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Policy Report No. 27

Farmer Producer Companies: Preliminary Studies on Efficiency and Equity from Maharashtra

In recent years, the concept of Farmer Producer Company (FPC) has gained the attention of researchers. Though relatively new in India and still in an emerging phase in Maharashtra, these FPCs are being viewed as a possible replacement for the old cooperative model and taken the form of new movement. The formation of FPCs in the districts of Maharashtra began in 2015 under the Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MACP). In Osmanabad and Solapur districts of Maharashtra, FPCs have been in operation for the past three years. As FPCs gained the attention and participation of the farmers it becomes pertinent to study their formation and performance.  This Policy Report attempts to look at the FPCs in Solapur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra to ascertain the level of inclusiveness and participation of the various categories of farmers in the running of the company. The study points out that caste and family hierarchies continue to hold a grip on ownership patterns, albeit in the early days of the FPCs. However, it can be said that the FPCs have the potential to overcome the difficulties faced by the farmers in selling their produce directly in the conventional market arising out of rigid vertical coordination of the middlemen based on the experiences of the farmers with the producer company model.The Report also includes an analysis of the new policy on the FPCs and attempts to assess the differences between the old cooperative Act and new Farmer Producer Companies Act. [PDF 829 KB]

Policy Report No. 26

Bridging Multiple Gaps: Strengthening India’s Research Protocols for Assistive Aids

India is home to 2.68 crore persons with disabilities comprising 2.21 per cent of its population (2011 Census). However, less than 16 per cent of persons with disabilities have any assistive aids and appliances. In general, Indian innovators in assistive device technology lack crucial understanding of the market realities and possess a sketchy understanding of issues that have important implications for the disability sector. This has resulted in poor research and engineering of assistive devices, directly affecting the quality of support given to the disabled.Some of the issues that have not been fully understood by Indian innovators are: ‘freedom-to-operate’ and consequent infringement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the necessity to comply with regulatory and industry standards, and the need for robustness, precision, accuracy, and reliability. As cost-effective environmental interventions have not been effectively implemented in India, and because distribution of aids and assistive devices are not effectively funded by the government, almost two thirds of those using assistive devices and rehabilitation technology have purchased the devices themselves from private sources.Those left without assistive devices, or with old-fashioned and inefficient devices are the target for those who enter the market with ‘low cost’ devices, of dubious scientific or medical value, and poor regulatory compliance. As an under-served and under-supported sector, the assistive devices sector only benefits from innovations by those innovators who have spotted the niche funding opportunity and lack of robust competition in the so-called low cost indigenous market.Three recent legal instruments have the potential to significantly improve the access of good quality assistive devices for the disabled India. The instruments, arriving nearly together, set up formidable barriers to poor research and engineering, and non-standard assistive devices being distributed to unwary persons with disability who are in want and discomfort. These are The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016, The Medical Devices Rules, 2017 and The National Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical and Health Research Involving Human Participants, 2017.This Policy Report takes stock of the compliance and regulatory environment in India, critically examines the legal ecosystem relating to research and ethics of clinical trials for assistive devices. It also analyses the gaps in the ethical conduct of research and concludes by highlighting the need to streamline research protocols in order to serve the disability sector in an effective manner. [ The title of this Policy Report was corrected on December 26, 2018. ] [PDF 1.55 MB]

Policy Report No. 25

The Phenomenon of Political Dynasties Among the Muslim Legislators of Uttar Pradesh

This report on the phenomenon of political dynasties among Muslims in Uttar Pradesh is an empirical enquiry into the extent it has impacted the legislature. The report bases its findings in the fieldwork conducted in Uttar Pradesh to determine the dynastic credentials of Muslim legislators over the last two decades, and finds that the more marginalised a community, the larger the number of political dynasties it will have in the Legislature. Muslim political representation in the State legislature is just 6 per cent in the current assembly, while Muslim dynast MLAs account for 60 per cent. Most Muslim political dynasts are relatively young and politically inexperienced, but that hasn’t prevented them from being re-nominated. If family connections have helped them to secure party tickets, they have also changed their party allegiances more often than their non-dynast counterparts. In Uttar Pradesh, both dynast and non-dynast Muslim legislators tend not only to be wealthy but also have a large number of serious criminal cases against them. To study this subject, I assembled the profiles of these dynastic candidates including details such as age, education, the process by which they were nominated and re-nominated, whether they switched political parties, and whether they have a criminal background: all this has been recorded in the primary dataset created for this report. [PDF 1.06 MB]

Policy Report No. 24

‘Nobody's Children, Owners of Nothing’: Analysing the Indian State’s Policy Response to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

The political exclusion of Rohingya Muslims in post-colonial Burma and the waves of violence against them in the form of a state-sponsored campaign of massacre, rape and arson is now widely seen as ethnic cleansing and as crimes against humanity. It has resulted in a million Rohingyas fleeing to other countries, mostly Bangladesh. While Bangladesh struggles to deal with the crisis, the South Asian power, India, is not allowing in all those who seek entry, plans to forcibly repatriate those who are already in the country, and is not providing sufficient relief to them. This report analyses India's policy response to the Rohingya crisis juxtaposing its political and humanitarian aspects, examines different steps taken by the government to project the Rohingyas as a ‘threat to India’s national security’, and looks at the response offering an explanation about the underlying politics of humanitarianism. This is an attempt to provide a theoretically grounded explanation using a discursive analysis of the speeches, acts by the governing elite, the parliamentary debates/questions on the issue, circulars and ordinances passed that call for deportation, and other strict measures. The Indian state’s response with the ‘refugee-centric’ desired responses and its own response to other refugee groups in the country has also been analysed.   The report lays bare how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s approach towards refugees is in keeping with its Hindu nationalist agenda, with religion dictating state policy. Feeding into the global Islamophobia industry, religious majoritarianism is gaining momentum in India under the current government; the Indian state is using the Muslim identity of the Rohingyas to project them as ‘terrorists’: it has taken extreme measures through bureaucratic procedures, surveillance, and border control, even resorting to violence against the Rohingyas seeking refuge. The report also shows how the Rohingyas — mostly living in ramshackle shacks in semi-urban ghettoes in Delhi, Jammu, Haryana, Rajasthan, and other places, have been denied even basic public goods. This report further explains how India pursues its strategic interests by offering developmental aid in Rakhine and some meagre assistance to the refugees in Bangladesh while finalising plans to forcibly repatriate the few thousand Rohingyas from the country.   [PDF 5.14 MB]

Policy Report No. 23

Living with Pain: Women’s Everyday Lives and Health in Rural Bihar

Though quantitative evidence suggests that women are more likely to suffer from physical pain than men, little is known about their lived experiences. Nor are the processes and mechanisms through which social determinants of health cause pain well investigated or documented in India. In this Policy Report, Living with Pain: Women’s Everyday Lives and Health in Rural Bihar, Kanika Sharma discusses findings from qualitative fieldwork in rural Bihar, focusing on causes and consequences of pain among women agricultural workers, the group most vulnerable to physical pain. Pain, especially back pain, was found to be overwhelmingly common. The respondents embedded pain within the larger context of adverse health experiences throughout the life course. In addition, the backbreaking nature of women’s household and paid work, lack of protective nutrition and rest, and pervasive domestic violence emerged as important contributors to pain. The overall healthcare system was found to be largely ineffective. Informal private health providers, while accessible, were likely to be harmful. Neglect and mistreatment were common at the government health facilities, making women’s medical encounters disempowering. The Report outlines a few potential policy approaches, and ends with a hope that pain among women would become more central to discussions on gender and health in India. [PDF 5.11 MB]