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Caste in 21st Century India: Competing Narratives
  • Article

March 2012


1,694 Reads


Recent debates regarding inclusion of caste in 2011 Census have raised questions about whether caste still matters in modern India. Ethnographic studies of the mid-20th century identified a variety of dimensions along which caste differentiation occurs. At the same time, whether this differentiation translates into hierarchy remains a contentious issue as does the persistence of caste, given the economic changes of the past two decades. Using data from a nationally representative survey of 41,554 households conducted in 2005, this paper examines the relationship between social background and different dimensions of well-being. The results suggest continued persistence of caste disparities in education, income and social networks.

When is access to health care equal? Some public policy issues
  • Article
  • Full-text available

July 1993


80 Reads


The Other Half of the Demographic Dividend

October 2010


86 Reads

India is unlikely to realise its "demographic dividend" to the fullest extent unless significant strides can be made to increase women's labour force participation through an increase in employment opportunities and a reduction in labour market disadvantages.

The effect of a male surplus on intimate partner violence in India

August 2013


96 Reads

Theories of the social consequences of imbalanced sex ratios posit that men will exercise extraordinarily strict control over women's behaviour when women's relationship options are plentiful and men's own options are limited. We use data from the third wave of the Indian National Family and Health Survey, conducted in 2005-06, to explore this issue, investigating the effect of the community sex ratio on women's experience of intimate partner violence in India. Multilevel logistic regression models show that a relative surplus of men in a community increases the likelihood of physical abuse by husbands even after adjusting for various other individual, household, and geographic characteristics. Further evidence of control over women when there is a sex ratio imbalance is provided by the increased odds of husbands distrusting wives with money when there is a male surplus in the local community.

Plugging PDS pilferage: A study of an SMS-based monitoring project

March 2014


84 Reads

The targeted public distribution system is fraught with leakages. With the Food Security Act in place now, policymakers face a greater challenge in curtailing leakages and improving delivery on a much larger scale. This article studies a project in Uttar Pradesh which uses mobile phone SMS to monitor PDS supplies and finds an enthusiastic response from the users, even if the project itself has not worked well.

The Growth Record of the Indian Economy, 1950-2008: A Story of Sustained Savings and Investment

May 2008


479 Reads

We investigate whether timing of the elections leads to riots or not within India. In other words, does timing of elections instigate riots? The theoretical underpinning is that an incumbent government and opposition parties exercises control over their agents to instigate communal mob violence and riots during the election years. The motto behind instigating riots is that it leads to polarization of voters and thus benefits the respective constituents (incumbent government & opposition parties). Using time series crosssectional data for 16 major Indian states for the period 1958 – 2004, we find that scheduled elections are associated with increase in riots. Also intensity of riots, proxied by rate of growth rate of riots increases in scheduled election years. We also find that riots and intensity of riots are responsive to the propinquity to an election year. Meaning, as incumbent government nears the elections, riots and intensity of riots keeps increasing, while this is exactly opposite during the early years of incumbent government in office. These results suggest that elections generate “riots cycle” in regionally, ethnically, culturally and socially diverse country like India.

A Comparative analysis of productivity and cost in Indian Airlines, 1964-99

August 2003


46 Reads

Financial performance of the state-owned Indian Airlines has been far from satisfactory since 1989-90. The main reason for poor performance has been the high growth in its unit cost. But so far no attempt has been made to study whether this was the result of decline in productivity or increase in prices of inputs, or both. The present study thus attempts to relate unit cost with productivity for the period 1964-99. To explain the relative roles of each determinant of productivity and factors' prices in the growth of unit cost, a decomposition analysis has also been undertaken by utilizing a translog variable cost function. The results reveal that during 1989-99, when many A-320 aircraft were inducted in the fleet, productivity of Indian Airlines turned negative and the unit cost increased at a much higher rate. It is also found that the productivity decline was the main reason for a rapid rise in unit cost. Hence, it is suggested that Indian Airlines needs to improve its productivity, and weigh more carefully the impact of inductions of new aircraft on its overall performance.

Mapping Indian Districts Across Census Years, 1971-2001

January 2009


168 Reads

The Indian states have been the standard unit of analysis for research on India that uses official data sources. For many empirical questions, states are a natural starting point because state governments set political agendas and budgets and administer a wide range of services. In addition, the boundaries of many states have been unchanged for over half a century and those of all major states were largely unchanged between 1971 and 2000. This stability has resulted in the relatively easy construction and use of panel data sets at the state level and these data have been used to ask a variety of questions relating to the e ectiveness of public policy. The use of more disaggregated district data allows the study of outcomes across regions with similar historical contexts and political regimes. States have an average of 20 districts, so district level panels can also be much larger. Most district-level studies however have relied on cross-sectional analysis because district comparisons over time are complicated by multiple boundary changes. Between 1971 and 2001, the number of districts increased from 356 to 593, a rise of about 67%. The purpose of this paper is to provide information on boundary changes across districts that will facilitate the construction of district-level panel data sets. We use population data from the state and central volumes of the Census of India to document changes in district boundaries between 1971 and 2001. For each decade during the 1971-2001 pe- riod, we classify districts into three categories: those with unchanged boundaries, those created by partitioning existing districts and nally, districts whose current boundaries were located in multiple districts at the time of the previous census. We nd that 136 of the 356 Indian dis- tricts in 1971 (38%) were una ected by boundary changes over the subsequent three decades, 79 districts (22%) were cleanly partitioned into multiple districts over the same period, and the 1 remaining 141 distric

Prices and Poverty in India, 1987-2000

January 2003


73 Reads

This paper estimates the risk preferences of cotton farmers in Southern Peru, using the results from a multiple-price-list lottery game. Assuming that preferences conform to two of the leading models of decision under risk--Expected Utility Theory (EUT) and Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT)--we find strong evidence of moderate risk aversion. Once we include individual characteristics in the estimation of risk parameters, we observe that farmers use subjective nonlinear probability weighting, a behavior consistent with CPT. Interestingly, when we allow for preference heterogeneity via the estimation of mixture models--where the proportion of subjects who behave according to EUT or to CPT is endogenously determined--we find that the majority of farmers' choices are best explained by CPT. We further hypothesize that the multiple switching behavior observed in our sample can be explained by nonlinear probability weighting made in a context of large random calculation mistakes; the evidence found on this regard is mixed. Finally, we find that attaining higher education is the single most important individual characteristic correlated with risk preferences, a result that suggests a connection between cognitive abilities and behavior towards risk.

Table 1 : Mean Technical Efficiency in Indian Engineering Firms, 1990-91 to 1999-2000, by ownership category
Table 2 : Results of the Technical Efficiency Convergence Model, Indian Engineering Industry, 1990-91 to 1999-2000
Table 3: Inter-firm variations in technical efficiency, Regression Results 
Ownership and efficiency in engineering firms in India, 1990-91 to 1999-2000

November 2003


386 Reads

The paper analyzes the effect of ownership on efficiency of engineering firms in India in the 1990s, a decade of major economic reforms. Technical efficiency of firms, estimated with help of a stochastic frontier production function, is considered for the analysis. A comparison of technical efficiency is made among three groups of firms in Indian engineering: (1) firms with foreign ownership, (2) domestically owned private sector firms, and (3) public sector firms. The results clearly indicate that foreign firms in Indian engineering industry have higher technical efficiency than domestically owned firms. No significant difference in technical efficiency is found between private sector and public sector firms among the domestically owned firms. There are indications of a process of efficiency convergence - the domestically owned firms tending to catch up with foreign owned firms in terms of technical efficiency. The results show a positive relationship between international trade orien

The Poor in the Indian Labour Force in the 1990s

October 2004


61 Reads

Comparable all-India estimates of the number of workers and unemployed in 'below-poverty-line' households - together defining the poor in the Indian labour force - are presented for 1993-94 and 1999-2000. Also presented is the gender, activity-status and the rural-urban composition of this group for the two time points. From a level of 115 million (43 million females and 21 million urban) the number of working poor declined by a little over 12 million - almost entirely in rural India - over the six-year period. Over 51 (36) percent of the rural (urban) working poor were engaged in unskilled mannual labour with a further 46 percent (44 percent in urban India) being absorbed by low-productivity self-employment.

Aspects of Exchange Rate Behaviour and Management in India 1993- 98

June 2004


51 Reads

The change in regime in India from a multi-currency peg to a floating price convertibility provides sufficient motivation for a preliminary analysis of the country s exchange rate behaviour and management between 1993-99.Using international experience as a comparator, the paper finds several deviations from the international trends; these are mainly driven by exchange rate management policies.

Adjusted Indian Poverty Estimates for 1999-2000

January 2003


1,558 Reads

This paper explains a method that can be used to adjust the NSS 55th Round poverty estimates so as to make them comparable with earlier official estimates. After presenting the adjusted head-count ratios for all-India and each of the large states, for both urban and rural sectors, the author turns to some broader issues about poverty monitoring in India, including those raised by the non-comparability of estimates that is his main topic but looking further to issues of future survey design and the choice of poverty lines.

On Backwardness and Fair Access to Higher Education in India: Some Results from NSS 55th Round Surveys 1999-2000

January 2010


81 Reads

Against the backdrop of policy of reservation of seats in Higher Education for the Other Backward Castes in India, this paper examines two inter-related yet distinct issues: (i) the use of economic criteria for assessing the backwardness of different social groups and (ii) assessment of fairness of access to higher education of an identified “backward†social group. On an analysis of the NSS 55th Round Surveys for 1999-2000 we show that on a range of economic criteria there is a clear hierarchy across (essentially) caste-based social groups with the Scheduled Castes (in Urban India) and the Scheduled Tribes (in Rural India) at the bottom, the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in the middle and the non-SC/ST Others at the top. However, for the poor among them, there is more of a continuum across caste-groups with surprisingly small differences between the OBCs and the non-SC/ST Others. [Working Paper No. 151]

Employment and Poverty in India: 2000-2005

February 2007


184 Reads

This paper is principally focused on the changes in the size and structure of work force and the changes in labour productivity, wages and poverty in India in the first quinquennuim of the 21st century. The period between 2000 and 2005 saw a sharp acceleration in work force growth, and, on the obverse side, a slow-down in the rate of growth of labour productivity across most sectors and in the economy as a whole, and, a slow-down (a decline) in real wage growth in rural (urban) India. On a comparable basis, the reduction in poverty over this period is shown to be substantially smaller than indicated by other recent analyses. Consistent with the trends in labour productivity and real wages, relative to the 1994-2000 period, the pace of poverty reduction between 2000 and 2005 shows, at best, a marginal acceleration (or a marginal deceleration, depending on the choice of poverty lines) in rural India and a clear slow-down in urban India. This period also saw a small rise in the number of working poor and a substantial rise in the number of self-employed and regular wage/salary workers in ‘above poverty line’ or APL-households. [CDE WP 155]

Regional Sources of Growth Acceleration in India

November 2009


47 Reads

Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the major contributors to the growth acceleration in India after 1991-92. Although the Regional Disparity may increase temporarily, causality test provides support to the hypothesis about spread effects. The Regional growth targets assigned by the 11th Plan in India seem to rely on the spread effects of economic growth acceleration in the better off states to achieve its 9 percent growth target and reduce regional disparity in the long run. To strengthen spread effects, the domestic economy should be further integrated and interlinked with free flow of goods, services and factors of production. [W.P. No. 2009-03-06]

Spatial Dimension of Acceleration of Economic Growth in India

January 1994


29 Reads

The study of 20 state economies of India over the period 1960-61 to 1989-90 reveals that the phenomenon of acceleration in economic growth is spatially dispersed and covers about two-thirds of the national economy. The study also finds that most of the states experiencing growth acceleration are relatively less well off. There are marked tendencies for convergence of long term economic growth rate among Indian states. The growth experience and development strategies differ significantly among states. The leading states also show different patterns of growth. In the Indian industrial sector, the existence of a sharp north-south divide is further corroborated. The spatial dimension of economic growth in India needs further exploration and explanation.

Table 1: Energy requirements for energy services demanded by households 
Table 2: Fuel costs per unit end-use and useful energy 
Energy Use and Energy Access in Relation to Poverty

January 2003


1,587 Reads

Collateral impacts of LULUCF projects, especially those concerning social and environmental aspects, have been recognised as important by the Marrakech Accords. The same applies to the necessity of assessing and, if possible, of quantifying the magnitude of these impacts. This article aims to define, clarify and structure the relevant social, economic and environmental issues to be addressed and to give examples of indicators that ought to be included in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring, and ex post evaluation of LULUCF projects. This is being done by providing a conceptual framework for the assessment of the sustainability of such projects that can be used as a checklist when dealing with concrete projects, and that in principle is applicable to both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. Finally, a set of recommendations is provided to further develop and promote the proposed framework.

Towards Reform of Land Acquisition Framework in India

May 2007


1,103 Reads

We bring out the fundamental and more important problems with the current framework of land acquisition in India, regulations on land and the functioning of land markets. We argue that reform is overdue and the current framework would be unsustainable in a democracy that is India. Current land prices are highly distorted owing largely to regulatory constraints and the process of takings. Land acquisition more than any other factor is the most important constraint on development and especially in infrastructure development. We bring out the core elements of the reform ? the need to define ?public purpose? ex-ante for compulsory acquisition of land, the measures that would allow the market price of land to play its correct role, and the approach to valuation. We also argue for an independent valuer when compulsory taking is involved and methods of valuation to ensure that the land owner including the farmer gets the correct value for this land in both compulsory acquisition and in voluntary sale. We also argue the need for a parallel non-compulsory framework for acquisition and develop the key elements of the same. We also bring out alternatives to physical acquisition of land especially in the context of infrastructure development in central places.

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