Wind or Conven-
mittee/scm/allindia/notices/3rd_report.pdf. er by 15% for Five Years Starting FY18, Eco- tional Power? Tamil Nadu Power Producers
(2016a): Resolution, Tariff Policy, Ministry of nomic Times, 25 April, http://articles.econom- Battle It Out in Court, Economic Times, 26 Au-
Power, Gazette of India, 28 January. gust, http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.
(2016b): Report of the Technical Committee 72598691_1_power-ministry-power-demand- com/2015-08-26/news/65886398_1_must-run-
on Large Scale Integration of Renewable Energy, electric-power-survey. status-wind-power-wind-mills.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 17

Injectable Contraceptives carcinogenic effects, bone mineral den-

sity deficiency leading to osteoporosis,
hypertension, and clitoral hypotrophy
Failing Indian Women (Sathyamala 2000; Akhter 1992). Fur-
ther, it does not provide protection from
HIV/AIDS (Visvanathan 2009). Contra-
Smitha Nair indications include diabetes mellitus,
liver diseases, depression, blood-clotting

The campaign against he Government of India has exp- problems, weight problems, pregnancy
Depo-Provera and the questions ressed its intention of introducing in women, breast cancer, or desire to
the controversial injectable con- become pregnant within 824 months
raised by the womens groups still
traceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone (Satyamala 2000).
remain relevant. Reproductive Acetate (DMPA; brand name Depo- Depo-Provera reached India in 1974 and
rights, when reduced to choice Provera) into the family planning pro- the Indian Council of Medical Research
of contraceptives without gramme (FPP) of India. The most com- (ICMR) started trials with the contracep-
mon arguments for the introduction of tive. However, these trials were stopped
considering the overall health and
Depo-Provera are the increase in choice because of the high dropout rate of wom-
well-being of women, result only for women, ease of administration, and en. By the early 1980s, the ICMR concluded
in the control and unfreedom availability in the private market for that Depo-Provera was not suitable for
of women. over two decades. They blame the oppo- introduction in India (Sarojini 2010).
sition by certain womens groups for In 1986, Stree Shakti Sanghatana, a
the delayed entry of these injectables womens group in Hyderabad received in-
into the FPP of the country. This article formation that another injectable, Net-En,
argues that the campaign against Depo- was being used on women in Patancheru
Provera and the questions raised by the (Andhra Pradesh) primary healthcare
womens groups still remain relevant and centre. They investigated and found that
that the simplistic argument of choice the women enrolled for the study were
fails to bring out the complex interac- only told that injection le lo, baccha
tions of the dominant overpopulation nahin hoga (take the injection, you will
discourse, international organisations, not have a child) (Sarojini 2010). The
and the unfreedom experienced by the health workers admitted to them that
majority of women in the country. they did not tell the women any more
than this, as they were under pressure of
The Movement fulfilling population control targets. It
DMPA or Depo-Provera is a three-month was this small fact-finding team that later
progesterone injectable, the patent for became a full-fledged campaign. Stree
Smitha Nair ( is a which is owned by the transnational Shakti Sanghatana (Hyderabad), Saheli
PhD student at the Centre of Social Medicine pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The proven (Delhi) and others filed a writ petition
and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru side effects of Depo-Provera include in the Supreme Court against the Union
University, New Delhi.
irregular bleeding, amenorrhoea in women, of India, ICMR and Andhra Pradesh
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 17

asking for a stay on the Phase IV clinical be able to abort in time. Womens of the injectables so as to be able to con-
trials of Net-En (Stree Shakti Sanghatha- organisations talked about the harmful verse with doctors and the administrative
na & Others v Union of India & Others effects of long-term foetal exposure to officers. They questioned the efficiency,
1986). They raised questions on issues of Depo-Provera and of heavy bleeding in safety and ethical use of a contraceptive
safety, effectiveness, and the medicali- an anaemic population. that had been proved physically harmful
sation of womens bodies. In spite of the protests, the Government for women. They repeatedly stressed on
In a letter dated 11 July 1986, Saheli of India sanctioned social marketing of the fact that unless there existed a good
states that experimentation and promo- Depo-Provera. In 1994, organisations like public health system to deal with the
tion of injectables were perceived as the Jagori, Saheli, Multiple Action Research complications that would arise from the
first step towards [] greater state con- Group, Purogami Mahila Sanghatana, contraceptive, it would be absolutely
trol over womens bodies. The organisa- Janwadi Mahila Samiti and National detrimental to the health of women to
tions gave information to the public Federation of Indian Women brought out introduce the contraceptive into the FPP.
about the harmful effects of the injecta- a brief joint statement which strongly They explicitly stated that the dominant
bles through different means and using opposed the introduction of the injectables neo-Malthusian ideology is responsible
simple language. Stree Shakti Sangha- into the market, based on the harmful for the introduction of harmful contra-
tana in 1987 came out with a publication long-term side effects and the mislead- ceptives whose only benefit is easy ad-
titled An Analysis of Studies on the ing product information given by the ministration. They criticised the Indian
Injectable Contraceptive Net-En and Its manufacturers. Also, the womens groups government for working on the diktats
Promotions in Developing Countries. questioned the mechanism to monitor the of the International Monetary Fund and
They analysed the discontinuation rate long-term side effects that the women the World Bank and cutting down on
and brought to the fore the long-term will face when the injectables were going health services while subjecting mil-
and short-term side effects of the inject- to be available over-the-counter. lions of Indian women to life threaten-
ables (Stree Shakti Sanghatana 1987). The women in these groups who were ing hazards from contraceptives devel-
The groups circulated these debates in from non-medical backgrounds made oped without an iota of concern for
the public arena through the media. earnest efforts to learn the technicalities womens health (Saheli 1994).
They ensured that the press releases
were a constant feature of any action
taken by them. This helped reach out to Dr Arun Kumar Banerji Fellowship Programme
a larger public and at the same time it
helped mount pressure on the state and
the judiciary to take cognisance of the Applications are invited from students for the Arun Kumar Banerji Fellowship Programme.
protests by these groups. The Fellowship has been named after the late Dr Arun Kumar Banerji, a well-known
Five years after the case was filed to economic historian and former Executive Director of the Reserve Bank of India.
keep injectables out of the FPP, the gov-
ernment declared its decision to intro- The programme has been funded by a generous endowment provided by
duce Depo-Provera into the Indian mar- Mrs Usha Banerji.
kets. In a letter to the ICMR director gen-
Under this Programme, two students pursuing postgraduate (PG) or Doctoral degree
eral dated 18 September 1992, 12 wom-
ens groups and health groups expressed in economics or public policy are awarded summer internship at the EPW Research
surprise and concern at the ICMRs clear- Foundation, Mumbai, for a period up to three months each starting from April 2017.
ing of Depo-Provera for sale without
The students will work under the direct supervision of a senior staff at EPWRF.
conducting any trials in India.
The groups also expressed concern Though undertaking assigned work, they will be encouraged to do research on an issue
over the problems that would arise in bordering on any aspect of Indias or any other countrys economic history. They will
the context of India if the contraceptive also be encouraged to submit a manuscript to Economic & Political Weekly for possible
was introduced into the market. They publication.
explained that these injectables could be
misused on a population where the gov- The awardees will be entitled to an internship amount of Rs. 15,000 each per month.
ernment runs an FPP and could be ad- While candidates have to make own arrangements for their stay at Mumbai, travel
ministered to women without their expenses (by train, 3rd AC) will be reimbursed. Interested candidates should send their
knowledge and consent, especially the applications to the Director, EPW Research Foundation, C-212 Akurli Industrial Estate,
poor and illiterate women of the coun-
Akurli Road, Kandivli (East), Mumbai400 101 or email to, along
try. They also elaborated that there was
a high likelihood that the women will be with a reference letter from the head of the institution/department where they are
injected with the contraceptive in the studying. Applications should reach by March 15, 2017.
early stages of pregnancy and will not
18 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The verdict on the legal case filed by into the FPP. They brought out the ma- generation of women, and by ignoring
Saheli and others was given in August trix of domination of the neo-Malthusi- these voices the government will be fail-
2000, 14 years after it was filed. The an ideology of the state, international ing the women of India.
womens groups, after 14 years of strug- organisations, and the patriarchal atti-
gle managed to keep the contraceptives tude of the scientific community. They References
out of the FPP, but could not prevent questioned the poor public health facili- Akhter, Farida (1992): Depopulating Bangladesh:
Essays on the Politics of Fertility, Dhaka: Nar-
them from entering the private market. ties of the country and the control of igrantha Prabartana.
Over time, there have been continuous womens bodies by technology. They also Barry, Ellen and Celia W Dugger (2016): India to
efforts to include the injectables into the questioned the absence of monitoring Change Its Decades-old Reliance on Female
Sterilisation, New York Times, 20 February,
FPP of the country. A document titled mechanisms to help women who face viewed on 2 March 2016, http://www.nytimes.
Injectable Contraceptives in India: Past, side effects and of public health facilities com/ 2016/02/21/world/asia/india-to-change-
Present and Future was prepared by the to ensure that all women undergo full Nair, Smitha Sasidharan (2010): Contraceptive
Futures Group International based on a body check-ups for contraindications. ControversiesChoice or Control, MPhil thesis,
Centre of Social Medicine and Community
three-year project named Innovations in The groups opposed the medicalisation Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Family Planning Services Technical As- and control of womens bodies and the Saheli (nd): Net En: Another Chapter in The Saga
of Injectable Contraceptives, Saheli Womens
sistance Project (ITAP) which began in reductionist understanding of reproduc- Resource Centre, New Delhi, viewed on 12
2005 and was commissioned by United tive rights post the Cairo Consensus, April 2011,
States Agency for International Develop- 1994. Many argued that this consen- ceptives/net-en.
ment. The project was specifically aimed sus brought out a change in the seman- (1994): Statement on Depo-Provera, 12 May,
at increasing the choice of contraceptives, tics of rights in the policy, but the Saheli Womens Resource Centre, New Delhi.
(1999): Enough Is EnoughInjectable Contra-
like injectables and implants, into the rights having been narrowed down ceptives Net-En: A Chronicle of Health Hazards
FPP. This document reviewed the history to contraceptive choice and womens Foretold, Saheli Womens Resource Centre,
New Delhi.
of injectables and other contraceptives empowerment, became a tool to de- Sama (2003): Unveiled RealitiesA Study on
in India, the present situation and steps crease population. Womens Experiences with Depo-Provera, an
Injectable Contraceptive, Sama-Resource Group
that need to be taken for the creation of The entry of injectables will most for Women and Health, New Delhi.
a favourable environment to introduce severely affect the poor and margin- Sarojini, N B and Lakshmi Murthy (2005): Why
Womens Groups Oppose Injectable Contracep-
the injectables into the FPP of the country. alised women, who do not have the tives, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol 2,
In a letter dated 19 April 2007, respon- means to take care of their health in the No 1, pp 89.
ding to the concerns raised by the case of long-term side effects. This debate Sarojini, N B (2010): Women as Wombs, Info-
change, December, http://infochangeindia.
organisations about these attempts, the has to be placed within the context of org/index.php?option=com_content&view=a
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare the socio-economic backgrounds of the rticle&id=8621:women-as-wombs&catid=257
assured the organisations that unless women who are targeted for population Sathyamala, C (2000): An Epidemiological Review
the safety of the injectables is ascer- control programmes. It is clear that the of the Injectable Contraceptive-Depo-Provera,
Medico Friends Circle and Forum for Womens
tained by the ICMR and the National conditions under which the womens Health, Mumbai.
Institute for Research in Reproductive movement opposed the injectables still Srivastava, R K et al (2012): Injectable Contracep-
tives to Expand the Basket of Choice under
Health (NIRRH), they will not be intro- remain very relevant today and debates Indias Family Planning Programme: An Up-
duced into the FPP. However, the gov- in this regard are necessary. date, National Institute of Health and Family
Welfare, New Delhi, viewed on 25 September
ernments interest in introducing the The public health facilities continue to 2014,
injectables in the FPP while subverting remain in abysmal conditions and the /Injectable%20Contraceptives%20Programme
% 20An%20Update.%20September%202012.pdf.
the resistance by womens groups is visi- poor budget allocation to the health Stree Shakti Sanghathana & Others v Union of India
ble in a policy document of the National sector means increased out-of-pocket & Others (1986): Writ Petition (Civil) No 680 of
1996, decided on 24 August 2000.
Institute of Health and Family Welfare, expenditure. In a country with a strong
Stree Shakti Sanghatana (1987): An Analysis of
wherein womens groups and health neo-Malthusian understanding of over- Studies on the Injectable Contraceptive Net-En
activists are represented as reducing the population, it will not be erroneous to and Its Promotions in Developing Countries,
Stree Shakti Sanghatana, Hyderabad.
choice for women through their opposi- assume that injectables will be used on a Sushmi Dey (2015): Government to Allow Injecta-
tion to injectables (Srivastava et al 2012). large scale without taking proper pre- ble Contraceptive for Women, Times of India,
16 September, viewed on 20 December 2015,
The attempts at promoting underuti- cautions or giving mandatory counse-
lised contraceptives like injectables recei- lling (which seems to be the solution for ence/Government-to-allow-injectable-contra-
ved impetus after the London Summit the side effects that the women will Visvanathan, Nalini (2009): Hormonal Contra-
on Family Planning, FP2020 held in 2012. face). Reproductive rights when reduced ception and HIV Disease Acquisition: A Limited
Review and Reassessment of Findings, Popu-
to choice of contraceptives, without lation and Development Programme, Reviving
The Battle Ahead considering the overall health and well- Reproductive Safety, discussion paper, Hamp-
shire College, Amherst.
Womens groups, along with health ad- being of women, results only in control WHO (2005): Technical Consultation on the Ef-
vocates and concerned individuals, have and unfreedom of women. It has to be fects of Hormonal Contraception on Bone
Health-Summary Report, Department of Re-
fought a long and hard battle over two strongly argued that it is the opposition productive Health and Research, World Health
decades to prevent the entry of injectables of certain womens groups that saved a Organization, Geneva.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 19

about the desired social outcomes, is an

Can Conditional Transfers empirical question. This, ultimately, can
only be addressed through careful anal-
Eradicate Child Marriage? yses of implemented programmes. An
understanding of the theory of change
which implicitly underlies these app-
Sajeda Amin, Niaz Asadullah, Sara Hossain, Zaki Wahhaj roaches is just as important, as this can
help highlight potential pitfalls, both in

Child marriage is associated with n recent years, governments, national designing and evaluating programmes.
a range of negative social and international donors and non- We aim to contribute to this understand-
governmental organisations (NGOs) ing by addressing a specific question. Do
consequenceslower schooling,
have increasingly focused attention on conditional cash transfers (CCTs) for
early pregnancy, decreased policies and initiatives that can effec- delaying marriage have the same logic
agency within the marital tively tackle the phenomenon of child as the more widely investigated condi-
household, and adverse marriage. These include: (i) schemes that tional transfer programmes for childrens
transfer cash or other resources conditional schooling? And do such transfers on their
reproductive and sexual health.
on school attendance and/or marriage own enable adolescents to make decisions
With respect to the eradication of postponement (the Apni Beti Apna Dhan or exercise choices regarding marriage,
child marriages, will conditional programme in India, the Zomba Cash beyond simply delaying the event?
cash transfers for delaying Transfer programme in Malawi (Baird et al By their very nature, conditional trans-
2015) and the Female Secondary School fer programmes (with transfers in cash
marriage have the same logic as
Assistance programme in Bangladesh; or kind) have to be tied to specific,
the more widely investigated (ii) programmes to develop the capacity observable and verifiable outcomes. In
conditional transfer programmes and ability of adolescent girls to invest in the case of educational programmes,
for childrens schooling? Will such their own future, by improving life skills these outcomes typically include school
and expanding opportunities for educa- attendance, or performance in school,
transfers enable adolescents to
tion and work (the Ishraq programme in above a minimum threshold. The logic
make decisions or exercise Egypt, Tostans Community Empower- of these programmes is that they reduce
choices regarding marriage, ment programme in Senegal, the Popu- parents opportunity cost of sending
beyond simply delaying the event? lation Councils BALIKA programme in their children to school. As long as the
Bangladesh (Bandiera et al 2015), BRACs programme succeeds in making children
Empowerment and Livelihood for Ado- turn up at school, the potential benefits
lescents (ELA) scheme in Uganda and are closely linked to school quality: teacher
Tanzania1 and the Adolescent Develop- quality and time, classroom size, availa-
ment programme in Bangladesh). bility of textbooks, etc. In the case of
In addition, in most settings, there are conditional transfers tied to marriage
efforts in place that attempt to change postponement, their effectiveness dep-
norms of marriage through legal bans ends much more on decisions made
and harsher penalties for under-age within the household, specifically, on how
marriages. The highest rates of child parents of adolescent girls respond to
marriage are typically found in low or these incentives. The transfers depend
lower middle-income countries where on one verifiable outcomeat what age
millions live below the poverty line. do their daughters marry?while par-
UNICEFs State of the Worlds Children ents (or the household as a whole) are
2016 report noted that Girls from the free to adjust the other parameters asso-
poorest householdsand those living in ciated with that decision as they see fit.
rural areasface twice the risk of being There is no guarantee that a household
married before turning 18 as girls from meeting the conditions set by the pro-
the richest households or those living in gramme would result in improved agency
urban areas. A recent review of existing of adolescent girls in their own marriage
Sajeda Amin is with the Population Council,
evidence suggests that cash-based inter- decisionswhether, when, and whom
New York. Niaz Asadullah teaches at the
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Sara ventions are effective for ending child to marryor increased investment in
Hossain practises law at the Supreme Court marriage, as are multipronged progra- their education or earning skills, or a
of Bangladesh and Zaki Wahhaj (z.wahhaj@ mmes that do not include incentives shift in beliefs and attitudes within the teaches at the School of Economics, related to marriage-timing. Which of these wider community, which could have a
Keynes College, University of Kent, UK.
approaches is most effective in bringing lasting impact on these outcomes.
20 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

We can illustrate this last point using and Wahhaj 2016). However, the causal generations (Wahhaj 2015). Therefore, they
a hypothetical example. Imagine a house- effects obtained from these studies do not need to be factored in for a costbenefit
hold with an adolescent daughter eligible translate easily to the case of conditional analysis of different types of interventions
for a conditional transfer programme, transfers for marriage postponement. designed to tackle early marriage and
who would ordinarily be married off The reason being that these studies focus improve outcomes for adolescent girls.
before the age-of-marriage criterion set on the effects of marriage postponement There is a broad consensus among
by the programme has been fulfilled. resulting from a social constraint which practitioners that child marriage is an
Given the programmatic incentives to forbids or discourages the marriage of outcome of broad social norms and soci-
delay marriage, parents may tweak the girls before the onset of menarche. By etal pressures. Financial poverty certainly
marriage process to satisfy this condition contrast, CCTs operate by providing fi- adds to the pressures, leaving parents
artificiallyby lengthening the engage- nancial rewards for delaying marriage. with the choice of trading-off the long-
ment period or entering into prolonged This reasoning does not imply that term welfare of their daughters for short-
negotiations with the grooms family programmes providing conditional trans- term relief from the burden of poverty.
regarding the terms of the marriage. fers for marriage postponement will nec- However, it is unclear whether removing
A recent evaluation of Apni Beti Apna essarily be ineffective. Rather, they must economic pressures, per se, is sufficient
Dhan in Haryanathe oldest conditional be evaluated in terms of a wider set of to achieve the Sustainable Development
transfer programme targeting early mar- outcomes, some of which may be diffi- Goals (SDG) of ending child marriage,
riageprovides an illustration.2 Eligible cult to measure. An outcome for which along with early and forced marriage, by
households had the opportunity to enrol the problem of measurement is particu- 2030. This is evidenced by the paradoxical
in the programme within three months larly acute is the agency of a young bride experience of countries like India and
of the birth of a daughter. Upon enrol- in her sexual relations following marri- Bangladesh where the prevalence of
ment, households received a savings age. There is systematic evidence regar- child marriage remains high despite
bond which could be redeemed when ding young womens experience of non- decades of rapid macroeconomic growth
the girl turned 18 (with an expected consensual sex with an intimate partner and substantial decline in poverty.3
value of `25,000) provided she had not (Jejeebhoy et al 2005), but household sur- Given this uncertainty, policymakers
married by this date. The study found veys rarely touch upon the issue because should support a multidimensional,
that programme beneficiaries were more of its sensitive nature. Consequently, a longer term and holistic view of the im-
likely to marry during their 18th year fundamental outcome of relevance to pact, which takes into account dimensions
than non-beneficiaries, suggesting that adolescent girls and young women may such as realised rights, health and access
parents were postponing the marriage be invisible in standard evaluation exer- to education, rather than costbenefit
of their daughters just long enough to cises. More generally, this example high- based approaches that rely on single-
receive the conditional transfer. More lights that adolescent empowerment focus indicators that may or may not
than half the respondents reported using programmeswhich aim to improve have a lasting impact on individual well-
the transfers to cover marriage expens- the agency of adolescent girls in their being. The former will have added pay-
es. By contrast, current evidence from marriage decisionsmay have intrinsic offs in terms of improving the well-being
programmes with a gender rights or ed- value beyond any material change in the of women within marriage, including
ucation as focus, points to significant ef- timing of marriage they may bring freedom from marital violence, irrespec-
fects on marriage age (Bandiera et al about. This is because they enable girls tive of how the interventions affect the
2015; Amin et al 2016). to understand that they have the power age at first marriage. Under their own
There is considerable evidence availa- to choose, and enable them to build the constitutions, and as per international
ble today showing that marriage post- confidence and decision-making capacity human rights law, all countries have
ponement by adolescent girls in traditional to exercise that choice. committed to securing girls rights to
societies has a positive (causal) effect on personal liberty, freedom of expression
other social outcomes. This evidence is Impact on Social Norms
primarily based on an approach pionee- Another outcome, for which measure- Permission for Reproduction of
red by Field and Ambrus (2008). They ment is a concern, relates to the long-term Articles Published in EPW
used the variation in the timing of onset impact of the programme on social norms
of menarche among adolescent girls and attitudes within the community. Some No article published in EPW or part thereof
should be reproduced in any form without
which can shape social expectations interventions involving adolescent girls
prior permission of the author(s).
about when a girl can and ought to marry explicitly target these outcomes. Condi-
A soft/hard copy of the author(s)s approval
in traditional societiesto investigate tional transfers for marriage postpone-
should be sent to EPW.
how early marriage affects female school- ment do not. Nevertheless, these shifts
In cases where the email address of the
ing. Subsequent studies have, broadly, may be important to ensure that the pro-
author has not been published along
confirmed these patterns and extended grammes effects reach those not direct-
with the articles, EPW can be contacted
the findings to other social outcomes ly targeted; endure beyond the period of for help.
(Sekhri and Debnath 2014; Asadullah intervention; and carry over to future
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 21

and freedom of movement. It is essential Asadullah, Niaz and Zaki Wahhaj (2016): Early Jejeebhoy, S, I Shah and S Thapa (2005): Sex With-
Marriage, Social Networks and the Transmission out Consent, Zed Books.
that the development agenda strengthen, of Norms, Studies in Economics, 1602, School Lee-Rife, S, A Malhotra, A Warner and A M Glinski
rather than undermine this commitment. of Economics, University of Kent. (2012): What Works to Prevent Child Marriage:
Bandiera, Oriana, Niklas Buehren, Robin Burgess, A Review of the Evidence, Studies in Family
Markus Goldstein, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul Planning, 43, pp 287303.
notes and Munshi Sulaiman (2015): Womens Em- Raj, A, L McDougal and M L Rusch (2012): Chang-
1 powerment in Action: Evidence from a Ran- es in Prevalence of Girl Child Marriage in
owerment-and-livelihood-for-adolescents. domized Control Trial in Africa, mimeo. South Asia, The Journal of American Medical
2 Clark, S J Bruce and A Dude (2006): Protecting Association, Vol 307, pp 202729.
hange-cash. Girls from HIV/AIDS: The Case Against Child Sekhri, S and S Debnath (2014): Intergenerational
3 and Adolescent Marriage, International Family Consequences of Early Age Marriages of Girls:
lease/2015/10/15/south-asia-extreme-poverty- Planning Perspectives, Vol 32(2), pp 7988. Effect on Childrens Human Capital, Journal of
falls-but-challenges-remain. Das, Jishnu, Quy-Toan Do and Berk zler (2005): Development Studies, Vol 50, No 12, pp 167086.
Reassessing Conditional Cash Transfer Pro- UNICEF (2014): Ending Child Marriage: Progress
grams, The World Bank Research Observer, 20, and Prospects,
References No 1, pp 5780. reports-and-publications/ending-child-marri-
Amin, S, J Ahmed, J Saha, M I Irfan and E F Haque Field, E and A Ambrus (2008): Early Marriage, age-progress-prospects/
(2016): Delaying Child Marriage Through Com- Age of Menarche, and Female Schooling At- Wahhaj, Z (2015): A Theory of Child Marriage,
munity-Based Skills-Development Programs for tainment in Bangladesh, The Journal of Political University of Kent Economics Discussion Paper
Girls, Population Council. Economy, Vol 116, pp 881930. Series, 15/20.

22 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Sustainably Unsustainable primarily other Adivasis and Muslims,

two groups which have been considered

Peace in Assam the softest of targets. On 10 February

2003, a memorandum of settlement (MoS)
was signed between the Assam govern-
ment, the central government and the
Nazimuddin Siddique Bodo Liberation Tigers (a former Bodo
militant group), which resulted in the

Assam has been marked by severe n 5 August 2016, Kokrajhar, the formation of the Bodoland Territorial
violence for decades which has violence-torn district of Assam, Autonomous District (BTAD). The BTAD
was the scene of fresh killings. was created under the Sixth Schedule
unfolded in a structured manner
This horrific attack took place in broad of the Constitution and was expected
since the days of the infamous daylight, in a weekly market, situated to bring sustainable peace to western
Assam movement. It is because of near the Kokrajhar district headquar- Assam. But the violence continued and
this movement that multiple ters. Unleashing violence while people time has proved the BTAD model to be
thronged the weekly market, the terror- severely flawed. The model is highly
massacres have taken place in the
ists fired indiscriminately, using sophis- unrepresentative in an ethnically, cul-
state, separated by periodic lulls. ticated weapons. The result was the an- turally, linguistically and religiously
This article looks at the Bodo nihilation of 16 persons with more than plural region.
movement and how the 20 severely injured. This most recent The BTAD comprises
attack by the Bodos cannot be viewed the four districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udal-
government and non-Bodo guri and Chirang, covering an area of 27,100
in isolation.
communities of the state must deal sq km (or 35% of Assams area). This was
awarded to the Bodo tribewhich, accor-
with the effects it has unleashed. Continuity of Violence ding to the 2001 Census, had 1,296,000
Assam has been marked by severe members (or 5.3% of Assams population).
violence for decades. Violence in the state (Borooah 2013)
has unfolded in a structured manner The BTAD is governed by a council com-
since the days of the infamous Assam prising of a maximum of 46 members,
movement. It is because of this egregious out of which 30 will be reserved for STs,
movement, that multiple massacres have five for non-tribal communities, five
taken place in Assam, separated by peri- open for all communities and six to be
odic lulls. Drawing the reference of the nominated by the Governor of Assam.
Assam movement, a violent Bodo move- Fundamentally, that the autonomous
ment came forth in the 1980s. Driven district, which has about 75% non-Bodo
by a strong appetite for an exclusive population, is governed by the Bodos
territory for the Bodos, the movement consisting about only 25% of the total
Nazimuddin Siddique (nazim10dream@ has become known for perpetration of population of the BTADportrays noth- is a PhD student at the Gauhati horrific violence. The worst sufferers of ing but the undemocratic and unrepre-
University, Assam.
this violence have been the non-Bodos, sentative structure of the council.
22 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

In the attack, the Bodo militants wore killed, is roaming free like a VIP under along with civil society, should be fo-
kurtas and covered their faces seeming- bail. Similarly, Hiren Gohain observes cused on bridging the deep fissures of
ly in an attack, to make them appear as that hatred and mistrust between the Bodos
jihadis. Luckily enough, the plot was The BTAD is now being administered by the and the non-Bodo communities. People
foiled when one of the militants was Bodo Peoples Front (BPF), led largely by of Assam must protest against killings
killed by the security forces and identi- former cadres of the Bodo Liberation Tigers and violence en masse, no matter who it
fied as a leader of the National Demo- (BLT), a dreaded ruthless militant group that is perpetrated against. The Bodoland
cratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit) once blazed its name with massacres and Territorial Council, which is truly un-
acts of extreme terror. (2008)
[NDFB(S)], a Bodo militant group. This democraticin terms of the number of
was a major plot to ignite a fresh com- These soft attitudes of the government communities represented within it
munal conflagration between Bodos and towards terrorists and mass-murderers must be substituted with a more repre-
Muslims, to initiate a new phase of ethnic have acted as a source of encouragement sentative structure. The non-Bodo com-
cleansing, similar to those carried out for some to commit such brutal crimes. munities should not be kept voiceless
against non-Bodos for decades. Assa- Over the years, terrorism has become a anymore (as has been the case so far),
mese digital media initially engaged in a business for many in the BTAD region for that would only open up avenues for
propaganda spree, spreading the fabri- of Assam. further bitterness in the region. Ram-
cated news that the attack was carried pant corruption in the BTAD must also be
out by the jihadis. Additionally, had the Way Forward effectively countered by anti-corruption
plot been successful, this conflict would The pressure of the security operations agencies. Though BTAD is ruled by the
have diverted the attention of the secu- against the NDFB(S) along the Indo Bodos, sharing of power with diverse
rity forces towards some presumed Bhutan border has forced the terrorists sections of the social group, too, is cru-
jihadis rather than the Bodo militants. to come out of the jungles and mix in the cial for sustained peace.
The question remains, who is trying to villages and towns with the local people.
incite one more conflagration between Security operations against the outfit References
the Muslims and Bodos? Is it just the began after the horrendous massacre of Borooah, Vani Kant (2013): The Killing Fields of
NDFB(S) or are there more people associ- approximately 90 Adivasis on 23 De- Assam: Myth and Reality of Its Muslim Immi-
ated with the conspiracy? cember 2015. However, the security forc- gration, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 48,
No 4, pp 4352, 26 January.
Techniques identical to these are es should put more effort in identifying
Gohain, Hiren (2008): Once More on Ethnicity
not new in the region. Most of the vic- these militants merged with the civilian and the North-east, Economic & Political
tims of the deadly violence of 2012 were population. Additionally, the government, Weekly, Vol 43, No 21, pp 1821, 24 May.
Muslims, where more than 150 people
were killed. Blatantly labelled as Bangla-
deshis, the Muslims were falsely accused
Journal Rank of EPW
of infiltration into Bodo areas by the Economic and Political Weekly is indexed on Scopus, the largest abstract and citation
Assamese media. As a result, the entire database of peer-reviewed literature, which is prepared by Elsevier N V (
discourse was intentionally shifted to Scopus has indexed research papers that have been published in EPW from 2008 onwards.
infiltration, while the brutal violence
The Scopus database journal ranks country-wise and journal-wise. It provides three broad sets
continued for days and the real perpe-
of rankings: (i) Number of Citations, (ii) H-Index, and (iii) Scimago Journal and Country Rank.
trators were forgotten. The vernacular
media took the initiative to propagate Presented below are EPWs ranks in 2015 in India, Asia and globally, according to the total cites
(3 years) indicator.
these fabricated stories and, in this
way, justified the violence in a shame- Highest among 37 Indian social science journals and second highest among 187 social
less manner. science journals ranked in Asia.
Highest among 38 journals in the category, Economics, Econometrics, and Finance in the
Habit of Impunity Asia region, and 37th among 881 journals globally.
The government has seldom prosecuted Highest among 23 journals in the category, Sociology and Political Science in the Asia
the perpetrators of violence in Assam. region, and 17th among 951 journals globally.
The Nellie massacre was the worst Between 2009 and 2015, EPWs citations in three categories (Economics, Econometrics,
mass killing in the history of Assam, in and Finance; Political Science and International Relations; and Sociology and Political
which no less than 4,000 Muslims were Science) were always in the second quartile of all citations recorded globally in the Scopus
butchered to death on a single day on database.
18 February 1983. Not even a single culprit For a summary of statistics on EPW on Scopus, including of the other journal rank indicators
of such a large-scale massacre has been please see (
prosecuted. Ranjan Daimary, the main EPW consults referees from a database of 200+ academicians in different fields of the social
convict of the bomb blast of Ganeshguri, sciences on papers that are published in the Special Article and Notes sections.
in which about a hundred people were
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol lIi no 6 23
The Creative Zeal of the Rays to arguments made by scholars like
Judith Walsh, who believe that the focus
on domesticity found in educational
reforms for women was tied to transna-
Utsa Ray tional constructs of a global domesticity.
Modernity, as many scholars now argue,

n The Rays before Satyajit, Chandak book reviewS has never been an ideal construct. Sen-
Sengoopta tries to situate the ances- goopta belongs to that genre of histori-
tors of Satyajit Ray in their historical The Rays before Satyajit: Creativity and ans who problematise any idealised
context. The book, in many senses, tries Modernity in Colonial India by Chandak Sengoopta, reading of European modernity.
New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp xi+418, `995.
to search for the historical roots of the When Upendrakishore Raychaudhuri
maestros modernity. However, it does discovered how to split each half-tone
much more than simply trace the histori- Dwarakanath Ganguli. In fact, Sengoopta dot into four, which led to great impro-
cal and familial origins of Rays genius. further states that the story of the Ray vements in the quality of the printed im-
In fact, Sengoopta is more interested in family is integrally connected to the age (p 210), his role becomes that of an
narrating the story of Rays predecessors reformism of Dwarakanath Ganguli. It is innovator and not merely an imitator.
and less in writing a biography of Ray in a well-known fact that Ganguli was a His innovations won recognition, albeit
this book. He picks up the case of the steadfast advocate of womens education. on a small scale from the metropolitan
Rays to narrate the bigger story of moder- His passion for designing a proper cur- perspective. This recognition signified
nity in India. So far, scholars who have riculum for women needs to be situated universal acknowledgement for people
written about the history of the Ray fam- in the larger context of female education. like Upendrakishore, which for them
ily have either tried to make a connec- At first, a few Bengali Hindu men was not touched by colonialism. In fact,
tion between the early Rays and Satyajit objected to female education on the these universalist aspirations were linked
Ray or have focused on the literary grounds that many of the early schools to the nationalistic tendencies of many
contributions of writers like Upendra- had been started by missionaries. But from Upendrakishores generation. Rec-
kishore Raychaudhuri and Sukumar by the 1850s, Indian men themselves ognition won from institutions in the
Ray. But Sengoopta argues that in order started organising institutions for female West had the potential to add to the
to comprehend the negotiations that the education. The middle-class advocated nations pride. But this nationalism of
early Rays made with colonial modernity, female education, believing that education Upendrakishore and others like him was
one needs to look at their contribution to would make women better mothers and also complex. He did not simply turn to
other fields such as art, social reform, better wives and equip them better for an idealised depiction of tradition. He
and last but not the least, nationalism. housework. Undoubtedly, Dwarakanath rather tried to remove the shortcomings
Sengoopta states succinctly that he has Ganguli, like many of his contemporary of those by studying European art. The
chosen to narrate the history of this par- Hindu middle-class men, endorsed the synthesis of what was good in Europe
ticular family because this biography kind of education for women that would with what was good in India was impor-
can tell us about the character and am- include learning needlework and cook- tant for him.
biguities of colonial modernity (p 9). ing along with English and mathematics; Chandak Sengooptas work is certain-
Sengoopta begins by tracing the gene- nevertheless, Sengoopta reminds us that ly appreciative of the reformist zeal as
alogy of the Rays, for which he turns to Ganguli championed womens education well as the entrepreneurial skills of the
Mymensingh, their native place. While so that they could earn an independent Ray family. He tries to link their experi-
most of the middle-class men in Mymen- livelihood (p 111). Kadambini Ganguli, mentation and innovations to their na-
singh chose to pursue government jobs, his wife, went on to become one of tionalist ardour, without simplifying the
the Rays traversed a different path alto- the first Indian medical practitioners. In connotations of nationalism. Sengoopta
gether. They did not just steer clear from his discussion of Dwarakanath Gangulis tries to establish that derivative and
administrative jobs (except Pramada- championing of womens education, Sen- original or universal and national
ranjan Ray), they also never showed any goopta critiques scholars who have merely were dialectically related and not nec-
interest in pursuing careers in law, engi- looked at women as objects of male essarily exclusive categories. It is also
neering, or medicine. While Sarada- reform. While Partha Chatterjee and very refreshing to read a work that prob-
ranjan Ray, Upendrakishore Raychaud- Dipesh Chakrabarty have made us aware lematises modernity itself rather than
huris elder brother, always remained a of the complexities that have emerged swaying bet ween what is original and
staunch Hindu, his brothers opted to because of the peculiar character of the what is derivative. Of course, Sengooptas
follow the Brahmo religion. Sengoopta modernity found in India as a result is not the sole voice in this endeavour
owes much of Upendrakishores interest of colonialism, Sengoopta posits a dif- to problematise modernity. The story
in conversion to his father-in-law, ferent argument. His discourse is akin of the Rays definitely complicates this
24 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

story of modernity, but it often remains read, especially for those who do not losing sight of the creative zeal of the
unclear throughout the book. In fact, have access to vernacular sources on this Rays. The addition of a few images and a
some of the instances that Sengoopta pro- fascinating family. The greatest strength bibliography would have enriched the
vides endorse the notion of derivative of The Rays before Satyajit lies in its abil- book, but then the author hardly has a
modernity. Suprabha Ray, Satyajit Rays ity to appreciate the efforts made by the say in these matters.
mother, who traversed the paths of tra- Rays and their associates to negotiate
dition without losing her moorings in with colonialism and nationalism. Sen- Utsa Ray ( is with the
the modern universe is a case in point. goopta brings out their limitations and Department of History, Jadavpur University,
Nevertheless, the book is a refreshing shortcomings in the book while never Kolkata.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 25

(En)Gender Inclusive Disaster to press for a changed understanding of

security, enhanced rights, public voice,

Management political participation and inclusive de-

velopment. Most importantly, the les-
Lessons from South Asia sons drawn from the research findings
and on-the-ground practice are guide-
posts for future responses.
These chapters highlight mixed results
Malini Nambiar on how responses are framed as well as
how certain communities (particularly

he differential roles of women, Women and Disasters in South Asia: Survival, economically weaker men and women,
men, girls and boys are powerful Security and Development edited by Linda Racioppi lower caste and lesbian, gay, bisexual
forces in every culture, especially and Swarna Rajagopalan, Routledge India, 2016; and transgender (LGBT) persons) have
pp 318, `1,050.
in South Asia. These culturally con- been ignored altogether. Despite claims
structed gender roles, and stereotypes made by most institutions active in re-
about what men and women can and highlights lessons but also provides a covery after disasters and addressing
cannot do, or should and should not do few tried-and-tested solutions for achiev- the special needs of women, these chap-
can contribute to different types and ing equal participation of women in deci- ters bring to light the field experiences
levels of exposure and vulnerability to sion-making and presents approaches for and testimonials from women that high-
natural hazard impacts. In addition, integrating a gender perspective into light the gaps in the implementation of
disasters and the resulting post-disaster disaster risk reduction strategies. It reit- best-practices in the context of gender
response can often launch communities erates the fact that unless relief workers focused recovery and sustainable deve-
into power dynamics and patterns of and officials acknowledge womens vul- lopment. Very often the dynamic con-
hierarchy that favour the decisions of nerable status and plan relief efforts ac- cept of building back better invariably
men over women. Yet, the abilities and cordingly, women and other vulnerable returns communities back to the status
capacities of women and men to miti- groups will continue to be disproportion- quo where women have been experienc-
gate disasters consistently are one of the ately affected by natural disasters. ing insecurity.
weakest areas of humanitarian respons- The editors introduction and con- The last four chapters focus on ap-
es that need to be explored and incorpo- cluding chapters are concise and well- proaches for integrating gender perspec-
rated into disaster reduction policies researched on the impact disasters have tives into disaster risk reduction strate-
and practices. on people and the vulnerability of the gies by going beyond treating women as
This weakness of not recognising gen- region. The first eight chapters cover the victims and empowering them through
der differences is taken seriously by the impacts of many natural hazards across SouthSouth partnership and women-
anthology under review. It is a compila- South Asia (three anthologies have been for-women empowerment initiatives.
tion of 13 articles covering an array of published earlier), all resonating missed These articles point out that mere inclu-
disasters in South Asia, over a seven- opportunities of gender inclusion in dis- sion of women without enhancement of
year span. The book is the product of aster response, recovery and sustainable capabilities serves little purpose in the
collaboration between activists, field development. It seeks to answer questions metamorphosis from being marginal-
workers and academicians to highlight on the extent and ways pre-disaster gender ised groups to stakeholders in main-
the factthrough the voices of South relations affect the course of post-disaster stream development.
Asian women, sexual minorities and relief and reconstruction; the extent and
othersthat recovery and development ways gender relations might be altered by Some Lacunae
are gendered. It thereby attempts to for- disaster and post-disaster reconstruction; The book offers engaging testimonies and
mulate better responses by adopting a and the ways by which women can take accounts of exclusion of women and other
gendered perspective. The book not only advantage of the post-crisis environment groups for social scientists, researchers
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 25
Must have resources on Economics &
Development studies
Interrogating the liberal economic policies and PRABHAT PATNAIKHis role in advocating progressive
` 995 their consequences reforms and ideas in the global economy
` 1,195

The book interrogates liberal This book brings together diverse
eeconomic policies and their scholarship on various aspects
cconsequences in various fields such of economic development that
aas inequalities in human development, underscore the importance of
ssocial tensions, marginalisation of tackling dominant and contemporary
aagriculture, language and culture issues concerning the national
iin the Indian caste-based society. and global economy, such as
Comprehensive in analysis, it looks
C economic growth, engaging with
aat political processes in India through globalisation, poverty and inequality,
tthe oligarchy of castes and examines macroeconomic issues, political
tthe structure of inequality that still economy and developmental
ppersists. aspects.
22017 412 pages HB 978-93-859-8511-9 2016 348 pages HB 978-93-515-0878-6

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December 27-28 2017, Seminar Hall, Dept. of Applied Economic, CUSAT, Cochin, Kerala, India
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26 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

and practitioners of disaster recovery of leadership, planning and organisation of gender differences and/or women
and development in South Asia. for reconstruction, dedicated institu- exclusion to focus more on gender capabi-
However, it has its share of gaps that tions for disaster recovery and mitiga- lities and the ways by which women
need to be filled. The anthology is re- tion, and others. There are just two par- have altered post-disaster reconstruc-
stricted to pre-2010 disasters, about agraphs at the conclusion of Chapter 5 tion to change mindsets and stereo-
which much has already been written on the success of Odishas response and types. This will not only convince poli-
and analysed. First, the need now is to recovery after Cyclone Phailin 2013. It cymakers and officials alike but would
assess the extent South Asia has imbibed warrants elaboration on what the state also inspire women by convincing them
learnings from its past of missed oppor- institution did differently since the 1999 of their inherent capabilities.
tunities and compare their responses to super cyclone and about the nature of
more recent disasters such as Cyclone the gender-related issues that were not Conclusions
Phailin in Odisha (2013), the Jhelum given attention. The book brings together interdiscipli-
floods impacting Pakistan and India Lastly and most importantly, the point nary perspectives in gender studies. It
(2015), the Chennai floods, Tamil Nadu is well described by Mihir Bhatt: provides a good collection of references
(2015), and the Nepal earthquake (2015). women have not only special vulnerabilities
for students and researchers to build
By not providing a comparative analysis but also capabilities. Their capacity to work upon. However, in the absence of any
of disasters in similar locations leaves with local researchers, cooperation and discussion on comparative works on dis-
the readers with the initial unanswered their looking forward approach cannot be asters at specific locations, analysis of
undervalued. (p 76)
questions on approaches and how deci- institutional mechanisms, and a focus
Reducing disaster risk is not new to women.
sions are made during disaster recovery. Women deal with disasters on a day-to-day
on gender capabilities rather than gender
The present collection of essays loses a basis; given a chance, they can take a lead; differences within debates on gender in-
lot of its potential due to the absence of a given resources and position, women can make clusion for recovery and development,
comparative historical perspective on disaster recovery and risk reduction an op- the present anthology falls short of
portunity to galvanize the community. (p 76)
gender inclusion in disaster recovery answering some of the important ques-
and mitigation over the years. Hence, Similarly, Prema Gopalan rightly tions it raises initially in the book.
there is no clear benchmark of where we states that
Malini Nambiar (
are now, where do we want to be and policymakers and institutions are likely is an independent disaster management
what needs to be done in order to alter to pay a huge cost if they continue to treat professional focusing on gender inclusion and
the post-disaster and development process women as victims. They would miss the op- community-based disaster risk management.
so that it is more gender inclusive within portunity to build local capacities and fail
each country and South Asia as a whole. to create women leaders to ensure future References
development activities do not increase haz- Gangwar, Sneh (2013): Integrating Gender Issues
Second, the anthology does not pro- in Mitigation and Management of Disaster in
ards. (p 208)
vide a fair sense of how disaster re- India, International Journal of Environmental
Engineering and Management, Vol 4, No 6,
sponse, recovery and reconstruction are These are important and established ar- pp 61320.
a challenge for governance. In post- guments that have figured in a lot of lit- Olshansky, R, L Hopkins and L Johnson (2012):
disaster scenarios, the governments are erature on disasters and women. We Disaster and Recovery: Processes Compressed
in Time, Natural Hazards Review, Vol 13, Issue
pressurised to respond quickly and need to go beyond the usual repetition 3, August.
effectively, and hence massive develop-
ment and reconstruction needs are com- EPW E-books
pressed in time and space. This also
brings with it the challenges of coordi- Select EPW books are now available as e-books in Kindle and iBook (Apple) formats.
nation and better collaboration among The titles are
various stakeholders, striking a balance
between speed, quality, consultative
1. Village Society (ED. SURINDER JODHKA)
process and quick decision-making in a ( ;
compressed time frame (Olshansky 2012).
In addition, there is also the challenge of 2. Environment, Technology and Development (ED. ROHAN DSOUZA)
mobilising and managing the flow of ( ;
funds coupled with transparency and
accountability. The articles shed no light id641419331?mt=11)
on the institutional mechanisms to ad-
dress disaster recovery and reconstruc-
3. Windows of Opportunity: Memoirs of an Economic Adviser (BY K S KRISHNASWAMY)
tion/development. The utilisation of op- ( ;
portunities presented by a disaster
greatly depends on a number of factors Please visit the respective sites for prices of the e-books. More titles will be added gradually.
related to governancesuch as quality
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 27
Books Received
Bajpai, Amita and Meenakshi Dwivedi (eds) (2017); Non-Violence in Peace and War, New Delhi: South and North: Issues, Challenges and the
Learning Disability: Uncover the Myths, Delhi: Speaking Tiger; pp 152, `399. Future, Oxon and New York: Routledge; pp x +
Kalpaz Publications; pp 269, `990. Mathur, Om Prakash (2016); Cities and the New Eco- 194, price not indicated.
Bhattacharya, Bhaswati (2017); Much Ado Over nomic Vibrancy: Evidence from Bihar, Madhya Samaddar, Ranabir (2016); Ideas and Frameworks of
Coffee: Indian Coffee House Then and Now, New Pradesh & Odisha, New Delhi: Institute of Social Governing India, Oxon and New York: Routledge;
Delhi: Social Science Press; pp xxii + 411, `975. Sciences; pp xxiii + 171, `795/US$24.50. pp xi + 321, `1,050.
Bibek Debroy (ed) (2017); India 2047: Voices of the Misra, Alok (2017); Responsible Finance India Report (2016); Neo-Liberal Strategies of Governing India,
Young, New Delhi: Academic Foundation; 2016: Client First: Tracking Social Performance Oxon and New York: Routledge; pp xviii + 334,
pp 162, `895. Practices, New Delhi, California, London, `1,095.
Singapore: Sage Publications and New Delhi
Chopra, P N (2017); The Sardar of India: Biography Sawhney, Pravin and Ghazala Wahab (2017); Drag-
ACCESS Development; pp xviii + 145, `995.
of Vallabhbhai Patel, New Delhi and Seattle, on on our Doorstep: Managing China Through
USA: Konark Publishers; pp xix + 275, `695. Mukharji, Projit Bihari (2016); Doctoring Traditions: Military Power, New Delhi: aleph Book Co;
Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided pp xxi + 458, `799.
Habib, Irfan (2016); A Peoples History of India 14:
Sciences, Chicago and London: The University
Economic History of India, Ad 1206-1526: The Sengupta, Madhumita (2016); Becoming Assamese:
of Chicago Press; pp xi + 374, $45/31.50.
Period of the Delhi Sultanate and the Vijayanagara Colonialism and New Subjectivities in Northeast
Empire, New Delhi: Tulika Books and Aligarh Mukherjee, Sujata (2017); Gender, Medicine and India, Oxon and New York: Routledge; pp xi +
Historians Society; pp x + 125, `280. Society in Colonial India: Womens Health Care 277, `895.
in Nineteenth-and Early Twentieth-Century
Haines, Daniel (2017); Indus Divided: India, Pakistan Setalvad, Teesta (2017); Foot Soldier of the Constitu-
Bengal, New Delhi: Oxford University Press;
and the River Basin Dispute, Gurgaon: Viking tion: A Memoir, New Delhi: LeftWord Books;
pp xxxv + 224, `895.
and Penguin Random House; pp xi + 264, `599. pp 221, `295.
Nayyar, Deepak and Rana Hasan (eds) (2017);
Hariharan, S V, P Abdul Kareem, Rameshwar Shome, Parthasarathi (2017); Development and
Shaping Indias Future: Essays in Memory of
Tandon and Thomas Ziesemer (2017); Climate Taxation: 60 Critical Commentaries, New Delhi:
Abid Hussain, New Delhi: Academic Foundation;
Justice and Policy, Delhi: B R Publishing; pp x +
pp 245, `995. Academic Foundation; pp 326, `1,095.
231, `1,500.
Novetzke, Christian Lee (2016); The Quotidian Srnicek, Nick (2016); Platform Capitalism, Cambridge
Hirway, Indira (ed) (2017); Mainstreaming Unpaid
Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and and MA: Polity Press; pp vi + 171, 9.99 (pb)/
Work: Time-use Data in Developing Policies;
the Premodern Public Sphere in India, New York: 40.00 (hb).
New Delhi: Oxford University Press; pp xlii + 430,
Columbia University Press; pp xxiv + 402,
`1,195. Sriram, M S (2017); Inclusive Finance India Report
price not indicated.
2016, New Delhi, California, London, Singapore:
Jeevanandam, S and Rekha Pande (2017); Devadasis
Pettigrew, William A and Mahesh Gopalan (eds) Sage Publications and New Delhi ACCESS
in South India: A Journey from Sacred to Profane
Spaces, Delhi: Kalpaz Publications; pp 322, `1,225.
(2017); The East India Company, 16001857: Development; pp xx + 181, `995.
Essays on AngloIndian Connection, Oxon and
Subacchi, Paola (2017); The Peoples Money: How
Kannan, K P, Rajendra P Mamgain and Preet Rustagi New York: Routledge; pp xii + 236, `850.
(eds) (2017); Labour and Development: Essays China Is Building a Global Currency, New York:
Pramod Kumar and S Mohanakumar (eds) (2016); Columbia University Press; pp xii + 237, $26.
in Honour of Professor T S Papola, New Delhi:
Indian Agriculture: Performance, Growth and
Academic Foundation; pp 722, `1,495. Sundar, Pushpa (2017); Giving with a Thousand
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Kapila, Uma (ed) (2017); Demonetisation: The Econo- pp xxii + 380, `995. Hands: The Changing Face of Indian Philanthropy,
mists Speak, New Delhi: Academic Foundation; New Delhi: Oxford University Press; pp xvi +
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The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos,
Kalra, Virinder S and Shalini Sharma (eds) (2016); Noida: HarperCollins India; pp xvi + 264, Swaminathan, Madhura and Arindam Das (eds)
State of Subversion: Radical Politics in Punjab in `599. (2017); Socio-Economic Surveys of Three Villages
the 20th Century, Oxon: Routledge; pp viii + 264, in Karnataka: A Study of Agrarian Relations,
Rajagopal, Arvind and Anupama Rao (eds) (2016); New Delhi: Tulika Books and Foundation for
Media and Utopia: History, Imagination and Agrarian Studies; pp viii + 318, `450.
Kapur, Devesh and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (eds) Technology, Oxon and New York: Routledge;
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on Indias Higher Education, Hyderabad: Orient and Future, Oxon and New York: Routledge;
Rajan, S Irudaya (ed) (2017); India Migrations Reader,
BlackSwan; pp x + 273, price not indicated. pp ix + 179, `750.
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Kipgen, Nehginpao (2016); Myanmar: A Political `695. Thapar, Romila (2016); Indian Society and the
History, New Delhi: Oxford University Press; Secular: Essays, Gurgaon: Three Essays Collec-
Ramo, Joshua Cooper (2016); The Seventh Sense:
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Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Net-
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Home Thoughts: Poetry of the British Indian pp viii + 344, $17.99/ `999. Social Science Research in India: Status, Issues,
Diaspora, Allahabad:; pp 123, and Policies, New Delhi: Oxford University
Rangarajan C and S Mahendra Dev (2017); Count-
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ing the Poor in India: Where Do We Stand, New
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Rathore, Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra (2017);
Tulika Books; pp xi + 255, `775. Reinventing Social Democratic Development: In-
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MGNREGA: Employment, Wages and Migration he Paid, India: Shantanu Guha Ray; pp 233, Tracts, Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan; pp xix +
in Rural India, Oxon and New York: Routledge; `495. 248, price not indicated.
pp xxi + 274, `895. Roy, Tirthankar and Anand V Swamy (2016); Law Vatsala, Pratyush (2017); Human Rights Regime
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of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance, New London: The University of Chicago Press; pp xii ing House; pp 296, `990.
Delhi: Speaking Tiger; pp ix + 203, `499. + 240, $45.00/31.50 (cloth). Wit, Joop de (2017); Urban Poverty, Local Govern-
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lence: Selected Texts from Mohandas K Gandhis Assi sted Reproductive Technologies in the Global and New York: Routledge; pp xvi + 320, `795.

28 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Understanding Ambedkar from issues in India. Ambedkar was himself a

victim of the inhuman caste system,

the Cauvery Valley which denied him and his community

access to water. The Mahad Satyagraha
of 1927 was a great civil rights struggle
led by Ambedkar to democratise public
Shivasundar water sources. Ambedkar strongly advo-
cated the breaking of caste and class

Indian democracy today lacks very distress year in the Cauvery barriers, along with geographical barri-
trustworthy leadership and basin demonstrates the trust defi- ers, to access and use of water (Central
cit and democratic deficit in the Water Commission 2016). In his multi-
an inclusive politics capable
federal polity of India, intertwined with faceted roles as economist, educationist,
of producing an atmosphere the anxiety and turmoil of farmers in agitator, advocate, historian, anthropo-
conducive to the resolution Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Independ- logist and architect of the Indian Consti-
of disputes, especially water ent India has faced and resolved several tution, and as a proponent of state
major interstate river water disputes. A socialism, he strove to conceive of pro-
disputes. Even so, there are
solution to the age-old Cauvery dispute, cesses and mechanisms that would
some important lessons from however, has remained elusive, its reso- result in democratic sharing based on
B R Ambedkar for the lution demanding the utmost democrat- the principles of social justice. Economic
Cauvery dispute. ic maturity from both, civil societies and and social democracy is the prerequisite
governments of the two states. for political democracy in India, he said
The aggregate demand of the states (Dreze 2005). Many aspects of what
far exceeds the overall flow in the Cauvery could be termed water democracy can
River. The aggregate demand of all the be traced to the contours of economic
states amounts to 1,260 tmcft (thousand and social democracy enunciated by
million cubic feet), whereas the overall Ambedkar.
availability of water in the Cauvery, at Ambedkar has elaborated on the
50% dependability, is hardly 740 tmcft problems of redistribution in a country
(Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal 2007). like India in many of his great works
The crisis is intensified by the absence of Annihilation of Caste, States and Minori-
livelihood alternatives other than agri- ties, The Problem of the Rupee, and Small
culture, with yields directly dependent Holdings in India and Their Remedies
on the supply of adequate water from the as well as lectures and memorandums.
river. The problem is compounded by He dealt most directly with the use and
declining state support for agriculture. sharing of river water in many of his
The Cauvery water disputeor for that addresses as a member of the Viceroys
matter any interstate water disputeis Executive Council in charge of labour,
essentially a question of the democratic irrigation and power during 194246
redistribution of diminishing resources. and later as a member of the Constituent
It demands not only techno-legal but Assembly that framed the Constitution.
also politico-economic solutions. Ambedkars thoughts and struggles
Access to water, use of water and shar- for access to water are well known. In this
ing of water are not just routine matters article, I present his ideas on the use and
of human activity in a country like India. sharing of river water, though of course
They are politico-social acts that perpet- his thoughts on these issues overlap with
uate caste, class and regional injustice his analysis of agrarian problems in gen-
and deprivation on a daily basis. Hence a eral and the socialist economy and polity
techno-legal tinkering will not suffice. that he visualised as solutions.
An all-out restructuring of socio-eco-
nomic structures is required to achieve Water as Wealth
an equitable water democracy in India. As early as 1918, Ambedkar declared
Shivasundar ( is B R Ambedkar is arguably the only that the Indian village is overly dependent
a freelance journalist and activist based in leader in the freedom struggle who fully on agriculture. As a student, Ambedkar
comprehended the complexities of water challenged dominant scholarship on the
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 29

subject and declared prophetically that develop the capacities of people and the Valley Corporation in the United States,
neither the consolidation of landholdings nation was an important part of nation- realised under the leadership of then
nor distribution of land would solve the building. However, the Government of President Franklin D Roosevelt, con-
agrarian crisis. The perpetual fragmen- India Act, 1935 had placed irrigation vinced him that dams along rivers could
tation of land and overdependence of completely under the provinces, with harness water for multiple uses and
village population on it lowers produc- virtually no role for the central govern- simultaneously control floods.
tivity, he argued, leaving no surplus for ment. Ambedkar raised serious objec- In sum, Ambedkar believed that:
productive investment, and keeping tions to this localised perspective of (i) river water is a great national asset
Indian agriculture in a vicious cycle of water management. He argued for a and the fear of floods should not deter
fragmented holdings and low productiv- national perspective led by the central governments from making the best use of
ity. Ambedkar diagnosed agricultural government (Ambedkar 2014b). it; (ii) multipurpose river valley projects
distress as a result of non-optimal use of During those years, India had been should be planned for irrigation, power
the factors of production. The vicious suffering huge damages due to recurring generation and navigation; (iii) these
cycle of Indian agriculture, he argued, floods. Thus, flood control dominated projects should be built around the prin-
could only be broken through industri- policy on river waters. It was Ambedkar cipal objective of aiding the develop-
alisation. Industrialisation was expected who placed the multipurpose use of river ment of the most dispossessed, and pro-
to absorb rural labour and produce a waters on the agenda, stating that in an viding water and cheap power; (iv) there
surplus that could be ploughed back into agrarian country like India every drop of should be a regional, rather than local,
capital-starved agriculture (Ambedkar water is an asset and should be used for approach to the use of river waters since
2014a). At the same time, he strongly the overall development of the poorest. the whole basin constitutes a single
refuted the approach of the then provinces In one of his speeches to the Orissa hydrological entity; (v) a river valley
and princely states, which considered government and central government authority should be constituted for this
surplus river waters an evil for fear of functionaries over the Mahanadi project purpose; and (vi) the central govern-
floods. He considered water a major in 1945, Ambedkar declared: ment should constitute technical and
national asset in an agrarian country It is wrong to think water in excessive quan- expert teams to help the provinces with
and advocated that every drop be used. tity is an evil. Water can never be so exces- these projects (Central Water Commis-
Most importantly, Ambedkar argued for sive as to be an evil. Man suffers more from sion 2016).
lack of water than from excess of it. The
a socialistic economic and political restr- Ambedkar was successful in consti-
trouble is that nature is not only niggardly in
ucturing of the village, with nationalisa- the amount of water it gives, it is also erratic tuting the Central Waterways Irrigation
tion of land and abolition of landowner- in its distribution, alternating between and Navigation Commission (CWINC),
ship by both, hegemonic landlords and drought and storm. But this cannot alter which took the responsibility of assisting
small farmers. He advocated that the the fact that water is wealth. Water being provinces and states in irrigation and
the wealth of the people and its distribution
state should parcel out land to culti- being uncertain, the correct approach is not other river water ventures. This evolved
vators collectives and undertake the to complain against nature but to conserve into the present-day Central Water Com-
responsibility of supplying the requisite water. If conservation of water is manda- mission (CWC) and Central Electricity
inputs, including technology, to be cost- tory from the point of view of public good, Authority (CEA).
then obviously the plan of embankments is
deducted from the agricultural produce
a wrong plan. It is a means which does not
(Ambedkar 2014a). Interstate Sharing of River Waters
subserve the end, namely conservation of
Ambedkars thoughts and ideas on water, and must, therefore, be abandoned. As discussed above, Ambedkar remained
water issues are to be located in this (2014b: 304) firmly against federalism in interstate
vision of state socialism. However, we For Ambedkar, river water was not river water sharing, arguing for a domi-
should not forget that Ambedkar had to only a source of irrigation, but also of nant central government, and a regional
implement his vision in a world of class, power and navigation. He wondered why rather than local approach. While irriga-
caste and regional cleavages. rivers were not being considered for tion was totally under the provinces and
During his tenure as a member of the navigation purposes, despite being much states, with hardly any powers of inter-
Viceroys Executive Council, Ambedkar cheaper than other modes. Ambedkar vention to the centre, the Government of
wrote and spoke on the need to consider also critiqued the central governments India Act, 1935 and the earlier Govern-
multipurpose uses of river waters. This lack of enthusiasm in exploring the ment of India Act of 1919, did provide for
was the period of post-war reconstruc- hydel power potential of rivers to the mediation of the office of the gover-
tion and Ambedkar was a member of the augment cheap power supply for rapid nor general in water-sharing disputes.
Reconstruction Committee. Ambedkar industrialisation and development (2014b: The central government, however, could
pointed out that reconstruction had a 305306). not take any initiative for river valley
different meaning in England, ravaged Ambedkars thoughts on the use of projects on its own (NCRWC 2000).
by war, and in India, where it meant new river waters are contained in five speeches As a member of the Viceroys Executive
construction (Central Water Commission he gave between 1943 and 1946. The Council, Ambedkar initiated dialogues
2016). Optimal use of river waters to multipurpose model of the Tennessee between the governments of Bengal and
30 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Bihar over sharing of the Damodar River, majority (Ambedkar 1931). Ambedkar accords between Punjab and Haryana
convincing them to partner on the thought the interests of the common over Ravi waters, or inadequate release
Damodar Valley Project that has brought citizen were safer in the hands of the of Cauvery water in the Cauvery dispute.
the people of these states the benefits of central government than the state or However, it is also a fact that no order
five dams and five thermal and hydel provincial governments, which he regar- of a water tribunal has been questioned
power projects constructed over the ded as nothing but the brute power of in its entirety in the Supreme Court to
river. Likewise, Ambedkar successfully the majority. date. Therefore, the recent judgment by
convinced the Orissa government to This sentiment is also reflected in the the three-judge bench of the Supreme
undertake the Hirakud Project and the Constituent Assembly debates. In the Court over the unanimous submissions
United Provinces to undertake the Sone end, even the Constitution made India a of the states of Karnataka and Tamil
River Project. It is to his credit that he union of states with the flexibility to Nadu affirming the jurisdiction of the
could convince the provincial govern- become both unitary and federal, depend- Supreme Court over the Cauvery Tribu-
ments even in the absence of any consti- ing upon the situation. As far as the use nal orders, passed on 9 December 2016,
tutional mechanism. and sharing of river waters is concerned, has serious constitutional implications
Trustworthy leadership, visible mutual the provisions of the Government of with far-reaching effects.
benefits from the projects, and a cooper- India Act, 1935 regarding the distribution Ambedkars opinion on this, as docu-
ative atmosphere were important ingre- of powers over water to the states and mented in the Constituent Assembly
dients in the success of these projects, union government were continued in debates, is confined to the emphasis on a
ingredients that are conspicuously the Constitution of independent India. permanent body of adjudication to be
absent in negotiations on river water The legislative framework of the Con- created by an act of Parliament. On 9 Sep-
sharing today. stitution on water is based on Entry 17 of tember 1949, Ambedkar moved an ame-
Despite these successes at the state the State List which places water supply, ndment for the creation of an adjudicating
level, Ambedkar wanted the national irrigation and canals completely under body by an act of Parliament. Ambedkar
government to take the lead in water the jurisdiction of state governments, justified the amendment by stating that
projects. Therefore, he argued for the though Entry 56 of the Constitution disputes regarding water were earlier
constitution of a river valley authority places regulation and development of considered rare enough to warrant a
through the mediation of the central interstate river valleys under the Central special machinery appointed to resolve
government, depriving states of the List. Apart from this, Article 262 of the each case. This needed to be reconsidered
ability to manipulate parochial interests. Constitution empowers the central gov- because the creation of river boards and
In a memorandum for the Sone River ernment to design legal mechanisms to corporations under the Interstate River
Valley Project, Ambedkar argued that adjudicate interstate water disputes and Board Act would mean takeover of prop-
the proposed Sone River Valley Authority, bars the jurisdiction of the Supreme erty that belonged to the respective
must be given by provinces and the states
Court in these matters. Following Article states in the river basin, and the many
full authority over the waters of the Sone 262, the Interstate River Water Disputes disputes that might arise would warrant
and its tributaries and should agree that Act, 1956 was also enacted, which reiter- a permanent mechanism of resolution
such authority should have the sole right of ates the bar on the jurisdiction of the (Constituent Assembly 1949).
generating electricity in the area covered by Supreme Court over water disputes Though the idea of the interstate river
the authority. (Central Water Commission (NCRWC 2000). valley authority as envisaged by Ambed-
2016: 161)
This bar on the Supreme Courts juris- kar was incorporated in the Constitution
He feared that the elite would subjugate diction is a continuation of provisions in through Entry 56, empowering the central
the freedom of the people in the name of the Government of India Acts of 1919 and government to constitute river boards to
federalism. The potential for such subju- 1935. There does not seem to be a com- regulate and develop interstate river
gation lurked in the excessive conces- prehensive debate on why the bar on authorities, not a single river board has
sions given to princely states through jurisdiction is restricted to water disputes been set up to date. This is despite the
instruments of accession. This scepticism when Article 136 extends the original fact that the boards were only recom-
about the nature of the federal polity in jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over mendatory in nature and had no execu-
India is expressed in many of Ambed- all judgments, orders and decrees of all tive authority as visualised by Ambed-
kars works, including Federation ver- the authorities, tribunals and courts in kar (Chokkakula 2012).
sus Freedom. In his appeal to the First the country.
Round Table Conference, 1930, he voiced However, in spite of Article 262, and Lessons for Resolution of
another fear about the dangers of feder- the passing of the Interstate River Water Cauvery Dispute
alism for the depressed classes: As Disputes Act, 1956, one or other aspect In sum, at the core of Ambedkars per-
members of a minority, we look to the of the verdicts of water tribunals has been spective on interstate river water disputes
central government to act as a powerful challenged in the Supreme Court. For is the need for a regional approach in-
curb on the provincial majority to save example, resettlement in the Narmada stead of a localised one. This is possible
the minorities from the misrule of the Tribunal order, some aspects of previous only when the give-and-take involved is
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 31

reasonable and the mediating authority dialogue in the democratic spirit. No sin- farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and
commands the respect and confidence of gle leader or political party in either the actual position of water in the river:
the contending parties. Ambedkar was state has the vision or ability to carry ...4 Both the States of Karnataka and Tamil
successful in negotiating the Damodar this through today. Nadu need to appreciate interest of Tamil
Valley Project between Bengal and Bihar Some enlightened civil society groups Nadu and Pondicherry in protection of their
and the Mahanadi or Sone River Valley from both states have taken combined established irrigation and Karnatakas as-
piration for development respectively and
Projects because he could deliver on all initiatives in this direction in the name
should educate their people accordingly...
these fronts. of the Cauvery Family. They have had an ...8 Participatory Irrigation Management is
Today, Indian democracy suffers from impact on the political atmosphere of both to be encouraged for optimal, efficient and
a lack of trustworthy leadership and an states and helped in creating a spirit of equitable distribution of water amongst the
inclusive politics capable of producing mutual understanding. This process, un- farmers. (Expert Committee on River Cau-
an atmosphere conducive to the resolution fortunately, has come to a halt after the very 2016)
of disputes, especially water disputes. declaration of the final verdict of the These recommendations reiterate the
Even so, there are some important lessons Cauvery Tribunal in 2007. Ambedkarite perspective of resolving
from Ambedkar for the Cauvery dispute. Another important and effective step water disputes. They also indicate the
First, at the core of Ambedkars strategy could be to make the informal initiative only way out of this growing crisis.
in resolving water disputes is the evolu- of the Cauvery Family a political move-
tion of a regional rather than localised ment by initiating more dialogue Gaps and Questions
approach, which enables the state to bet ween farmers of both states. Of Ambedkars water democracy is difficult
address the anxieties of farmers and course, due caution should be taken to realise in a democracy bereft of socio-
others. The state can provide immediate that old and new hegemonic forces in economic equality. This is why we need
alternatives and adequate compensation civil society do not manipulate or hijack a shift towards politico-economic solutions
when required. If the risk factors are taken the process (Maramkal 2016). Such ini- from purely techno-legal perspectives.
care of by the state, emotional politics tiatives assume greater importance Having said this, there are some prob-
can make way for mutual negotiation because, in the seven decades since in- lem areas in Ambedkars thoughts on
and understanding and a regional dependence, competitive politics based the sharing and pattern of use of river
approach could be forged. on political manipulation of parochial waters. Five areas need detailed exami-
Thus, the first step towards resolution and local sentiments have dominated nation:
of the Cauvery dispute is to demand that the political scene. This is also because
the state completely bear the burden of of the economic and political empower- (i) Assumptions regarding the repre-
risk, at least during distress years, as ment of regional elites. Thus, in a sense, sentative nature of national govern-
described in Ambedkars States and the federal polity of India has marginal- ments: For Ambedkar, the provincial
Minorities. Some progressive groups and ised the interests of the depressed class- government represents the brute rule of
farmers organisations in Karnatakas es as foreseen by Ambedkar. the majority over the minority. He con-
Cauvery belt are trying to mobilise In addition, no national government is sidered the national governmentthe
popular opinion around this step. in a position to ensure a proportionate then colonial state and the union gov-
Second, another impediment in the and balanced bargain after the advent of ernment lateras the saviour in all
evolution of a regional approach in the the neo-liberal economy, the trademark issues including water. Even in the Con-
Cauvery dispute is Tamil Nadus reluc- of which is a withdrawal of the state and stituent Assembly debates, Ambedkar
tance to acknowledge colonial discrimi- the promotion of private corporate inter- placed maximum emphasis on the
nation in fixing the share of river waters, ests at the cost of public interest. Thus, national government and the unitary
and Karnatakas refusal to acknowledge the total departure from the Ambedkarite nature of governance. After seven dec-
the equal rights of Tamil Nadu over the vision of a socialist order is also pushing ades of independence, we have seen that
Cauvery. the problem of river water sharing to the national government has become in-
This stalemate can be broken only by a dead end. A serious re-adherence to corrigibly unrepresentative of minority
adhering to the Ambedkarite policy of Ambedkars vision of a water democracy interests and less sovereign in its nature.
positive discrimination to overcome his- and a corresponding course correction Thus, there is an over-reliance on the
torical injustice, or by complete nation- are therefore imperative to save river national government in Ambedkarite
alisation of land in the Cauvery valley valleys and the people dependent thought.
(so that there will only be Cauvery farm- on them.
ers, and no Karnataka or Tamil Nadu It is pertinent to quote two important (ii) Corporate state and Brahminical
farmers). Affirmative action to mitigate recommendations made on 17 October civil society: Ambedkar did not place
historical injustice in sharing of river 2016 by the Central Water Commissions much faith in civil society which, acc-
waters cannot be enforced by law alone. Expert Committee on River Cauvery, ording to him, was hierarchical, hegem-
It requires reciprocal accommodation, headed by G S Jha, constituted by the onic and Brahminical in nature. There-
which is possible only by political Supreme Court to look into the plight of fore, most of his solutions to problems,
32 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

including the sharing of river waters, facing a severe scarcity of water, as well and particular, addressing the time-
relied on the state. He tried hard to as the disastrous ecological, social and bound and space-bound problems of the
make the state less majoritarian and economic impacts of big dams and other era. It is only by continuing the universal
more inclined towards social justice by unsustainable processes of development. aspects and discarding aspects that are
fighting for the adequate representation The optimal use of water, change in time- and space-specific, that we keep
of minorities in the executive and legis- agrarian practices and reorganisation of thoughts from becoming dogma.
lature, and for adequate safeguards and agriculture on a cooperative basis, plac- What we need today is a socialism of
remedies in the interests of the depressed ing the needs of the people before those the 21st century, not a replication of
classes. This has been only partially suc- of markets, and the rejuvenation of water Marxism, Fabian socialism or Ambedka-
cessful, and the state in the last seven bodies are some immediate corrective rite thoughts in their entirety. To realise
decades has proved to be an unashamedly measures that need to be taken. the goal of social justice and equality, we
corporate state that legitimises loot to Ambedkars propositions on the use of need a leap in our thinking, simultane-
the extent of allowing corporate control river waters need to be re-examined in ously assimilating the universalities of
of entire rivers. The excessive reliance this light. earlier visions, discarding the specificities
on the state needs to be re-examined. of irrelevant ones, and developing new
(v) Regional discrimination is also visions to suit the new space and time.
(iii) Peoples movements as a counter social discrimination: One of the main
to a hegemonic civil society: Despite impediments in the resolution of the References
its Brahminical nature, there has been a Cauvery dispute is the reluctance to Ambedkar, B R (1931): Ambedkar at the Round
Table Conferences,
democratisation of civil society through recognise colonial discrimination in allot- bcd/15A.%20Dr.%20Ambedkar%20at%20
the emergence and articulation of the ting quotas. Such historical discrimina- the%20Round%20Table%20Conferences.htm.
oppressed sections. Though the corporate tion needs to be redressed through com- (2014a): Writings and Speeches, Vol 1, Dr Ambed-
kar Foundation.
state, hegemonic forces in civil society, pensatory mechanisms, without which (2014b): Writings and Speeches, Vol 10, Dr Amb-
and corporate-capitalist forces are trying regional disparities can become mecha- edkar Foundation.
Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (2007): The Report
to coerce and co-opt such non-hegemonic nisms of social discrimination. Ambed- of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal: Vol IV,
civil society forces, they still exist and kars focus, however, appears to be
thrive. Ambedkars failure to recognise exclusively on the consolidation of the
Central Water Commission (2016): Ambedkars
the transformative potential of such power of the elites in the name of feder- Contribution to Water Resources Development.
agencies needs to be debated. alism. The last seven decades of devel- Chokkakula, Srinivas (2012): Disputes, (de)Politi-
cisation and Democracy: Interstate Water Dis-
opment have proved, however, that the putes in India, Centre for Economic and Social
(iv) Big dams, big problems: The latter backwardness of the regions is also a Studies, Working Paper No 108.
Constituent Assembly of India (1949): Vol IX: Pro-
half of the 20th century has seen a dif- function of regional discrimination. ceedings of 9 September, http://parliamentof-
ferent set of problems and consequently, None of these observations contradict
Dreze, Jean (2005): Dr Ambedkar and the Future
a different set of solutions. History has the fundamental contributions made by of Indian Democracy, Indian Journal of Hu-
produced enough evidence of the solu- Ambedkar to the development of a man Rights, JanuaryDecember.
tions of the past creating new problems democratic understanding of access to Expert Committee on River Cauvery (2016): Con-
stituted by the Supreme Court.
in the present. One such problematic water, and the use and sharing of river Maramkal, M B (2016): Cauvery Water Row: When a
solution is the concept of big dams for water in India. Rather, they supplement Breakthrough was within Reach of Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu, 12 September, http://scroll.
food production, irrigation and rapid them by arguing for the innovative app- in/article/816254/cauvery-water-row-when-a-
industrialisation. History has proved lication of Ambedkarite thought to the new breakthrough-was-within-reach-of-karnataka-
that this mode of development leads to and complex conditions of the present. National Commission to Review the Working of the
not only ecological disaster but also dif- Every vision, thought or ideology has Constitution (NCRWC) (2000): A Background
Paper on Article 262 and Interstate Disputes
ferential economic and political gains in its roots in a particular time and space. Relating to Water,
societies that are biased towards upper The solutions they offer are both universal wc/finalreport/v2b3-6.htm.
classes and castes. Socialist theories
Fabian and Marxist includeddid not Licensing by EPWI
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Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 33

Indebtedness among Farmers and

Agricultural Labourers in Rural Punjab

Gian Singh, Anupama, Gurinder Kaur, Rupinder Kaur, Sukhvir Kaur

The paper examines various hitherto unexplored n India, the rapid productivity gains of the green revolution
aspects of indebtedness among farmers and agricultural increased producers incomes, raised labourers wages and
lowered the price of food. In addition, new livelihood opp-
labour households in rural Punjab. It analyses the extent
ortunities were generated when success in agriculture provid-
and distribution of indebtedness among farmers and ed the basis for economic diversification (Thompson 2004).
agricultural labourers, their sources of debt and the per However, despite decades of investment in new agricultural
household debt incurred for various purposes. The technology and rural development, poverty and indebtedness
continue to plague rural areas.
paper also compares and contrasts variations in the rate
The state of Punjab was at the forefront of adopting new
of interest paid by different categories of farmers and agricultural technology, which resulted in a large increase in
agricultural labourers. the use of capital inputs to realise the benefits of this technology
(Kaur and Singh 2010). Since most of the inputs used by farmers
are now purchased from the market, the farmers have to spend
huge amounts of cash on purchasing market-supplied farm
inputs to carry out their production operations (Kaur 2011).
Rising costs along with stagnant technology and a near freeze
in the minimum support price of wheat and paddy, which
turned the already adverse terms of trade from bad to worse,
reduced returns on foodgrain production (Sajjad and Chauhan
2012). The tremendous changes in technology and mode of
farming have led to increasing costs and declining farm
income, and the farmers are facing difficulties in meeting both
farm and domestic expenditure (Sharma et al 2015).
The demand for human labour in the farm sector has been
decreasing since the late 1980s. There has been a sharp decline
in the number of marginal and small holdings in the state. On
the other hand, due to the unfavourable nature and structure
of the industrial sector in the state, the small and marginal
farmers released by the agricultural sector were not being
absorbed outside agriculture (Singh and Toor 2005). Sustained
agricultural growth up to 1990 reduced rural poverty in the state.
Since then, a slowdown in agricultural growth has become a
major cause for concern. Stagnant technology, rising input pric-
es, weakening of the support system, and declining profitability
have made cultivation a highly risky and unremunerative
This research paper is based on a field survey conducted for the research enterprise (GOI 2007). The decline in production, increase in
project Indebtedness among Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in
the cost of production, and insufficient increase in minimum
Rural Punjab, sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science
Research, New Delhi. support prices have made the agricultural activity unremuner-
The authors thank the anonymous referee for important comments and ative. As a result, indebtedness in agriculture has increased
suggestions. (Mahajan 2015).
Gian Singh (, Anupama (anupamauppal@yahoo. The rural borrowers have been depending upon institutional
com) and Rupinder Kaur ( teach economics sources for production/investment credit requirements. But
at Punjabi University, Patiala; Gurinder Kaur ( for consumption credit needs, these people are forced to go to
and Sukhvir Kaur ( teach economics at non-institutional sources for which they have to pay a very
Dashmesh Khalsa College, Zirakpur.
high rate of interest. The rural financial services have mostly
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 51

been controlled by rich farmers, who are able to use their large and agricultural labour households in rural areas of Punjab.
endowment base and influence within the local power structure More specifically, the present paper concentrates on the foll-
to secure loans at very advantageous terms (Sharma 2009). owing objectives: to analyse the extent and distribution of
The marginal, small, semi-medium farmers, and agricultural indebtedness among farmers and agricultural labourers; to
labourers have almost been excluded from these financial examine the various sources of debt; to analyse per household
services because they are not considered creditworthy. The debt incurred for various purposes; and to compare and contrast
informal sources cater to the social and consumption require- the variations in rate of interest paid by the different categories
ments for credit to a great extent in rural areas (Amandeep and of farmers and agricultural labourers.
Sidhu 2012). Despite the tremendous expansion of banking
network and the growth of institutional credit for agriculture, Methodology
the severity of agricultural indebtedness persists (Sidhu and For the purpose of the present study, data have been collected
Rampal 2016). from the three districts of Punjab representing three different
Indebtedness per se need not lead to economic impoverish- regionsthe South-west, the Central Plains, and the Shivalik
ment but happens when repayment is difficult and the house- foothills. The South-west region comprises Bathinda, Mansa,
hold resorts to sale of assets. Similarly, a fall in economic posi- Ferozepur, Fazilka, Faridkot, Muktsar, and Moga districts. The
tion can also lead to a greater reliance on credit and thereby Central Plains region constitutes Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib,
increase the debt burden (Mishra 2007). Most of the studies on Sangrur, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Tarn
prevalence of indebtedness in agricultural sector of Punjab Taran, and Ludhiana districts. The Shivalik Foothills region
mainly deal with the farmers, but none have touched the comprises Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, and Ropar dis-
severity of the same among the agricultural labour households tricts. Keeping in view the differences in agroclimatic conditions
who are economically more vulnerable, as they do not own and to avoid the geographical contiguity of sampled districts,
any productive assets. Hence, the present study will add to the it was deemed fit to select one district from each region on a ran-
existing literature on rural indebtedness. In the case of farmers dom basis. Mansa district from the South-west region, Ludhi-
as well, an attempt has been made here to elaborate the internal ana district from the Central Plains region, and Hoshiarpur
dynamics of rural indebtedness. district from the Shivalik Foothills region have been selected
Though there are studies which have discussed indebtedness for the purpose of the present study.
according to the farm size (for example, Shergill 2010; Singh et On the basis of random sample method, one village from
al 2014), none of them have analysed it according to the size of each development block of the selected districts has been
owned as well as operational holdings. Though Shergill (2010) chosen. There are 27 development blocks in the selected three
has included the variable of owned holding, he has taken it as districts. Thus, in all, 27 villages have been selected from the
a farm unit which gives equal weight to every farm size. Due to three districts under study. A representative proportional
this flaw, the results show that indebtedness per farm unit sample of households comprising marginal farmers, small
increases with the increase in farm size. Whereas in the present farmers, medium farmers, large farmers, and agricultural
study, by including the variable of debt per owned acre (rather labourers have been surveyed. Out of these 27 villages, 1,007
than per owned farm unit), we try to show that it falls with the farm households and 301 agricultural labour households have
increase in farm size. Thus, in this study, an attempt has been been selected from the three districts for the purpose of our
made to show that the burden of debt is higher for farmers survey. Out of a total of 1,308 households, 240 farm
with smaller holdings (owned as well as operated) than those households and 111 agricultural labour households are from
with larger holdings. Mansa district; 481 farm households and 139 agricultural
This study has been mainly inspired by the landmark study labour households from Ludhiana district; and 286 farm
of Darling (1925); an attempt has been made to revisit all the households and 51 agricultural labour households are from
important findings of this study in the context of the present Hoshiarpur district.
scenario. As compared to other recent studies on the same A household is considered to be a farm household only if
problem, this study also reveals greater severity of debt more than 50% of its income comes from farm business opera-
among the agricultural households of rural Punjab. Another tions. Here, it must be noticed that farmers are not a homogene-
important point of departure is regarding the tendency of ous group. For the purpose of comparison, we have classified
leasing in land. The existing studies mainly show that a loan them in different categories. We have defined the large farm-
is taken for the purchase of new land only, while the reality is ers as those who own more than 15 acres of land, as the land
that small and marginal farmers have to take a loan some- ceiling limit in Punjab is 17.5 acres, and the medium farmers
times even to pay the rent on leased in land. Actually, these have been defined as those who own more than 10 acres and
farmers lease in land to make their farm size viable for culti- up to 15 acres. Out of the 1,007 selected farm households, 408
vation, but sometimes the adverse agricultural conditions belong to the category of marginal farmers (owning land up
push them to take loans even to pay the rent on these leased to 2.5 acres), 273 to small farmers (owning more than 2.5
in holdings. acres and up to 5 acres), 192 to semi-medium farmers (owning
Thus, the present paper is an attempt to examine various more than 5 acres and up to 10 acres), 88 to medium farmers
hitherto unexplored aspects of indebtedness among farmers (owning more than 10 acres and up to 15 acres) and 46 to
52 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

large farmers (owning land more than 15 acres). The present increases as farm size goes up. This reveals that the needs of
study relates to the agricultural year 201415. farmers are increasing as farm size increases because without
investing in operational as well as fixed costs, the major share
Extent of Debt of income cannot be generated. The average amount of debt
The extent of debt among different farm-size categories in the per indebted agricultural labour household in rural Punjab is
three districts under study is shown in Table 1. This table depicts `68,329.88, while the average amount of debt per sampled
that 85.9% of the farming households in the state of Punjab are agricultural labour household is `54,709.30.
under debt. There are certain variations across the different
farm-size categories. As many as 89.06% of the semi-medium Per Acre Indebtedness
farm households are under debt, while in the case of marginal, The amount of debt per operated acre and per owned acre is
small, medium, and large farm-size categories these percentag- given in Table 2. This table reveals that for an average farming
es are 83.33, 88.64, 84.09 and 82.61, respectively. Slightly more household the amount of debt per owned acre and per operated
than 80% of the agricultural labour households are under debt. acre is `1,16,801.97 and `71,203.60, respectively. The category-
The average amount of debt per indebted farm household in wise amount of debt per owned acre decreases as the farm size
rural Punjab is `5,52,064.16, while the average amount of debt goes up. The amount of debt per operated acre is the highest
per sampled farming household is `4,74,215.99. The amount of among the marginal farm-size category, followed by the small,
loan per indebted household and per sampled household semi-medium, large, and medium farm-size categories. This
Table 1: Extent of Debt among Farmers and Agricultural Labourers has an important implication that the burden of debt is greater
Category-wise on the lower farm-size categories as compared to the upper
Farm-size Categories No of Households Indebted Average Amount of Debt (`)
Sampled Indebted Households Per Sampled Per Indebted farm-size categories. Some of the reasons identified for indebted-
as Percentage Household Household ness among marginal and small farmers are lower income due
of Sampled
Households to low productivity levels, increased cost of production, rising
Marginal farmers 408 340 83.33 2,30,699.75 2,76,839.70 cost of living, inadequate institutional credit, unproductive
Small farmers 273 242 88.64 4,94,051.29 5,57,338.85 expenditure on social ceremonies, intoxicants, etc (Singh 2010).
Semi-medium farmers 192 171 89.06 6,09,765.63 6,84,649.12 The upper farm-size categories partly finance their crop pro-
Medium farmers 88 74 84.09 7,86,761.36 9,35,608.10 duction operations from their own savings.
Large farmers 46 38 82.61 13,52,695.65 16,37,473.68
All sampled farmers 1,007 865 85.90 4,74,215.99 5,52,064.16 Debt Incurred from Different Credit Agencies
Agricultural labourers 301 241 80.07 54,709.30 68,329.88
The role of various credit agencies in the study area has been
Source: Field Survey, 201415.
analysed, and the information is presented in Table 3. This
Table 2: Amount of Debt per AcreCategory-wise (Mean values in `) table shows that an average farming household in rural
Farm-Size Categories Debt per Owned Acre Debt per Operated Acre
Punjab has taken `1,17,279.05 from non-institutional agen-
Marginal farmers 1,40,670.58 65,169.42
cies, and `3,56,936.94 from institutional agencies. The aver-
Small farmers 1,20,794.93 55,573.82
age debt per agricultural labour household from non-institu-
Semi-medium farmers 81,847.74 52,839.31
Medium farmers 63,244.48 45,398.81
tional agencies is `50,217.61 and from institutional agencies it
Large farmers 57,512.57 50,211.41 is only `4,491.69. The marginal farmers are under a total debt
All sampled farmers 1,16,801.97 71,203.60 of `2,30,699.75, out of which `91,019.61 has been taken from
Source: Field Survey, 201415. non-institutional agencies and the remaining `1,39,680.14 from
institutional agencies. The small
Table 3: Debt Incurred from Different Credit AgenciesCategory-wise (Mean values in `) farmers are indebted to the extent
Sl Source of Debt Marginal Small Farmers Semi-medium Medium Large Farmers All Sampled Agricultural
No Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Labourers of `1,46,754.58 to non-institutional
A Institutional agencies and `3,47,296.7 to institu-
1 Primary agricultural tional agencies, whereas the corre-
cooperative societies/
cooperative banks 32,628.68 85,805.87 1,15,078.13 1,22,750 1,20,413.04 74,650.94 1,823.92
sponding figures are `1,34,375 and
2 Commercial banks 1,02,517.16 2,53,798.53 3,48,697.92 5,10,375.00 10,36,956.52 2,68,795.43 2,667.77 `4,75,390.63 respectively for the
3 Land development banks 2,696.08 4,029.30 7,447.92 0.00 60,978.26 6,390.27 0.00 semi-medium farmers. The medi-
4 Regional rural banks 1,838.22 3,663.00 4,166.67 39,772.73 23,913.04 7,100.30 0.00 um farm-size category has taken
Subtotal 1,39,680.14 3,47,296.70 4,75,390.63 6,72,897.73 12,42,260.87 3,56,936.94 4,491.69 `1,13,863.63 from non-institu-
B Non-institutional tional agencies and `6,72,897.73
5 Commission agents 48,117.65 96,172.16 95,130.21 67,727.27 57,065.22 72,231.38 0.00
from institutional agencies. The
6 Moneylenders 21,575.98 29,432.24 31,536.46 34,090.91 45,217.39 27,778.55 1,574.75
large farm-size category obtained
7 Traders and shopkeepers 2,700.98 2,798.53 1,875.00 113.64 8,152.17 2,592.85 5,152.82
`1,10,434.78 from non-institutional
8 Large farmers 3,894.61 3,553.12 2,604.17 5,681.82 0.00 3,534.26 37,096.35
9 Relatives and friends 14,730.39 14,798.53 3,229.17 6,250.00 0.00 11,142.01 6,393.69
agencies and `12,42,260.87 from
Subtotal 91,019.61 1,46,754.58 1,34,375.00 1,13,863.63 1,10,434.78 1,17,279.05 50,217.61 institutional agencies. The margi-
Total 2,30,699.75 4,94,051.28 6,09,765.63 7,86,761.36 13,52,695.65 4,74,215.99 54,709.30 nal, small, semi-medium, medium,
Source: Field Survey, 201415. and large farm-size categories
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 53

have incurred the highest amount of debt from commercial this proportionate share is the highest for the marginal farm-size
banks. But the agricultural labour households owed the highest category, followed by the small, semi-medium, medium, large
amount of debt to large farmers. The reason behind the greater farm-size categories. The agricultural labour households have
reliance of agricultural labour households upon non-institu- incurred about 3% of the total debt from moneylenders.
tional agencies is that they lack adequate collateral which is The share of large farmers is 0.75% for an average farming
essential for raising loans from institutional agencies. household. The agricultural labour households owed about
68% of the total debt to large farmers. Slightly less than 2.40%
Pattern of Debt Incurred from Different Credit Agencies of the total debt has been raised from relatives and friends by
The proportionate shares of different credit agencies in the an average farming household. This proportion is 11.69 and
total debt are given in Table 4. This table depicts that an 6.39 respectively for the agricultural labour and marginal
average farming household has incurred 75.27% of the total farm-size category household.
debt from institutional agencies. This proportion increases As far as the source of the debt is concerned, the marginal
with the increase in farm size. The remaining 24.73% of the and small farm-size categories follow a similar pattern. For these
total debt has been incurred from non-institutional agencies. categories, the major sources of debt are commercial banks,
This proportional share is inversely associated with farm size. commission agents, cooperative societies, moneylenders, and rel-
About 57% of the total debt is incurred from commercial atives and friends. For the semi-medium and medium farm-
banks by an average farming household. This proportional size categories, the major sources of debt are commercial banks,
share is positively related with farm size. All categories of commission agents, cooperative societies, and moneylenders.
farmers owed the highest debt to this source. These figures The remaining two categories follow a different pattern. For
confirm the findings of Sekhon and Saini (2008) that com- the large farm-size category, the major sources of debt are
mercial banks now play a major role in agricultural produc- commercial banks, cooperative societies, and land develop-
tion and economic development of rural areas by supplying ment banks. In the case of agricultural labour households, the
credit facilities to farmers. The agricultural labour house- major sources of debt are large farmers, relatives and friends,
holds have hardly incurred 5% of the total debt from this and traders and shopkeepers. The above findings clearly bring
particular source. out the fact that even after nearly seven decades of independ-
The primary agricultural cooperative societies/cooperative ence, the marginal, small, medium farmers, and agricultural
banks are the second important source of debt for an average labourers in Punjab are still in the clutches of non-institutional
farming household, contributing 15.74% to the total debt. This agencies, particularly commission agents and large farmers.
proportion is the highest for semi-medium farmers, followed
by the small, marginal, medium, and large farm-size categories. Debt Incurred for Different Purposes
The agricultural labour households have incurred only 3.33% The purpose for which a loan is raised is an important indica-
of the total debt from this source. tion of its potential to be repaid. The amount of debt incurred
The commission agents are the third important source of for different purposes is provided in Table 5 (p 55). The table
debt from which an average farming household has incurred shows that the purchase of farm inputs and machinery is the
15.23% of the total debt. This proportion is inversely related major purpose for which debt has been incurred by farmers. An
to the farm size. average farming household incurs `3,32,064.05 for this pur-
At the fourth rank were the moneylenders to whom an pose, and this amount increases as the farm size goes up. This
average farming household owed 5.86% of the total debt, and is due to the adoption of new agricultural technology which is
a costly affair and is known as inputs package.
Table 4: Debt Incurred from Different Credit AgenciesCategory-wise (Percentage of total debt) An average farming household owes `32,852.04
Sl Source of Debt Marginal Small Semi-Medium Medium Large All Sampled Agricultural
No Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Labourers for domestic needs, `32,467.73 for house con-
A Institutional struction, addition of rooms and major repairs,
1 Primary agricultural and `21,305.86 for marriages and other socio-
cooperative societies/
cooperative banks 14.14 17.37 18.87 15.60 8.90 15.74 3.33 religious ceremonies. In the case of marginal,
2 Commercial banks 44.44 51.37 57.19 64.87 76.66 56.68 4.88 small, and semimedium farm-size catego-
3 Land development banks 1.17 0.82 1.22 0.00 4.51 1.35 0.00 ries, loans are raised for the purchase of farm
4 Regional rural banks 0.80 0.74 0.68 5.06 1.77 1.50 0.00 input and machinery, house construction, ad-
Subtotal 60.55 70.30 77.96 85.53 91.84 75.27 8.21 dition of rooms and major repairs, domestic
B Non-institutional needs, renting land, and marriages and other
5 Commission agents 20.86 19.46 15.60 8.61 4.22 15.23 0.00
social and religious ceremonies.
6 Moneylenders 9.35 5.95 5.17 4.33 3.34 5.86 2.88
For the medium and large farm-size cate-
7 Traders and shopkeepers 1.17 0.57 0.31 0.01 0.60 0.54 9.41
8 Large farmers 1.69 0.72 0.43 0.72 0.00 0.75 67.81
gories, the reasons for incurring debt are
9 Relatives and friends 6.39 3.00 0.53 0.79 0.00 2.35 11.69 purchase of farm inputs, machinery and
Subtotal 39.45 29.70 22.04 14.47 8.16 24.73 91.79 implements, house construction, addition of
Total 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 rooms and major repairs, education, and pur-
Source: Based on Table 3. chase of land. In the case of agricultural
54 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Table 5: Debt Incurred for Different PurposesCategory-wise (Mean values in `) This proportion decreases as the
Sl Purpose Marginal Small Semi-medium Medium Large All Sampled Agricultural farm size increases.
No Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Labourers
1 Farm inputs and machinery 1,41,991.42 3,25,263.74 4,49,687.50 5,88,011.36 10,77,695.65 3,32,064.05 265.78
The agricultural labour house-
2 Rent of land 12,083.33 32,161.17 14,583.33 7,386.36 0.00 17,040.71 0.00 holds have incurred the highest
3 Marriages and other social proportion of debt for domestic
and religious ceremonies 10,600.49 14,102.56 53,229.17 31,363.64 6,521.74 21,305.86 17,853.82 needs, that is 36.09%, followed by
4 House construction, addition the marginal, small, semi-medium,
of rooms and major repairs 14,522.06 47,435.90 32,916.67 46,590.91 73,913.04 32,467.73 4,734.22
medium, and large farm size cate-
5 Domestic needs 33,230.39 39,098.90 24,843.75 28,181.82 34,782.61 32,852.04 19,745.85
gories. The field survey has re-
6 Healthcare 7,291.67 6,593.41 14,322.92 5,681.82 0.00 7,969.22 10,083.06
7 Livestock 2,720.59 3,754.58 0.00 0.00 0.00 2,120.16 465.12
vealed the fact that the annual
8 Education 3,921.57 19,780.22 13,020.83 36,363.64 96,739.13 17,030.78 863.79 consumption expenditure of the
9 Purchase of land 0.00 0.00 3,776.04 43,181.82 32,608.70 5,983.12 697.67 marginal, small, medium farm and
10 Repayment of debt 3,602.94 5,860.81 3,385.42 0.00 0.00 3,694.14 0.00 agricultural labour households
11 Small business 735.29 0.00 0.00 0.00 30,434.78 1,688.18 0.00 exceeds their annual income. This
Total 2,30,699.75 4,94,051.28 6,09,765.63 7,86,761.36 13,52,695.65 4,74,215.99 54,709.30 finding confirms the findings of
Source: Field Survey, 201415. the study by Singh (2010), which
Table 6: Debt Incurred for Different PurposesCategory-wise (Percentage of total debt) shows that in Punjab, the annual
Sl Purpose Marginal Small Semi-medium Medium Large All Sampled Agricultural income of the marginal and small
No Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Farmers Labourers
farmers falls short of their total
1 Farm inputs and machinery 61.55 65.84 73.75 74.74 79.67 70.02 0.49
2 Rent of land 5.24 6.51 2.39 0.94 0.00 3.59 0.00
expenditure by 41.4% and 35.5%,
3 Marriages and other social and respectively. They frequently re-
religious ceremonies 4.59 2.85 8.73 3.99 0.48 4.49 32.63 sort to borrowing mainly for con-
4 House construction, addition of sumption purposes. The field sur-
rooms, and major repairs 6.29 9.60 5.40 5.92 5.46 6.85 8.65
vey also revealed another disturb-
5 Domestic needs 14.40 7.91 4.07 3.58 2.57 6.93 36.09
ing fact that very often the small
6 Healthcare 3.16 1.33 2.35 0.72 0.00 1.68 18.43
and marginal farmers sell a part
7 Livestock 1.18 0.76 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.45 0.85
8 Education 1.70 4.00 2.14 4.62 7.15 3.59 1.58
of their already small landholding
9 Purchase of land 0.00 0.00 0.62 5.49 2.41 1.26 1.28 to raise funds for consumption
10 Repayment of debt 1.56 1.19 0.56 0.00 0.00 0.78 0.00 needs of the family.
11 Small business 0.32 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.25 0.36 0.00 About 7% of the total debt has
Total 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 been incurred for house construc-
Source: Based on Table 5. tion, addition of rooms, and major
labour households, the maximum amount of debt has been repairs by an average farming household. This share is 9.60%
incurred for domestic needs, marriages and other socio-reli- and 8.65% for the small farm-size category and agricultural la-
gious ceremonies, and healthcare. The amount of debt owed bour households, respectively. An average farming household
for these purposes is `19,745.85, `17,853.82 and `10,083.06 owed 4.49% of the total debt for marriages and other social
respectively. Thus loans used for non-income generating and religious ceremonies. This proportional share is about
activities do not generate any income for their repayment, 33% for the agricultural labour households, followed by the
and hence the loans go on accumulating and are passed from semi-medium, marginal, medium, small, and large farm-size
generation to generation (Kaur 2016). categories. The field survey has revealed the fact that debt for
marriages and other social and religious obligations, house
Pattern of Debt Incurred for Different Purposes construction, addition of rooms, and major repairs was quite
The proportional share of debt spread on different purposes is significant and widespread. Thus to maintain their social status
presented in Table 6. This table indicates that an average farm- and keep up with basic cultural practices and norms, these
ing household owes the highest proportion of total debt for the sections incur some expenditure which is beyond their means
purchase of farm inputs and machinery. As much as 70.02% of and results in their indebtedness.
the total debt has been incurred for this purpose. This propor- About 4% of the total debt has been incurred for education
tion is 79.67%, 74.74%, 73.75%, 65.84%, and 61.55% for the by an average farming household. The large, medium, and small
large, medium, semi-medium, small, and marginal farm-size farm-size categories give greater importance to education, and
categories respectively. These figures are somewhat different out of their total debt, the proportion of debt incurred for edu-
from the findings of Kaur et al (2016) in which the major cation stands at 7.15%, 4.62% and 3.95%, respectively. As much
proportion of debt is taken for this purpose, but the respective as 3.59% of the total debt of an average farming household is
proportions of debt for the same among all farm size categories also incurred for payment of land rent. This proportional share
are much lower than those found by the present study (this is the highest for the small farm-size category, followed by the
study has given the same proportions as 71.85%, 56.99%, marginal, semi-medium, and medium farm-size categories. The
48.58% and 38.1%). About 7% debt is owed for domestic needs. operational size of holding is uneconomic for these categories
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 55

of farmers so they lease-in land from large farmers. About 2% categories owed the highest amount of total debt in this range
of the total debt is incurred for healthcare by an average of rate of interest. About 14% of the total debt of farmers has
farming household. This proportion is as high as 18.43% for been incurred at the rate of interest ranging between 15% to
the agricultural labour households and 3.16% for the marginal 21%. This proportion decreases as farm size increases except
farm-size category. An average farming household has in- for the medium farm-size category. This proportion is 20.41%
curred very little share of the total debt for purchase of land, for the agricultural labour households.
repayment of debt, and small business, that is 1.26%, 0.78% Table 8: Pattern of Debt According to Rate of InterestCategory-wise
and 0.36% respectively. (Percentage of total debt)
The above analysis clearly indicates that the marginal, Sl Categories Rate of Interest (%)
No 0 1 to 7 8 to 14 15 to 21 22 to 28 Above 29 Total
small and semi-medium farmers, and agricultural labourers 1 Marginal farmers 4.45 44.01 18.21 19.55 13.04 0.74 100.00
owe debt mainly for domestic expenditure and marriages and 2 Small farmers 0.38 35.63 36.02 18.87 8.73 0.37 100.00
other social and religious ceremonies. On the other hand, the 3 Semi-medium
medium and large farmers largely incur debt for the purchase farmers 0.19 41.24 39.21 8.35 11.01 0.00 100.00
of farm inputs and machinery, education, and purchase of 4 Medium farmers 0.79 33.10 50.55 12.87 2.69 0.00 100.00
land. This result is in clear contrast to the study conducted by 5 Large farmers 0.00 22.16 66.78 4.65 6.40 0.00 100.00
6 All sampled farmers 1.12 36.54 39.42 13.71 8.96 0.25 100.00
Singh et al (2014), which states that in percentage terms the
7 Agricultural labourers 11.16 7.28 5.18 20.41 52.11 3.86 100.00
large farmers spend the lowest share on farm inputs and
Source: Based on Table 7.
machinery and the highest on marriages and social and
religious ceremonies. About 9% of the total debt has been incurred at the rate of
interest ranging between 22% to 28% by an average farming
Debt According to the Rate of Interest household. The agricultural labour households incurred the
The mean values of debt according to the rate of interest are maximum proportion of total debt (52.11%) in this range of
given in Table 7. The table depicts that an average farming rate of interest. A very small proportion (0.25%) of the total
household owed the maximum amount of total debt at the rate debt is incurred at the rate of interest ranging from 29% and
of interest ranging between 8% to 14% per annum, followed by above by an average farming household. The agricultural
the ranges 1% to 7%, 15% to 21% and 22% to 28% per annum. labour households have incurred 3.86% of the total debt at this
The marginal, small, medium, and large farmers have incurred rate of interest.
the maximum amount of total debt at the rate of interest ranging The foregoing analysis brings out the fact that the margin-
between 8% to 14%. The marginal and semi-medium farmers al, small, medium, and large farm households have incurred
have incurred the maximum amount of total debt at the rate of the maximum amount of debt at relatively lower rates of
interest ranging between 1% to 7%. The agricultural labour interest, but the agricultural labour households have incurred
households owed the maximum amount of total debt at the rate the maximum amount of total debt at higher rates of interest.
of interest ranging between 22% to 28%. This is because this poor These households are still mainly dependent upon the non-
section of the farming community is not able to get loans from institutional sources, which charge exorbitant rates of interest.
the institutional sources due to the lack of adequate collateral. This result of the present study is in line with the findings of
another study by Kaur et al (2016),
Table 7: Outstanding Debt According to Rate of InterestCategory-wise (Mean values in `)
Sl Categories Rate of Interest (%) which shows that the agricultural
No 0 1 to 7 8 to 14 15 to 21 22 to 28 Above 29 Total labour households have no other choice
1 Marginal farmers 10,276.96 1,01,530.64 42,009.80 45,112.75 30,078.43 1,691.18 2,30,699.75 than to avail loans from the non-insti-
2 Small farmers 1,868.13 1,76,014.65 1,77,967.03 93,234.43 43,135.53 1,831.50 4,94,051.28 tutional sources because the loans by
3 Semi-medium farmers 520.83 2,51,718.75 2,39,348.96 50,989.58 67,187.50 0.00 6,09,765.63
institutional agencies are advanced to
4 Medium farmers 6,250.00 2,60,397.73 3,97,727.27 1,01,250.00 21,136.36 0.00 7,86,761.36
only those who can offer some collat-
5 Large farmers 0.00 2,99,760.87 9,03,369.57 62,934.78 86,630.43 0.00 13,52,695.65
eral in shape of some land or other as-
6 All sampled farmers 5,315.79 1,73,297.42 1,86,926.51 64,999.01 42,495.53 1,181.73 4,74,215.99
sets. The field survey has revealed the
7 Agricultural labourers 6,107.97 3,983.39 2,833.89 11,167.77 28,506.64 2,109.63 54,709.30
Source: Field Survey, 201415.
fact that commission agents, the most
important among the non-institutional
Pattern of Debt According to the Rate of Interest sources, because of legal and political implications now
The relative shares of debt incurred in different ranges of rate advance fewer loans to farmers.
of interest are given in Table 8. This table shows that on an
average 39.42% of the total debt has been incurred at the rate Conclusions and Policy Implications
of interest ranging between 8% to 14% by farmers. This pro- The above analysis shows that more than four-fifths of the
portion is the highest for large farm-size category, followed by farming and agricultural labour households in rural areas of
the medium, semi-medium, small farmers, and agricultural Punjab are under debt. The amount of debt per indebted
labour households. A substantial proportion of the total debt of household and per sampled household increases as the farm size
an average farming household (36.54%) is in the range of 1% goes up. The average amount of debt per indebted agricultural
to 7% per annum. The marginal and semi-medium farm size labour household is `68,329.88, while the average amount of
56 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

loan per indebted farming household is `5,52,064.16. For an of their low income and outstanding loans. Indebtedness will
average farming household, the amount of debt per owned continue to grow in the case of farm and agricultural labour
acre and per operated acre is `1,16,801.97 and `71,203.60, households if their income remains static and no efforts are
respectively. The category-wise amount of loan per owned acre made to improve their economic conditions.
decreases as farm size goes up. The analysis further shows that To overcome the problem of indebtedness, effective meas-
institutional agencies are the most important source of loans ures should be taken to increase the income of the farm and
in the case of farm households. This may be attributed to some agricultural labour households. It is extremely necessary to
extent to the awareness about institutional facilities, easy availa- revisit land reforms in favour of the marginal and small farmers,
bility of loans, and greater accessibility to banks in rural areas. as it would result in increasing their farm size and as a result
In the case of agricultural labour households, major sources will be helpful in increasing their farm business income. The
of debt are large farmers, relatives and friends, and traders agricultural labourers, an important section of the farming
and shopkeepers. These facts clearly bring out that even after community that has been ignored for ages, must be equally
nearly seven decades of independence, the agricultural considered while revisiting the land reforms. Emphasis should
labourers in the rural areas of Punjab are still in the clutches of be laid on the establishment of agro-based industries owned by
non-institutional agencies, particularly large farmers and traders the producers cooperatives in the rural areas on a priority basis.
and shopkeepers which charge exorbitant rates of interest. It will produce gainful employment opportunities at the village
The majority of farmers and agricultural labourers are una- level and benefits of value addition would go to the producers.
ble to meet their consumption expenditure with their income. Cooperative societies should be promoted so that these socie-
This expenditureincome gap compels these farmers to use ties can help in marketing of agricultural products, providing
some proportion of debt to meet their daily requirements. This finance to farmers, and making machinery available on rent.
gap compels the agricultural labourers to use a major propor- The enforcement of the already existing special programmes
tion of debt to maintain their minimum level of consumption. for rural development should be framed in proper perspective.
In spite of the fact that the institutional agencies are the most Increase in the plan allocation and enlarging the scope of rural
important source of agricultural credit, it appears that the specific schemes to cover a larger proportion of population can
burden of indebtedness among farm and agricultural labour go a long way in improving the economic conditions of the
households is likely to continue in the coming years on account farm and agricultural labour households in the state.

References Sajjad, H and C Chauhan (2012): Agrarian Distress Punjab 19972008, Chandigarh: Institute for
Amandeep and R S Sidhu (2012): DemandSupply and Indebtedness in Rural India: Emerging Development and Communication.
Gap of Institutional Credit in Punjab, Journal Perspectives and Challenges Ahead, Journal Sidhu, J and V K Rampal (2016): Causes and Con-
of Agricultural Development and Policy, Vol 22, of Geography and Regional Planning, Vol 5, sequences of Indebtedness: A Brief Review,
No 1, pp 7580. No 15, pp 397408, http://www.academic- Indian Journal of Economics and Development, Vol 12, No 1a, pp 20912.
Darling, Malcolm L (1925): Punjab Peasant in Pros-
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Indian Journal of Social Research, Vol 49, No 2, Singh, S and M S Toor (2005): Agrarian Crisis with
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pp 15254. Special Reference to Indebtedness among
Delhi: Government of India.
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in Rural Punjab, Indian Journal of Economics
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and Development, Vol 12, No 1a, pp 24151.
Sharma, V K, H S Kingra, S Bhogal, and S Singh btedness among Farmers in Punjab, Indian
Kaur, R and G Singh (2010): Extent and Determi- (2015): Sustainable Agriculture Development Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol 69, No 2,
nants of Indebtedness among Farmers in Rural and Pattern of Domestic Consumption Expend- pp 24356.
Punjab, Journal of Government and Politics iture of Punjab Farmers, Indian Journal of Eco- Thompson, A (2004): Agriculture, Growth and
Studies, Vol 35, No 2, pp 6479. nomics and Development, Vol 11, No 1, pp 43947. Poverty Reduction, Department for Interna-
Kaur, R (2011): Indebtedness among Farmers, Patiala: Shergill, H S (2010): Growth of Farm Debt in tional Development (DFID) Working Paper 1.
Twenty First Century Publications.
Kaur, P J (2016): Extent of Rural Indebtedness with
Special Reference to Punjab, Indian Journal of Sameeksha Trust Books
Economics and Development, Vol 12, No 1a,
pp 31116. Social Policy
Mahajan, R K (2015): Dwindling Agricultural Per-
formance and Lifeless Rural Economy in India,
Edited by JEAN DRZE
Agriculture Performance and Rural Develop- The reach of social policy in India has expanded significantly in recent years. Reaching larger
ment in India, Gian Singh (ed), Patiala: Publica- numbers of people than before, some benefits now take the form of enforceable legal entitlements.
Pp xiv + 478 | Rs 795
tion Bureau, Punjabi University, pp 2036. Yet the performance of social programmes is far from ideal, with still a long way to go in directly ISBN978-81-250-6284-4
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Rural Development.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 57

Mothers-in-Law and Son Preference in India

Marie-Claire Robitaille, Ishita Chatterjee

Mothers-in-law are often portrayed as the most My first child is a girl. My mother-in-law said that is okay, she said at
least it is good that I can have babies. But when my second child was
powerful entity in the household in Indian popular also a girl, she did not want to hold her after the birth. She yelled at
culture and media. In most literature too, the influence me that I should have had this test to know if I had a boy or girl. This
is why I am getting the test now for my third child. (Puri et al 2011)
of Indian mothers-in-law is often taken for granted.
However, most of the empirical evidence relies on 1 Introduction

qualitative data or on small samples. Looking at stated n India, sons are often preferred over daughters for various
socio-economic reasons. With the advent of new medical
son preference and using the third National Family and
technologies it has become even easier to selectively abort
Health Survey data set, the authors show that unwanted foetuses when compared to sex-selective infanti-
mothers-in-law do indeed have an influence on their cide.1 Son preference has thus become a serious issue, with an
daughters-in-law. Given the stronger son preference estimated annual half a million female foetuses selectively
aborted (Jha et al 2006), thereby causing significant gender
among mothers-in-law, this contributes to the high
imbalance. In this article we argue that one reason behind this
imbalance in the male to female sex ratio observed practice is the influence of the mother-in-law.
among children in India. With trade liberalisation in the early 1990s, job opportunities
have opened up for women in India and the younger generation
has been influenced by Western values. Those important social
changes are reflected in the media. For example, in the 1970s
and 1980s, films would depict women entering the workforce
mostly under dire straits and being a wife or mother was
perceived to be the most important role for a woman. However,
in the last few decades, films depict women as choosing
professional careers. Thus, with more modern attitudes about
gender roles, the younger generation of mothers is not expected
to have as strong a preference for sons as older generations of
mothers did, which is supported by data on stated son prefer-
ence. This, however, has not translated into more balanced sex
ratios among children less than six years old, which have
worsened since the last four decades.
Indian mothers-in-law are generally considered powerful
figures in the household (Gangoli and Rew 2011). Also, they
generally have a stronger son preference since they come
from an older generation. We postulate that they use their in-
fluence to interfere in the decision to engineer the sex ratio
among their grandchildren, either through pressure or via so-
cialisation (out of respect and affection). While we cannot
distinguish between those two mechanisms, this article
shows that mothers-in-law are indeed influential in impact-
ing the preference of the daughters-in-law. It seeks to contri-
bute to the existing literature on the subject: by using a na-
tionally representative data to quantify the impact of the
Marie-Claire Robitaille (Marie-Claire.Robitaille-Blanchet@nottingham. mother-in-law on her daughter-in-laws preference and deci- teaches at the School of Economics, University of Nottingham sion and; by discussing the importance of older generations
Ningbo China, Ningbo. Ishita Chatterjee ( on stated son preference.
is with the Department of Economics, University of Western Australia, The remainder of the article is organised as follows: Section 2
gives the background information on son preference in India
42 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Figure 1: Sex Ratio among 0 to 6 Years Old and Stated Son Preference across Time and Geography
A: Census: 1991 B: Census: 2001 C: Census: 2011

16401740 16401740 16401740

15401640 15401640 15401640
14401540 14401540 14401540
13401440 13401440 13401440
12401340 12401340 12401340
11401240 11401240 11401240
10401140 10401140 10401140
9201040 9201040 9201040
No Data

D: NFHS: 1992 E: NFHS: 1998 F: NFHS: 2006

16401740 16401740 16401740

15401640 15401640 15401640
14401540 14401540 14401540
13401440 13401440 13401440
12401340 12401340 12401340
11401240 11401240 11401240
10401140 10401140 10401140
9201040 9201040 9201040
Panels A to C: Number of boys per 1,000 girls aged 0 to 6 years old. The natural sex ratio among this age group is around 1.050 boys per 1,000 girls. Panels D to F: number of boys desired per
1,000 girls desired.

while Section 3 describes the data and the model. Section 4 rites and rituals, believed to secure a good afterlife for his par-
presents some descriptive statistics followed by Section 5, ents (as per Manus doctrine), continuing the family name
which discusses key results and robustness checks. Finally, (Das Gupta et al 2003) and inheriting the family land (Kishor
Section 6 concludes with policy implications. and Parasuraman 1998).
Financial motivations, rooted in cultural practices, also play
2 Background a crucial role. By and large, in most communities, indeed, once
As early as 1853, the British recorded abnormal sex ratios a son marries, he will bring home a daughter-in-law and dowry
among some communities in India (J P Grant, Officiating to his natal family; he will remain with his parents and the
Secretary, Government of India, 7 September 1853, cited in fruits of his labour will be shared with his parents and siblings.
Oldenburg 2002: 41). In his report, Grant states that the moti- In contrast, a daughter is married off, with a dowry, will have
vations behind sex-selective neglect and infanticide, leading to to live with her marital family and will be forbidden from
these abnormal sex ratios, are based on religious, caste and supporting her natal family due to both cultural taboos and
financial reasons. Almost two centuries later, the root causes her in-laws (Das Gupta 1987; Das Gupta et al 2003). Her parents
of son preference remain the same. What has changed, are, however, expected to offer her gifts, pay for her upbringing
however, is that the imbalance in sex ratio has now spread and keep offering gifts after her marriage. An Indian saying
across communities with the process of sex-selective elimina- summarises this situation well: Raising a daughter is like
tion of females becoming widely accessible and easy. Among watering your neighbours garden (Guilmoto 2007).
the key cultural motivations for preferring sons to daughters As bearing a son is considered to be a daughter-in-laws duty
are the crucial role played by the son in performing religious and responsibility, a woman who cannot give birth or who gives
Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 43
Figure 2: Stated Desired Sex Ratio (Boys per 1,000 Girls) are, however, more widespread among the oldest generations
Panel A: Women Aged 15 to 35 Years Old across Time and Generation than among the youngest ones (Figure 2, Panel B).
This has significant consequences. Given the importance of
male descendants in India and the perceived important role
1,350 of the mother-in-law in decision-making, it would be surprising
NFHS-1 that mothers-in-law do not influence, or at least try to influence,
Stated Sex Ratio

their sons and daughter-in-laws desire for sons. As they have
NFHS-3 on average higher stated son preference than their daughters-
in-law, their influence would lead to an increase in the sex
1,150 ratiodefined as the number of boys to the number of girls
among young children, even though the mothers of those
children may have no ex-ante preference for sons (before
marriage, that is, before being influenced by the mother-in-law).
1980 1990 2000 2010
This, we believe, partly explains why, amidst a decrease in stated
Panel B: By Womens Age across Different NFHS Waves son preference, the sex ratio remains very high (Figure 1).
While only a limited number of studies have been conducted
on the role of mothers-in-law in decision-making on matters
directly concerning their sons, there is some evidence that
they do indeed play an important role. These evidences, how-
Stated Sex Ratio

NFHS-1 ever, come mostly from qualitative studies and/or studies that
have a limited geographic coverage. Starting with qualitative
evidence, Ganatra and Hirve (2002) and Puri et al (2011)
show, in very different contextsin Maharashtra and among
Indian immigrants in the United States, respectivelythat
mother-in-laws pressure was often invoked as a reason for
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 seeking sex-selective abortion. While no quantitative studies
Age have yet looked at the impact of mothers-in-law on stated son
Notes panel A: This figure should be read as follows: Change in desired sex ratio across
generation can be read by moving horizontally on a given curve. Change overtime, for a
preference, Char et al (2010) have looked at the influence of
given generation, can be seen by comparing the stated desired sex ratio for a given year mothers-in-law on modern contraception use in rural Madhya
across NFHS wave.
Source: NFHS data.
Pradesh, using a sample of 60 daughter-in-law/mother-in-law
dyads. They conclude that the mothers-in-law do not have an
birth only to daughters may be scorned by her in-laws until impact on temporary contraception use but they have a say on
the birth of her first male child (Das Gupta et al 2003). This when the daughters-in-law should get sterilised and that this
displeasure would be expressed with the daughter-in-law decision depends on the number of sons the daughter-in-law
being given less autonomy, having to perform a higher share already has.
of household chores or being given less time to recover after While there seems to be a consensus among scholars that
the delivery of a female child. As a result, having a son is Indian mothers-in-law are powerful, the same cannot be said
generally seen as empowering women in their marital family, about respondents opinions. Indeed, a study on Karachi,
leading them to dearly desire sons (Das Gupta et al 2003). In a Pakistan (Kadir et al 2003) shows that for a range of decision-
more extreme case, not giving birth to a son may result in do- making events, mothers-in-law, and even more so, sons,
mestic violence, psychological abuse or abandonment. The believe that the mother-in-law has a say.2 This belief, however,
birth of a son would not only eliminate one reason behind is not shared by the daughters-in-law. Hence, while the litera-
physical and emotional abuse but can also provide protection ture seems to point towards a key role played by the mothers-
against future violence, once the son is old enough to protect in-law in decision-making, respondents perception is much
his mother (Rao 1997). less obvious. In any case, a mother-in-law can use three main
For all those reasons, there is an entrenched preference strategies to influence the sex ratio among her grandchildren.
for sons in India, with the average women desiring 1.16 sons The first strategy is simply to select a daughter-in-law who
for each desired daughter in 2006 (authors calculation, shares the same degree of preference for sons. This is feasible
NFHS data). in the Indian context, given the involvement of parents, parti-
While the level of stated son preference is still high, it has cularly the mothers, in selecting the bride/groom of their
declined significantly in recent years (Figure 1, Panels D to F, offspring, often without the direct involvement of the bride
p 43). This drop in stated son preference came about by the and groom (Mathur 2007). If this is the case, a similarity in son
oldest generations reducing their stated son preference as preference between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-
they come into contact with modern beliefs, and by the law should be observed immediately after marriage. The second
youngest generation having much lower stated son preference strategy would be to condition the daughter-in-law to develop
to start with (Figure 2, Panel A). Strong stated son preferences an attachment towards her mother-in-law, so that she takes
44 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

into account the preference of the mother-in-law. This strategy the preference of all of the above in the model, data limitation
would take some time and, the influence of the mothers-in-law precludes us from doing so. Indeed, data on daughters-in-laws
would be felt only some years after the marriage. Finally, a parents are not available and while data on the husband and
mother-in-law can use a stick and carrot strategy to align her the father-in-law have been collected, it is only for a sub-
daughter-in-laws son preference to hers.3 sample of the households. Thus, once we restrict the sample to
the daughters-in-law cohabiting with their mothers-in-law
3 Data and Estimation Strategy aged less than 49 years old and for whom we have data for
To empirically test if the mother-in-law is able to influence her their husband (or their father-in-law), the sample size drops so
daughter-in-laws stated son preference, we use the third much that it will be unwise to estimate a three-stages-least-
National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-3), a nationally square model, necessary in such a case as both spouses will
representative survey, conducted from November 2005 to influence the other. However, we investigate the relation bet-
August 2006. Each of the 26 Indian states has been divided ween husbands and wifes stated son preference in another
into rural, urban and sometimes slum/non-slum areas, having article and we have performed a simple robustness check to
a probability of one, to be sampled. Each rural stratum has see if the mother-in-laws coefficient would be significantly
then been subdivided into primary sampling units (PSU), reduced if we were to include her sons preference. We con-
with a probability of being sampled proportional to size. In clude that our results are unlikely to be driven by the omission
urban areas, within each PSU sampled, a census enumeration of the husbands stated son preference.
block was selected with a probability proportional to size. House- Using NFHS-3 data, we want to estimate the impact of mother-
holds have then been randomly selected from those PSU/census in-laws stated son preference on their daughter-in-laws, holding
enumeration blocks, and a household questionnaire was as constant the other determinants of son preference identified
administered. A woman questionnaire was also administered in the literature. More specifically, we estimate:
to all women aged 1549 years. In order to study the impact of
prefd = + prefm +Xd + ...(3.1)
a mother-in-law on her daughter-in-laws son preference, we
observed the daughter-in-law along with her mother-in-law. In where, prefd is the daughter-in-laws stated son preference;
NFHS-3, this situation occurs whenever the mother-in-law and pref m is her mother-in-laws stated son preference; Xd is a vector
her daughter-in-law co-reside.4 More precisely, NFHS-3 data con- of other variables influencing the daughter-in-laws stated son
tains information about all women aged 1549 years old in the preference and is the error term. is the influence of the
surveyed household. Given the average age of marriage in mothers-in-law on their daughters-in-law.
India (18 years for women and 23 years for men in 2001) We define stated son preference as the number of additional
(UNICEF 2014), we are able to match the daughter-in-law with sons a woman wants relative to the desired number of daughters.
her mother-in-law in 3,534 cases.5 More specifically, following Pande and Astone (2007), a woman
One caveat is that the information is only available for is classified as either desiring the same number of sons and
relatively young daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law, as daughters (or more daughters which represent less than 2% of
mothers-in-law cannot be aged more than 49 years old if they our sample), desiring one son more than the desired number of
are to be part of the sample. Young women are, however, the daughters, or desiring at least two more sons than the number
most important group as they are the ones starting their fertility of daughters she wants.8
history and, hence, whose decision on the number of sons and Dummy variables are included for rural residence (rural),
daughters they will bear matters in determining the sex ratio cattle ownership (own cattle), land ownership (own land);
among young children for the overall population.6 religious denominations (Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist,
Another limitation is that we are only looking at the preference other and the reference category is Hindu); caste (Scheduled
of daughters-in-law living in extended households. Around 46% Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Backward Caste, dont know caste, the
of the women surveyed by NFHS-3 are living in such house- reference category is: other caste); access to mediaradio,
holds.7 Thus, while our results cannot be generalised to the television or newspaperat least once a week (access to
whole Indian population, it does shed light on how preferences media); acceptance of domestic violence (domestic violence is
are constructed for almost half of the Indian female popula- acceptable); working status (work); wealth quintiles (poorest,
tion, a group that is far from negligible. poorer, richer, richest and the reference category is middle)
A third caveat is that we do not have data on mother-in-laws and; main cultural regions (North, East, West and the reference
stated son preference for her daughter-in-law but rather need category is South).9 Other control variables are years of educa-
to rely on her stated son preference for herself. Even though tion (years of education), age (age in years) and the number of
these two variables are not the same, they are likely to be children a woman desires (number of children). Those control
highly correlated since mothers-in-law would want to pass on variables are fairly standard in the literature on son preference
their own beliefs to their daughters-in-law. This is, however, a (Arnold and Kuo 1984; Chung and Das Gupta 2007; Koolwal
non-tested assumption. 2007; Pande and Astone 2007; Robitaille 2013 and Yount
Finally, it is likely that other personsnotably her parents, 2005). The characteristics at the household level are shared
the husband and the father-in-lawalso influence the daughter- by the daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law, while the
in-laws stated son preference. While ideally, we would include characteristics specific to the daughter-in-law are: religion,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 45

caste, access to media, years of education, age in years, work, likely to have those characteristics than their mothers-in-law
number of children and if domestic violence is acceptable. Given (Table 1).
the ordered nature of the dependent variable, an ordered logit Not only do mothers-in-law have a stronger stated son prefer-
model is used. Interpreting the ordered logit coefficients is not as ence than daughters-in-law, the two of them are also highly
straightforward as in the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) case. correlated. In our sample, 82% of daughters-in-law with a moth-
To facilitate the interpretation of the results, predicted prob- er-in-law having no son preference, have no son preference
abilities for changes in the variables of interest are presented. themselves; for mothers-in-law preferring one additional son,
this proportion drops with only 75% of their daughters-in-law
4 Descriptive Statistics having no son preference, and drops further to 69% for those
From a public policy perspective, the influence of mothers-in- with a mother-in-law preferring two additional sons or more.
law on the child sex ratio matters only if they have, on an However, this relationship between the son preference of
average, higher son preference than their daughters-in-law. As mothers-in-law and their daughters-in-law may be due to some
shown in Table 1, this is indeed the case. While co-residing shared characteristics believed to influence stated son prefer-
daughters-in-law have no preference for sons at a proportion ence, such as, the state of residence and wealth of the house-
of 79%, this is true for only 65% of co-residing mothers-in-law, hold. Therefore, we turn next to multivariate analysis.
a statistically significant difference.10
This difference in son preference between daughters-in- 5 Multivariate Results: Mother-in-laws Influence
law and mothers-in-law is likely to be due, in part, to differences
in their characteristics. In Robitaille (2013), it was shown that, Base model: From Table 2 (p 47) (Column 2), we find that the
with everything else remaining constant, younger women, stated son preference of mothers-in-law is significantly
more educated women and women more exposed to media correlated with that of their daughters-in-law, everything
have lower stated son preference. Daughters-in-law are more else held constant (and, nothing else constant, Column 1).
Having a mother-in-law desiring one additional son is associ-
Table 1: Descriptive Statistics
Household Co-residing Co-residing
ated with an increase in stated son preference and, even
Daughter-in-Law Mother-in-law more so, if the mother-in-law has a preference for at least two
Son preference: None 0.7887 0.6518*** additional sons. Interpreting ordered logit coefficients is not
Son preference: One 0.1853 0.2721*** easy. We can easily make sense of the direction of the impact
Son preference: At least two 0.0260 0.0761*** by looking at the coefficient sign, but to obtain the marginal
Rural 0.6631
effect, we need to select a value for all control variables.
Own cattle 0.6164
Thus, we have calculated the marginal effect of mother-in-
Own land 0.5412
laws stated son preference for the average daughter-in-
Religion: Hindu 0.7898 0.7879
Religion: Christian 0.0308 0.0303 law; that is, we have used the average value and the mode in
Religion: Muslim 0.1400 0.1404 our sample for, respectively, the continuous and dichoto-
Religion: Sikh 0.0223 0.0227 mous variables.
Religion: Buddhist 0.0074 0.0091** For the average daughter-in-lawa non-working rural
Religion: Other 0.0096 0.0096 North Indian Hindu woman, owning cattle and land, from a
Caste: Scheduled Caste 0.1924 0.1943 Backward Caste and of average wealth, who has access to
Caste: Scheduled Tribe 0.1143 0.1137 media at least once a week, is 21 years old, with six years of
Caste: Backward Caste 0.3590 0.3567 education and desiring two childrenthe predicted probability
Caste: Dont know 0.0368 0.0371
of desiring no additional son decreases by about 4 percentage
Caste: Other 0.2976 0.2982
points by having a mother-in-law desiring two additional sons
Education: Years 6.0034 1.7337***
(4.7715) (3.2448) and by almost 3 percentage points by having a mother-in-law
Access to media 0.6851 0.5649*** desiring one additional son (Table 3, p 47). 11
Age: Years 21.3327 44.1573*** To put it differently, assuming that all women have the aver-
(3.4869) (3.8230) age characteristics, the sex ratio would be of 119, 123 and 126
Work 0.3100 0.4963*** boys per 100 girls if all mothers-in-law had no son preference,
Wealth quintile: Poorest 0.1298
a preference for one additional son or a preference for two
Wealth quintile: Poorer 0.1813
additional sons, respectively.
Wealth quintile: Middle 0.1924
The results for the control variables are as expected. As the
Wealth quintile: Richer 0.2337
Wealth quintile: Richest 0.2628 number of males in the nuclear family determines the share of
Number of children 2.2022 2.8687*** land inherited after the extended family splits (VeraSanso
(0.7022) (1.1906) 1999), owning land increases son preference. We also find that
Domestic violence is acceptable 0.4385 0.5117*** Muslim and Christian women have lower son preference,
Obs 3,535 3,535 everything else being constant.12 Lower fertility, womens
t-tests have been performed between the co-residing daughters-in-law sample
and the co-residing mothers-in-law sample. ***, p-value<0.01, **p-value<0.05 and
education and exposure to media are all negatively associated
*p-value<0.10. with son preference, as different results have shown.13
46 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Table 2: Daughters-in-laws Stated Son PreferenceOrdered Logit Power structure: Most households are
(1) (2) (1) (2) headed by the parents-in-law (father-in-law,
Rural 0.0880 Age: Years -0.0148
(0.5373) (0.2544) 83%; mother-in-law, 10%). This is likely to
Own cattle -0.0549 Work 0.0210 have important implications in terms of
(0.6787) (0.8391) power structure. Indeed, the couple head-
Own land 0.3622*** Wealth quintile: Poorest -0.2196 ing the household is likely to be the domi-
(0.0012) (0.1630)
Religion: Christian -0.7089** Wealth quintile: Poorer -0.0093
nant force. Hence, a daughter-in-law who is
(0.0477) (0.9441) the household heads spouse is assumed to
Religion: Muslim -0.2580* Wealth quintile: Richer 0.0767 be less likely to listen to/care for or obey her
(0.0969) (0.5823) mother-in-law.
Religion: Sikh -0.2362 Wealth quintile: Richest -0.0190
(0.5155) (0.9091)
To test this hypothesis, we estimate a
Religion: Buddhist -0.1798 Number of children 1.2564*** model in which the mother-in-laws stated
(0.8374) (0.0000) son preference is interacted with a dummy
Religion: Other 0.0591 Domestic violence 0.0785 taking the value of one if the daughter-in-
(0.9143) is aAcceptable (0.3960)
law or her husband is household head. The
Caste: Scheduled Caste -0.0280 Region: North 0.8566***
(0.8444) (0.0000) results are striking (Table 4). While we
Caste: Scheduled Tribe -0.0355 Region: East 0.7054*** conclude as before that the mother-in-laws
(0.8428) (0.0011) preference has a strong impact on her
Caste: Backward caste 0.0500 Region: West 0.8642*** daughter-in-laws stated son preference, this
(0.6751) (0.0003)
is true only in households where the mother-
Caste: Dont know 0.3519 Mother-in-law: 0.4357*** 0.1907**
(0.1508) Son preference: One (0.0000) (0.0493) in-law or her husband are heads. In house-
Education: Years -0.0334*** Mother-in-law: 0.7503*** 0.2827* holds headed by the daughter-in-law or her
(0.0055) Son preference: At least two (0.0000) (0.0552) husband, the mother-in-law has no influence
Access to media -0.2287**
when her preference is moderate (desire for
Cut-off point: 1 1.5102*** 4.6972***
one additional son) and has a negative in-
(0.0000) (0.0000) fluence when her preference is strong (desire
Cut-off point: 2 3.8294*** 7.3269*** for two additional sons). Thus, the underly-
(0.0000) (0.0000) ing household power structure is a signifi-
Obs 3,535 3,535
cant determinant of son preference.14
Pseudo R-squared 0.00962 0.147
Log pseudolikelihood -2082 -1792
Standard errors are adjusted for cluster at the primary sampling unit level. ***, p-value<0.01, **p-value<0.05 and Influence or selection in the marriage
*p-value<0.10. market: As already discussed, if the mothers-
in-law select daughters-in-law with similar son preference,
Table 3: Predicted Probability
Mother-in-law: Son Preference
we should observe a similarity bet ween the mother-in-laws-
None One At Least Two daughter-in-laws son preferences in the very first year of mar-
Daughter-in-law: Son preference riage. Put differently, the coefficient in front of the mother-in-
None 0.8352 0.8072 0.7925
laws stated son preference should be positive for women who
(0.8028, 0.8676) (0.7690, 0.8454) (0.7426, 0.8424)
One 0.1508 0.1759 0.1890 have been married for less than one year. If, however, sociali-
(0.1214, 0.1802) (0.1413, 0.2104) (0.1442, 0.2338) sation, altruism or coercion take place, women who have been
At least two 0.0140 0.0169 0.0185 married for a longer period of time and, henceforth, who have
(0.0099, 0.0182) (0.0118, 0.0220]) (0.0121, 0.0249) been exposed to their mother-in-laws stated son preference
90% confidence interval in bracket.
over a long period of time, should be more influenced by their
Table 4: Robustness CheckPower Structure mother-in-law than women who just got married. To test this
Mother-in-law: Son preference: one 0.1855* hypothesis, we allow the coefficient in front of the mothers-in-
(0.0638) laws stated son preference variable to vary according to the time
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two 0.3638**
since marriage. More specifically, we differentiate between
HH head: Daughter-in-law -0.1863 women who have been married for less than one year, women
(0.4304) who have been married for one to two years, women who have
Mother-in-law: Son preference * HH head: Daughter-in-law been married for three to five years and women who have been
Mother-in-law: Son preference: one 0.0671 married for more than six years. The results presented in Table 5
(p 48) indicate that for the first two years of marriage there is no
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two -2.6227**
(0.0300) significant impact of the mother-in-laws stated son preference
Control variables Yes on her daughter-in-laws preference (reference group: mothers-
Joint significance in-law with no son preference for a given number of years since
Mother-in-law: Son preference: One, alone and interacted (0.4700) marriage). However, after three years of marriage, we observe
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two, alone and interacted (0.0624) a positive and significant influence. Hence, while appealing,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 47

and probably happening in some cases, the idea that the rela- abort a child. However, we believe that those costs are fairly
tion between the mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws stated moderate in the Indian context. Indeed, while there is an
son preference comes from the marriage market does not estimated half a million female foetuses aborted each year in
appear in empirical data. India, there are 6.5 million abortions overall every year (Sinha
2012). Thus, abortion is a fairly common procedure in India
Does preference translate into realised sex ratio? There is a and is well accepted as a fertility control method. An impor-
difference between stating a son preference and to be willing tant emotional cost might be to go against the law that bans
to carry a sex-selective abortion, necessary to alter the natu- sex-selective abortion; however, as the risk of prosecution is
ral sex ratio among the respondents children. Indeed, there extremely low, this cost is likely to deter only a fraction of
are emotional, financial and physical costs to sex-selectively respondents. Moreover, the financial costs are quite low as a
Table 5: Daughters-in-laws Stated Son PreferenceSelection or sex-selective abortion costs only between $5 and $30 (Booth
Socialisation? Ordered Logit et al 1994; Vella 2005) which is much less than the cost of rais-
Married since one or two years -0.1065 (0.5543) ing and marrying off an unwanted daughter.15 Finally, mater-
Married since three to five years 0.0947 (0.5989)
nal depletion and maternal mortality risk are lower in the case
Married since at least six years 0.2363 (0.2827)
of abortion than when pregnancy is carried to term. Thus,
Married since less than one year
Mother-in-law: Son preference: one -0.0408 (0.8541) while there is an undeniable cost, it is fairly nominal. Never-
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two -0.5539 (0.1975) theless, as robustness check, we look at the impact of mother-
Married since one or two years in-laws stated son preference on the realised child sex ratio of
Mother-in-law: Son preference: One 0.0876 (0.6281) her daughter-in-law. As sex-selective abortions are more likely
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two 0.3603 (0.1731) late in the fertility history, we restrict our sample to those
Married since three to five years
women who have achieved their fertility target. Thus, given
Mother-in-law: Son preference: One 0.2133 (0.2171)
the young age of our daughters-in-law, our sample drops sig-
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two 0.4480* (0.0511)
nificantly and we are left with only 995 observations. The
Married since at least six years
Mother-in-law: Son preference: One 0.4552** (0.0188) results are presented in Table 6.
Mother-in-law: Son preference: At least two 0.4319 (0.2175) It is important to note at this stage that the sex ratio among
Control variables Yes ones children is biologically purely random. Indeed, while
Standard errors are adjusted for cluster at the primary sampling unit level. some medical articles claim that the gender of a foetus is partly
***, p-value<0.01, **p-value<0.05 and *p-value<0.10.
determined by the characteristics of his/her parents, such as
Table 6: Daughter-in-law Having Achieved Their Fertility TargetNumber
of Additional Sons parents age, the gender of the previous child, the frequency of
Rural 0.0210 Age: Years 0.0046 sexual relations, and the type of response to the Hepatitis B
(0.8908) (0.7742) virus (Drew et al 1978; Ruder 1985; Tremblay et al 2003), the
Own cattle -0.0437 Work 0.0673 impact found is always extremely small and we can thus safely
(0.7433) (0.5588)
assume that the sex ratio is random.16
Own land -0.0329 Wealth quintile: Poorest -0.1839
(0.7907) (0.4019) Given the limited sample size, we again struggle to get
Religion: Christian -0.0355 Wealth quintile: Poorer -0.3637** significance for almost all our variables. Nevertheless, we can
(0.9482) (0.0341) conclude that when the mother-in-laws son preference is high
Religion: Muslim 0.0717 Wealth quintile: Richer -0.0415 (she desires at least two additional sons), the male to female
(0.6855) (0.7684)
ratio among her daughter-in-laws children increases (marginally
Religion: Sikh 0.2641 Wealth quintile: Richest -0.2374
(0.1854) (0.1410) insignificant). Thus, mothers-in-law not only influence their
Religion: Buddhist -0.2401 Number of children -0.0386 daughter-in-laws preference, they are also able to influence
(0.5122) (0.6818) the sex ratio among their grandchildren.
Religion: Other -0.6386 Domestic violence 0.0097
(0.4204) is acceptable (0.9259) 6 Discussion and Policy Implication
Caste: Scheduled Caste 0.0946 Region: North -0.1523
(0.5300) (0.4129) In this article, we have tested empirically a common assumption
Caste: Scheduled Tribe 0.2775 Region: East -0.2762 in the anthropological and sociological literature, namely, that
(0.1346) (0.1769) Indian mothers-in-law have a strong influence on the decisions
Caste: Backward caste 0.1719 Region: West -0.2404 taken by their daughters-in-law on important personal questions,
(0.1488) (0.2639)
such as the number of sons they will have. In line with general
Caste: Dont know -0.0905 Mother-in-law: -0.0103
(0.7331) Son preference: One (0.9255) beliefs in the literature, we find that in India, holding constant
Education: Years -0.0056 Mother-in-law: Son 0.2754 the daughter-in-laws characteristics, the mother-in-laws stat-
(0.6678) preference: At least two (0.1451) ed son preference does have a significant impact on their
Access to media 0.2867** Constant 0.0925 daughters-in-laws stated son preference. The result is robust
(0.0268) (0.8259)
to different specifications. While we have not looked directly
Obs 995
at the decision to sex-selectively abort female foetuses, there is
R-squared 0.0269
Standard errors are adjusted for cluster at the primary sampling unit level. ample evidence that the stated son preference is a key determi-
***, p-value<0.01, **p-value<0.05 and *p-value<0.10. nant leading parents to sex-selectively discriminate between
48 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

their children (Robitaille 2010). As a robustness check we have also to target the older generations in the marital household,
estimated an OLS model with the difference in the number of namely, the mothers-in-law and, potentially, also the fathers-in-
sons and the number of daughters as dependent variable for law on matters of sex-selective abortions, importance of girls
those women who have achieved their fertility target. Given education and health. The limited availability of male respon-
the young age of the respondents, this represents less than dents in NFHS-3 did not allow us to test the importance of the
30% of our original sample. Despite the very large sample stated son preference of fathers-in-law on their daughters-in-
drop, we still conclude that the mother-in-law has a marginally laws stated son preference. This would be an interesting
insignificant impact. avenue for future research.
The focus of this article is on stated son preference. However, The conclusion reached here may also apply to countries
it is likely that the influence of mothers-in-law is felt not only on other than India. In particular, in China, a country with an
how many sons to bear. For example, Char et al (2010) find that even more distorted sex ratio at birth, there is some evidence
Indian mothers-in-law also have a say in the use of contraception that grandparents preference matters. For example, in a study
by the young couple. Moreover, it is highly plausible that their by Xiaolei et al (2013), a respondent explains the imbalance in
influence could also be felt on decision regarding childrens sex ratio by saying: Its the fault of the grandparents. The older
education, childrens vaccination, childrens care such as breast- generation still prefer sons and they put pressure on their chil-
feeding, etc. More research on those questions is necessary. dren to have sons (male aged 35, urban Guizhou). Quantify-
From a policy perspective, our results indicate the importance ing the impact of grandparents preference on Chinas sex ratio
of not only targeting the reproductive-age married couples but is another interesting avenue for future research.

notes and West Bengal to be eastern states; and, logit or the ordered probit. However, given the
1 Stopping behaviourthat is, to continue child- Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra to be western complexity involved in interpreting the results,
bearing until the desired number of sons is states. As a robustness check we have also esti- we have also estimated the model using logit
reachedwas the common practice in the mated a model including state-fi xed effects. and OLS. For those models, the dependent
past. However, as it does not lead to higher sex The results are very similar and are available variable is redefined as a dummy variable tak-
ratio at the country level, it will not be on request. ing the value of 1 when the respondent has a
discussed further here. 10 While with our data we can only show that preference for son and 0 otherwise. We reach
mothers-in-law have on average stronger stated the same conclusion as before (results availa-
2 As India and Pakistan used to be one country
son preference than their daughters-in-law, ble on request). Pande and Astone (2007) con-
before partition in 1947 and are culturally very
there are evidences in the literature that clude that a key variable explaining stated son
similar in many aspects, results found in Paki-
they may also see female foeticide with more preference is the sex ratio of existing children.
stan are likely to also hold for India.
favourable eyes than their daughters-in-law. This variable is however likely to be endoge-
3 There is some evidence that indeed, mothers of nous as the availability of sex-selective abor-
Indeed, Joshi and Bajwa (2012) using a sample
son have been found significantly less likely to tion techniques make it is easy for parents with
of 200 respondents from the Jat Sikh community
be abused physically and verbally (Fernandez strong stated son preference to engineer the
in Ludhiana district (Punjab) find that while
1997; Rao 1997). sex ratio among their children. As the sex ratio
78% of the mothers-in-law are neutral vis--vis
4 While it is not possible to study the influence female foeticide and 12% are favourable, of existing children is random, no instrument
of non-co-residing mothers-in-law on their among the daughters-in-law 78% are unfa- variable can be found. So far, we have ignored
daughters-in-law, we expect the influence of vourable and 23% are neutral, with none being the issue by not including the sex ratio of exist-
the mother-in-law to be smaller in such families. favourable. Alongside a decrease in stated son ing children in the model. The main conclu-
5 In India, most women enter wedlock before the preference, an important decline in desired sions remain even when the sex ratio of exist-
age of 25, with 72% of our sample married at fertility has also occurred in India in recent ing children is included in the model (results
this age. In the case of men, 45% are married years. In our sample, while mothers-in-law available on request).
by the age of 25. have on average a desire for 2.9 children, 12 In contrast, Pande and Astone (2007) conclude
6 However, if our hypothesis that older genera- their daughters-in-law desire only 2.2 children. that Muslim women have higher son prefer-
tion is able to pass on their own beliefs to the Higher fertility, by allowing more free space ence than Hindu women but that women who
younger generation is true then the current for daughters, should result in smaller stated are of another faith than Hinduism or Islam
mothers-in-law would bear the trace of beliefs son preference. Indeed, if women have a desire have lower son preference than Hindu women.
of generations before her. for at least one or two sons (49% and 22% of 13 For education, see Chung and Das Gupta (2007),
7 Excluding non de jure residents. all 1,24,355 women in NFHS-3 express such a Koolwal (2007), Pande and Astone (2007),
8 In NFHS-3, the relevant question for respond- desire, respectively), a lower overall fertility Robitaille (2013), Yount (2005). For media
ents who have no living children was: If you will automatically increase the desired sex ratio, exposure, see Pande and Astone (2007) and
could choose exactly the number of children a result first discussed by Das Gupta (1987). Robitaille (2013).
to have in your whole life, how many would Henceforth, if mothers-in-law were to have the 14 While this article focuses on mothers-in-laws
that be? For respondents who have living same desired fertility as their daughters-in- influence, there is no doubt that husbands are
children the relevant question was: If you law, we should expect mothers-in-law to state also important decision-makers. Husbands and
could go back to the time you did not have any an even stronger son preference than they do wives are expected to influence each others
children and could choose exactly the number in our data. preference post marriage. When we include
of children to have in your whole life, how 11 As some mothers-in-law co-reside with more the husbands preference for a smaller sample
many would that be? Finally, for all respond- than one daughter-in-law, to ensure that those (due to data restrictions) we are unable to get
ents, the question was: How many of these over-represented mothers-in-law do not drive the statistical significance for the mother-in-
children would you prefer to be boys, and the results, we have re-estimated the model laws preference, along with other explanatory
how many girls? And for how many would it using just those mothers-in-law who have a variables (results available on request). While
not matter? single co-residing daughter-in-law. While the those results cannot be used to invalidate or
9 We consider Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, smaller sample (17% of the original sample was confirm either the impact of mother-in-law or
Kerala and Tamil Nadu to be southern states; composed of daughters-in-law co-residing with the impact of husband, they are reassuring in
Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, other daughters-in-law) leads to less precise es- the sense that we do not fi nd any statistical
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and timate, we still conclude that the preference of differences between the coefficient for the
Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Punjab, the mothers-in-law for a son prevails over their mother-in-laws stated son preference when
Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh to be daughters-in-law (results available on request). we include her sons stated son preference
northern states; Assam, Jharkhand, Manipur, Given the nature of the dependent variable, the and when we exclude her sons stated son
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura most suitable models are either the ordered preference. This supports our assumption that

Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 49
the mother-in-law has an influence on her Gangoli, G and M Rew (2011): Mothers-in-law against But Not Too Many Sons: A Qualitative Study of
daughter-in-law that is not mediated by her Daughters-in-law: Domestic Violence and Legal Son Preference and Fetal Sex Selection among
son. It should be clear that those results are Discourses around Mother-in-law Violence against Indian Immigrants in the United States, Social
only a robustness check. As we do not control Daughters-in-law in India, Womens Studies Science & Medicine, Vol 72, No 7, pp 116976.
the potential endogeneity between husband International Forum, Vol 34, No 5, pp 42029. Ram, M and R Wong (1994): Covariates of House-
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found are not causal. Absolute versus Relative Wealth Effects, Time, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol 56,
15 Marrying off daughters is considered a social Demography, Vol 48, No 1, pp 34370. No 4, pp 85364.
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However, great care was taken by the NFHS Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Science & Medicine, Vol 44, No 8, pp 116980.
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as our sample includes only young women, Hudson, V M and A Den Boer (2002): A Surplus of Effect on the Human Secondary Sex Ratio,
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50 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Is the Pink Tide Ebbing?

Achievements and Limitations of the Latin American Left

Samyukta Bhupatiraju, Rahul Sirohi

Starting from Hugo Chvezs electoral victory in 1998 to he massive resurgence of left movements across Latin
the resounding victory of the Bolivian indigenous leader America in the early 2000s has baffled even the most
seasoned students of the region. In a region where tra-
Evo Morales in 2006, a sequence of leftist governments
ditional leftist movements had been all but destroyed by bru-
with explicitly anti-neo-liberal programmes rose to tally repressive authoritarian regimes and where governments
power in various regions of Latin America. But a little of all hues and colours had unquestioningly adopted thorough-
more than a decade later, there are indications that the going structural adjustment reforms aimed at reintegrating
Latin American economies into the neo-liberal world econo-
pink tide is beginning to ebb. In Argentina, the
my, this laboratory of neo-liberal experiments (Sader 2009)
centre-right is in power, ending 12 years of left rule. Even was the last place anyone would have expected to witness
in Venezuela and Brazil, recent trends point towards an large-scale political success of anti-systemic movements. But
unmistakable resurgence of right-wing forces. How does starting from Hugo Chvezs electoral victory in 1998 to the
resounding victory of the Bolivian indigenous leader Evo
one interpret these changes? Does the current crisis
Morales in 2006, a sequence of leftist governments with
mark the end of the Latin American left? While seeking explicitly anti-neo-liberal programmes rose to power in vari-
to answer some of these questions, an understanding of ous regions of Latin America. If the initial scale of this pink
the achievements and limitations of the left turn tide wave was not surprising enough, the fact that these gov-
ernments survived, and in fact prospered in the face of stiff
in Latin American politics is presented.
political opposition and the threat of imperialist inter-
ventions from their North American neighbours was even
more noteworthy.
There can be little doubt that the resurgence of the left
ranging from the radical to the more reformisthas posed
a major challenge to the hegemony of the neo-liberalism and
has opened up avenues for more radical changes in the region.
All these achievements notwithstanding, the leftist regimes
are now facing a massive political and economic crisis that
threatens to unravel the work that has been done in the last
decade. The deepening of the global financial crisis and falling
commodity prices have increased economic pressures on these
fledgling experiments. Argentinas growth has slowed down
while Brazil has entered a recession. In countries like Venezue-
la inflation rates have skyrocketed and poverty rates have in-
creased (Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean 2014). To make matters worse, this period has coin-
cided with successful elite mobilisations which have been ins-
trumental in uniting the splintered opposition. In Venezuela
the untimely death of Chvez has opened up new opportuni-
ties for the resurgence of pro-neo-liberal forces, and in Brazil
the right-wing opposition has successfully ousted President
We would like to thank the anonymous referee for several helpful Dilma Rousseff only to replace her with a conservative politi-
suggestions and comments. The usual disclaimers apply.
cal coalition that has begun to implement some of the most
Samyukta Bhupatiraju ( and Rahul Sirohi drastic austerity measures in recent Brazilian history. In neigh-
( teach at the School of Development Studies, bouring Argentina, the recent elections have brought back the
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
centre-right to power after 12 years of left rule. All these
34 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

dramatic reversals suggest that the region may very well be on et al 1994: 192). Therefore what was striking about the rapid
the brink of a conservative counter-revolution. rate of growth in the region was that the industrial sector
played an important role in the process. Manufacturing
Contextualising the Left Turn became the leading engine of growth, reaching a peak share
For most of the 19th century, Latin American economies, of 26% of GDP in 1973, seven percentage points more than in
though nominally sovereign, remained within the orbit of 1945, a feature shared by all countries (Ocampo 2006: 68). As
influence of British imperial rule. This was not surprising as can be expected, much of this growth was fuelled by high rates
Latin American economies were important markets for West- of investment which grew at an average rate of 7.4% per year
ern manufactures, and perhaps more significantly, they were in 195180 for the region taken as a whole (Ffrench-Davis
important sources of primary goods like cotton, sugar, rubber et al 1994).
and coffee. As exporters of primary commodities, Latin Ameri- Underlying all these achievements were some glaring flaws
can nations were successful in capturing global markets and which had started to become apparent by the 1970s. Despite all
these international linkages were crucial for incipient indus- the rhetoric, most countries avoided radical changes in the
trial growth, but the reliance on primary commodity exports economys income and asset distribution structure and thus
also meant that these economies were extremely dependent the size of the home market remained very narrow and ine-
on American and European markets and remained vulnerable qualities remained high. Added to this, the capital intensive
to exogenous price volatilities (Kohli 2004). Apart from giving nature of industrialisation meant that industrial growth far
foreign investors untrammelled control over economic deci- outstripped the rates of labour absorption (Baer 1972; Prebisch
sions, the deepening pattern of economic dependency also 1978; Tokman 1982). As a result, large sections of the society
strengthened the political clout of the agro-exporters, much to were effectively excluded from formal sector jobs and since
the detriment of industrial classes. As a result, industrialisation most social security benefits were linked to formal sector jobs,
remained muted and the sort of structural change that adva- only a few could enjoy the welfare benefits that the state pro-
nced capitalist nations were undergoing, completely bypassed vided. On the whole, therefore, the ISI project became locked
Latin America (Bagchi 1972, 1982). into a self-defeating cycle of inequality, informality and limit-
In this context the global commodity slump in the 1930s ed industrialisation. The inability to address income concen-
proved to be a game changer (Franko 2007). In the face of fall- tration was reflective of a larger malaise in the institutional
ing demand from major export markets, Latin American econ- structure of Latin American economies. Unlike in Asia where
omies began to face severe balance of payments problems. As countries had inherited strong state apparatuses from their
primary commodity prices fell and foreign finance dried up, colonial rulers and where anti-colonial movements had suc-
Latin American economies were forced to experiment with cessfully pushed these states to seek greater autonomy from
protectionist policies. In addition to external changes, this pe- foreign capital, in Latin America the state assumed a depend-
riod also coincided with the growth of economic nationalism ent character which severely restricted its reach and power
in the region. There was growing resentment against the (Kohli 2009). The weakness of the state meant that not only
export-oriented pattern of development and by the early dec- were politically contentious reforms avoided but the Latin
ades of the 20th century several nationalists had begun to American variant of ISI also came to be heavily dependent on
openly criticise the excessive dependence on foreign trade, foreign capital. By the 1970s this dependence increasingly took
which they argued, had restricted Latin American economies the form of debt.
to being producers of raw materials and had allowed foreign Initially because foreign capital was easily accessible and
capital to gain a foothold in domestic economy to the detri- interest rates were low, the unsustainability of debt did not
ment of local capitalists (OToole 2014; Ocampo 2006; Burns seem to concern policymakers.1 Eventually, however, this
1968). Moreover, faced with dwindling international prices it entire process of funding growth via foreign finance ran into
was felt that the only way these economies could hope to problems when the United States (US) hiked its interest rates in
develop themselves was by espousing an autocentric develop- 1979 causing a sudden increase in interest payments. Between
ment strategy based on state interventionism, protectionism 1979 and 1984 interest payments on debt jumped by over
and across-the-board industrialisation. This provided the 300% (Chodor 2014). To make things worse, as these econo-
backdrop to the adoption of the import substitution industri- mies stumbled, capital flight ensued. In Venezuela capital
alisation (ISI) policies across the continent. flows worth 131.5% of total external debt flowed out of the
In terms of economic performance the new policy stance economy in the five-year period from 197984 alone. In Argen-
proves to be successful on several dimensions. For instance, tina and Mexico the numbers were 76.9% and 73.3%, respec-
between 1950 and 1980 gross domestic product (GDP) growth tively (Franko 2007). The explosion of external debt and sud-
rates averaged 5.5% (Ocampo 2006). During the same period den changes in US monetary policy pushed these over-indebt-
the growth rates of the manufacturing sector were around 6% ed economies into a grave economic crisis as GDP growth fell,
(Ffrench-Davis et al 1994). As an indicator of the extent of industrial development faltered and inflation skyrocketed
import substitution we may note that for Latin America as a (reached four digit figures in Peru, Nicaragua, Brazil and
whole, the share of imported capital goods in total capital for- Argentina). This formed the backdrop to the adoption of neo-
mation fell from 28% in 1950 to 15% in 1973 (Ffrench-Davis liberal policies.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 35
Figure 1: Minimum Wages developing countries in 1998 took place in Latin America; in
350 1999 the region accounted for more than half of such privatisa-
300 tions. A second important point that needs to be mentioned is
250 that the entire burden of neo-liberal adjustments fell on the
poorest classes. Minimum wages dropped dramatically, with
Brazil Mexico Mexico and Brazil witnessing major reversals in the 1980s and
1990s (Figure 1). The rationalisation of public companies, lib-
eralisation of trade and the introduction of labour market flex-
ibility caused a huge increase in the ranks of unemployed, and
0 forced a number of people into the informal sector. In Brazil,















informality increased by 10% between 1990 and 2000 while in
Source: CEPAL database. Argentina urban informality alone increased by 10% between
Faced with this crisis, defaulting countries turned to the 1992 and 2003 (Bosch et al 2007). Similar trends were visible
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela as well (Jutting and Laigle-
assistance. As a part of loan conditionalities set forth by the sia 2009).
multilateral institutions, defaulting economies were forced to The third salient feature of the entire process relates to the
adopt neo-liberal policies in return for loans. It may be noted political environment within which reforms took place. In ear-
that the manner in which structural adjustment was imposed ly liberalisers like Chile, unaccountable military dictatorships
differed from one country to another. In countries like Chile, were instrumental in imposing liberalisation policies, but in
liberalisation had already begun in the 1970s under Pinochets many late-liberalisers the transition towards neo-liberalism
military dictatorship. For others, like Brazil, liberalisation was occurred under democratic regimes where governments were
relatively late in the sense that it followed the debt crisis of subject to electoral pressures. The expansion of associational
1982. Whether imposed by the IMF or by military rulers, what spaces that occurred in the wake of this wave of democratisa-
was common to all these regions was that structural adjust- tion had brought about an unprecedented politicisation of the
ments were essentially deflationary in nature. The logic be- working classes and there were explosions of popular anti-
hind this was that immediate problems facing Latin American neo-liberal movements all across Latin America (for example,
economies stemmed from a mismatch between expenditure the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the Landless Workers
relative to resources. Since debt was a reflection of too much Movement. Landless Workers Movement [Movimento dos Tra-
expenditure, it would followor so it was arguedthat balhadores Ruraus Sem Terra or MST] and the Workers Party
income deflation could provide a corrective to this situation by or Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in Brazil, Movimiento al So-
squeezing domestic demand and bringing it in line with avail- cialismo or MAS in Bolivia).2 Therefore what was striking about
able resources (Franko 2007). In the short-term this structural the introduction of austerity policies was that despite the res-
adjustment would also release sufficient funds for repaying toration of democracy and the massive groundswell opposi-
debt to all those financial institutions that faced massive expo- tion to neo-liberalism, the political class remained staunchly
sure due to sovereign default. At a broader level neo-liberals wedded to imposing the austerity agenda. Major economic ini-
argued for deeper reforms. In their opinion the economic tiatives were insulated from popular pressures and were in-
crisis of the region was not a one-off incident, but rather it stead pushed through executive decrees causing severe disen-
was a reflection of the malaise of statist development models. chantment with established parties (Silva 2009; Chodor 2014).
The irrational and market distorting policies associated The institutionalisation of equality in the political sphere and
with ISI were simply unsustainable. What was required was the continuous exclusion in the economic sphere created major
a shift towards a more market-oriented growth strategy tensions within the neo-liberal model.
(Edwards 1995).
Three important aspects of neo-liberal adjustment may be The Pink Tide Model
noted. First, from the very beginning there was a stress on re- The ruinous policies executed under the tutelage of IMF and
ducing the role of the state in the economic sphere. As we have other multilateral agencies left Latin American economies in a
noted, ISI was based on the idea that markets alone were un- mess. According to one estimate the net resource outflow from
suitable instruments for promoting economic development the region was a staggering $100 billion during the 1990s
and that therefore advocates of ISI believed that the state had alone (quoted in Veltmeyer and Petras 2014: ch 1). On the in-
to intervene in the economic sphere to ensure full-fledged eco- dustrial front, the slow but steady gains made during the ISI
nomic development. In contrast, the adoption of neo-liberalism era were all but wiped out as economy after economy fell prey
represented an attempt to dismantle the state and instead im- to deindustrialisation (Rocha 2003).3 Apart from a slowdown
pose a more laissez-faire framework. Not surprisingly adjust- in growth and investment, the attack on labour created large-
ing economies witnessed massive cuts in government expendi- scale misery and deprivation. By the end of the 1980s, chronic
ture, especially on social spending and also witnessed whole- hunger was killing 40,000 people a day and 55 million were
sale privatisation of state-owned enterprises. According to Franko undernourished, while mortality due to chronic, non-
(2007: 170), seventy seven percent of all privatisations in infectious diseases doubled (Chodor 2014: 74). Poverty rates
36 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

increased from 40.5% in 1980 to 43.8% in 1999 (Grugel and between 1998 and 2007 benefiting as many as 20.5 million
Riggirozzi 2012). This large-scale devastation proved to be individuals (Chodor 2014). Moreover
politically unsustainable as neo-liberalism came under increas- strong redistributionary social policies, implemented through so-
ing attack. From the Caracazo riots in Venezuela in the late called missions, which tripled pension beneficiaries; increased sec-
1980s to the Bolivian Water Wars in the early 2000s, the neo- ondary educational enrolment from 47.7% to 73.3% of the school-aged
population; introduced low-cost, state-run food stores and community
liberal social bloc was under severe pressure from the disgrun- doctors in poor neighborhoods, which increased Venezuelans daily
tled public. Added to this, the shift towards democracy had consumption of calories by 50%; and provided over 550,000 state-
made it harder for governments to control political mobilisa- built homes to the poor in the last two years. (Wilpert 2014: 3)
tions in the same way as it was possible for military authorities Along with explicit social policies, these states have also
of yesteryears (Levitsky and Roberts 2011). Of course even successfully intervened in labour markets by increasing mini-
within a democracy the state could have, and did use coercion, mum wages, reducing vulnerable employment, and increasing
but ultimately its repressive powers were highly curtailed giv- the bargaining power of unions.5 As a result wage shares have
en the democratic set-up. Added to all this, the Latin American increased in many countries even while unemployment has
left responded to this situation with novel organisational and reached historical lows. All these changes have allowed for re-
ideological strategies. Having been isolated from the political ductions in poverty levels and improvements in income distri-
scene and after having faced severe repression during the pre- bution as measured by the Gini coefficient (Table 1).
vious decades, there was a realisation amongst leftist activists Table 1: Inequality, Poverty and Unemployment in Select Latin American
that meaningful opposition to neo-liberalism required forging Countries
Countries Gini Unemployment Poverty (% of Population
broad alliances between industrial workers, indigenous move- below $1.9 PPP)
ments, informal workers and middle classes, all of whom had 1990 2000 2010 1991 2000 2010 1990 2000 2010

borne the brunt of austerity.4 In Brazil, for example, PT played Argentina 46.8* 51.1 44.5 5.8 15 7.7 1.1* 5.7 2.05
a crucial role in uniting the various factions of the traditional Bolivia 42.04 63 49.6*** 2.9 4.8 3.3 8.2 29.7 11.92***
Brazil 60.5 59.3** 53.9*** 6.9 9.5 7.9 20.56 13.62** 6.18***
left which splintered into several factions in the previous dec-
Ecuador 56.4 49.3 4.3 7.2 5 17.13* 28.15 7.05
ades. At the same time it drew support from intellectuals,
Venezuela 45.3 48.2** 9.5 13.2 8.6 4.31* 9.59** 9.24#
grass-root social movements, trade unions and church-based * Data refers to 1991 for Argentina, 1992 for Venezuela and 1994 for Ecuador.
communities (French and Fortes 2005, 2012). On the ideologi- ** Data for 2001; *** Data for 2009; # Data for 2006; Data for 1989.
Source: World Bank Database; CEPAL Database.
cal front there were attempts to broaden the notion of class
struggle to include concerns raised by identity-based move- Along with explicit economic policies that defy policy ortho-
ments and to incorporate the demands of indigenous people. doxy, pink tide governments have also initiated an ideologi-
These tactics were a major factor in weakening the hegemony cal attack on neo-liberalism by reconceptualising the very
of markets and in ensuring groundswell support for the lefts notion of development and questioning the there is no alter-
agenda (Silva 2009; Riethof 2004). native (TINA) doctrine. Speaking at a conference in 2007,
Brazils president Luiz Incio Lula da Silva (popularly referred
A Heterogeneous Left to as Lula) explained that increasing growth in itself was a
Before proceeding it is necessary to point out that there is no meaningless pursuit. Instead, true development required that
single left in Latin America today. Rather, the pink tide the fruits of growth be distributed to all without exclusion
phenomenon has been highly heterogeneous. This hetero- and without perpetuating historical inequalities be they of
geneity is no coincidence since the very success of left forces gender, race, or any other type (quoted in French and Fortes
in Latin America has stemmed from their ability to adapt to 2012: 7). In a similar vein, drawing on indigenous cultures, the
historical, political and institutional peculiarities of their Ecuadorian constitution defines the prime objective of deve-
constituencies. Despite these differences the undeniable fact lopment to be sumak kawsay or good living:
remains that the pink tide governments share a central In the new Constitution, sumak kawsay implies more than improv-
programmatic objective, to reduce social and economic in- ing the populations quality of life, [it also involves] developing their
equalities (Levistky and Roberts 2011: 5). Across the Latin capabilities and potentials, relying upon an economic system that
American region, left governments have initiated massive promotes equality through social and territorial redistribution of the
benefits of development, guarantees national sovereignty, promotes
redistribution programmes and have developed comprehensive
Latin American integration, and protects and promotes cultural diver-
safety nets for the poorest and most vulnerable. Even the sity. (quoted in Radcliffe 2012: 24142)
targeted schemes have tended to cover large sections of the
population (Huber and Stephens 2012). The Plan de Equidad Development, according to sumak kawsay, is a process that
of Uruguay reached around 50% of children, while in Brazil the prioritises the well-being of human beings and nature. As a
Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme benefited 57.8 million concept, it goes beyond paternalistic concerns typical of capi-
individuals in 2012 (Huber and Stephens 2012; Weisbrot et al talist welfare regimes and instead focuses on capabilities and
2014). In Argentina, the Universal Child Benefit programme potentials of citizens. Sumak kawsay therefore entails noth-
reaches four million households, consisting of those mainly ing short of a revolution in the statecitizen relationship,
employed within the informal sector (Grugel and Riggirozzi where the state is subordinated to popular pressures and
2012). In Venezuela health coverage has increased sixfold where citizens are actively engaged in governing their own
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 37

futures. In practice the implementation of participatory forms according to neo-liberals, is that while this policy stance
of governance has varied. In Brazil, prior to the electoral vic- makes for good political sloganeering it does not make for sen-
tory of Lula in 2002 the PT was at the forefront of experiments sible economic policy. Sooner rather than later governments
in participatory budgeting. In the city of Porto Alegre the local have to face up to the facts that populist policies are simply
government headed by the PT gained international fame for unsustainable (Edwards 2010).7 Instead, neo-liberals argue
organising large assemblies in which the public had an oppor- that Latin American economies will be better served by deep-
tunity to be involved in decisions related to local governance. ening neo-liberal reforms, though perhaps tempering with
The electoral victory in 2002 raised hopes that these experi- smart (that is, targeted) social policies (Edwards 2010;
ments would be replicated at the national level as well, but Fukuyama 2008).
that has not happened (Hunter 2011). Though the PT continues While simplistic in its diagnosis, the position taken by the
to maintain strong links with trade unions, grass-root move- neo-liberals does not provide an adequate analysis of the prob-
ments, non-governmental organisations, and other stakehold- lems afflicting Latin American economies and neither does it
ers, but its approach is more consultative rather than delib- give us any insight into the nature of the current logjam. The
erative (Goldfrank 2011). On the other end of the spectrum, problem with the orthodox line of reasoning is twofold. First it
Venezuela seems to be experiencing an explosion of commu- ignores the elephant in the roomneo-liberalismwhich, far
nal power (Ciccariello-Maher 2007). Here the government from being a solution to the current woes of Latin American
has begun delegating decision-making powers to local-level economies, has been an absolute failure in the 1990s. It failed
communal councils (CCs) consisting of 150400 families not simply because it did not provide room for growth, but also
(smaller numbers required for registering CCs in rural areas), because it completely failed to deliver broad-based development
in an attempt to construct a countervailing power structure to in the region. In this context, it hardly makes sense to criticise
the state. As of 2013, reports suggest that as many as 40,000 governments for trying to break away from such a discredited
such councils had been registered by the government (Foster development model. Second, the entire debate about economic
2015). Participation rates have been very high with over eight populism is theoretically inaccurate and completely ahistorical.
million people being involved in these initiatives and accord- If anyone deserves to be accused of economic and financial irre-
ing to a survey held in 2007, an estimated 35% of those sur- sponsibility it is the neo-liberal governments of the 1990s
veyed claimed to have taken part in one or more CCs (quoted in which doled out large sums of money to upper classes by priva-
Goldfrank 2011).6 tising publicly held resources at throwaway prices (including
something as basic as water in Bolivia) and who, in the name of
Understanding the Current Crisis free markets, supported frenzied financialisation which entailed
Despite all the massive progress that has been made in the last massive transfers of funds from public coffers to private ones.
decade, many have begun to question the sustainability of left To argue that the left has been irresponsible for having at-
policies in Latin America. These views have been expressed tempted to stem this massive drain of funds and for having
not only by neo-liberals but also by radical left-wing thinkers. tried to repay the social debt owed to the citizens of the coun-
These criticisms have become more important in the light of try, is problematic to say the least. Moreover at a theoretical
the severe economic crises that are afflicting many left-wing level the entire accusation of populism is steeped in neoclassi-
regimes in the region. In the post-2011 period, global economic cal orthodoxy which equates state intervention of any sort
growth has been sluggish, exports to China have dwindled with economic mismanagement. In fact, looking at the record
and primary commodity prices have fallen creating severe of growth and industrialisation it is abundantly clear that most
economic difficulties for Latin America. These external chang- Latin American economies performed much better in the diri-
es have adversely affected economic growth and, perhaps gisme period than they have in the decades when neo-
more importantly, the rates of poverty reduction. Given the liberalism was adopted (Ocampo 2006).
scale and extent of the crisis that the left is facing there have If for neo-liberals the problem with the pink tide govern-
been raging debates about the nature of the current crisis, and ments is the heterodox nature of its economic policies, for the
more broadly, about the inherent limitations of the leftist pro- left critics the problem is exactly the opposite; namely, that
ject in Latin America. The fact that many of these criticisms the left governments have not been heterodox enough. In a
have been raised by trade unionists and representatives of stinging critique of the Lula government, ex-PT member and
popular social movements points to the urgency of the situation. eminent sociologist Francisco De Oliveira (2003, 2006) criti-
From an orthodox perspective, the abandonment of free- cises the government for betraying the original objectives for
market principles and the associated rise of economic pop- which PT had been formed. He lambasts Lula for failing to
ulism is the most important flaw in the pink tide model. restructure the economy and for not breaking away from the
This is especially true for the more radical regimes (like Vene- vice grip of the financial sector. The coexistence of low invest-
zuela) where the political leadership has been more intent on ment rates, low research and development expenditures with
maintaining popularity at any cost, picking as many fights as a grossly overgrown financial sector has led to complete disar-
possible with Washington, and getting as much control as they ticulation of the economy. The result, in his opinion, is that the
can over sources of revenue, including oil, gas, and suspended Brazilian economy resembles a duck-billed platypus (an ani-
foreign-debt payments (Castaeda 2006: 3839). The problem mal that is half mammal and half reptile). For Oliveira, the
38 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

political implications of this are even more dangerous: rather sense that they have often been used to further elite interests
than emboldening the working classes and radicalising them (Harvey 2007; Klein 2007). In the context of Latin America it
for an assault on neo-liberal capitalism, Brazils left represents would be hard to ignore the fact that the current logjam stems
a hegemony in reverse where the very sectors that are sup- not simply from the lefts moderate agenda, but also from a
posed to transform the system end up legitimising it. concerted effort by national and transnational capital to
A second line of criticism made by the left critics points to squeeze these governments.
the massive dependence of Latin American economies on pri-
mary commodity exports. On this aspect, the pink tide model Right Reaction
being implemented in countries ranging from Brazil to On the political front there have already been numerous
Venezuela does not really provide an alternative to the attempts to destabilise governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and
neo-liberalism according to these scholars. The problem, as Ecuador through organised violence and armed coups, many
Veltmeyer and Petras (2014: ch 8) see it, is that extraction of which have been linked to government agencies in the US.
entails a high composition of capital and appropriates but little In this context, the Brazilian case is particularly interesting
to labour. For example, in the case of Bolivia where although because it reiterates the strength of elite mobilisations and the
all their natural resources have been declared as belonging to fragility of left rule in the region. A complete report card of the
the people, the share of mining wealth that accrues to labour is PT administration in Brazil cannot be given here but a few
a pittance. To make things worse, in all these countries extrac- points may be noted.8
tivism has exposed economies to international price volatili- After coming to power in 2002, PT found itself in an unenvi-
ties in a way that is reminiscent of earlier periods of Latin able position of having to shore up support by forming a broad
American history and has led to a depletion of natural resources coalition in order to secure its government. In the following
causing extreme environmental losses (Sankey 2014). The years it largely failed to disassociate itself from hawkish mon-
practice of soyazation in Argentina, for example, has not etary policies of previous periods, but the administration was
only led to monocropping that leads to huge losses in times of nonetheless successful in using the commodity export bonan-
price fluctuations, but has also resulted in contamination of za to introduce a semblance of flexibility within the system.
soil and water resources, in turn affecting the health of local For a while things seemed rosy for big capital as credit policies
populations. Similarly, with open-pit mining in Argentina were eased, investment increased and growth rates soared.
has led to huge losses of biodiversity and glacial resources But as its hold on the government tightened, the PT adminis-
(Giarracca and Teubal 2014). According to critics this environ- tration also unleashed a series of poverty alleviation schemes
mental degradation and depletion should be accounted for, far which were successful in reducing poverty and inequality.
more seriously than what is being currently done. What was even more threatening to the countrys elites was
The left critics provide an incisive and relevant criticism of that with every success, the government turned more and
leftist governance. To a large extent the deepening crisis today more radical. First minimum wages were increased, labour
reflects the inability of the left governments to initiate a truly regulations were strengthened, and if this was not enough, the
post-neo-liberal economic project. Yet one cannot but help government went on to weaken deficit targets as well. In a
wonder if such harsh judgments are not oversimplifying the country where finance capital dominates and where there is a
situation in the region. In this regard two points are worth long history of socio-economic hierarchies, even these pithy
considering. First, one may note that Latin Americas external changes were not acceptable to the elites who saw these poli-
dependence is not a new phenomenon and neither is the deeply cies as a precursor to more radical shifts in the country.
entrenched domination of finance capital. Thus when the left The dampening of international markets provided the per-
acquired power in various parts of the continent in the first fect opportunity for a reassertion of elite power. Mired in cor-
decade of the 21st century, it found itself face to face with an ruption scandals, facing imminent economic slowdown and
institutional structure that was at once exclusionary and one under fire from a highly mobilised opposition, the PT was
that was deeply rooted in the society and had successfully re- brought under tremendous pressure. Even though the govern-
produced itself for years. Keeping this in mind many argued ment decided to impose austerity measures in the hope that
that the entire process of transcending neo-liberal capitalism this would restore investors confidence, the governments
would most likely be a long drawn out process wherein left constant backtracking on this issue and its hesitation to scale
governments, while seeking to transcend the system, would back its social security policies angered the financial elites. Finally
nonetheless be forced to work within existing structures until in May 2016 the opposition garnered enough numbers in the
conditions were ripe enough for more radical changes to be legislature to press for the suspension of PTs presidential can-
implemented (Linera 2013; Harnecker 2015; Catacora 2011). So didate, Rousseff, before formally impeaching her in August
the gradualism that left critics complain about is actually a 2016. This was despite the fact that she had received a popular
reflection of tactical difficulties involved in breaking away mandate from the Brazilian people to be the countrys presi-
from historically generated path dependencies and not some- dent till 2018. Her alleged crime was that she had broken fiscal
thing that can simply be wished away by radical movements. responsibility laws in order to preserve the social security pro-
Second, it is important to understand that economic crises grammes that were initiated by her party. What repercussions
have an element of intentionality associated with them, in the this political coup will have on the lefts future is too difficult
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 39

to foretell but what is obvious is that the current crisis is not a of tuna had been hoarded away in a warehouse.9 The fact that
result of PTs alleged reformism. Rather, it is a reflection of the these hoarders are openly associated with opposition parties
asymmetric balance of power between class forces in the region. cannot come as a surprise. To make things worse private com-
While the Brazilian case shows the political difficulties panies have diverted huge sums of foreign exchange, meant for
faced by pink tide governments, the economic assaults on the the imports of basic commodities, to offshore accounts. Accor-
left have been equally vicious. In the case of Venezuela, politi- ding to a Telesur report the Central Banks own figures show
cally motivated production disruptions and artificial shortages that between 2003 and 2013, the Venezuelan private sector in-
have weakened the government considerably and have been a creased its holdings in foreign bank accounts by over $122 bil-
major factor behind its recent electoral setbacks. Such actions, lion, or almost 230%.10
of course, are not a new phenomenon. Ever since Chvez was From this perspective, the problem, it appears, is not simply
elected to power, the government faced bitter opposition from that the Latin American leftists have somehow mistakenly ac-
the traditional oligarchy. During the early days of Chvezs cepted the very policies they set out to oppose. Instead the
tenure, brutal economic assaults by big capital in the form of problems arise from the fact that the implementation of even
hoarding, disinvestment and production disruptions had the most limited pro-poor policies within the auspices of the
become commonplace (Levingston 2014). At one point the neo-liberal system have been received by bitter opposition from
shortages were so bad that the country was even forced to buy elites. It is surprising that the very policies that could stabilise
oil from abroad (Camacaro and Mills 2015). What was even and legitimise the economic system are precisely the policies
more interesting was that inflationary surges and shortages that are becoming increasingly difficult to implement in this
tended to follow the electoral cycle suggesting that these were region. This reflects a complete subordination of economic
intentional acts of disruption rather than a simple case of rationality to the class interests of the rich and powerful.
rational actors responding to the opportunities for arbitrage
(Levingston 2014). Conclusions
In response to this, the government initiated a series of The current crisis is turning out to be a crucial test of resilience
measures to bring back a semblance of control over the econo- for the Latin American left. Whether this turns out to be only
my. It outlawed hoarding and cracked down heavily on viola- minor inflection in an otherwise smooth and gradual transition
tors. As a part of an economic overhaul the government estab- towards 21st century socialism or whether it marks the begin-
lished price controls and set up a multiple exchange rate sys- ning of the end of another cycle of left rule in the region, only
tem that allowed basic commodities to be imported at low time will tell. The experiences of Bolivia and Ecuador on the
prices. These policies seemed feasible initially because of the one hand and Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil on the other,
huge inflow of oil revenues from abroad, but in the recent pe- suggest that the outcome of this struggle is still very open. One
riod the governments ability to provide cheap dollars has be- thing that is becoming abundantly clear is that the intransigence
come more limited due to the decline in oil prices (Wilpert of the Latin American elites to make even the smallest of conce-
2015). Added to this, the importation of basic goods is still un- ssions leaves the left governments with two very stark choices:
dertaken by the private sector and this has meant that unscru- they can either slip down a path of austerity and financialisation
pulous elements have had ample opportunity to bilk the sys- in the mistaken hope that this will reboot the economy or they can
tem. In one recent case reported by Telesur, it was discovered deepen their anti-neo-liberal stance by mobilising popular sec-
that 135 tonnes of detergent, 5,000 packs of diapers, 94,000 tors to defend the governments achievements. The third way
razors, 50 tonnes of milk, 38 tonnes of rice, and 158,000 cans of humanising neo-liberalism seems like a distant dream.

Notes fiscal and monetary policies. In his opinion it is Bagchi, Amiya Kumar (1972): Some International
1 One high ranking Latin American policymaker rooted in excessive and unproductive state in- Foundations of Capitalist Growth and Under-
confidently declared, debts are not paid, debts tervention in the economic sphere. development, Economic & Political Weekly,
8 This discussion is based on Sirohi (2016). See Vol 7, No 31/33, pp 155970.
are rolled (quoted in Galano III 1994: 330).
Saad-Filho (2016); French and Fortes (2005, (1982): The Political Economy of Underdevelop-
2 This argument draws on Silva (2009: Chs 2
2012) for a further analysis. ment, Cambridge University Press.
and 3). See also Chodor (2014) and Grugel and
Riggirozzi (2012). 9 In Venezuela, Opposition-Linked Firm Hoards Bosch, Mariano, Edwin Goni and William F
Millions of Goods, Telesur, 14 January 2015, Maloney (2007): The Determinants of Rising
3 The term, deindustrialisation, has to be used Informality in Brazil: Evidence from Gross
carefully. Here we use it to refer to the reduc-
Venezuela-Opposition-Linked-Firm-Hoards- Worker Flows, World Bank Policy Research
tion in industrial share in total employment Working Paper Series.
and GDP. Millions-of-Goods-20150114-0053.html.
10 Behind the Food Lines in Venezuela, Telesur, Burns, Bradford E (1968): Nationalism in Brazil: A
4 There is an interesting literature regarding the Historical Survey, Camacaro: Frederick A Prae-
impact of alliance strategies and anti-neo-liberal 14 May 2016,
lish/analysis/Behind-the-Food-Lines-in-Vene- ger Publishers.
policies. See Ellner (2004); Morais and Saad- Camacaro, William and Frederick B Mills (2015):
Filho (2003); Saad-Filho (2015). zuela-20160514-0035.html.
Revolution, Counter Revolution, and the
5 Informality rates continue to be high in many Economic War in Venezuela: Part I, Venezue-
of these countries (Jutting and Laiglesia 2009)., 27 January, viewed on 21
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No 4, pp 6979. Prebisch, Raul (1978): Socio-economic Structure Wilpert, Gregory (2014): Chvezs Legacy of Land
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Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 41

Two Class Distribution of to measure the shares of top income earn-

ers using administrative data is being

Income in India led by the World Wealth and Income

Database. For India, Banerjee and Piketty
(2005) made the first systematic effort to
Evidence from Income Tax Data (201213) measure top incomes between 1922 and
2000 using AIITS.
With the data on hand, income inter-
Rishabh Kumar vals can be used to compute the relative
frequency of tax filers and thereby con-

Results from the 201213 income nformation on tax returns by indi- struct the shape of the income distribu-
tax data reveal that Indian viduals, families and businesses has tion. Typically, the complementary cumu-
recently been released by the Central lative distribution function cCDF = P(Y>y)
incomes, particularly high salaries
Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Drawing can offer insight into the upper tail of the
and wealth-related income, are on the data, this article studies the shape distribution, that is, the proportion of
statistically distributed into two of the distribution of reported incomes filers above a given income threshold (y).
distinct classes. The bulk of the by individuals in India during 201213. Empirical quantities often cluster
Since independence, there was a tradi- around typical values (for example, the
reported income distribution can
tion of regularly producing these nation- height of males in an urban city), which
be explained by an exponential al statistics under the All India Income make it useful to completely character-
distribution, while a small Tax Statistics (AIITS), but this practice ise distributions using just the mean and
fraction at the top follows a more stopped around 19992000. The recent variance. The upper tail diminishes rap-
data released, although limited to a sin- idly as values deviate a few factors above
unequal power law (Pareto)
gle fiscal year, sheds substantial light on the mean. This, however, is not a neces-
distribution. This distinction the concentration of income amongst sity in economic variables and heavy-
has important implications for top earners as well as wealth-related tailed distributions are very often found
inequality, and provides a point sources such as interest, property, busi- in income, wealth and rates of return to
ness and capital gains. The granular stock market activity. For example, the
of comparison with similar
breakdowns of income thresholds provide incomes of all males in an urban city
statistical regularities observed in important information about the distri- could have wide-ranging values depend-
rich countries. bution of individual Indian incomes, ing on professions, skills, education, etc.
consistent with historically observed Wealth distributions in particular have
statistical regularities. a long tail, extending perhaps to hundreds
The general trend amongst econo- and thousands of factors away from the
mists and statisticians interested in the typical range. Power laws are often used
distribution of income is to use survey to characterise such distributions so that
data, in the case of India usually through the probability is inversely proportional
the various rounds of the National Sam- to a fixed power of the other (for exam-
ple Survey. These survey data can then ple, P(y)= yn). Unlike thin-tailed distri-
be used to compute inequality measures butions, the probability of an extreme
such as the Gini or Theil coefficients. observation decays slowly. The Pareto
However, surveys tend to be top coded distribution is one such heavy-tailed
or do not receive adequate responses power law, which originated in eco-
from extremely high-earning members nomics and was used by Vilfredo Pareto
of the society. The emerging and recent- to describe the concentration of land-
ly popularised alternative is to use ownership amongst a small proportion
administrative data, such as reports of of the Italian population.
the Income Tax Department. These high In this article, I show the two class
quality data are cheaper to collect (com- structure underlying Indian incomes
pared to expensive surveys) since people reported to the tax authorities in the 2012
Rishabh Kumar ( are required to automatically report their 13 assessment year. This class structure
is a doctoral student at the Department incomes to tax authorities. is not the usual social class category,
of Economics, The New School for Social Originally initiated by Simon Kuznets such as labour, capitalists, and entrepre-
Research, New York.
in the United States (US), today the effort neurs, but rather (and relatedly) applies
58 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

to the shape of the Indian income dis- of incomes. Although the direct tax base and Yakovenko (2001) calculated this
tribution. The bulk of individual in- is very limited, it covers about 30 million relationship as
comes follow a thin-tailed exponential individuals over a vast range of incomes. A = B+(1B) ln (1B)
distribution which has a well-defined Property and capital incomes are almost where A is the cumulative share of
mean and dispersion along with the par- entirely concentrated amongst a small income and B is the cumulative share of
ticular property that the mean and fractile (about 1%2%) of the reporting population.
standard deviation are the same. Thus, population. By appropriately scaling For a Pareto distribution, the proba-
higher the mean, more is the degree of income levels, identifying the exponential bility of observing very high incomes
disparity. Within this class, the probabil- and power law characteristics of incomes decays slowly relative to exponential
ity of a person reporting income greater becomes straightforward. distributions and the cCDF is given by
than a few deviations from the mean The implied statistical regularities C(y) = (y/ym), where is the so-
decays rapidly because the probability suggest a two-class structure that differ- called Pareto coefficient and ym is mini-
decays exponentially (P(y)= ey). Salaries entiates Indian incomes, similar to the mum income to which the Pareto distri-
reported by 96%97% of the individuals case for advanced economies such as the bution applies. The empirical scatterplot
can be well accounted for by this distri- US or the UK. The properties of these of a Pareto distributed variable will con-
butional law, and the theoretical Lorenz distributions are important for income tinue to demonstrate a heavy tail on a
curve formula agrees with the data. inequality in the formal sector and vertical log scale (log probability). On
The upper tail of salaried income (or amongst those that report their incomes the loglog scale, the cCDF transforms to
the top few percentiles of the salaries to the tax authorities. To gather infer- ln C(y) ln (y), resulting in a down-
class) and nearly all wealth-related in- ence on these highly aggregated com- ward sloping linear trend. Low values of
come systematically deviates from this plex systems, I conclude by drawing on imply higher inequality and the mean
law and corresponds to the Pareto distri- the principle of maximum entropy,1 that is defined for > 1, while the variance is
bution (or a power law). The estimated is, the most likely income distribution only defined if > 2.
parameter signifies infinite variance, that emerges once certain possibilities
implying extreme incomes carry a sig- are ruled out by knowledge we already Data and Results
nificant (in population terms) probabi- possess such as average incomes or the The Income Tax Department published
lity. Within this group, we may see (and growth rate of incomes. its return statistics in a similar manner
so does the data suggest) that individu- to previous AIITS reports. The number of
als report hundred or thousand times Exponential and filers are listed for various income
the corresponding income threshold Pareto Distributions thresholds and pre-processed into in-
with significant probability. In terms of Logarithmic rescaling is commonly come bins with corresponding total
income concentration, Pareto or power used to graphically assess the exponen- and average income within the bin. In-
laws exhibit scale-free properties or tial or power law features of a probabi- come tax returns are reported for differ-
self-similarity. For example, if 40% of lity distribution. If income (y) is expo- ent categoriesall taxpayers, individu-
income is distributed amongst the top nentially distributed, then it has the als, Hindu Undivided Families (HUF),
10% of individuals with a Pareto law, probability distribution function (PDF) firms, association of persons (AoP) or
then the top 10% of the top 10% will own P(y)=(1/T) e(y/T) where the parameter body of individuals (BoI) and companies.
40% of the income share of the top 10% T is mean income. These categories, to an extent, reflect
itself, and so on. The complementary cumulative prob- the various institutional sectors underly-
Studies by Dragulescu and Yakovenko ability distribution (cCDF) which gives ing national accounts. However, for the
(2001) and Silva and Yakovenko (2004) the probability of persons reporting in- purposes of distribution, the most rele-
have found similar results for wealth come above y is C(y)=e(y/T) and becomes vant category is individual taxpayers.
and incomes in the United Kingdom (UK) parameter-free for normalised income The HUF section is also important, but a
and the US, applicable to the top 1%3% = y/T. Logarithmic transformation of complete analysis needs to encompass
of incomes. In a similar tradition of ap- C(y) results in ln C(y) = (y/T) = , inheritance and allocations within fami-
plying statistical laws to India, Sinha thus the empirical distribution should ly members (besides the fact that this
(2006) and Jayadev (2008) report evi- collapse around a downward sloping lin- category is more important in measure-
dence for power-law tails for high net ear trend on a vertical log scale (log ment of wealth concentration and inher-
worth individuals using Forbes 400 and probability). The mean (or expected itance). Other categories reflect the eco-
survey data, respectively. value) T equals the standard deviation. nomic activities of firms and businesses
The findings of this article are, to the A typical measure of income concen- and not wage-earners.
best of my knowledge, a first attempt to tration is the Lorenz curve which depicts A cursory look at the number of
approximate the shape of Indian income the cumulative share of population on the returns filed in 201213 by individual tax-
distributions across a large cross-section horizontal axes and the cumulative share payers highlights the low tax base, no
of tax brackets. I present summary sta- of income on the vertical axis. For a pure- doubt exacerbated by the limited labour
tistics of reported incomes by category ly exponential distribution, Dragulescu force in the formal sector, tax evasion as
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 59
Distribution of tax filers by income category
well as high tax exemptions. As many as Figure 1: Distribution of Tax Filers by Income Category
(log-log scale)
(Loglog scale)
17 million individuals reported no salary 1 10 100 1,000 10,000 1,00,000 10,00,000 1,00,00,000
income, while 11.7 million individuals 100.00000
reported at least some salary income.
Other income categories are more closely 10.00000

related to the ownership of assets which Business

Cumulative percent of people

generate capital income (property, equities,
Interest income
businesses, fixed income claims, etc). In Short-term capital gains
these income sources, the proportion of
filers who report at least some positive Long-term capital gains
income is much lower, since wealth is more
concentrated than income. Table 1 sum- 0.00100
marises these statistics by income category.
Table 1: Number of Income Tax Returns 0.00010
(Based on income category)
Income Category 0 income > 0 income
Salaries 1,70,89,773 1,16,76,493 Income (000's
Income (000sofofIndian
Property 2,67,70,527 19,95,739
Business 1,36,88,033 1,13,20,215 under-reporting is quite likely although income threshold, which is measured on
Long-term capital gains 2,85,66,826 1,99,340 many newspapers and dailies in their as- the horizontal axis. Given that a flatter
Short-term capital gains 2,83,35,857 4,30,409 sessment of this report have incorrectly slope indicates more inequality (the tail
Interest income 2,32,74,619 54,91,647
confused stocks and flows2the num- is longer), two noticeable trends emerge.
As Table 1 indicates, salaries- and bers filed in these reports only list flows First, salaries and business incomes
business-related income are the only of income. are relatively less concentrated as op-
two categories where a significant num- Moreover, capital incomes are extreme- posed to capital incomes (interest, prop-
ber of filers reported positive income ly concentrated. While 50% of total sala- erty and capital gains). Salaries are a
(that is, at least `1). All positive capital- ries accrued to 11% of total individuals, broadly applicable category while many
related incomeproperty, long-term over 80% of property income is received small business owners (such as shop-
and short-term capital gains, interest in- by 1%. As Table 2 shows, for long- and keepers, self-employed professionals)
comeare reported by a very small frac- short-term capital gains, almost all are counted in business incomes.
tion of the total filers. In fact less than 0.2 income in this category was made by the Second, for salaries the tail diverges
million individuals reported long-term top 0.5% to 1%. This is not exactly sur- into a straight line at `1 million. To the
positive capital gains. Although there is prising since wealth is likely to be very left of this threshold, the datapoints
no microdata to determine the exact concentrated, hence income drawn from cluster around the range `0.1 `1 million
shares in these reports, it is quite evident returns on wealth (interest or capital gains) with decaying probability (a downward
that capital gains from a positive revalu- will also flow to very few persons. The slope decreasing at an increasing rate).
ation of existing assets are extremely number of filers reporting billions of rupees Figure 2 isolates the right tail for wealth-
concentrated. of annual income tend to range in the related income categories. Depending
Table 2 shows the number of people hundreds for salaries and business income. upon the income category, this tail cap-
above major income thresholds. We see For capital gains and interest income, tures the top 2%, 0.3%, 0.2% and 2% of
that salaries are the most broadly appli- the corresponding number of returns the population for property incomes,
cable categoryover 35% of individuals are at most in single or double digits. long-term capital gains, short-term capi-
reported income above `1.5 million. By tal gains and interest incomes, respec-
contrast, only 0.24% reported the same Shape of Income Distribution tively. The chart is loglog scaled and
income from short-term capital gain Figure 1 plots the cCDF for various in- the points collapse into a straight line as
earnings. A very small fractile (0.00065%) comes (salaries, property incomes, busi- predicted by the Pareto law.
earned salaries of over `100 million, ness, capital gains and interest income)
although almost double that proportion over the entire range (`1 to `5 billion) on Two Class Salary Distribution
of persons reported similar earnings of the loglog scale, for proportionality. Since salaries have the broadest applica-
long-term capital gains. Given the pau- The vertical axis indicates the cumula- tion, the entire range is plotted in Figure 3
city of returns filed, tax evasion and tive probability of tax filers above the on the loglog scale. The exponential
Table 2: Cumulative Number of Returns (Income thresholds in `000) trend (bowed) fits the income range
Income Threshold Salaries (%) Property Business (%) Long-term Capital Short-term Capital Interest leading up to `1 million (the point which
Income (%) Gains (%) Gains (%) Income (%)
1,500 35.03 1.88 39.48 0.35 0.24 2.14 bifurcates the Pareto and Exponential),
1,000 3.80 0.12 0.97 0.11 0.03 0.18 and the Pareto portion falls on the
10,000 0.06000 0.00258 0.03010 0.01367 0.00153 0.00623 straight line. The exponential fit captures
1,00,000 0.00065 0.00002 0.00106 0.00115 0.00003 0.00011 about 96.3% of the salaried population.
60 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Tail of wealth-related income NOTES
(log-log scale)
Figure 2: Tail of Wealth-related Income exponential category side-by-side with
(Loglog scale)
1 10 100 1,000 10,000 1,00,000 10,00,000 1,00,00,000
the theoretical formula for a purely
100.00000 exponential distribution (A = B+(1B)
ln (1B)) with the former explaining
98% of the values in the latter.
Cumulative percent of people

Short-term capital gains Discussion
0.10000 This article has shown that statistical
Interest income regularities seen in the distribution of
incomes in international and historical
Long-term capital gains
0.00100 perspective are found in reported in-
comes for India in 201213. A complete
0.00010 description of income disparities can be
Property explained as a combination of (at least)
Two-class salary
0.00001 distribution
Income (000s of Indian rupees) two different kinds of probability distri-
Figure 3: Two Class Salary Distribution scale) butions. In a fictional experimental
(Loglog scale) sense, it is as if individuals with differ-
0.001 0.01 0.1 1 10 100 1,000 10,000 1,00,000 10,00,000
100.00000 ent skills and a few members of Indias
Forbes 400 have been packed into the
Cumulative percent of people

same room. This is the core of the two
Cumulative percent of people

1.00000 class theory of income distribution

peoples income generating process de-
termines their distribution.
0.01000 Although data is limited, one way of
rationalising these statistical regulari-
ties is on the basis of the maximum en-
0.00010 tropy principle. This is a common way of
describing complex aggregated systems
0.00001 (such as energy levels of gas particles
Income (000s of Indian rupees)
Lower than `1,000 K Greater than `1,000 K Exponental Pareto in a cylinder) in statistical mechanics
Figure 4A: ExponentialSalaries below `1,000 K downward sloping and Bayesian inference (Jaynes 2003). A
(Vertical log scale) straight line. Figure 4B seminal paper by Foley (1994) argues
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1,000
100.00000 comprises the Pareto that complex economic systems tend to
Cumulative percent of people

tail for salaries with display statistical (or maximum entropy)

R = 0.9858 an estimated slope of equilibriums rather than general (or
10.00000 -1.913 (the Pareto ex- market clearing) equilibriums.
ponent = 1.913) Interestingly, the development of util-
and thus, the distri- ity maximisation in economics is closely
1.00000 bution has no finite linked to the principle of maximum
Income (000s of Indian rupees)
variance. entropy in physical systems.3
Figure 4B: Pareto: Salaries above `1,000 K
(Loglog scale) In both cases (Fig- If any variable has the probability dis-
1 10 100 1,000 10,000 1,00,000 10,00,000
ures 4A and 4B), the tribution function (), then its entropy
fits are good, at R2 = is simply f (xi) log f (xi). This line of
Cumulative percent of people

99 for the exponen- reasoning argues that the maximum
tial bulk and R2 = entropy distribution of any complex
99.8 for the Pareto system is the distribution that can be
R2 =R0.9984
= 0.9984
0.01000 tail. Remember that achieved in the largest number of ways
0.00100 the slope for salaries (or combinations), whilst satisfying some
0.00010 is steeper (high abso- prior knowledge or information about
lute value of the expo- the system (such as the expected value).
Income (000s of Indian rupees) nent) than the other Maximising the entropy subject to
In Figure 4A, the exponential bulk is income categories, therefore, the vari- known constraints will give the macro-
separately plotted on the vertical log ance cannot be defined either for the level outcome corresponding to the most
scale, in accordance with the logarith- capital gains, interest, etc. number of micro-level combinations.
mic transformation of an exponential Figure 5 (p 62) computes the Lorenz Almost every probability distribution
distribution, the datapoints scatter on a curve for persons who fall within the can be easily derived from this line of
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 61
NOTES Lorenz curve for exponential bulk
Figure 5: Lorenz Curve for Exponential Bulk statisticians to start similar studies on
the distribution of Indian wealth, about
which very little is known.
Cumulative percent of income


80.00 Notes
1 Also known as the Principle of Insufficient Rea-
Theoretical formula (exponential) son. See Foley (1994) for a discussion of these
issues in economics.
40.00 2 The wealth of high net worth persons (such as
Lorenz Curve (empirical)
the many dollar millionaires) pertains to a
20.00 stock. It is only when such people earn returns
on these assets, will such wealth result in in-
0.00 come flows.
0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00 120.00 3 See Mirowski (1992) for the related history of
Cumulative percent of people neoclassical economic theory and physics.
4 In statistical physics, this exponential distri-
reasoning. Thus, for example, the income (and turbulently equalising) the rate of bution is known as the GibbsBoltzmann dis-
distribution amongst persons most like- return across sectors holds resonance. tribution.
5 For an exposition of the power law wealth dis-
ly to be observed can be derived by max- The Pareto class may be defined as a rel- tribution based on maximising entropy, an ex-
imising entropy constrained by some ative capitalist class, while the exponen- cellent proof is given in Castaldi and Milakovic
known income statistic such as mean tial bulk consists of wage earners.
and (or) variance of income.
The maximum entropy distribution Conclusions
under a constraint only on the arithmetic To conclude, Indias income distribution Banerjee, A and T Piketty (2005): Top Indian
mean of a non-negative variable x results statistics have strikingly similar statisti- Incomes, 19222000, World Bank Economic
Review, Vol 19, pp 120.
in the exponential form f(x) e.x, cal properties as those observed in rich
Castaldi, C and M Milakovic (2007): Turnover Ac-
where is the weight (or in economics, and advanced economies. The expected tivity in Wealth Portfolios, Journal of
the shadow price) on the constraint.4 value of incomes for all but a small Economic Behaviour and Organization, Vol 63,
pp 53752.
Silva and Yakovenko (2004) argue this percentage can be described with one Dragulescu, A and V M Yakovenko (2001): Expo-
class to be in equilibrium inequality parameter (mean income). For the re- nential and Power-law Probability Distribu-
because decentralised exchange in capi- maining few, the distribution has no tions of Wealth and Income in the United King-
dom and the United States, Physica A: Stati-
talist economies distributes the con- well-defined measure of variance and stical Mechanics and Its Applications, Vol 299,
served variable (wages or salaries) invites a sharp disparity of incomes. pp 21321.
exponentially. The divergence of the upper-income Foley, D K (1994): A Statistical Equilibrium Theory
of Markets, Journal of Economic Theory,
A Pareto distribution is the maximum tail at the 97th percentile and the con- Vol 62, pp 32145.
entropy distribution when a constraint centration of wealth-related incomes are Jayadev, A (2008): A Power Law Tail in Indias
Wealth Distribution: Evidence from Survey
is placed on the expected value of the in close agreement with the finding of Data, Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its
logarithm of the variable (the CDF has Silva and Yakovenko (2004) for the US. Applications, Vol 387, pp 27076.
the form f(x) x). This can be ration- Naturally, the question arises: why do Jaynes, E T (2003): Probability Theory: The Logic of
Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University
alised through the income source for we find similar statistical properties for Press.
individuals falling into the Pareto class two very different economies? Such Mirowski, P (1992): More Heat Than Light: Eco-
(top salaries, capital gains, investment political economy aspects of these find- nomics as Social Physics, Physics as Natures
Economics, Cambridge: Cambridge University
income). These incomes are closely relat- ings are important, although we need to Press.
ed to the rate of return (where the loga- aggregate more years of data to establish Silva, A C and V M Yakovenko (2004): Temporal
Evolution of the Thermal and Superthermal
rithm implies proportionality of returns), persistent facts. Income Classes in the US during 19832001,
either through the fates of wealthy port- There are still challenges in fully Europhysics, Vol 69, pp 304.
folios or compensation (salary) depend- applying this kind of analysis to India. Sinha, S (2006): Evidence for Power-law Tail of
the Wealth Distribution in India, Physica A:
ent on profitability management.5 First, the tax base is very low, hence not Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications,
Pareto distributions also result from many people report incomes to tax Vol 359, pp 55562.
multiplicative shocks, so that changes in authorities in the first place. Second, the
the variable are proportional to its value. pervasiveness of tax evasion and black
These shocks may be a windfall gain money sources (particularly in property
such as when entrepreneurs salaries are and real estate) needs accounting, to available at
linked to equity and a new IPO (initial gather a more complete picture of in-
public offering) is announced, or a coal come inequality. Finally, the CBDT Oxford Bookstore-Mumbai
Apeejay House
mine owner enjoying a productive year should regularise these reports and also
3, Dinshaw Vacha Road
or a real estate mogul profiting from a start reporting similar statistics on Mumbai 400 020
spike in real estate prices. The Classical collection of wealth and property taxes. Ph: 66364477
or Marxian conjecture of capital seeking This will allow economists and social
62 FEBRuary 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Poverty Alleviation in Bihar true that Bihar needs a much more com-
prehensive approach to move ahead in
agriculture sector as pointed out by
Alternative Views Shah (p 47), but it might not have an
extensive impact on reducing poverty.

Pradeep Kumar Mishra SHG-based Approach

The second problem lies with the sug-

The paper Eliminating Poverty in ihir Shahs paper Eliminating gested SHG-based approach and the
Bihar: Paradoxes, Bottlenecks and Poverty in Bihar: Paradoxes, potential of MGNREGA interventions. A
Bottlenecks and Solutions report by the Mahila Abhivruddhi Society,
Solutions is near perfect in terms
(EPW, 6 February 2016) provides a well- Andhra Pradesh (2014) says that 56% of
of the issues raised. But there is thought of and almost comprehensive SHGs in Bihar were of A grade. My own
a need to go beyond focusing on idea of possible solutions to the problem observation in Rajasthan is that good
the economic and infrastructural of eliminating poverty in Bihar. Howev- quality SHGs are much less in proportion.
er, a close reading suggests that it over- We cannot compare SHGs formed by
aspects of development.
looks a few important issues. While I organisations like Mysore Resettlement
A complex society like Bihar agree with a majority of the suggestions and Development Agency (MYRADA) and
needs a revolution in terms made by Shah, I find weaknesses par- Professional Assistance for Development
of bureaucratic restructuring, ticularly in suggestions on three points Action (PRADAN) with SHGs formed by
agriculture, self-help groups (SHGs), and government agencies. The success of
remittance-based planning,
interventions of the Mahatma Gandhi SHGs is limited and they cannot be con-
and promotion of an National Rural Employment Guarantee sidered as panacea for all problems.
entrepreneurial culture. Act (MGNREGA). When it comes to MGNREGA, let us not
forget that the ultimate purpose of it is to
Agriculture-based Approach provide employment to unskilled workers
First of all, about 30% of rural house- on demand; that also with minimum
holds in Bihar were landless in 200203 wage. Despite all its potentials, MGNREGA
(Alam 2009). According to a survey con- as a long-term poverty alleviation strate-
ducted by the Communist Party of India gy cannot be taken at its face value. The
(MarxistLeninist), about 60% of rural maximum expectation from this can be
families are landless (DNA 2014). This that it could be a fallback option when
survey cannot be taken at its face value, there are no other sources of employ-
but it is true for certain areas. About 90% ment. It may be argued that through
of the landowners are small and marginal MGNREGA assets have been developed in
farmers as per the Census of India 2011. villages, but such assets can be developed
Hence, agriculture development as a under any other programme too, and
poverty alleviation strategy must be ex- most of such assets are of short to medium
amined with caution. First of all, the re- term (15 years) in nature.
lationship between per-worker growth
in agriculture gross domestic product Governance Challenges
(GDP) and poverty reduction is signifi- To make the interventions effective,
cant in limited number of places only there has to be a fundamental change in
(Cervantes-Godoy and Dewbre 2010). the way Bihar is governed. Unlike other
Given that 81% of workforce in Bihar de- backward states (with the exception of
pends on agriculture (p 57), the state some parts of Uttar Pradesh), Bihar is
would be better off by focusing on the perceived to be facing a serious law and
non-agriculture growth. The fact that order deficit. Though such perceptions
about 4.55.0 million people from Bihar heightened in 1990s, this current situa-
migrate to other places in search of live- tion is not exactly a creation of that era.
lihood is an indicator of this situation There was already a history of lack of
Pradeep Kumar Mishra ( (IIPA 2010). good governance in Bihar (Bharti 1991).
teaches at the School of Rural Management, I do not argue that growth in agricul- But during the tenure of the previous
Xavier University, Bhubaneswar.
ture sector is not useful and it is also government, the situation exacerbated
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRUARY 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 63

(Alam 2009; Kumar 2009; Sharma state machinery. Shah (p 64) recognises of top ranked states, then looking for a
1995). the lack of capacity of this actor. Apart global standard, and so on). At each level,
Bihar has a strong caste-based identi- from it, the dubious role of state machin- specific activities would be required. As
ty and the social structure that deter- ery has also been pointed out by some for now, the following activities (apart
mines the access to resources (Chakra- scholars (Kumar 2009). Revamping is from the existing initiatives that are on
varti 2001), probably led to such a law required not just within the state bureau- cards, like the suggestions made by
and order crisis. Bharti (1991) argued cracy but the support of non-government Shah), would be appropriate:
that the old socio-economic structure actors is also required.
was challenged in the early 1990s, but One must look beyond the govern- Migration support: Bihar is highly de-
the benefit of such a challenge went to a ment for such implementation. Civil so- pendent on migration. As mentioned
limited group of people (Kumar 2009). It ciety and market, the two other compo- earlier, about five million people migrate
never percolated to the masses. Thus nents elaborated in the new governance to other places. Bihar is a state from
poverty in the state is not just the result framework should provide the much- which migration rate is very high2.7%
of poor infrastructure and low standard needed support. Of course, the govern- in 2001 (Census of India 2001). Now it
of technology transfer in agriculture, ment has a crucial regulatory and facili- would be about 5%. With such a high
but also of the subversion of law and or- tating role, but it has limits; had every- rate of migration, the state has continu-
der for a long period of time (several thing been left to the government we ously drawn flak from several quarters,
decades at least). This led to a situation would have no white revolution in this particularly from Shiv Sena and parties
in which the state was not able to foster country. Diversifying the role of imple- with similar approach in Maharashtra.
a positive social change. The required mentation would also bring many inno- Shah mentioned that the recent im-
educational, health, and social security vative solutions. plementation of MGNREGA programme
could not be delivered. A lot has im- had toned down outmigration, still the
proved in the last one and a half decades Specific Initiatives importance of migration is going to be
but it is still inadequate. The state must continue to ensure ac- there. Hence, there must be some serious
This must be supplemented by re- tions in the above fundamental areas. initiatives related to supporting mi-
vamping the state machinery as the ma- Being dynamic in nature, once a certain grantsin terms of skill-building, issuing
jority of the proposed interventions are benchmark is attained, new benchmarks identity cards, and providing official
going to be implemented by the existing would be required (say going to the level placement support. This will make the

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64 FEBRUARY 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

migrants better-skilled and eligible for into SHGs and SHG Federations could an environment, millions of flowers
more remunerative jobs. In the absence help overcome the syndrome of indebt- will bloom.
of social security, the plight of the mi- edness (p 63). Why do we always need
grants is not unknown; their children to go through the SHG-route to reach the References
drop out, they do not get loans, they do stage of producer organisations? The Alam, M S (2009): Can Lalu Prasad Reclaim Lost
not get benefits of government schemes SHGs do not always work. Simple pro- Ground, Economic & Political Weekly, 44 (17),
pp 1114.
and so on. There are examples of such ducer organisations would do better in APMAS (2014): Quality and Sustainability of Self
migration support in other parts of India many places. A paper suggesting policy Help Groups in Bihar and Odisha Study Com-
for example, Ajeevika Bureau, Udaipur, directions for government making such missioned by NABARD, 201314, https://
a non-governmental organisation works sweeping solution may not always be in- abilityofSHGsinBiharandOdisaH.pdf, viewed
on similar issues and has successfully terpreted in its true spirit. on 16 February 2016.
dealt with such problems (Khandelwal Bharti, I (1991): Survival against Heavy Odds,
Conclusions Economic & Political Weekly, 26 (3), pp 9193.
et al 2012). Given the huge number of Census of India (2001): Data Highlights: Migra-
migrants from Bihar, the approach has The subtle flaw in the suggestions of tion Tables,
to be much more broad-based and needs Shah lies not with its content, but the Products/Data_Highlights/Data_Highlights_
link/data_highlights_D1D2D3.pdf, viewed on
some government support at least in way a few of the suggestions have been 15 February 2016.
legal and legislative terms. positioned. The effectiveness in SHGs Cevantes-Godoy, D and J Dewbre (2010): Economic
and MGNREGA cannot be achieved in Importance of Agriculture for Poverty Reduc-
tion, OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries
Building entrepreneurial culture: One making it saturated, but in recognising Working Papers No 23, France: Organisation
reason why schemes like MGNREGA have that there are inherent weaknesses in for Economic Co-operation and Development.
a limited potential is that such schemes these approaches. As we recognise such Chakravarti, A (2001): Caste and Agrarian Crisis:
A View from Bihar, Economic & Political Week-
make a direct effect on the public spend- flaws, we would design new solutions ly, 36 (17), pp 144962.
ing. The state governments in India are not only to make these programmes DNA (2014): 60% Rural Families Landless in Bi-
not known to be prudent in managing more effective, but also to discard these har: According to Socio-Economic Survey by
CPI-ML,, 16 November, http://
their finances and several states are sit- approaches where they would not pro-
ting on huge piles of debt. Under such vide the desired results. That would families-landless-in-bihar-according-to-socio-
constraints, a livelihood option invaria- serve two purposesfirst it would yield economic-survey-by-cpi-ml-2035714, 16 Febru-
ary 2016.
bly based on public spending may not be better results, and second, it would save
Kumar, A (2009): Illegitimacy of the State in
sustainable in the long-run, particularly resources, which would otherwise be Bihar, Economic & Political Weekly, 44 (44),
during crisis situations. If such liveli- wasted away, for investment in other pp 811.
hoods are market-linked, it is likely to suitable activities. IIPA (2010): Abstract of the study Bihari Migrant
Labourers: Incidence, Causes and Remedies,
face natural booms and recessions for The need to recognise is that while Research Report by Girish Kumar and Pranab
which the entrepreneur has to be pre- the government must work to its fullest Banerji,,
viewed on 21 February 2016.
pared. Under such crisis situations, the potential in its regulatory and facilit-
Khandelwal, R, A Sharma and D Varma (2012):
government support may be called for. ating role, it should not barge into areas Creative Practices and Policies for Better Inclu-
This is a more reasonable proposition where it is not good at. In a society like sion of Migrants: The Experience of Ajeevika
than the perpetual dependence on the Bihar, where repression of certain cate- Bureau in Workshop Compendium Vol 2 (Na-
tional Workshop on Internal Migration and Hu-
government. gory of people has been historically man Development in India, 67 December
allowed, there are chances that many 2011, New Delhi), UNESCO and UNICEF, New
Farmer producer organisations: Shah hidden talents would flourish in a free
Sharma, A K (1995): Political Economy of Poverty
(p 59) suggests that farmer producer or- and unrestrained environment. If the in Bihar, Economic & Political Weekly, 30 (41
ganisations (FPOs) hold the key to fu- government is able to provide such 42), pp 258702.
ture. I completely agree with this view.
However, how far the FPOs, for example,
producer companies, would fare if such
EPW Index
organisations are promoted by govern- An author-title index for EPW has been prepared for the years from 1968 to
ment is a big question. We have already 2012. The PDFs of the Index have been uploaded, year-wise, on the EPW
witnessed that cooperatives have suc-
website. Visitors can download the Index for all the years from the site. (The
ceeded only when they have been able to
do with minimum intervention of the Index for a few years is yet to be prepared and will be uploaded when
government. At best the government ready.)
can provide an enabling environment in
EPW would like to acknowledge the help of the staff of the library of the
which producer organisations would
operate freely. Further with regard to Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, in preparing the
organising the artisans in Bihar, the sug- index under a project supported by the RD Tata Trust.
gestion is that Organising these weavers
Economic & Political Weekly EPW FEBRUARY 11, 2017 vol lII no 6 65

Wholesale Price Index Foreign TradeMerchandise

The year-on-year (y-o-y) inflation rate based on WPI inched up to 3.4% in The merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $10.4 billion (bn) in December 2016
December 2016 from 3.2% in November 2016 and against -1.1%, a year ago. from $11.5 bn in December 2015. Exports and imports increased by 5.7% and 0.5%
The index for primary article decreased by 0.3% in December 2016 compared to $23.9 bn and $34.3, respectively, in December 2016 compared to $22.6 bn and
to 4.6% in December 2015, with index for food articles declining by (-)0.7% $34.1 bn, a year ago. Oil imports were higher by 14.6% at $7.6 bn, while non-oil
against 7.9% last year. The index for fuel and power increased substantially imports were lower by (-)3% at $26.6 bn in December 2016 compared to $6.7 bn and
by 8.7% in December 2016 over (-)9.2% in December 2015. The index for $27.4 bn, last year. During AprilDecember 201617, the trade deficit narrowed to
manufactured products rose by 3.7% compared to the fall of 1.5%, in the same $76.5 bn from $100.1 bn, last year. Cumulative exports rose by 0.8% to $198.8 bn
period last year. and imports declined by (-)7.4% to $275.4 bn during AprilDecember 201617.

Consumer Price Index Index of Industrial Production

After a two-year low of 3.6% in November 2016, the CPI inflation rate eased further The y-o-y growth rate of IIP increased to 5.7% in November 2016 against -3.4%, a year
to 3.4% in December 2016 and was considerably lower as compared to 5.6% ago. The index of eight core industries grew by 5.6% in December 2016 compared to
witnessed a year ago. Consumer food price inflation slowed substantially to 1.4% in 2.9% in December 2015. Growth in coal production and electricity generation slowed
December 2016 from 6.4% in December 2015. The rural and urban inflation rates to 4.4% and 6.0%, respectively, in December 2016 from 5.3% and 8.8%, last year.
decreased to 3.8% and 2.9%, respectively, in December 2016 compared to 6.3% and Fertiliser production declined sharply by (-)4.7% in December 2016 against 13.5%,
4.7% last year. As per the Labour Bureau data, the CPI inflation rate for agricultural a year ago, and growth in crude oil and natural gas production continued to fall for the
labourers and industrial workers decreased substantially to 2.7% and 2.2%, 10th month in a row at -0.8% and -0.01%, respectively, in December 2015. Steel
respectively, in December 2016 from 5.7% and 6.3%, respectively, in December 2015. production increased by 14.9%, in December 2016, against -3.1% in December 2015.

Movement of WPI Sub-indices JanuaryDecember 2016 Merchandise Trade December 2016

Year-on-Year in %
December 2016 Over Month Over Year AprilDecember
12 ($ bn) (%) (%) (201617 over 201516) (%)
Exports 23.9 19.4 5.7 0.7
8.7% Imports 34.3 3.7 0.5 -7.4
6 Trade Deficit 10.4 -20.3 -9.9 -23.5
Primary Articles
3.7% Data is provisional. Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Trade Deficits April 2015December 2016
Manufactured Products $ billion

-6 0

Non-oil Trade Deficit

Fuel and Power -3
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec -$4.9 bn
2016 -$5.5 bn
* Data is provisional.
Oil Trade Deficit
Trends in WPI and Its Components December 2016* (%) -9
Total Trade Deficit
Financial Year (Averages) -$ 10.4bn
Weights Over Month Over Year 201314 201415 201516 -12
All commodities 100 -0.2 3.4 6.0 2.0 -2.5
Primary articles 20.1 -1.2 0.3 9.9 3.0 0.3 -15
April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
Food articles 14.3 -2.2 -0.7 12.9 6.1 3.4 2015 2016
Fuel and power 14.9 0.7 8.7 10.3 -0.9 -11.7 Oil refers to crude petroleum and petroleum products, while non-oil refers to all other commodities.
Manufactured products 65.0 0.1 3.7 3.0 2.4 -1.1
* Data is provisional; Base: 200405=100. Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Movement of Components of IIP Growth April 2015November 2016
Year-on-Year in %
Movement of CPI Inflation April 2015December 2016 16
Year-on-Year in %

Electricity 8.9%
Rural 5.5%

4 Manufacturing
3.8% -8
CPI (Combined) Urban 3.4% April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S O Nov*
2.9% 2015 2016
2 * November 2016 are quick estimates; Base: 200405=100.

Growth in Eight Core Industries December 2016* (%)
April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec* Financial Year (Avgs)
2015 2016 Weights Over Month Over Year
201415 201516
* December 2016 is provisional. Source: Central Statistics Office (CSO); Base: 2012=100.
General index # 100.0 -1.3 5.7 2.8 2.4
Infrastructure industries 37.9 6.1 5.6 4.5 3.2
Inflation in CPI and Its Components December 2016* (%)
Coal 4.4 6.3 4.4 8.1 4.5
Latest Month Over Over Financial Year (Avgs)
Weights Index Month Year 201415 201516 Crude oil 5.2 6.2 -0.8 -0.9 -1.4
CPI combined 100 130.4 -0.6 3.4 5.9 4.9 Natural gas 1.7 2.5 0.0 -4.9 -4.2
Consumer food 39.1 133.1 -1.8 1.4 6.3 4.9 Petroleum refinery products 5.9 7.7 6.4 0.3 3.7
Miscellaneous 28.3 123.9 0.1 4.7 4.6 3.7 Fertilisers 1.3 -3.7 -4.7 -0.1 12.2
CPI: Occupation-wise Steel 6.7 13.4 14.9 4.7 -1.2
IIndustrial workers (2001=100) 275.0 -0.7 2.2 6.3 5.6 Cement 2.4 7.2 -8.7 5.6 4.9
Agricultural labourers (198687=100) 876.0 -0.2 2.7 6.6 4.4 Electricity 10.3 1.0 6.0 8.4 6.8
* Provisional; Source: CSO (rural and urban); Labour Bureau (IW and AL). * Data is provisional; Base: 200405=100; # November 2016. Source: CSO and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Comprehensive current economic statistics with regular weekly updates are available at:

66 febrUARY 11, 2017 vol LII no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Indias Quarterly Estimates of Final Expenditures on GDP
201415 201516 201617
` crore | at 201112 Prices Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Private final consumption expenditure 1406817 (8.2) 1422029 (9.2) 1495823 (1.5) 1539614 (6.6) 1504442 (6.9) 1511464 (6.3) 1618333 (8.2) 1666888 (8.3) 1605527 (6.7) 1625619 (7.6)
Government final consumption expenditure 294338 (9.0) 322557 (15.4) 261886 (33.2) 223826 (-3.3) 293720 (-0.2) 333116 (3.3) 269808 (3.0) 230308 (2.9) 349059 (18.8) 383906 (15.2)
Gross fixed capital formation 832420 (8.3) 828754 (2.2) 843733 (3.7) 903344 (5.4) 891627 (7.1) 909117 (9.7) 853858 (1.2) 886147 (-1.9) 863956 (-3.1) 858337 (-5.6)
Change in stocks 48976 (23.0) 48434 (20.6) 45077 (16.0) 52521 (21.6) 50754 (3.6) 51068 (5.4) 48547 (7.7) 55448 (5.6) 54345 (7.1) 53462 (4.7)
Valuables 42871 (16.3) 38194 (0.3) 37174 (10.8) 55036 (32.2) 43138 (0.6) 42932 (12.4) 42192 (13.5) 45549 (-17.2) 22129 (-48.7) 22756 (-47.0)
Net trade (Exportimport) -40831 -55355 -45813 -13988 -60253 -78201 -59076 -15520 -3901 -15305
Exports 620869 (11.6) 625875 (1.1) 636468 (2.0) 625191 (-6.3) 585324 (-5.7) 599264 (-4.3) 579684 (-8.9) 613471 (-1.9) 604052 (3.2) 601193 (0.3)
Less imports 661700 (-0.6) 681230 (4.6) 682281 (5.7) 639179 (-6.1) 645577 (-2.4) 677465 (-0.6) 638760 (-6.4) 628991 (-1.6) 607953 (-5.8) 616498 (-9.0)
Discrepancies -49687 -36835 21305 29933 761 -7146 78020 143210 26232 34059
Gross domestic product (GDP) 2534903 (7.5) 2567778 (8.3) 2659185 (6.6) 2790285 (6.7) 2724188 (7.5) 2762350 (7.6) 2851682 (7.2) 3012029 (7.9) 2917348 (7.1) 2962834 (7.3)

Indias Overall Balance of Payments (Net): Quarterly

201516 ($ mn) 201617 ($ mn) 201516 (` bn) 201617 (` bn)
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Current account -6132 -8559 -7121 -338 -299 -3450 -389 [-1.2] -556 [-1.7] -469 [-1.4] -23 [-0.1] -20 [-0.1] -231 [-0.6]
Merchandise -34175 -37173 -33975 -24755 -23833 -25642 -2169 -2415 -2240 -1671 -1594 -1717
Invisibles 28043 28614 26854 24417 23535 22192 1780 1859 1770 1648 1574 1486
Services 17751 17835 18013 16077 15769 16273 1127 1159 1187 1085 1055 1090
of which: Software services 17512 18058 18556 17328 17569 17699 1111 1173 1223 1170 1175 1185
Transfers 16153 16263 15250 14961 13965 13865 1025 1057 1005 1010 934 928
of which: Private 16267 16421 15305 15146 14161 14048 1033 1067 1009 1022 947 941
Income -5861 -5484 -6408 -6621 -6200 -7946 -372 -356 -422 -447 -415 -532
Capital account 18637 8121 10915 3455 7104 12706 1183 [3.7] 528 [1.6] 720 [2.1] 233 [0.6] 475 [1.4] 851 [2.3]
of which: Foreign investment 10226 3150 11256 7259 6192 23246 649 205 742 490 414 1557
Overall balance 11430 -856 4056 3274 6969 8512 725 [2.3] -56 [-0.2] 267 [0.8] 221 [0.6] 466 [1.3] 570 [1.6]
Figures in square brackets are percentage to GDP.

Foreign Exchange Reserves Variation

27 January 29 January 31 March Over Over Financial Year So Far Financial Year
Excluding gold but including revaluation effects 2017 2016 2016 Month Year 201516 201617 201112 201213 201314 201415 201516
` crore 2322130 2229700 2229020 26400 92430 219300 93110 108086 82800 251570 322660 218620
$ mn 340655 330619 337605 2640 10036 9311 3050 -14361 -485 16769 40486 16297

Monetary Aggregates Variation

Outstanding Over Month Over Year Financial Year So Far Financial Year
` crore 2017 201516 201617 201314 201415 201516
Money Supply (M3) as on 20 January 12156100 111150 (0.9) 735790 (6.4) 870150 (8.2) 538490 (4.6) 1127560 (13.4) 1032780 (10.9) 1067450 (10.1)
Currency with public 912680 129770 (16.6) -604600 (-39.8) 131090 (9.5) -684570 (-42.9) 104760 (9.2) 140370 (11.3) 211060 (15.2)
Demand deposits 1177810 -22360 (-1.9) 266200 (29.2) 19980 (2.2) 187970 (19.0) 58760 (7.8) 79650 (9.8) 98210 (11.0)
Time deposits 10050080 3480 (0.0) 1071320 (11.9) 721000 (8.7) 1035010 (11.5) 965330 (14.9) 800140 (10.7) 757310 (9.2)
Other deposits with RBI 15530 270 (1.8) 2870 (22.7) -1930 (-13.2) 80 (0.5) -1270 (-39.2) 12620 (640.6) 860 (5.9)
Net bank credit to government 3929350 116360 (3.1) 636850 (19.3) 285100 (9.5) 690860 (21.3) 335850 (12.4) -37470 (-1.2) 231090 (7.7)
Bank credit to commercial sector 7967160 73330 (0.9) 360560 (4.7) 556870 (7.9) 164090 (2.1) 777430 (13.7) 604440 (9.4) 753340 (10.7)
Net foreign exchange assets 2644410 50100 (1.9) 202820 (8.3) 190940 (8.5) 110690 (4.4) 287280 (17.6) 326710 (17.0) 283070 (12.6)
Banking sectors net non-monetary liabilities 2409430 129970 (5.7) 467550 (24.1) 164850 (9.3) 429860 (21.7) 275010 (16.8) -137040 (-7.2) 202540 (11.4)
Reserve Money as on 27 January 2017 1497170 61600 (4.3) -508410 (-25.3) 77120 (4.0) -683570 (-31.3) 217860 (14.4) 195710 (11.3) 252280 (13.1)
Currency in circulation 1016720 78340 (8.3) -567460 (-35.8) 135870 (9.4) -646740 (-38.9) 110090 (9.2) 147240 (11.3) 215150 (14.9)
Bankers deposits with RBI 465110 -15870 (-3.3) 57060 (14.0) -57510 (-12.4) -36710 (-7.3) 109020 (34.0) 35860 (8.3) 36260 (7.8)
Other deposits with RBI 15340 -880 (-5.4) 1990 (14.9) -1240 (-8.5) -110 (-0.7) -1280 (-39.5) 12630 (644.4) 860 (5.9)
Net RBI credit to government 210250 157930 (301.9) -203780 (-49.2) 49510 (13.6) -214740 (-50.5) 108120 (18.3) -334180 (-47.8) 60470 (16.6)
of which: Centre 208430 157600 (310.1) -205400 (-49.6) 52800 (14.6) -216130 (-50.9) 107150 (18.1) -336620 (-48.3) 63530 (17.6)
RBI credit to banks & commercial sector -247140 -106180 (75.3) -403950 (-257.6) -45690 (-22.6) -551670 (-181.2) 14070 (32.4) 145020 (0.0) 102030 (0.0)
Net foreign exchange assets of RBI 2465950 15810 (0.6) 116930 (5.0) 221740 (10.4) 82470 (3.5) 244460 (15.7) 324760 (18.0) 256200 (12.0)
Govts currency liabilities to the public 24620 0 (0.0) 3100 (14.4) 2080 (10.7) 2710 (12.4) 2000 (13.0) 2100 (12.1) 2470 (12.7)
Net non-monetary liabilities of RBI 956510 5970 (0.6) 20710 (2.2) 150530 (19.2) 2340 (0.2) 150810 (21.8) -58050 (-6.9) 168900 (21.5)

Scheduled Commercial Banks Indicators ( ` crore) Variation

Outstanding Over Month Over Year Financial Year So Far Financial Year
(As on 20 Jnuary 2017) 2017 201516 201617 201314 201415 201516
Aggregate deposits 10495280 -20960 (-0.2) 1277010 (13.9) 684990 (8.0) 1167990 (12.5) 955110 (14.1) 827720 (10.7) 794010 (9.3)
Demand 1064430 -21540 (-2.0) 252310 (31.1) 18090 (2.3) 175440 (19.7) 51620 (7.8) 80110 (11.2) 94960 (12.0)
Time 9430840 580 (0.0) 1024690 (12.2) 666890 (8.6) 992550 (11.8) 903480 (14.8) 747620 (10.7) 699030 (9.0)
Cash in hand 63700 -77640 (-54.9) 2420 (3.9) 7930 (14.9) 6270 (10.9) 5380 (13.3) 7480 (16.3) 4080 (7.6)
Balance with RBI 432000 840 (0.2) 51210 (13.4) 7710 (2.1) 44560 (11.5) 34080 (12.1) 56740 (17.9) 14360 (3.8)
Investments 3583020 -26230 (-0.7) 883600 (32.7) 207590 (8.3) 957510 (36.5) 206720 (10.3) 279010 (12.6) 133680 (5.4)
of which: Government securities 3580180 -26020 (-0.7) 882630 (32.7) 207800 (8.3) 956250 (36.4) 207540 (10.4) 278560 (12.6) 134180 (5.4)
Bank credit 7417780 69720 (0.9) 362300 (5.1) 519060 (7.9) 168160 (2.3) 733640 (13.9) 542320 (9.0) 713200 (10.9)
of which: Non-food credit 7313760 70770 (1.0) 360470 (5.2) 511290 (7.9) 169400 (2.4) 731610 (14.2) 546350 (9.3) 702360 (10.9)

Capital Markets 3 February Month Year Financial Year So Far 201516 End of Financial Year
2017 Ago Ago Trough Peak Trough Peak 201314 201415 201516
S&P BSE SENSEX (Base: 197879=100) 28241 (16.6) 26643 24223 (-16.5) 24674 29045 22952 29044 22386 (18.8) 27957 (24.9) 25342 (-9.4)
S&P BSE-100 (Base: 198384=100) 9038 (21.4) 8423 7442 (-15.9) 7656 9203 7051 8980 6707 (18.1) 8607 (28.3) 7835 (-9.0)
S&P BSE-200 (198990=100) 3790 (22.0) 3532 3106 (-14.2) 3193 3844 2938 3691 2681 (17.2) 3538 (31.9) 3259 (-7.9)
CNX Nifty (Base: 3 Nov 1995=1000) 8741 (18.7) 8192 7362 (-15.9) 7546 8953 6971 8834 6704 (18.0) 8491 (26.7) 7738 (-8.9)
Net FII Investment in equities ($ Million)* 168588 (2.8) 168425 163921 (-0.7) - - - - 149745 (9.9) 168116 (12.3) 166107 (-1.2)
* = Cumulative total since November 1992 until period end | Figures in brackets are percentage variations over the specified or over the comparable period of the previous year | (-) = not relevant | - = not available | NS = new series | PE = provisional estimates
Comprehensive current economic statistics with regular weekly updates are available at:

Economic & Political Weekly EPW febrUARY 11, 2017 vol LII no 6 67

Of Migrants and Mindsets

A train journey unravels the experiences of migrant workers in Kerala.

C S Venkiteswaran

friend, who has worked and lived in Kolkata for the on the part of the hosts to acknowledge them as humans,
last 15 years, was travelling by train to her home town equal and real.
in Kerala recently. It was her annual visit to spend a While listening to their endless banter about Malayalees,
few days with her ageing parents. As she couldnt get a reser- my friend had a feeling of dj vu and was reminded of a
vation in the AC coach, she was travelling by second class. striking parallel. She had heard the same kind of Gulf
The coach was thronged with young men from Bengal and jokes and similar kinds of hilarious incidents recounted by
Odisha who were on their way to Kerala. They were very Malayalee migrants about their workplaces in the Middle
young, between the ages of 15 and 30, from interior villages East and the dealings with their Arab employers. Here, the
and agricultural families. From their interactions, it was tables had turned, with the same Malayalees who made fun
evident that almost all of them had attended some years of of the rich Arabs now being the butt of ridicule for the very
schooling or college. Each of them invariably had a mobile same attitudes.
phone, ranging from smartphones to the small, rustic Not that every migrant wage-earner and Malayalee wage-
Nokias. Throughout the journey they were talking on the payer is like this, but in the migrant narratives, the host
phones, or watching videos in groups, laughing and com- community always tends to take on a certain stereotypical
menting loudly. The queue at the charging point for mobile image, assuming weird habits and outlandish personality
phones at the end of the compartment was perpetually traits. Such comic subversions are also a coping strategy
crowded, with four or five phones stuck to the One of the most to make sense of the alien surroundings into
multi-plug adaptor and being charged, their painful and striking which the migrants are suddenly thrown. These
red lights glimmering. At all hours of the day and observations they in-house narratives are mostly associated with
night, the youngstersall malewere constantly made was about the the hosts total disconnect with the ground reali-
walking up and down, sharing seats and berths, propensity of the ties or the sweat and grind of labour, which is an
snacks and drinks, jokes and gossip. Into the sec-
average Malayalee internal assertion and assurance of the migrant
ond day of the journey, when they had all settled identity, for it is what he/she is paid for and en-
to look sideways
down, the senior ones among them began talking gaged in, day in, day out. It is also a way in which
or tangentially
about their experiences in Kerala. They had been the migrants can humanise the alien-ness of
while dealing with
working in Kerala for the past few years, while their bosses, and customise them into their
the eager listeners were on their first trip, lapping
them; there was a own everyday discourses. Most importantly,
up their tales about the alien land towards which
certain diffidence such reactions reflect and capture the essence of
they were headed. or refusal to look the migrant life in curious ways; a very pungent
Interestingly, they were talking about the strange the migrant worker summary about the tenor and texture of the
and funny habits, behaviour, and beliefs of Malay- in the eye hospitality they receive at the destination where
alees: their obsession with personal cleanliness and daily they have come seeking livelihood, leaving their homes
bathing rituals, their children who are rarely found playing behind. These jokes also painfully indicate the insularity of
on the streets, working in paddy fields, or loitering in the migrant lives, which are totally cut off from those of the
neighbourhood, their general aversion to manual work, etc. hosts or locals. Crucially, these are jokes that are not
They were recounting amusing incidents about their meant to reach the ears of their subjects, in which case these
Malayalee bosses or muthalalis (pronounced with a distinct may potentially trigger an exchange or dialogue of some
accent) who didnt have a clue about the crucial little details kind. If kept insular and denied airing and reciprocation,
of the work at the ground level, and about their inefficiency these jokes may gather moss and fester whenever
in terms of supervision and in negotiating wages, being sur- circumstances turn volatile.
prisingly stingy on certain occasions, and at other times Sadly, it is panic and suspicion that presently mark all the
foolishly generous. One of the most painful and striking public and media discourses about migrant workers living in
observations they made was about the propensity of the Kerala, despite the fact that it is they who literally move its
average Malayalee to look sideways or tangentially while economy. This is also very strange and paradoxical for a soci-
dealing with them; there was a certain diffidence or refusal ety like Kerala, which has a long and complex diasporic his-
to look the migrant worker in the eye. This, the young work- tory. Kerala has been a money order economy for a long
ers felt, was a kind of denial of their humanity, a hesitation time, and during the last century, Malayalees have migrated
68 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

to all the major cities in India and South East Asia, to the
Middle East in the 1970s, and to the United States and Europe in
recent decades. Kerala need only wake up to its cosmopoli-
tan heritage, and tradition of hospitality and openness to the
outside world, which in turn have nurtured its economy, ex-
panded its political vision, and enriched its culture. Distrust
and hatred towards migrant workers only lay bare the star-
tling lack of self-reflexivity, and the inability to transform
collective social experience and memory into sustainable
and humane modes of togetherness. Only then can we break
this mutually exclusive and insular circulation of jokes and
begin to laugh together.
C S Venkiteswaran ( is a film critic and commentator based in

Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 69

women, the patriarchal and social expectation of a domestic,

conformist female who patiently caters to the needs of
their men and children continues to prevail in our society.
Even today, a man helping in the kitchen during festivals
is a rare sight. Cooking also makes women invisible
from the public spaces of celebration, which are dominated
by males.
Exceptional culinary skills displayed during ceremonies
render a unique aura, one of conformity to the idea of the
woman in the patriarchal sense. Food in festivals becomes
symbolic of the conservative male desire for ritualised and
structured domesticity. Festivals infuse a sense of gendered
responsibility in women.
The figure of the cooking woman as a bearer of tradi-
tion and culture occupies centre stage in festivals, which
demands culinary expertise in terms of exclusive religious

Festive Kitchens and cultural cuisine. Patriarchy expects women not only to
cook well, but also to demonstrate her culinary skills as a
successful wife, daughter, and mother. Ignorance of specific
Women and girls cook on most days and even more dishes becomes tantamount to violation and an inability to
during festivals, while the men and boys rejoice. uphold the knowledge of traditional cuisine. The tastes,
smells and colours of various food items permeating the
kitchen accord a culturally flavoured identity to women
Divya N
during festivals.

uring festivals there is celebration and joy in every Festivals appropriate and create good and bad mothers,
household. But a closer look would reveal that this sisters and daughters, perceived and judged through their
euphoria by and large is confined to the masculine culinary skills. The images of good mothers, obedient
public sphere, while the domestic circle of women, cons- daughters, and respectful sisters persist in the households.
ciously or unconsciously, accepts most celebrations with Women who cook well and satisfy the tastes of their husbands
mixed feelings. The comfort and security associ- Kitchens need to and sons are categorised as good mothers in con-
ated with celebrations is more or less confined to be transformed trast to the socially conscious mother who is
the realm of masculinity and patriarchy. into gender-equal aware of the need for equal participation from
Kitchens, as perpetually gendered spaces, play spaces, ensuring the other members in domestic chores. Analogous to
an important role in the context of festivals as
equal participation the role of good and bad mothers we have the
well. These spaces become conformist habitats, figures of obedient sisters and daughters who are
of men and women.
which tame the tendencies of emancipated wom- entrusted and expected by the society to help
The domestic
en to transgress. The gendered narratives their mothers in the kitchen, while the sons and
sublime of the
around festivals script the method and tale of brothers continue to be happily spared.
obeisance for the modern woman.
ideal cooking During special occasions of ceremonies and
During festivals, the cooking space becomes woman needs to rituals, the media also plays a significant role
a site of production, where women labour and be destroyed and in propagating the image of the woman who
bear the agony of domesticity. Unfortunately, deconstructed is subservient to the needs of the patriarchal
even with the proliferation of fast-food culture, in favour of an institution of family. Festival culinary shows
restaurants, and pre-cooked instant foods, things emancipated one hosted by celebrities who counsel women to cook
remain the same in Indias households. A majority of house- festive dishes dominate small screens and social networking
holds would still prefer to have at least one meal at their sites. Advertisements of cooking powders, spices, and instant
homes during such special occasions. Festivals continue to mixes occupy the sphere of online and offline media. The
be trying times for women. subordinated woman, cooking and serving the family, always
The conservative depiction of women as servants in with an obedient smile, in the background, often forms
the kitchen, and men as the joyful consumers of food the core of the medias representations of celebrations.
continues to persist in almost all festivals across religions. Visuals of dominating male elders joyously approving the
For women, festivals and celebrations are synonymous culinary skills of wives, daughters, and sisters constantly
with extra labour even in this era of professed gender flash as part of these advertisements and culinary program-
equality. Regardless of being housewives, maids or employed mes. In fact, the media by and large continues to contribute
Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 69

to the sustenance of the stereotyped images of women as

cooks, specifically during festivals.
Cooking and kitchen spaces during festivals demonstrate
another sad case of oppression and marginalisation too, as
sometimes it forms a prohibited arena for menstruating
women, who might even be excluded from the act of prepar-
ing and serving food.
The patriarchal projection of cooking during festivals as a
practice of pleasure for women needs to be counteracted: it is
yet another method of gendered appropriation. Enforced do-
mestic labour in the guise of festive cheer can never be a
means of empowerment. It is only a method of patriarchal
oppression. Kitchens need to be transformed into gender-
equal spaces, ensuring the equal participation of men and
women. The domestic sublime of the ideal cooking woman
needs to be destroyed and deconstructed in favour of an
emancipated one.
So, the next time any festival is around the corner, let us
hope for equal enjoyment and celebration. Whenever we
see festival wishes and cards, let us remind ourselves of the
fact that any festival becomes truly joyous only when we
ensure equal participation and emancipation in sharing
and celebrating.
Divya N ( teaches at the Department of English, Sree Kerala Varma
College, Thrissur, Kerala.

70 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

region. Thus, the settlement of Gogunda has proud descend-

ants of the martial clans that fought the Mughals more than
five centuries ago.
Some of the dwellings in the village belong to various kin
members from the same unilineal descent group. Here, the
community is patrilineal. The tribal villagers, by and large,
follow a simple religion and are usually devotees of Ashapuri
Mata and Bhairon Baba. An interesting aspect is the assimi-
There are very few lation of the local Bhil tribals with the
factors conducive Hindus, though they have retained
to upward social some elements from their earlier reli-
mobility because gious beliefs in the form of totems. I
the felt need for also witnessed a Gameti Bhil mar-
riage, which looked more like a Hin-
education and
du marriage than any of the eight
the aspiration
classic types of Indian tribal marriag-
for individual
es as documented by D N Majumdar.
achievement are
This type of assimilation of tribals in
limited to the
the mainstream Hindu religion was
present setting also observed by Indian sociologist
G S Ghurye in his study of the tribes of India, where he
described them as backward Hindus.
The village largely follows traditionalism with ascriptive
qualities, giving more importance to birth rather than
achievement. The village has a subsistence economy with
simple division of labour. It is common practice among the
villagers to take turns in helping one another in their agri-

A Letter from Rural India cultural fields. The village is characterised by homogeneity
and interdependent social relations to a large extent. Certain
remnants of the jajmani system remain in the form of caste
A visit to Karda village explores the life there with
caste interdependence and limited aspirations.

DhanANJAY Singh Subscribe to the Print edition

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along with the Rajputs, in the glorious past of the Mewar
70 february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

interdependence, though not truly as a patronclient relation-

ship. However, the occupational caste groups are now in-
creasingly shifting to open occupations.
In the village, the highest level of education that any child
aspires to is up to Class 8 or 10, after which they migrate to
nearby states like Gujarat to earn their living. Overall, the
literacy rate is about 60%, and it is still lower among the tribal
people and women.
There has been no direct or significant influence of
local political institutions, like the gram panchayat, on the
lives of the villagers (especially the deprived groups); the
villagers see them only at the time of elections seeking
their votes. The signs and symbols of the relationship of
the village with the government are witnessed in the form
of the names of households that have been granted work un-
der the rural employment guarantee scheme painted on the
walls of the local government primary school. Also, social
messages about education, sanitation, and health have been
painted on the walls of the dwellings in the village.
There is an interplay of caste, class and status that influ-
ences the stratification in Karda village. Stratification in the
tribal society has its roots in British policy, due to the uneven
implementation of government policies and impact of eco-
nomic development. There are very few factors conducive to
upward social mobility because the felt need for education
and the aspiration for individual achievement are limited to
the present setting. It is widely accepted that our country
can progress on the path of sustainable development only
when there is inclusive development of villages as well.
Dhananjay Singh ( is Assistant Commissioner (P), Indian Revenue
Service, Ministry of Finance, Government of India and a PhD candidate at the Indian
Institute of Technology Kanpur.


Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 71

Atlas Has Muddy Feet

Nilesh Mondal

In monsoons when our gutters

overflowed, Tipu Chacha appeared
almost magically, his teeth yellowing
from early morning nicotine and last
nights rum, 7.30 in the morning and
already smelling of a life
spent digging into sewers

At school Sabina Masi reminded boys

to tuck shirts into their pants and sat
under a banyan tree in winter, when
the leaves fell around her, anyone who
arrived early to class could see her
sweeping the floor and wiping the desks,
but no one remembered
touching her wrinkled hands,
she shrank back with horror
even if you tried

Old Bhujang had wobbly kneesarthritis

some would saybut his shoulders could
carry the world, though mostly they carried
a basketalmost as wobbly as himselffilled
to the brim with filth from the municipality
dustbin, and every time a car passed beside
him as he walked with his basket,
thered inevitably be the sound
of a window rolling up

Yesterday the gutters overflowed again

dustbins hadnt been cleaned for weeks
and someone had left carcasses on the
streets and my father desperately keeps
punching numbers on his phonehoping
one of them would answermeanwhile the
stench keeps growing stronger till Cologne
cant mask it anymore, and I wonder
whod shrink from whose touch, now?

Nilesh Mondal ( is an engineer by choice and a

poet by chance. His first book of poetry Degrees of Separation is slated for a
2017 release.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 11, 2017 vol liI no 6 71


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Economic & Political Weekly EPW february 4, 2017 vol liI no 5 73


74 february 4, 2017 vol liI no 5 EPW Economic & Political Weekly