India's rural community
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Why AES struck Bihar

Neerja Chowdhury | Political commentator
The Times of India

The writer argues that AES deaths in Bihar, most of whom were children from poorer communities, has shown the problems that still afflict Bihar’s public health system. She says that the state has no clear nutrition policy even though the National Nutrition Mission was launched by PM Modi last year.

She also says that the state suffers from a shortage of doctors and nurses as most of them don’t want to work in rural areas. Other important measures such as modernisation of primary health centres and upgradation of labs are also required, she says.

India must lead the way in digital non-alignment

Parminder Jeet Singh | The writer is with Bangalore-based NGO, IT For Change
Hindustan Times

The author argues that in the coming years we will have a digitally bipolar world split between US and China. In such a scenario, the author recommends that India should adopt an approach of digital non-alignment combined with promotion of open digital value chains.

To achieve this, he says, India will require a strong domestic digital industry with significant links to the digital value chain. Further, we will also require a digital industrial policy which allows India to claim legal ownership over its data. India’s draft e-commerce policy is a step in that direction.

The author says that unlike many other countries, India has both the technical and entrepreneurial capabilities along with a large enough domestic market to assume such a role.

Two agendas for FM

Yoginder K. Alagh | Former Union minister and economist
The Indian Express

The author says there should be two important priorities in the forthcoming budget. First, it should provide a relief and recovery package “from the angle of drinking water and sowing”. The second, he says, should be a focus on reviving investment.

The author says rural distress is “real” and should be recognised. He recommends that the budget should not only provide funds to states for drinking water, improvements in irrigation systems and rural finance, but also an assurance that any such allocation will be rule based.

Also, given that most policies have a lag period of a few months, to ameliorate the present job situation, more funds should be supplied to MNREGA in the short run. The author also recommends an increase in public investments.

Lessons of hate

Alok Rai | The writer taught at the Department of English, Delhi University and is grandson of Munshi Premchand
The Indian Express

The author, referring to Tabrez Ansari’s death by alleged lynching, says all kinds of people are in the business of “teaching a lesson”. He says that we have only been a few weeks into the new government, and “we are practically at Hindu Rashtra”. Since beating Tabrez for eight hours was about “teaching a lesson”, he explores the lessons to be learnt from such a “public pedagogical exercise”.

He says that lynchings demonstrate how our institutions have been “hollowed out” and reiterates “the antonym of civil coexistence is civil war”. Furthermore, the real lesson which we can learn is that “hate has consequences”. Those whose hate speeches embolden a climate of impunity should bear responsibility for it, adds the author.

Is there a case for free rides for women?

Sandip Chakrabarti | Faculty in the Public Systems Group at IIMA
Akshaya Vijayalakshmi | Faculty of Marketing at IIMA
The Hindu

In this piece, the authors make a case for subsidising public transport for women in India.

They say that many countries provide public transport subsidies to different socio-economic groups. For instance, Hong Kong offers a public transport fare concession to people aged 65 or more. They argue that fare discounts make public transport “truly public” as certain groups might be at a relative disadvantage. They elaborate on why they think women might be a disadvantaged group when it comes to public transportation in India.

They say that car and two-wheeler users don’t pay the full costs of their transportation choices in India. Their choice, the authors argue, lead to traffic congestion and environmental pollution. They recommend that the use of personal motorised vehicles should be charged, and funds from it can be used to subsidise public transport for disadvantaged groups.

Lastly, they say that the debate on free public transportation for women in India should not remain restricted to just Delhi and other cities should also try to find solutions.

Work on viable self-employment

Manish Sabharwal | Co-founder of TeamLease Services
Abhiraj Singh Bhal | Co-founder of UrbanClap
The Economic Times

Even as India’s labour force opts for self-employment, it is not a sign of an entrepreneurial nation. The poor can’t afford to be unemployed, so they are self-employed, write Sabharwal and Bhal. Indians born after the economic reforms of the early 1990s seek formal wage employment or viable self-employment. A safety net for these freelance workers must be extended. The government must work towards introducing social security net for those opting for the new job platforms – National Pension System (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance (ESI)/provident fund (PF), life insurance and healthcare insurance schemes. The skill development programmes should work closely with online platforms to make curricula more relevant to be able to provide job opportunities. New regulatory space for one crore more formal self-employed is key for India to touch a $5 trillion economy by 2024.

A credible policy option for the revival of economic growth

V. Anantha Nageswaran | Dean, IFMR Graduate School of Business (KREA University)

The room for a fiscal stimulus is limited but difficult times call for flexibility and not dogma. Governments across the world should be opportunistic about their short-term growth strategies. It requires specific measures and specific mindsets, says Nageswaran. He underlines the need for relaxing fiscal deficit constraint, with enhanced allotments for asset creation. Mechanisms to monitor such asset creation expenditure will also be critical. The government should also set performance criteria for banks to be eligible for additional capital besides introducing eligibility criteria for Mudra loans. Financial support should be contingent on enterprise growth and employment generation. Importance must be given to efficiency and equity in policies framework.

Employment conditions worsen

Mahesh Vyas | MD and CEO, CMIE
Business Standard

The unemployment rate in June 2019 was the highest in 33 months, says Vyas. Unemployment could have risen due to delayed arrival of the monsoon. Progress of the monsoon will play a critical role in determining conditions of the labour market. The increase in unemployment in June is also due to inceased labour participation. While “labour did move into the labour markets, the markets could not absorb them entirely,” he writes. The steady decline in employment scenario can be addressed with improved investments. CMIE’s database shows that new investment proposals turned out to be worse during the first quarter of this fiscal and with expected weak monsoons the investment scenario is not looking bright.

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