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Learning from Crises

The Evolution of Indian Banking Regulation

Issue Articles

‘Mere Paas Sarkaar Hai’

State Intervention in Indian Agriculture: Why it is needed and how it must change
The uniqueness of agriculture calls for continued & not less government intervention. Reform of Indian agriculture is needed, but this must be to enhance state capacities and strengthen regulatory oversight. What would be a “better government that is better”?

What Did You Do in the Last 24 Hours?

Some reflections on India’s first Time Use Survey in historical perspective
The first nation-wide survey of the time spent by men and women on various activities during all 24 hours of the day brings out the gender inequalities in the work that each of them do.

The Time Is Right for an Urban Employment Guarantee Programme

Urban workers have been the most badly hit by Covid-19. An employment guarantee would provide income support & also improve urban public services. Criticisms that it is unaffordable & that it will have a negative impact on the private sector are not valid.

The Three Farm Bills

Is This the Market Reform Indian Agriculture Needs?
The rules of the game in markets have changed dramatically. But there are problems with the fundamental premise of the approach, there are doubts about the future of state intervention & there are major lacunae in the bills, all making the outcome uncertain.

The Silent Takeover of Labour Rights

The three new labour codes passed by Parliament without discussion make sweeping changes to labour laws; they reduce the regulatory powers of the government; they hand over some oversight functions to third parties, and, all in all, disempower labour.

Understanding India’s Economic Slowdown

Need for Concerted Action
The bust of the 2010s after the boom of the 2000s can be repaired only by an investment revival that is led in good part by the public sector. But one must first have a clear idea of what lies behind the slump and acknowledge the depth of the crisis.

Knowns and Unknowns in the Covid-triggered Global Economic Crisis

The traditional toolbox of fiscal and monetary measures will not help deal with the exogenous shock given by Covid-19 to the global economy. In these unknown waters for now the state can at best ramp up medical services and devise proper relief for the poor.

Comorbidities of the Indian Economic Recovery

The comorbidities of falling investment, exports, and consumption will make recovery look like the Nike swoosh logo: a flat and protracted recovery. A series of measures, including a rebuilding of trust, are required for sustained economic growth.

Confronting Precarious Work

Beyond social security for platform workers
The precarisation of labour is written into the very logic of platform business models. Ignoring this, and focusing only on social security measures to protect workers, normalises exploitative labour conditions as the 'future of work'.

Idea of Social Stock Exchanges for India

Social enterprises have the potential to make a significant impact on India's society and economy, but they struggle to find sustained funding. Social stock exchanges can help bridge the funding gap and create an investment ecosystem for such enterprises.

Can Conventional Metrics of Employment be Accurate During a Lockdown?

Labour force surveys that yield estimates on job numbers are designed to capture work inputs in 'normal' situations. The concepts and methodology used can lead to errors in estimates during a lockdown when production has been completely or partially halted.

How can more women take up paid employment?

The abysmally low participation of women in paid work in India even today is very worrying. Policy interventions should look at how to encourage higher work participation, through offers of higher wages and better social security.

What Would Make India’s Growth Sustainable?

Supply-side measures to revive the economy run the risk of ending up in short growth bursts that are also not inclusive. A policy that pushes domestic demand, especially in rural India, is a better strategy for sustained growth.

Toxic Ecologies

Assam, Oil, and a Crude Future
The ecological destruction from the Baghjan gas well blowout is part of the story of Assam’s economic development. Resource extraction has been foundational to the logic of politics in Assam but has marginalised local communities.

Surely, We Could Trade This for Something Else…

Myths about Trade in Economic Theory
Mainstream trade theory suppresses the variations and complexities of real life to produce an unsustainable myth of ‘Trade is Good’. Such theories have produced global inequalities and tensions, apart from ecological damage.

The Unequal Effects of the Covid-19 Crisis on the Labour Market

The unequal labour market in India would have seen a widening of disparities after Covid-19 struck. Those at the bottom, with few skills, limited education & without security, would have been affected the most; they are the ones in immediate need of support.

The Gig Economy in the Pandemic

Outsourcing Risk, Privatising Gain?
Several firms in the gig economy have expanded operations during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been made possible by the ready availability of an at-risk labour force. Fashioned as ‘aggregators’, gig platforms shirk responsibility for worker safety & welfare

States’ Loss of Fiscal Autonomy in a Centralised Federal System

The states bear the larger responsibility in dealing with Covid-19 but they have few resources to do so. The ongoing process of centralisation has weakened the states. We need an institutional mechanism to oversee bargaining between the centre and the states.

Hunger Grows as India’s Lockdown Kills Jobs

Results of a Survey from 12 States
The lockdown has devastated livelihoods at unprecedented levels, causing widespread job losses and hunger. The measures so far will not solve the crisis. India should universalise the PDS, expand cash transfers, and create a national job guarantee scheme.

How many casual workers in the cities have sought to go home?

There has been no count of the number of workers returning to their home states. An analysis of NSS data tells us that the first wave of returnees is likely to be mainly urban casual workers who lost their livelihoods and lived in insecure accommodation.

Seven Lessons for the Future

For the World After Covid-19
The pandemic has already taught us that for a better world we cannot have the market as the backbone of the economy; we need a more inclusive politics; decentralised governance is essential; and we obviously need a more harmonious relationship with nature.

Debt and Welfare In A World of Pandemics

Drastic times call for radical measures. Falling tax revenues call for an increase in borrowings by the central government to help states. A failure to do so now could have a negative impact on the revival of economic growth in the future.

Making Markets Work for Farmers During and After the Lockdown

The lockdown disrupted agricultural markets just when the rabi crop was harvested. To support farmers the states & the centre need to devise policies to expand procurement to cover more crops & small farmers. Support is needed for rabi & the kharif seasons.
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