In March 2016, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a historic shift in India’s agricultural policy: doubling farmer incomes by 2022 would replace increasing food production as the main focus of India’s policies—a goal many experts criticized as unachievable even as they lauded the shift in priorities. What lay behind Modi’s departure from decades of policy attention and where does the initiative stand today?
Over the last thirty years, the Indian state has done a remarkable job ensuring its citizens have access to education. Beginning with state-level policies such as the Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Programme and Shiksha Karmi in Rajasthan in 1984 and 1987 respectively, and culminating in the Right to Education Act at the Centre in 2009, the legislative and programmatic attention to education has been tremendous. And with that, there has been a genuine expansion in access and provision at the primary level.
We live in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) that has provided us with immense processing power, storage capacity, and access to information. The exponential development of technology gave us the spinning wheel in the first, electricity in the second, and computers in the third industrial revolution. In 2016, the World Economic Forum called AI “the fourth industrial revolution” that has radically transformed the way we live, work, and connect with each other. However, it has also given us regulatory challenges such as data ownership and labor protection.
After the first metro project in Kolkata, it took two decades for India to plan and execute its second metro rail project in Delhi in 2002. But afterwards, there was a surge in metro rail projects across Indian cities. In the past decade, more than thirteen cities in India have sanctioned for metro rail systems and many more states are still vying to seek clearance from the central government for metro rail projects.
Nearly fifteen years ago, the former head of India’s Central Water Commission warned that “hydro-politics is threatening the very fabric of federalism” in the world’s second most populous country. Virtually all the subcontinent’s major rivers, including the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, are the subject of some level of contention. But while these international transboundary waterways receive most of the attention, it is India’s internal water wars that may well be most significant for its future.
During his speech to the global business elite gathered at the 2018 World Economic Forum, Davos, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extolled globalization and criticized trade protectionism.
After the general elections in 2014, a newly ambitious India appeared to emerge: a manufacturing hub with clean cities and villages, where farmer incomes would double and everyone would have houses and bank accounts. Assumed in this vision, though never articulated, was an effective government apparatus converting these ideas into concrete reality.
Why do the lights go out more often in some Indian states than others? While India has recently seen great gains in generation capacity and rural electrification, many utilities are still trapped in a vicious cycle of underpayment, underinvestment, and dismal performance. The effects are huge: in 2010 the World Bank estimated the cost of electricity shortages at 7 percent of India’s GDP.
Cooperative federalism is a governance mantra in India these days. Between GST, Aadhar, demonetization, Swacch Bharat and more, the assertiveness of the Central government in prescribing wide-ranging technocratic policy solutions is at an all-time high. And for good reason—some of these interventions may have long-term benefits, even if they are painful in the short-term. But these benefits are rarely uniform across regions, and the long-term distributional and spatial consequences of these policies are often not well understood.
Inclusive Growth—also called “pro-poor” growth—has become an important idea in the development discourse in India. It has widespread support because it combines the two most important ideas in development: income growth along with a progressive (or more egalitarian) distribution. The term was first embraced in the early 2000s by the UPA-1 government under PM Manmohan Singh. It has since been taken up by the NDA government under PM Narendra Modi. But is “inclusive growth” anything more than a slogan like “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas?”