One of the flagship programs of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been hailed by leading health economists as one of the “the most ambitious rural health initiative ever.” The stated goals of the NRHM were to “provide effective healthcare to rural population, especially women and children, with special focus on eighteen states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, the eight north-east states, and the three hilly states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand – which
Over the last two years, the corruption pervading India’s government has received remarkable media attention, thanks, in part, to scandals surrounding the Commonwealth Games, 2G telecom licenses, and the Adarsh housing society. This has shaken the complacency of many citizens who heretofore saw bribes and kickbacks as an inevitable part of daily life, and has provided fodder for the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.
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.
Human trafficking is in the news a lot these days. Many of these reports follow the predictable storyline of sex workers enslaved in the back alleys of bleak, third world cities. India often features prominently in these narratives. For instance, Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist and author of over forty-six op-eds on the subject of sex trafficking, recently conducted undercover raids in Sonagachi, Kolkata’s largest red-light district, along with U.S. abolitionist organization, the International Justice Mission.
Confronted with the question about what he liked to do in his free time, Gaurav Dalal promptly said “repeat.” He was quite sure he knew the answer, but the question didn’t sound familiar as the eighth grade student had become more accustomed to specific questions about his hobbies. Other children in the classroom on the second floor of SR Memorial School, an English-medium private school in Haryana that advertises its motto as “Pedagogy is not a profession but a mission,” retreated in the back.
As elections are held in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s largest state, attention has been drawn again to the question of whether the numbers and boundaries of India’s states ought to be reconsidered. In a move unthinkable sixty years ago when UP was presented as an indivisible “heartland” territory of the whole of India, UP’s incumbent leader Mayawati went to the polls calling for the division of the state into four parts. Of all federal systems in the world, India (along with Pakistan) has the fewest number of states or federal sub-units per capita.
This month, a great deal has been written on “criminals” in the electoral domain, as voters have been going to the polls in five states across India. It is perhaps a sign of the times that one of the most often quoted statistics on modern Indian politics is that more than a quarter of the sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) face criminal indictment (at the state level, that number hovers around twenty percent).
2011 was a landmark year for environmental litigation in India, a country with a rich history of environmental movements, grass-roots activism and a responsive higher judiciary. Although litigation on environmental issues has flourished for more than three decades, 2011 is distinctive for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is not just the fact that it was set up, as earlier on, there was a similar tribunal, albeit a less powerful one.
In 2008, for the first time ever, the urban population of the world outnumbered that of the rural. This visible trend has escalated over the last couple of decades; projections suggest that by the end of the twenty-first century, 80 percent of the world’s population will live in cities (which occupy 0.05 percent of the Earth’s surface).
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.