May 2016
Droughts, Famines, and Scarcities: Time for a Proactive State Mechanism

In the summer of 2016, at least a third of India’s rural residents are battling drought, often for the third consecutive year. Where rains have failed

Reservation in Educational Institutions: Who Gains from Abolishing the Common Entrance Test (CET) in Tamil Nadu

At a time when the need for and effectiveness of a Common Entrance Test (CET) to professional colleges is debated across the country, The Hindu Centre

Kerala: A Verdict against Corruption and Degeneration of Values

True to form, voters in Kerala have changed their government. The incumbent United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Indian National Congress (INC) l

Alliance fails in West Bengal, Hindutva wins Assam for BJP

The elections to the Legislative Assemblies of West Bengal and Assam presented contrasting results. While in Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool

Full Text: A Study of State Budgets - 2015-16

The Reserve Bank of India brings out a report as an annual publication entitled State Finances: A Study of Budgets , which analyses the fiscal position of State governments on the basis of primary disaggregated State-wise data. From 2005-06 onwards, the report has been structured around a special theme of topical relevance. This report’s theme is ‘Quality of Sub-national Public Expenditure’. The highlights of the report are: The quality of expenditure is key to sub-national level fiscal consolidation to reap efficiency and welfare gains while smoothing the effects of fiscal adjustment. Empirical analysis indicates that expenditure on social and physical infrastructure can have growth augmenting effects. The quality of expenditure of most Indian States has been improving following the enactment of fiscal responsibility legislations. States need to prioritise expenditure on physical and social infrastructure and economise on nonessential heads. From a medium term perspective, enduring improvements in the quality of States’ finances hinges around the revival of State level public enterprises (SLPEs), improving the viability of Discoms and rationalisation of centrally sponsored schemes. This report has been prepared by the Fiscal Analysis Division (FAD) of the Department of Economic and Policy Research (DEPR). Support was received from the regional offi ces of DEPR, other departments of the Reserve Bank (Department of Government and Bank Accounts and Internal Debt Management Department), finance departments of State Governments and Union Territories, the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. This report is also available on the website (www.rbi.org.in). Feedback/comments are solicited to help improve the analytical or informational content of the report. These may be sent to the Director, Fiscal Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Policy Research, 6thFloor, Amar Building, Reserve Bank of India, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Mumbai 400 001 or through email at [email protected] Michael Debabrata Patra Executive Director March 31, 2016 Resources: Full text of A Study of State Budgets - 2015-16, by the Reserve Bank of India, published on April 7, 2016 . [PDF 2.28 MB]

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Assembly Election Results 2016

Elections in India, more often than not, spring up surprises. The elections to five state Assembly constituencies in the summer of 2016 were no differ

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Maanvender Singh - Report not Submitted

Maanvender Singh’s research explores the evolution of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and their consolidation in the political realm in general and

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Mukul Kumar - Report Published

Mukul Kumar’s research explores the environmental history and political economy of India’s urban transformations. Mukul holds an MPhil in Development

Two Years on, Some Pluses and Many Misses on Cooperative Federalism

Back in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to reboot Union-State relations with new initiatives aimed at supporting the aspirations of th

Two years on, some pluses and many misses on `Cooperative Federalism’

Back in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to reboot Union-State relations with new initiatives aimed at supporting the aspirations of th

Arshima - Report Published

Arshima's research involves an interdisciplinary exploration of the theory and practice of accountability spanning state and society. Following a few

Hung Assembly Could Result in J&K Model of Alliance in Assam

A mix of local issues and competing ideologies have made the Assam Assembly elections a difficult one to call. In this article, journalist Subir Bh

Game of Competing Loyalties: Sporting Nationalism and NIT Srinagar

The institutionalisation of hyper-nationalism through sport is reflected in the oft-successful attempts by states to claim identities based on sportin

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Preeti Mudliar - Report Published

Preeti Mudliar's research explores the intersection of technology and society and mainly centres around the practices of technology use. She has a PhD

From The Hindu: Journalism as investigation

Investigative journalism of quality and relevance is valuable in itself, in what it can do for ordinary folk and for society, typically holding up tru

Karnataka steps up measures to support drought-hit farmers

Karnataka is in the grip of severe drought despite heavy rains in most regions of south-interior Karnataka in early May 2016. The State’s Chief Minist

PMK - Manifesto for Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections 2016

The election manifesto of the Paataali Makkal Katchi (PMK) for the general elections to the 15th Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, released by the PMK

Convictions should be based on fair procedure, not collective conscience: Aarushi Case Lawyer

How effectively does the criminal justice system in India work? Vasundhara Sirnate and Saptarshi Bhattacharya gleaned an insight into In

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Event report: Public Briefing on The Politics of Welfare in Tamil Nadu

The fiscal sustainability of welfare schemes and their impact on the development of physical and social infrastructure of the State formed the primary talking points at The Hindu Centre’s first Briefing on ‘The Politics of Welfare in Tamil Nadu’ held on April 30, 2016. The panellists —Mr. G. Viswanathan, Chancellor of VIT University and former Tamil Nadu minister, Dr. S. Narayan, former Union Finance Secretary, Prof. A. Vaidyanathan, Economist, and Ms. Geetha Ramakrishnan, advisor of the Unorganised Workers’ Federation-Tamil Nadu — dwelled upon the longstanding debate over the fiscal prudence behind these welfare schemes (sometimes loosely termed freebies) pitted against the development of the State’s physical infrastructure, including power, roads and transport facilities, or of social infrastructure, including education, health, and social security for the poor, the aged and the infirm. The discussion was moderated by N. Ravi, Director, Kasturi and Sons Ltd. and former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu . Setting the context for the Briefing, Mr. Ravi stated that apart from the regular expenditure on welfare (including food subsidy and maternity assistance), Tamil Nadu had many innovative schemes that take up huge outlays annually. “For instance”, said Mr. Ravi, “the distribution of saris and dhotis costs Rs. 1,200 crore annually. Can these schemes be sustained indefinitely?” He further stated that such welfare schemes worked in the electoral arena and the promises of these schemes should not influence the electorate and the electoral system. He said, “The trust of voters should be sought only on the basis of those promises which can be fulfilled.” He followed this up by asking, “When doubtful economics makes for good politics, who mediates what is good for the state?” Mr. Viswanathan said that India should not be compared to the Scandinavian countries, which were welfare states. He noted that welfare schemes in Tamil Nadu have cost the exchequer enormous sums of money and said that many schemes that aim at subsidies (bus subsidies, for instance) were not required. He said, “We would have been bankrupt had we been an independent country.” Mr. Viswanathan further said that perhaps such schemes made people lazy. He said that TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation), the State body that holds the monopoly over liquor distribution, contributes about Rs. 30,000 crore through taxes. This money then goes back to the people through welfare schemes, who in turn spend it on TASMAC and buy alcohol. He asked, “If you give 30 kilograms of rice free, why would anybody work?” Dr. Narayanan took a historical perspective on the issue and spoke about why these schemes had worked in Tamil Nadu much better as compared to other states. He reminded the audience that in 1977, the World Bank had entered Tamil Nadu through the Integrated Child Development Scheme and had tried to pilot the Tamil Nadu Integrated Nutrition programme. The then Chief Minister, M.G. Ramachandran, felt that supplemental feeding needed to be universalised. “By 1985-87”, said Mr. Narayanan, “the World Bank admitted that universal feeding was a better target than supplemental feeding.” According to him, this worked because there was a set of bureaucrats at that time at the helm that put a system in place that has been delivering even today. Ending his presentation, Mr. Narayanan, however, ended with a word of caution that welfare schemes should not replace the development agenda of the State. Prof. Vaidyanathan stated that welfare schemes needed to be categorised according to their internal logics. He also said that food subsidies were not justified on this scale. In the absence of research that would give the state indicators on consumption patterns of food grains in general, he said that it was difficult to assess who was benefitting from such schemes. Ms. Geetha, while decrying the State’s use of welfare schemes to entice voters and political support, said that if channelised well, many of these welfare schemes would have led to sustainable resources for the people. Giving the example of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), she said that if properly utilised, every village would have had adequate water resource. “There is a system of injustice in our country and it is unjust to very ordinary people. There is land all over the country, which has not been redistributed. We need to hold a public hearing on this,” she added. The Hindu Centre's Background Note on The Politics of Welfare in Tamil Nadu. Full text : The Politics of Welfare in Tamil Nadu: Opening Remarks by N. Ravi in PDF format. Link : Fiscally Unsustainable Election Promises in Tamil Nadu by R. Srinivasan .

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Experts warn against equating welfare with freebies

Panellists debated Tamil Nadu’s model and approaches to welfare

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Experts warn against equating welfare with freebies

Panellists debated Tamil Nadu’s model and approaches to welfare Noted economist A. Vaidyanathan on Saturday said it was important for the State to provide basic amenities and services to the poor, but not freebies. Source: The Hindu, CHENNAI, May 1, 2016 Read More.. The Hindu Centre's Background Note on The Politics of Welfare in Tamil Nadu.