India, home to four percent of the world’s billionaires, and with approximately four hundred million people living below the poverty line, has both the need and the resources for private philanthropic actors to make a dramatic contribution to its socio-economic development. Two decades of economic liberalization, which has pulled the country into middle income status and opened the doors to growing domestic inequality, has resulted in more pressure on both national politics and domestic sources of redistribution.
Not long ago, the Bar Council of India found itself amidst a controversy regarding the qualifications required to practice law. Despite resistance from law students, it introduced an examination that law graduates would have to take in order to enroll at the bar. The measure, notwithstanding its uncertain legality as per a strict reading of the Advocates Act 1961, was an ambitious one: law schools have, by and large, focused on regulating the input of students, thereby ensuring quality; this change aimed at scrutinizing the output as well.
This year marks the six year anniversary of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), India’s landmark right-to-work program. The act guarantees one hundred days of paid employment to every rural household in India (up to 850 million people), regardless of eligibility criteria, and establishes the government’s flagship welfare program with an allocated central government cost of 401 billion rupees (or $8.9 billion USD) in 2010-11, which accounts for 3.6 percent of government expenditures.
Primary wholesale markets, or mandis, are critical nodes in India’s agricultural marketing and distribution system. As such, they are key elements of contention in vital debates regarding the future of Indian agriculture, the challenges of ensuring food security and managing food inflation, and to growing questions about the character and control of the nation’s diversifying foodways.
Street vendors occupying public spaces such as pavements, parks, and thoroughfares, and thereby appearing to deny access to their “rightful” users has been, over the years, a highly contentious issue in major cities across the globe. Addressing the problem of “hawking” generally involves a range of complex and interlinked issues such as the informal economy, rural-urban linkages in commodity production and marketing, survival of the urban poor, urban renewal and middle-class politics, changing street cultures, shopping as well as selling behavior, and commodity circulations.
Innovation is widely recognized and accepted as a key ingredient of sustained economic growth; an objective of policy that is today as salient for developing countries as it is for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The rise of Asia is as much about its domination of low-cost manufacturing as it is about its increasing strength in knowledge-based industries and ability to innovate new technologies and new business models.
Despite only trickles of reports in the media, there is tremendous significance about what is happening to land in India. From the remote areas of Adivasi/tribal habitations to the centers of the metropolises, land has become the single most important commodity in India and the nation itself has become one big real estate. It is not a mere coincidence that the richest person in India, and one of the world’s wealthiest persons, is a real estate developer.
In mid 2008, India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) announced a new strategy for addressing India’s child labor problems: it asked state governments and export promotion councils to monitor supply chains, and to certify that no children had worked on products heading for export markets, clearly hoping to offer some protection from international consumer boycotts designed to punish companies that exploit children.
A consensus on issues of national concern can sometimes be hard to reach, particularly in a democracy of more than a billion people; one that has countless social markers. In India, however, there seems to be a consensus of an exceptional order on the question of economic reforms. The country’s two main political blocs: the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance are closer to each other on economic reforms than not. Even the Left-ruled West Bengal is embracing economic reform despite its ideological pretensions.
The rapid growth of the Indian economy, the movement of technology jobs to India, and the emergence of a strong Indian software industry have raised questions about whether India could emerge as a serious rival on technological innovation to the United States. But these fears are premature as the gap is large and unlikely to be bridged soon.