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Issn 0012-9976
Ever since the first issue in 1966,
EPW has been India’s premier journal for Accepting Their ‘Fate’ But the disabled population wants to
comment on current affairs
engage in productive activity and to be
and research in the social sciences.
It succeeded Economic Weekly (1949-1965),
which was launched and shepherded
by Sachin Chaudhuri,
who was also the founder-editor of EPW.
I n the article “Transgenders and the
Mainstream” (EPW, 28 November 2015),
G Karunanithi has referred to the efforts to
looked upon as an asset in whatever
form instead of subsisting with a begging
bowl and seeking alms and charity. Thus,
As editor for thirty-five years (1969-2004)
ensure civil rights for transgenders in Tamil the mindset of “others” as well as “us”
Krishna Raj
gave EPW the reputation it now enjoys. Nadu and pointed out that it was due to the needs to change in right earnest. I have
joint efforts of the state government and heard of welfare organisations that exploit
C Rammanohar Reddy the transgender community that had led to the cause of the disabled by indulging in
EXECUTIVE Editor some commendable results. The author has rackets. The Prime Minister can think of
aniket Alam also mentioned how the transgenders have many ways to ensure that the disabled
Deputy Editor
made efforts to move out of the lesbian, are able to become self-reliant and con-
Bernard D’Mello
gay and bisexual fold and generate an tribute to society. The disabled can be
KAUSHIK DASGUPTA independent identity for themselves. involved in running services under the
Senior Assistant Editor In West Bengal, a majority of members government’s many social welfare pro-
Lina Mathias of the transgender community get their grammes that will mean employment
copy editors
livelihood through begging or performing and income generation for them.
Prabha Pillai
jyoti shetty rituals, particularly in houses where a Samit Kar
Assistant editorS new baby is born. They live in groups Kolkata
P S Leela under a guardian, the senior-most member
lubna duggal
Assistant editor (web)
called barama. Some people make fun Past Blank Spaces That Spoke
Anurag Mazumdar of the transgenders but overall there is
editorial Assistant
a good-natured rapport between the latter
and society in general. Some of the
orthodox Hindus think that the trans-
K udos to the newspapers of Nagaland
for standing up against censorship
imposed by any section of the society,
u raghunathan
s lesline corera genders are thus due to their karma in a politicians, the army, or militant groups.
suneethi nair previous life. The transgenders them- Freedom of the media and free speech is
Circulation selves believe that they are under a curse essential to the growth of any society
Gauraang Pradhan Manager
B S Sharma and that they are suffering divine punish- and any attempt to curb the voice of the
Advertisement Manager ment. Some of them mentioned that people should be resisted.
Kamal G Fanibanda mainstream society treated them well. However, the editorial, “When Blank
General Manager & Publisher Some of the transgenders, commonly Spaces Speak” (EPW, 21 November 2015)
K Vijayakumar
referred to as hijras, earn their living needs a correction. It is not the first time
edit@epw.in through sex work. The West Bengal Nagaland newspapers used blank space
Circulation government has done very little for this to protest. If I am not mistaken, the first
community except for some healthcare journalist/newspaper in North East India
advertisement@epw.in measures. However, there is little effort to use a blank space to protest was by the
Economic and Political Weekly from any quarter to organise them for well-known journalist Al Ngullie in 2008.
320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate their rights and there is also no data on Ngullie used a blank space for his regular
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel
Mumbai 400 013
their exact number in the state. column in Morung Express to protest the
Phone: (022) 4063 8282 Harasankar Adhikari violence between Naga insurgent groups
FAX: (022) 2493 4515 Kolkata that led to the killing of innocent civilians.
EPW Research Foundation For the second time in 2010 he blanked out
EPW Research Foundation, established in 1993, conducts
research on financial and macro-economic issues in India.
Employment, Not Pity his column, titled “United Colors of Nagas,”
also in the Morung Express. I am unclear
C 212, Akurli Industrial Estate
Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Phones: (022) 2887 3038/41
P rime Minister Narendra Modi in
his “Mann ki Baat” programme on
29 November urged people to change their
about the reason for the second one, but it
was related to political events of the time.
Fax: (022) 2887 3038 mindset regarding the disabled popula- (From comment on EPW website)
tion. It is true that the disabled are usually
Printed by K Vijayakumar at Modern Arts and Industries,
151, A-Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg,
viewed as individuals deserving pity. Army Atrocities in Meghalaya
Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013 and Rabindranath Tagore used to say that
published by him on behalf of Sameeksha Trust
from 320-321, A-Z Industrial Estate,
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013.
Editor: C Rammanohar Reddy.
being pitied is the worst form of igno-
miny. Those who pity the disabled no
doubt revel in self-glorification.
C oordination of Democratic Rights
Organisations (CDRO) strongly con-
demns the continuing army atrocities in
4 decemBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
the name of combing operations in the magnitude of the protests, including has thrived in the Garo Hills area. In such
Meghalaya’s Garo Hills. While Meghalaya that by the local member of legislative a scenario, where there is no effort made
is not notified as a “disturbed area,” and assembly, compelled the Garo Hills deputy towards a political resolution to the
the writ of the army does not run large commissioner to promise a magisterial problem of the Garo Hills conflict, the
there, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) inquiry into the incident. issue of army lawlessness acquires greater
Act (AFSPA) allows army personnel located Given the prevailing army lawlessness, significance and magnitude. As the above
in neighbouring states to conduct opera- it is imperative to question the Meghalaya two incidents illustrate, the legal impunity
tions within 20 kilometres of the state High Court’s decision to ask the centre to and immunity that the army enjoys makes
border. On 25 November 2015, the Gurkha impose AFSPA in the Garo Hills. Making it the most dangerous adversary in conflict
Regiment stationed in Assam’s Rangjuli a case of deteriorating law and order, a areas. Not only are civilian lives least
town shot dead two unarmed civilians three-member bench, including the chief cared for—and are indeed under constant
(Alphus Momin and S D Marak), a few justice, on 4 November 2015, cited 87 threat—the absence of routine checks
kilometres from Kharkutta Bazaar in the instances of kidnapping and ransom and balances that are stipulated in normal
Garo Hills area in Meghalaya. The incident demands by rebel groups and pointed law allow untrammelled powers to men
occurred at around 8:40 pm, when Alphus out that even the chief justice and other in uniform. The army and paramilitary
Momin, a schoolteacher, and S D Marak, judges were receiving “veiled” threats operations in the Garo Hills must imme-
a vendor, were on their way home in and that they would have to face “dire diately end. We, at the CDRO, demand:
Rajasimla village on a motorbike. Earlier, consequences” after retirement. Instead (1) Stringent action against army per-
in March 2015, two daily-wage workers, of upholding the rights and liberties of sonnel guilty of murdering Alphus Momin
Selba Sangma and Jekke Arengh, were individuals, the court damaged its reputa- and S D Marak.
shot dead by the Dogra Regiment in tion by acting on its own fears, as two of (2) Information on action taken against
the same area. In a bid to cover up its the judges are said to retire in February guilty personnel involved in the murder
“mistake” and to pass off the killings as an 2016. Besides, in asking for the imposition of Selba Sangma and Jekke Arengh.
“encounter,” the army planted two country- of the AFSPA, the court also violated the (3) Compensation to the families of the
made pistols near the bodies. The matter constitutional arrangement of separation deceased who have been gunned down
came to light as two other men were also of powers by acting on its own authority. by the army.
intercepted in the same incident and were It is quite another matter that the centre (4) Immediate halt to any paramilitary
taken into custody. The government has decided not to heed the high court, and deployment in the area.
then ordered a probe into the killings. the state government has decided to file C Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh),
Army lawlessness is inherent in areas an affidavit in the next hearing. However, Paramjeet Singh (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh
under the AFSPA, as this law allows it is to be noted that the centre has prom- (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR,
Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR,
impunity and immunity to men in uni- ised the state government paramilitary
West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO).
form. However, even within the next-to- troops for the Garo Hills. So, even while
Constituent Organisations: Association for
negligible safeguards available in the act, the centre and the state government are Democratic Rights, Punjab; Association for
the army is supposed to inform the local opposed to the imposition of AFSPA, Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal;
police and seek its help before conducting there is a consensus on the issue of legal Bandi Mukti Morcha, West Bengal; Campaign
for Peace & Democracy in Manipur, Delhi;
operations. In the November incident, not immunity, as prosecution of paramilitary
Civil Liberties Committee, Andhra Pradesh;
only did the army not inform the local forces also requires official sanction. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights,
police station, it did not even bother to Why did the Meghalaya High Court not Mumbai; Coordination for Human Rights,
take the victims to a nearby hospital. acknowledge the issue of army abuse, and Manipur; Human Rights Forum, Andhra
Pradesh; Jharkhand Council for Democratic
Instead, it abandoned the bodies on the why has the state government demanded
Rights, Jharkhand; Manab Adhikar Sangram
roadside. It was the local police who more paramilitary forces from the centre? Samiti, Assam; Naga Peoples Movement for
arrived at the spot after hearing the Why is the army or the paramilitary the Human Rights; Organisation for Protection of
gunshots, and they took the two men to answer to the intransigent problems of Democratic Rights, Andhra Pradesh; Peoples’
Committee for Human Rights, Jammu and
Kharkutta Primary Health Centre, where the Garo Hills? It is known that the nexus
Kashmir; Peoples Democratic Forum, Karnataka;
they were declared “brought dead.” The between the coal mafia, sections of rebel Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi;
police initially registered a first informa- groups, and the political establishment Peoples Union for Civil Rights, Haryana.
tion report (FIR) against unknown people,
but growing public protest prompted the
army to acknowledge its “mistake.” On
Web Exclusives
26 November, the army submitted an FIR The following articles have been published in the past week in the Web Exclusives section of the EPW website.
They have not been published in the print edition.
claiming that the incident occurred as
(1) Change or Stability: Singapore General Elections 2015 — Subrata K Mitra, Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy
the duo had not adhered to the security
(2) Sidelining the Most Vulnerable: UN Climate Change Conference Paris 2015 —Darryl D’Monte
instructions and refused to comply with (3) Student Protests in South Africa —Dominic Brown
their instructions at a mobile check-post. Articles posted before 28 November 2015 remain available in the Web Exclusives section.
Despite the army’s “face-saving” denial,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decemBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 5
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6 decemBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

decEMBER 5, 2015

End of the Road

The 14-year-long tortured Doha Round may be effectively buried in Nairobi this month.

he run-up to the 10th ministerial meeting of the World developing countries, has all along demanded a special safeguard
Trade Organization (WTO) in Nairobi later this month mechanism (SSM) and a permanent solution for public stockholding
has been anything but constructive. Kenya’s capital will programmes of food security for resource-poor farmers in the
see a battle that will decide whether the WTO can provide a few developing countries. To worsen matters, the developing coun-
minimally credible developmental outcomes for its large mem- tries will be asked to make a trade-off between continuation of
bership of developing and the poorest countries. More likely, to the DDA in some form and the continuation of decades-long nego-
suit the interests of the advanced countries the Doha Develop- tiating approaches, such as special and differential treatment and
ment Agenda (DDA) will be all but buried. less-than-full reciprocity. If the latter were to be given up, India,
Attempts to finalise the Nairobi ministerial statement are China and South Africa will have to take almost identical commit-
currently mired in unbridgeable differences on several points, ments as the advanced economies to reduce agricultural tariffs to
especially the future of the unresolved issues of the long- applied levels and subsidies; the US will otherwise not agree to
running DDA. A questionable package of outcomes that sidesteps return to the table and negotiate on agriculture.
the core issue of trade distorting domestic subsidies in agricul- In short, when trade ministers from the developing world
ture is being pursued to suit only one country, the United States congregate at Nairobi they will be fighting with their backs to
(US). At the heart of the divide is that the Triad of the three the wall to preserve the Doha Round in its original form which
largest advanced economies—the US, European Union (EU) they initially opposed but then into which they invested so
and Japan—seems determined to empty the Doha Round of all much of their negotiating capital. The moot issue is, why many
content. In 2001, immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, developing countries, particularly India, allowed things to
the Triad launched the DDA negotiations in the face of intense come to such a pass, knowing well that losing leverage in a mer-
opposition from developing countries. To make the round ac- cantile negotiating framework can have costly consequences.
ceptable, the group agreed to address the fundamental inequi- Since their failure to ram through a package at the Cancun min-
ties of global trade arising from the previous Uruguay Round isterial meeting in 2003, the US and other members of the Triad
agreement. After 14 years of spasmodic negotiations, the Triad have constantly weighed their gains in a multilateral round
and some other developed countries now feel that the Doha with benefits from bilateral/regional free trade agreements
Round is a costly undertaking because of the reforms that (FTAs). At the WTO, even as these countries agreed on the July
would be required in agriculture, especially for the US. Wash- 2004 framework agreement, the 2005 Hong Kong ministerial
ington has passed a new farm bill that takes farm support to declaration, and the 2013 Bali agreement, all negotiated to
well beyond the Doha ceiling of $14.5 billion. Moreover, the reach a comprehensive package, they were simultaneously
Triad has already managed to pocket a binding WTO trade going ahead with concluding FTAs. But the turning point in the
facilitation agreement (TFA) without having to pay anything Doha Round negotiations was in 2008. That was the year when
for it. The TFA is the jewel in the crown that it fought so hard the US decided to set its sights on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
to retain in the DDA negotiations after it was initially stamped (TPP) Agreement because at the TPP it would not have to address
out by the developing countries at the Cancun ministerial its trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.
meeting in 2003. Despite these changes occurring outside the WTO, the devel-
Against this backdrop, a small package of deliverables on not oping countries went on offering concessions at Geneva in the
very important issues that would be agreed to in Nairobi was hope that they would secure gains in other areas. As late as
forced on the larger membership through a top-down approach. 2013, the Triad, led by the US, forced the TFA on the developing
The Triad, along with Australia, Canada and Brazil, among others, countries which did not ask for, nor were given, anything in
has also ruled out any agreement in Nairobi on two major de- return. At Bali in 2013, India agreed to the TFA in return for a
mands of the G-33 group of developing countries. The G-33 group, weak and economically insignificant undertaking on public
which includes Indonesia, India, China, Kenya and 43 other stockholding programmes for food security. Then, Prime Minister
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 7

Narendra Modi had a chance to reverse that outcome but went things at Nairobi, except by naming and shaming the US for
ahead and agreed during a visit to the US in September 2014 to having effectively killed the Doha Round. If India and other
sign on to the TFA without securing a cast iron agreement on developing countries fail to do even that, they would forgo
public stockholding programmes for food security. whatever limited chance they have of securing a permanent
In short, the developing world now finds that it has surren- solution for public stockholding programmes for food security,
dered much of the leverage it had and will be unable to reverse the SSM, and a credible result on cotton.

8 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


Public Service and Salaries

Too much attention is given to government salaries and too little to government services.

t speaks volumes about the priorities in our discourse on But what does that mean for the range and quality of
economic policy matters that the public comments on the services that the government is to offer? It is instructive that
Seventh Pay Commission (SPC) have centred on the fiscal according to the SPC report, in the United States there are 668
implications of the recommendations. What will be the addi- civilian federal government employees for every 1,00,000 of
tional “burden” on the Government of India? What impact will the population, while there are only 139 civilian central
it have on the fiscal deficit? True, the pay commission’s terms of government employees per 1,00,000 in India. It is also instruc-
reference have to deal with the recommending levels of emolu- tive that the one ministry which has seen an increase in per-
ments for the Government of India’s 3.3 million personnel as sonnel in recent years is the Ministry of Home Affairs, a reflec-
well as the large population of pensioners. However, the publi- tion of the growing size of the security forces directly under
cation of this once-in-a-decade report was an opportunity for this ministry.
public debate on the role of the government in providing public In the obsession to control government expenditure, we tend
services, the financial cost of doing so, the accountability of to lose sight of the fact that the state in India—at the state and
the government servant and the performance of personnel at central levels—is actually providing too little of public services,
different levels and in different areas. That, unfortunately, has to expand which one would need larger personnel strength.
not happened. The issue does not receive attention or favour because the
For the record, with the central government accepting the citizen regularly encounters a particularly ugly face of the gov-
recommendations of the SPC and deciding to implement them ernment: unresponsive, unaccountable and corrupt. This is
from January 2016, its total expenditure in 2016–17 will go up true of the lowly official in a zilla land records office who
by Rs 68,400 crore as additional outlay on salaries and allow- harasses a farmer seeking authentication of his ownership of
ances and by Rs 33,700 crore on pensions, or by a total of land to a senior official in charge of regulations denying a firm
Rs 1,02,100 crore, with an overall one-off increase of 23.55% the clearances due to it.
over the business-as-usual projections. The SPC had its eye on Over decades, the face of the Indian “babu” has turned from
the fiscal impact, for the additional expenditure will be equiva- being a “public” servant to one who works for “private” benefits,
lent to 0.65% of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the if not in pecuniary terms then to enjoy the luxury of permanent
higher increase of 0.77% of GDP as followed from the accept- employment with a load of benefits without in any way provid-
ance of the Sixth Pay Commission a decade ago. Implementa- ing public service. Yet, this broad brush characterisation of gov-
tion of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations had led to ernment servants overlooks the commitment and dedication
a substantial rise in emoluments at many levels, and with their shown by many lakhs of government servants, from the worker
adoption by state governments, para-state organisations and in the primary healthcare centre to the doctor in public hos-
even educational institutions, the overall financial impact was pitals who struggle without adequate funds to provide essential
considerable. The financial impact this time will be less but the services, though many of them could earn far more in the
implications for the state governments are yet to be worked out. private sector. A good part of the responsibility for government
Since the focus for the past two decades has been on how to servants having such a poor reputation in the public eye is their
contain government expenditure, the outcome naturally has own. And this has played into the hands of policymakers who
been on reducing the staff strength of the Government of India seek to strip the state in India even more of its public functions
in the aggregate. According to the SPC, sanctioned staff strength and hand them over to the private sector.
reached a peak of 41.76 lakh in 1994 and declined to 38.90 lakh It is time, therefore, the public discourse on the government
in 2014 (though the fall seems to have been largely on account servant shifts from just her emoluments to the role she plays in
of the corporatisation of BSNL). There is also an increasing providing essential services, her accountability to the citizen,
unwillingness to fill up posts: 14% of the sanctioned posts had the need to increase the number of public servants like her who
not been filled in 2006, 17% in 2010 and 18% in 2014. The central are too few in important areas (especially in social services) and
government is working towards further reducing staff strength of course to a discussion of the salary that she needs in order to
and simultaneously increasing the use of contract labour. live a decent life.
8 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Mocking Passenger Safety

The response of the Railways to passenger deaths is another committee.

hen a 21-year-old commuter lost his grip on the pole for a bullet train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai could be spent
at the train door and fell in Mumbai a few days ago, more fruitfully to strengthen the safety and reliability of the
his tragic fate was no different from that of so many existing rail network—a true modernisation of the network.
others. But it was the video clip of the fall that went viral on the At railway stations in the urban network, the problem is com-
internet that shook even those who are used to regularly reading pounded by the absence of timely assistance. The importance of
reports of such falls. It brought home forcefully the reality of the emergency care—the “golden hour”—seems to be an alien concept
horrifying numbers of deaths due to falls from overcrowded trains, for everyone concerned, including station masters and railway staff.
crashes at unmanned level crossings and people crossing rail tracks Getting the injured to a hospital or even giving immediate basic
where foot overbridges are either non-existent, too crowded or at treatment until then is often done by untrained fellow-commuters.
an inconvenient distance from the roads that lead to the station. Time passes as officials and police argue over “jurisdiction.”
Mumbai, with its extensive suburban railway network that every In one particularly horrifying case in Mumbai in January 2014,
day runs 2,905 services carrying 7.5 million commuters, reports the the severed left hand of 16-year-old Monica More was carried
highest number of deaths due to people falling out of trains. by two fellow commuters in a borrowed piece of cloth, while
The response from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was pre- they tied her other near-severed arm with their handkerchiefs.
dictable; he ordered the formation of a committee. Yet, in 2012 a She was taken to a hospital in an autorickshaw because there
high-level committee chaired by Anil Kakodkar gave a detailed was no emergency care or ambulance available at one of the
report on rail safety along with suggestions to the Railways. Mumbai’s busiest stations. She lost both her arms.
Prabhu had asked the Railway Board in June this year to submit Basic measures must be in place, officials and staff must be
an implementation plan of the recommendations of the properly trained and made aware of the immediate steps to be
Kakodkar report. What happened to that? taken after an accident. Instead of addressing such a need, rail-
In fact, the Kakodkar Committee’s report is said to be unaccep- way authorities issue “appeals” to passengers to not hang out of
table because it identified the root causes of the weak safety trains, to avoid train rooftops and rail tracks. Although this is
record of the Railways and showed the enormity of the chal- excellent advice, passengers take such risks on trains not out of
lenge. It pointed to poor infrastructure, inadequate resources choice but because they are helpless when faced with congested
and lack of empowerment at the functional level. It observed networks and decrepit infrastructure. To make matters worse,
that safety margins had been narrowed and infrastructure railway authorities refuse to classify many such cases as accidents
maintenance neglected because financially the Indian Railways to avoid accepting liability and paying compensation.
were on “the brink of collapse.” According to the reply to a right to information question, in
It recommended that a statutory Railway Safety Authority be the last decade 25,722 passengers fell from trains on Mumbai’s
set up with an oversight on safety on the operational mode rather suburban network. Of these, 6,989 died. Across the entire coun-
than the Railway Board holding all the strings as at present. It try 14,973 deaths occurred on railway tracks in 2011, the num-
also suggested that the Research Design and Standards Organi- ber was 16,336 in 2012, and increased to 19,997 in 2013. Accord-
sation, the top technical wing of the Railways be restructured, ing to the ministry, until October 2014, 18,735 died in falls from
an Advanced Signalling System (like the European Train Control trains, “trespassing,” accidents and suicides.
System) be adopted for the entire trunk route length of 19,000 km Ironically, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways
within five years, and all level crossings (manned and un- had earlier this year said that appointing committees to look into
manned) be closed down. (As of this year the Railways still have various facets of safety and then not implementing their recom-
11,563 unmanned level crossings.) Implementing all these rec- mendations was a waste of public money. To now announce
ommendations would cost around Rs 1,00,000 crore over a five- another committee to look into the safety of passengers, instead
year period. Perhaps the mammoth amount of funding sought of implementing known measures, is a mockery beyond words.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 9


From 50 Years Ago year 1962–63 (which roughly corresponds to fiscal remained fairly constant over the last several
year 1961–62), only 76 individuals (26 of them years. How far this is a result of the high exemp-
salary earners) and 15 Hindu undivided families tion limit and legal partitions following the birth
has assessed incomes of over Rs 5 lakhs each. of each son in business families cannot be judged
Vol XVII, No 49, decEMBER 4, 1965 Less than 3,000 individuals (including about from the scanty data available. From plain obser-
WEEKLY NOTES 1,000 salary earners) and 300 HUFs earned vation, there is no doubt that the HUF is the most
more than Rs 1 lakh in that year. There has been commonly used ‘legitimate’ device for tax avoid-
The Missing Millionaires little or no change in these numbers over the last ance which further reinforces the traditional de-
That the grinding poverty of the country’s teem- decade or so... sire for male progeny. Fear of the broader legal
ing millions has a contagious quality has been The Hindu undivided family remains the and religious complications has kept Govern-
suspected for some time. It is difficult to uncover favoured child of the tax system. The number ment away from tackling this issue. That is no
rich taxpayers. In the income-tax assessment of such families assessed to income tax has excuse for its neglect by academic economists.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 9


WTO’s Nairobi Ministerial of new knowledge (the research func-

tion), the training of highly qualified
personnel (the teaching function), the
Portents for Higher Education provision of services to society (the
service function), and social criticism
(the ethical function). If we consider
Anand Teltumbde each of these functions, from even the
economic criteria of non-rivalrous and

t the 10th ministerial meeting of free and equitable education to all from non-excludability, higher education will
the World Trade Organization kindergarten to post-graduation. lean heavily towards being a public good
(WTO) to be held at Nairobi, than a private good. For instance, the
Kenya, from 15–18 December, the dis- Spurious Economics new knowledge is built upon the old
course on higher education being public/ The protagonists of marketisation of knowledge; Einstein’s theories would
merit/private good and the covert/overt higher education confuse people saying not be possible without the Newtonian
preparation of the government over the that higher education is not a public base. The motivational argument given
past two decades to withdraw from good. Public good in economics is nar- for restricting research as private good
higher education will finally come to an rowly determined on dual criteria: non- through intellectual property rights
end. The conclusion of the current Doha rivalrous and non-excludable, meaning (IPRs) by the neo-liberalists is myopic. In
round of negotiations, which started in one person’s use of the good does not the long run, the non-generation of
2001 but could not be completed because diminish another person’s use of it and theoretical knowledge or its confinement
of the concerted resistance of the least no person can be prevented from using to elite networks through artificial
developed and developing countries, the good, respectively. Placing public devices like IPRs or other WTO mecha-
has been planned for this meeting. A goods in the market defeats this dual nisms is bound to adversely affect the
special meeting of the General Council criteria. Therefore, such goods are sup- pace of new knowledge production—
of WTO was held in November 2014 posed to be provided by non-profit and thereby human future.
at Geneva, which decided upon the organisations and government. Classi- Then there is a perennial argument—
process of suppression of resistance cally, lighthouses and national defence from Macaulay’s times—about the lack
and finalised the “work programme” to exemplify public goods in economics. of resources for education. The National
conclude the negotiations in Nairobi. However, economics also notes that Knowledge Commission has predicted
Once completed, it will have ruinous such examples are scarce in practice and that India needs an investment of about
consequences for people in poor coun- most goods fulfil one criterion or the $190 billion to achieve the target of 30%
tries as variety of goods and services other, or sometimes are public goods Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher
would suddenly be pushed beyond and sometimes not. Often it is public education by 2020 and expectedly advi-
their reach. perspective that makes a good public or sed to meet it through foreign direct
For India, the consequences are not private. For example, an official portrait investment (FDI) as the government lacks
going to be any less severe. Its offer of of Henry VIII in the National Portrait resources. For just one year, 2012–13, the
market access in higher education made Gallery in London is seen as a public tax revenue foregone by the government
in August 2005 at Hong Kong will become good, but the painting of Mona Lisa in to companies worked out to Rs 5,73,627
an irrevocable commitment once the the Louvre is not. Many an item or ser- crore (in excess of $100 billion by then
Doha round is concluded. While this offer vice classically considered public good exchange rate). Government has been
was made by the Congress-led United has been deftly turned into private good gifting such amounts every year to cor-
Progressive Alliance government, the and brought in the realm of market—for porate sector, the sum of which even for
current Bharatiya Janata Party-led example, the conversion of public roads a few years would be in multiples of this
National Democratic Alliance will pride to toll roads in recent times. requirement!
on its consummation—again exposing Why speak about higher education?
the essentially anti-people character of Even the elementary education and pri- Huge Profit Potential
these parties. The implications of this mary health services can be termed as These arguments are just a cover for the
imminent disaster have yet not dawned private goods with this argument. It is a naked interests of the global capital in
on people commensurately despite a pure neo-liberal ploy to commodify the largest market of higher education in
countrywide agitation under the aegis of ever ything, including water and air, to the world with over 234 million individ-
the All India Forum for Right to Educa- be marketed for profits. In the public uals in the 15–24 age groups, equal to
tion (AIFRTE)—a federated body of hun- perspective, education in general, and the US population (FICCI 2011). This mar-
dreds of organisations and activists in higher education in particular, fulfils ket of over $65 billion a year, growing at
the country, floated in 2009 to demand four major functions: the development a compound annual growth rate (CAGR)
10 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

of over 18%, comprises 59.7% of the public–private partnership (PPP). Choice- legal instruments and the changes sug-
largely price-inelastic education market. based credit system and common syllabus gested by it shall have to be abided by—
It is rightly considered as the “sunrise were some of the initiatives to facilitate an outright infringement on freedom
sector” for investment. India’s online prospective foreign players. and sovereignty of India—and of course,
education market alone, in which the US Successive governments adopted a the reservations and other concessions
has evinced huge interests, is expected competitive strategy in improving statis- for Scheduled Castes and the Other
to touch $40 billion by 2017. An RNCOS tics of higher education and in the pro- Backward Classes, will go. Higher edu-
(a market research firm) report, “Boom- cess winked at its rapidly falling stand- cation aimed at producing inert feed for
ing Distance Education Market Outlook ards. Even the few markers of quality corporate sector shall become a tradeable
2018,” expects the distance education education in India, Indian Institutes of service which will have to be bought by
market in India to grow at a CAGR of Technology and Indian Institutes of Man- students as consumers.
around 34% during 2013–14 to 2017–18. agement, were not spared and were Narendra Modi’s claims of creating
The preparation for handing over this multiplied without consideration for better opportunities for Indian youth get
sector has been afoot right since 1986, infrastructure and faculty. Such com- thoroughly exposed when he is set out
when the New Education Policy allowed petitive strategies did raise the GER to to shut them out permanently from
private investment into higher educa- 17%–18%. But that is still far below the access to higher education at Nairobi.
tion, leading to mushrooming of private world average of 26% and that of other For the Congress it was expedient, for
shops in the garb of educational insti- emerging economies such as China him it is ideological. The Brahminical
tutes selling much-demanded profes- (26.7%), Brazil (36%) and Russia (76%). supremacist ideology of his Parivar
sional education. They have since grown In the context of India’s superpower perfectly resonates with social Darwinist
into veritable empires. After formally ambition, it is utterly dismal. This gap neo-liberalism in dispossessing majority
embracing neo-liberal reforms in 1991, indicates huge investment and profit of people of whatever little they have
there have been concerted attempts opportunity for the global capital. and putting a handful of elites to lord
through committee after committee. over them. For those handfuls, GATS
These attempts culminated information Irrevocable Consequences regime in higher education may still
of the Mukesh Ambani–Kumar Mangalam One may cynically think, the private mean inexhaustible opportunity but for
Birla Committee that created “A Policy sector’s share in higher education in the multitude of masses it means the
Framework for Reforms in Education” India is already among the highest in the death knell. How on earth would they,
in April 2000 to stress that higher edu- world: 64% of all educational institu- who are supposed to be subsisting on
cation be left to market forces. Although tions being private. India already allows Rs 20 a day, whose calorie intake has
the government has since scaled up self- 100% FDI in education sector, the inflows already dipped to a worrisome level, who
financing through substantial raise in exceeding $1,171.10 million from April are in a state of permanent famine, afford
fees, it was not politically feasible to 2000. There are 631 foreign universities/ the market price for higher education?
completely dismantle state financing of institutions operating in the country,
higher education. These moves, how- mostly with a concept of “twinning” Anand Teltumbde (tanandraj@gmail.com) is a
ever, certainly prepared grounds for (joint ventures and academic collabora- writer and civil rights activist with the
Committee for the Protection of Democratic
the offer of higher education to WTO tion with Indian universities), according
Rights, Mumbai.
in 2005. to the Association of Indian Universities.
UPA II had tried to clear all hurdles in Historically, higher education in India
committing higher education to the has been starved of financial support:
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
General Agreement on Trade in Services public expenditure on it being $406 per Industry (FICCI) (2011): “Private Sector Parti-
(GATS) through various (six) bills, includ- student, less than even the developing cipation in Indian Higher Education,” FICCI
Higher Education Summit.
ing the Higher Education and Research countries like Malaysia ($11,790), Brazil
Bill, which advocated complete abolition ($3,986), Indonesia ($666) and the
of bodies such as University Grants Philippines ($625). Quality-wise, higher Permission for Reproduction of
Commission, Medical Council of India, education in the country is going Articles Published in EPW
All India Council for Technical Educa- nowhere; our best institutions rank
tion and National Council for Teacher below 240 in global rankings. So, what No article published in EPW or part thereof
Education. The government, however, more harm can there be if the higher should be reproduced in any form without
failed to get these bills passed in Rajya education goes under GATS? The brief prior permission of the author(s).
Sabha. Then the government resorted answer is that the awkward “for profit” A soft/hard copy of the author(s)’s approval
to its pet ploy of bypassing Parliament in clause in the current policy would go should be sent to EPW.
launching a Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha away; all future policies of India in In cases where the email address of the
Abhiyan (RUSA) in September 2013, to respect of higher education shall be author has not been published along with
change the structure of higher educa- annually reviewed by the Trade Policy the articles, EPW can be contacted for help.
tion, undermining UGC and promoting Review Mechanism (TPRM), one of WTO’s
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 11

Great Indian Gas Robbery ONGC and RIL stated that around nine
billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas
may have flown out from ONGC’s block in
the KG basin to RIL’s adjoining reservoir.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta It was claimed that RIL had drawn 58.67
bcm from the wells up to 31 March 2015,

An independent consultant in t is a dispute without any precedent, of which around 9 bcm, or 15%, may
an interim report has upheld at least not in this country. India’s have belonged to ONGC. This gas at $4.2
largest public sector company and per million British thermal unit (mBtu)
the contention of the public
the biggest producer of oil and gas, the was worth more than Rs 11,000 crore.
sector Oil and Natural Gas Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), D&M submitted the interim report
Corporation that gas from one has accused the country’s biggest privately- to all involved in the dispute, that is,
of its undersea wells in the owned company, Reliance Industries the Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons
Limited (RIL), of stealing gas from one of (DGH), the regulatory authority which
Krishna–Godavari basin was
its reservoirs located beneath the ocean also acts as the technical wing of the
consciously and systematically bed in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of MoPNG, as well as to the two companies
pilfered by a company controlled Andhra Pradesh along the basin of the for their comments before compilation
by Reliance Industries. Why Krishna and Godavari Rivers. What is of the final report. The two companies
worse, the Ministry of Petroleum and which are supposed to work under the
did the Directorate-General
Natural Gas (MoPNG) in the Government “supervision” of the DGH had appointed
of Hydrocarbons allow this of India has been accused of being com- D&M to “establish the continuity of
to happen and why did the plicit in the alleged theft. reservoirs across the ONGC and RIL off-
Government of India not protect The dispute between ONGC and RIL is shore deep water blocks/areas in (the)
more than two years old. After months KG Basin.”
the interests of a premier public
of legal wrangling, the warring compa-
sector undertaking? nies agreed on an independent consult- Findings of the Report
ing firm based in the United States (US) In its 553-page report, the US consultant
which would give its technical findings has stated that reservoirs KG-DWN-98/2
in the dispute. This consultant, DeGolyer (KG-D5) and the Godavari Producing
and MacNaughton (D&M) based out of Mining Lease (PML) are connected with
Dallas, Texas, in the US, submitted an Dhirubhai-1 and Dhirubhai-3 (D1 and
interim report on 9 October which stated D3) fields located in the KG-DWN-98/3
that natural gas worth $1.7 billion or (KG-D6) block of RIL. (The blocks where
over Rs 11,000 crore had been extracted RIL operates have been named after the
by RIL in an unauthorised manner from founder of the Reliance group, Dhirubhai
an area on the ocean bed where gas Ambani.) According to a detailed article
extraction was supposed to be con- put out by the Press Trust of India
trolled by ONGC. (PTI) on 22 November, the D&M report
Earlier, in May 2014, ONGC had alle- stated:
ged in the Delhi High Court that gas As of 31 March 2015, the FFRM (Full Filled
worth almost $5 billion or around Reservoir Model) estimated a gas migration
Rs 30,000 crore had been stolen by RIL of approximately 11.122 billion cubic metres
in violation of the production sharing from the Godavari-PML and KG-DWN-98/2
contract areas to KG-DWN-98/3.
contract that the company had signed
with the Government of India represented The US consulting firm is of the view
by the MoPNG. Whereas the last has not that there exists a single large gas reser-
This article was written before the final yet been heard about this dispute, it is voir several metres below the ocean bed
report was submitted to the government on the biggest one of its kind in India and that extends from Godavari-PML and
30 November 2015. an important link in a long series of con- KG-D5 to KG-D6. Of the 58.68 bcm of gas
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (paranjoy@gmail.com) troversies relating to the Reliance Group’s produced by RIL from the KG-D6 block
is the lead author of Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism operations to extract gas in the Krishna– from 1 April 2009 over the following six
and the Ambanis, published in April 2014. Godavari (KG) basin. years, 49.69 bcm of gas belonged to RIL
He is a journalist, educator, documentary The interim report of D&M on the while 8.981 bcm could have come from
film-maker and, of late, also a publisher.
technical aspects of the dispute between the side where ONGC is supposed to
12 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

operate. At the then officially adminis- that its gas was being taken by RIL in be true. Its counsel Dushyant Dave said
tered price of natural gas of $4.2 per September 2013, representatives of both in court that ONGC could seek over
mBtu, the total value of the gas belon- companies met and agreed to exchange Rs 25,000 crore by way of compensa-
ging to ONGC which RIL has extracted data. Their next meeting, in December, tion. ONGC argued in its petition that the
has been estimated at $1.7 billion or ran into heavy weather. ONGC claimed management committee, which had two
Rs 11,055 crore at the then prevailing channel connectivity; RIL disputed it. government representatives and was in
exchange rates. However, both companies agreed to con- the possession of data from RIL, should
The dispute began in July 2013 when, tinue exchanging more data. In April not have cleared the private company’s
suspecting reservoir connectivity, ONGC 2014, even as the general elections were plans to drill wells so close to the ONGC
wrote to the DGH seeking data on the underway, ONGC, RIL and the DGH all blocks. The PSU has also accused the
adjoining RIL block, KG-D6. ONGC agreed to hire an independent consult- government and RIL of not having fol-
claimed that RIL had deliberately drilled ant to sort out the claims and counter- lowed the mechanism internationally
wells close to the common boundary of claims. Then, suddenly (and to some, accepted for joint development of con-
the blocks and that some gas it pumped unexpectedly) ONGC chose to act against tiguous oil and gas fields or reservoirs,
out was from its adjoining block. RIL, on RIL by filing a writ petition in the Delhi clearly provided in the PSC signed in
the other hand, maintained that it has High Court against the private company April 2000 between the MoPNG and RIL.
“scrupulously followed every aspect of as well as the government. Since the blocks were adjacent to each
the production sharing contract (PSC) other, under the provisions of the PSC,
and has confined its petroleum opera- ONGC in Court they should have been jointly developed
tions within the (boundaries of its) The petition initially failed to attract by the two companies, it was argued.
KG-D6 block.” much attention in the media as it was Why did ONGC’s decision to move
The US-based independent consulting filed a day before the results of the Lok court on 15 May 2014 surprise so many?
firm clearly thought otherwise. D&M Sabha elections were announced on The company was under pressure from
estimated that ONGC’s Godavari-PML had 16 May 2004 when political news was the very beginning not to act in the man-
14.209 bcm of gross in-place reserves and dominating the public discourse. In its ner that it did. The outgoing minister of
KG-D5 had another 11.856 bcm. RIL’s D1 petition, ONGC named the MoPNG and petroleum and natural gas in the United
and D3 fields held 80.697 bcm gross in- the DGH, as respondents on the ground Progressive Alliance (UPA) government
place reserves. Of these reserves, 12.80 that these government bodies had failed at that time was Veerappa Moily. He shot
bcm of Godavari-PML, 8.01 bcm of KG-D5 to be vigilant in taking precautionary off a note to the then Secretary in the
and 75.33 bcm of KG-D6 are connected, measures which had led to the company MoPNG, Saurabh Chandra, calling for an
the report stated, adding that an esti- losing huge sums of money. ONGC enquiry as to why ONGC had dared to ini-
mated 11.89 bcm of gas from ONGC claimed in its writ petition: tiate legal action against its biggest
blocks would have “migrated” to KG-D6 Pertinently, four wells have been drilled shareholder. (Roughly 70% of ONGC’s
by 1 January 2017 and this volume would by Respondent No 3 (RIL) within distances shares are owned by the Union govern-
go up to 12.71 bcm by 1 May 2019. Impor- ranging within 50 m (metres) to about ment through the MoPNG.)
350 m from the blocks of (the) petitioner
tantly, after such a high volume of What is especially noteworthy is the
(ONGC) and wells have been so drilled and
“migration” of gas, it would no longer be constructed that there is a pre-planned and
fact that Moily’s note, dated 22 May 2014,
economically viable for ONGC to develop calculated slant/angular incline towards the was written almost a week after the UPA
the particular undersea fields. gas reserves of (the) petitioner with a clear government was voted out of power in
idea to tap the same. the general elections and just four days
Background According to ONGC, its nomination before Narendra Modi was sworn in as
ONGC believes that the KT-1/D-1 gas find block, Godavari PML (G4) and discovery Prime Minister on 26 May. In a state-
in its Krishna Godavari block KG-D5 and block, KG-D5 under the New Exploration ment dated 15 May, RIL said that all its
the G-4 Pliocene gas find in the Godavari Licensing Policy (NELP)-1 are contiguous operations had been undertaken in
block extend outside the block bounda- to the RIL-operated NELP-1 block KG-D6. accordance with the PSC and the devel-
ries into KG-D6. According to ONGC, RIL’s The public sector undertaking (PSU) had opment plan approved by the manage-
D6-A5, D6-A9 and D6-A13 wells that said that it wanted a “truly independent” ment committee which had government
were drilled close to the block boundary agency to examine its contention that representatives holding veto powers. It
may be draining gas from the G-4 field the Mukesh Ambani-led RIL may have added that all well locations and their
while the D6-B8 well may be sucking drawn natural gas worth up to Rs 30,000 profiles had been specifically reviewed
out gas from the DWN-D-1 field of the crore from ONGC’s fields adjacent to and approved by the committee. More-
KG-DWN-98/2 block. While RIL started the ones in the KG-D6 block where over, RIL said that there had been “con-
production in April 2009, ONGC is yet to the contracting company controlled by structive engagement” with ONGC on
finalise an investment plan for its fields. RIL operates. sharing of data and on appointing an
After ONGC informed the regulator in ONGC sought compensation from RIL “independent third party expert” at a
the MoPNG, the DGH, that it apprehended if the allegations of theft were found to meeting held on 9 May 2014.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 13

In its reply to ONGC’s suit that was filed “frivolous,” that the issues raised by the Thereafter, from 25 September 2014
on 28 May, RIL said that according to the PSU had been looked into and sought onwards, both ONGC and RIL began
understanding it had reached on 9 May dismissal of the petition. The 70% sharing data with D&M.
ONGC was to circulate a draft of the owner of ONGC was, in effect, stating On 26 November, the current Minister
“enquiry” to be sent to the four agencies that its offspring should not have gone of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas,
shortlisted to RIL and DGH. The four names to court alleging theft of gas by RIL. Dharmendra Pradhan, told Parliament
of the firms were to be finalised on 23 The MoPNG said that ONGC had not that D&M would submit a report by June
May and thereafter, the enquiry report raised any “issue on connectivity of 2015 on whether a company controlled
would be sent to the expert agencies for reservoirs and channels” when the mining by RIL “stole” natural gas from the wells
their responses. Thus, RIL stated that any lease of G4 block was granted to it six where ONGC is contracted to operate in the
inference prior to such assessment was years earlier in 2008 nor when produc- KG basin, as alleged by the government-
mere “speculation” and commencement tion of gas from the KG-D6 block by RIL owned company. The minister said that the
of legal proceedings “unwarranted.” started in April 2009. two companies under the “supervision”
On 20 May 2014, in a news report put The ministry’s submission said that of the DGH in the MoPNG should have
out by the PTI, the Chairman and Man- ONGC “woke up from (its) slumber only in appointed a “third party” or an inde-
aging Director of ONGC, Dinesh K Sarraf, July 2013, when it requested the govern- pendent agency “earlier” to “establish
gave the reason for the first time as to ment to provide the G&G (geological and the continuity of reservoirs across the
why his company had decided to file a geophysical) data and that too to analyse ONGC and RIL offshore deep water
lawsuit against RIL: the continuity of the pool.” The MoPNG blocks/areas in KG Basin.”
The matter (of RIL allegedly drawing gas
said ONGC’s writ petition had become
from ONGC blocks) was brought to the notice “infructuous pursuant to the appointment Questions to the Government
of our board (in March). The board was of of the independent agency,” that is, D&M. After D&M submitted its interim report
the view that we need to protect our com- The fact that D&M would be chosen as on the dispute, from 9 October this year
mercial interest at all costs. If that requires
the independent agency to resolve the onwards, various reports have appeared
any legal recourse, we will take that.
dispute between ONGC and RIL had been in the media summarising the key
It is reliably learnt that at least two inde- first suggested in a 16 July 2014 report in findings of the independent consultant
pendent directors on the board of ONGC the Hindu Business Line. The two compa- which had, by and large, supported the
were keen that the company seek legal nies and the government agreed that D&M contention of ONGC that RIL had drawn
avenues to redress its grievances and would be appointed as the independent gas owned by it in an unauthorised man-
protect its commercial interests. These agency to investigate possible reservoir ner. On 9 October itself, E A S Sarma,
members have since ceased to be members connectivity across undersea gas blocks. former Secretary to the Government of
of the board as their terms have ended.
As for Sarraf himself, he had replaced
Sudhir Vasudeva as the head of ONGC on Journal Rank of EPW
26 February 2014, after a proposal to give Economic & Political Weekly is indexed on Scopus, “the largest abstract and citation database
an extension to Vasudeva, that had been of peer-reviewed literature,” which is prepared by Elsevier NV (http://tinyurl.com/o44sh7a).
moved by Moily, was rejected by the Scopus has indexed research papers that have been published in EPW from 2008 onwards.
Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
The Scopus database journal ranks country-wise and journal-wise. It provides three broad sets
headed by the then Prime Minister of rankings: (i) Number of Citations, (ii) H-Index and (iii) SCImago Journal and Country Rank.
Manmohan Singh. Moily’s attempt to
Presented below are EPW’s ranks in 2014 in India, Asia and globally, according to the total
grant Vasudeva an extension of term cites (3 years) indicator.
had also been opposed by the then
● Highest among 36 Indian social science journals and highest among 159 social science
spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata journals ranked in Asia.
Party Nirmala Sitharaman (who is now
● Highest among 36 journals in the category, “Economics, Econometrics and Finance” in the
Union Minister of State for Industry and Asia region, and 36th among 835 journals globally.
Commerce) and former Member of Par-
● Highest among 23 journals in the category, “Sociology and Political Science” in the Asia
liament belonging to the Communist region, and 15th among 928 journals globally.
Party of India Gurudas Dasgupta (who is
● Between 2008 and 2014, EPW’s citations in three categories (“Economics, Econometrics,
one of the petitioners in a public interest and Finance”; “Political Science and International Relations”; and “Sociology and Political
litigation (PIL) against RIL that is being Science”) were always in the second quartile of all citations recorded globally in the
heard by the Supreme Court). Scopus database.
For a summary of statistics on EPW on Scopus, including of the other journal rank indicators,
Ministry Opposition please see http://tinyurl.com/qe949dj
The MoPNG and DGH filed a counter- EPW consults referees from a database of 200+ academicians in different fields of the social
affidavit in the dispute in August 2014 sciences on papers that are published in the Special Article and Notes sections.
claiming that the allegations of ONGC were
14 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

India, who is a petitioner in a PIL case “It is ironic that the government had consulting firm submitted its interim
relating to RIL, sent a letter to K D Tripathi, even gone to the extent of changing the report three months behind schedule.
Secretary, MoPNG, raising a number of independent directors of ONGC for reasons While quantifying the volume and value
questions which have been paraphrased best known to it,” Sarma stated, adding of the alleged theft or misappropriation,
and summarised. that an earlier report submitted to the it is unlikely that D&M will suggest an
Was RIL aware that the gas field MoPNG in 2011 by an independent oil and amount that should be paid in the form
where it is licensed and contracted to gas reservoir expert P Gopalakrishnan of “compensation” or “penalty” by RIL to
operate is not just contiguous but also had claimed that expeditious and exces- ONGC, that is, assuming that the position
connected to the field licensed to ONGC? sive extraction of gas had led to a “per- of the consultant in its final report will
If yes, did RIL disclose this to the MoPNG manent loss” of reserves in the KG basin not vary significantly from the position
in accordance with the provisions of and has also caused land subsidence. it took in its interim report.
Article 12 of the PSC signed by it with “Who will pay for this?” Sarma wondered. After the final report is submitted,
the Government of India? What was the what are the legal options before the
role played by the “regulatory authority,” Enforcement of Contracts aggrieved parties, whoever they may
the DGH in monitoring the extraction of Sarma is correctly of the view that man- be? RIL, ONGC, the DGH or the MoPNG
gas in the areas licensed to RIL and agement and enforcement of contracts singly or in combination could go back
ONGC? Why did the DGH and the minis- are crucial to good governance in any to the Delhi High Court seeking to redress
try not initiate action under Article 12 of sector, including the oil and gas explora- their respective grievances, if any. The
the PSC for “joint management” of the tion industry where the natural resources Supreme Court could also be petitioned.
gas field as is the global best practice in extracted are not just high in value and The parties may also choose to go
this sector? also critical to the country’s energy through a process of arbitration instead
Did the government deliberately drag security. A flawed and inadequate PSC of going to court. Time alone will tell
its feet before taking cognisance of between RIL and the MoPNG has been what will transpire. The story of the great
ONGC’s complaint resulting in a breach greatly responsible for many of the prob- Indian gas robbery is far from over.
of Rule 4 of the Petroleum and Natural lems that have been encountered during
Gas Rules of 1959 (which defines the the exploration and extraction of gas Postscript
rationale for grant of a licence), Article 3 of from the KG basin. In the case of alleged On 2 December 2015, newspapers reported
the PSC (on delineation of the licensed theft, the management committee, which that the final report had been submitted
area) and Article 30.3 of the PSC (on included representatives of the ministry, by D&M. According to the details given in
deliberate non-disclosure or false dis- apparently acquiesced in whatever RIL the news, it appears that the final report
closure by the contractor leading to a did, and the contractual provisions for is very similar, if not exactly the same,
show-cause notice for cancellation of the joint-management of the gas fields and to the interim report discussed here.
contract)? Did the government’s alleged imposition of penalties were never
inaction leave ONGC no choice but to invoked. This, Sarma points out, does not Bibliography
seek judicial intervention over the augur well for a country that is aggressive Guha, Thakurta, Paranjoy and Jyotirmoy Chaud-
huri (2014): “The Rs 30,000 Crore Fight over
head of its 70% shareholder, that is, the inviting foreign investments, including Gas,” http://www.rediff.com/business/special
Government of India? investments in the oil and gas industry. /the-rs-30,000-crore-fight-over-gas/20141205.
htm, 5 December.
The former bureaucrat claimed that It should also be noted that government- Hindu Business Line (2014): “US Consultant to Verify
this dispute should be looked at against owned companies like ONGC are expected ONGC’s Claim on Krishna–Godavari Gas,”
a backdrop of allegations of collusion to function independently and safe- http://www.thehindubusinessline .com/econ-
between particular government function- guard the interests of the shareholders, krishnagodavari-gas/article6218096.ece, 16 July.
aries and RIL on a variety of issues, which include the people of India. The Press Trust of India (2014): “ONGC-RIL Dispute:
Global Independent Consultant to Be Appoint-
including fixation of administered prices, two really “independent” former directors ed, Says Report,” 22 June, http://profit.ndtv.
besides claims of excessive capital expen- of ONGC persuaded the corporation to com/news/corporates/article-ongc-ril-dis-
diture or “gold-plating” and over-invoicing approach the Delhi High Court but the pointed-says-report-559306.
of equipment imports as had been ministry under Moily tried to prevent — (2015): “D&M Submits Draft Findings on Reli-
highlighted in a report of the CAG this from happening—it is truly ironic ance Industries, ONGC Gas Issue: Report,”
12 October, http://profit.ndtv.com/news/corpo-
presented in Parliament on September that the government as the major share- rates/article-d-m-submits-draft-findings-on-re-
2011. Sarma wondered if the government’s holder of ONGC should actively work liance-industries-ongc-gas-issue-report -1231260.
— (2015): “ONGC Has No Claims in KG Gas Row,
inaction permitted RIL to retain large against its interests and try and cause Says Reliance Industries,” http://profit.ndtv.
areas for exploration and extraction in harm to itself. com/news/industries/article-ongc-has-no-
violation of Article 4 of the PSC, thus What is likely to happen from here claims-in-kg-gas-row-says-reliance-industries
-1233052, 16 October.
“forcing” ONGC to “share” RIL’s surplus onwards? After considering the views of — (2015): http://profit.ndtv.com/news/corporates/
infrastructure. Under Article 12 of the RIL, ONGC and the DGH, D&M will be pre- article-rs-11-000-crore-ongc-gas-shifted-to-re-
liance-industries-fields-d-m-1246122, “Rs 11,000
Constitution, being a PSU, ONGC is sup- senting its final report. It is not known -Crore ONGC Gas Shifted to Reliance Indus-
posed to be an arm of the government. how soon this will take place. The US tries Fields: D&M,” 22 November.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 15


Goal (MDG) targets in relation to mater-

Maternal and Child Health nal mortality (Hindu 2015), the results of
the RSoC also show that there is some
Inching Ahead, Miles to Go positive development in indicators related
to access to services, while others are
slow in improving. As seen in Figure 1
Dipa Sinha (p 17), there is a tremendous improve-
ment in delivery care, represented by

The data from the Rapid Survey he data of the Rapid Survey on a doubling of the proportion of births
on Children conducted in 2013–14, Children 2013–14 (RSoC) conducted taking place in a medical facility as well
jointly by UNICEF and Ministry of as an increase in the births assisted by
released after an inexplicable
Women and Child Development (MWCD) health professionals. Such an increase
delay and still in a summary was finally released in July this year has been attributed by other studies to the
fashion, show some but patchy after much controversy and speculation combined efforts of the cash incentives
progress between 2005–06 on why it was not being made public. under the JSY, expansion of primary
This is the first nationally representative healthcare (PHC) services, availability of
and 2013–14 in maternal and
data set on a number of health and nutri- ambulance services, etc. However, studies
child health indicators. A tion indicators that is available after the have also raised questions on the quality
preliminary analysis indicates National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3) of care available in these institutions
that in those areas where special which was conducted in 2005–06. While and the fact that although there has been
information from other sources, such a significant progress in delivery care,
efforts were made, such as in
as microstudies, programmatic Health this does not seem to be reflected ade-
increasing institutional delivery Management Information System (HMIS) quately in the outcome indicators related
and expanding immunisation and from the Annual Health Survey (AHS) to maternal mortality and morbidity
coverage, some results are seen. (not for all states though) indicated (Rai and Singh 2012; Lim et al 2010; Ku-
some trends in health indicators, what mar and Dansereau 2014).
This calls for greater investments
was missing was comparable data that Further, Figure 1 also shows that the
in health and nutrition within a could be used to analyse not just the increase in the coverage of antenatal
more comprehensive approach. trends but also to evaluate what caused care (ANC) services has not been as
these changes. much as that in delivery services. The
While economic growth rates acceler- percentage of women making ANC visits
ated after 2005–06, this period also saw three or more times (as recommended)
a number of interventions by the central has gone up from 52% to only 63% and a
government in relation to health and similar percentage of women has reported
nutrition, including the introduction having an ANC in the first trimester.
of the National Rural Health Mission Therefore, a third of pregnant women in
(NRHM), Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and the country are still not even getting the
the expansion of the Integrated Child basic recommended ANC. This also points
Development Services (ICDS). A proper to the question on whether the single-
assessment of their impact can be possi- minded focus on enhancing institutional
ble with the availability of a recent and deliveries has taken the attention away
comparable data set, ideally available at from other essential interventions for
the individual/household level. The RSoC maternal health. Similarly postnatal care
data released as of now are only the fact (PNC) in RSoC data does not show much
sheets giving all-India and state-level change with only 39% of women receiv-
averages for some indicators and there- ing PNC within 48 hours of discharge/
fore this kind of detailed analysis is not delivery (37% in NFHS-3). The first two
yet possible. However, these do provide days after delivery are a critical period
some information to get a sense of the for mothers and check-ups during this
trends in this period. time are important to prevent maternal
Maternal Health According to the RSoC data, of the
Improving maternal health has been one mothers who were aware of the JSY and
Dipa Sinha (dipasinha@gmail.com) teaches of the main objectives of the NRHM (GoI Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK)
Economics at the School of Liberal Studies, 2005). While we know that India has failed schemes, 47% availed of the JSY but
Ambedkar University, Delhi.
to meet the Millennium Development only 14% availed of any benefits of the
16 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Figure 1: Trends in Maternal Health Indicators goes there is not as much of a change. In
90 fact, there seems to be a decline with
79 81
80 RSoC showing only 50% of children aged
70 6–8 months being fed complementary
63 NFHS-3 62
60 foods compared to 56% in NFHS-3 and
52 NFHS-2
49 further 20% children aged 6–23 months
44 44 NFHS-1 44 42
41 meeting minimum dietary diversity
33 34 35
compared to 35% earlier. While these are
25 26
worrying figures, once again a detailed
analysis is only possible when further
data from the RSoC is made available.
3 or More ANC Visits ANC in 1st Trimester Birth in Medical Facility Birth Assisted by Health Immunisation coverage has gone up
since NFHS-3, with 65% children in the
NHFS 1 pertains to 1991–92, NFHS-2 to 1998–99, NFHS-3 to 2005–06 and RSoC to 2013–14.
age group of 12–23 months being fully
JSSK. While the JSY provides for a cash with prevalence of underweight among immunised compared to 44% earlier.
incentive for institutional delivery, the children under five years of age decreas- Immunisation is also another aspect which
JSSK provides for cashless treatment ing from 43% to 29%. The data of NFHS- showed stagnation in the earlier surveys
for all services related to maternal and 2 are not directly comparable with RSoC and so it is a positive development that
neonatal health.1 because NFHS-2 collected anthropometric there now seems to be an improvement.
Overall, as far as maternal health data for only children under three years
indicators go, the RSoC data suggest that of age while RSoC reports on malnutri- State-level Trends
much more needs to be done to enhance tion data for children under five years of All past surveys have shown large state-
the access to comprehensive services for age. Once the detailed data of the RSoC wise variations in these indicators related
pregnant and lactating women. Although is available it will be possible to look at to child health and nutrition. While a
there are some improvements in access only data for children under three for detailed state-level analysis is not possible
to care in terms of women delivering in comparison with NFHS-2. here given the limits of space, some basic
institutions and/or being assisted by a Figure 2: Trends in Child Malnutrition (0–59 Months) findings are presented.
health professional during delivery, there 60 Since, there are so
are large gaps in terms of antenatal and 48 many indicators, we
postnatal care being received. 40
39 use a simple index of
Further, based on the preliminary infor- RSoC 29 child health to com-
mation available in the fact sheets, the pare the rankings of
RSoC data show that the inequities in 20
15 different states. A sim-
terms of wealth/income and caste groups 10 ilar index, called the
remain. For instance, while the percentage ABC index (Achieve-
of births taking place in an institution is Stunting Wasting Underweight ments of Babies and
93% for the highest wealth quintile, it is Figure 3: Full Immunisation Coverage (%)
Children) has been
61% among the lowest wealth quintile. 70 used in the past in the
The corresponding figures are 80% and 60 FOCUS report (CIRCUS
44% for women receiving three or more 50
2006) as well as Khera
42 44
ANCs and 49% and 23% for receiving and Dreze (2012). The
PNC within two days of delivery. index of child health2
is a simple average of
Child Health and Nutrition the normalised values
In relation to child health and nutrition of four indicators—
as well, the RSoC results present a mixed NFHS-1 NFHS-2 NFHS-3 RSoC percentage of children
bag. As far as child nutrition indicators who are fully immu-
go, there definitely seems to be a faster The data also shows an improvement nised, percentage of births taking place
rate of progress compared to earlier. in breastfeeding indicators which directly with the assistance of a health profes-
There was hardly any reduction in child influence both child mortality as well as sional, percentage of children who are
malnutrition (for children under three nutrition. According to RSoC data, 45% not underweight and percentage of chil-
years) between NFHS-2 (1998–99) and children were breastfed within 24 hours dren who survive up to the age of five
NFHS-3 (2005–06) (43% underweight in after birth and 65% of children aged 0–5 years. The index lies between 0 and 1,
NFHS-3 compared to 40% in NFHS-2). months were exclusively breastfed (25% with higher values indicating better
However, the recent RSoC data (2013– and 47% respectively, under NFHS-3). status of child health. All these indicators
14) seems to show greater improvement However, as far as complementary feeding are available from the NFHS-3 and RSoC.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 17

The RSoC does not have the under-five and nutrition outcomes remain largely used for analysis not just for research
mortality rate, which has been taken unchanged with some states being much purposes but also to inform policy and
from the Sample Registration System behind others. What are also required programme. After a long gap of eight
data for 2013 (SRS 2013). This data is pre- are studies to understand what worked years, the RSoC data is now available
sented in Table 1. in the states that achieved some success.4 making some of this analysis possible.
Table 1: Index of Child Health (2005–06, 2013–14) However, a number of issues remain
S No State % of Children % of Children % of Children % Deliveries Index of Child regarding consistency of sampling and
Who Survive Who Are Fully Who Are Not Assisted by Health
to Age 5 Immunized Underweight Health Personnel
definitions across different surveys
05–06 13–14 05–06 13–14 05–06 13–14 05–06 13–14 05–06 13–14 which makes it difficult to study trends
1 Andhra Pradesh 93.7 95.9 46 74.1 67.5 77.7 74.9 93.3 0.55 0.71 over a long period of time.5 In fact, what
2 Assam 91.5 92.7 31.4 55.3 63.6 77.8 31 74.9 0.24 0.33 we need is data that is disaggregated
3 Bihar 91.5 94.6 32.8 60.4 44.1 61.5 29.3 68.4 0.11 0.25 even further, at least to the district level.
4 Chhattisgarh 90.9 94.7 48.7 67.2 52.9 66.1 41.6 64.2 0.26 0.32
For this, the District Level Household
5 Gujarat 93.9 95.5 45.2 56.2 55.4 66.4 63 89.6 0.43 0.44
Survey (DLHS) or the AHS, both of which
6 Haryana 94.8 95.5 65.3 70.7 60.4 77.3 48.9 78.6 0.53 0.58
provide district level data but for differ-
7 Himachal Pradesh 95.8 95.9 74.2 80.2 63.5 80.5 47.8 71.6 0.62 0.64
8 Jammu and Kashmir 94.9 96 66.7 59 74.4 84.6 56.5 74.9 0.66 0.56
ent sets of states, need to be combined
9 Jharkhand 90.7 95.2 34.2 64.9 43.5 57.9 27.8 61 0.08 0.23 so that we have a nationally comparable
10 Karnataka 94.5 96.5 55 79.4 62.4 71.1 69.7 92.6 0.56 0.71 and representative data set. Moreover,
11 Kerala 98.4 98.8 75.3 83 77.1 81.5 99.4 99.5 0.98 0.97 until the NFHS-4 comes, which has been
12 Madhya Pradesh 90.6 93.1 40.3 53.5 40 63.9 32.7 79 0.10 0.23 long delayed, the RSoC can provide a
13 Maharashtra 95.3 97.4 58.8 77.4 63 74.8 68.7 93 0.61 0.77 valuable source of data provided that
14 Odisha 90.9 93.4 51.8 62 59.3 65.6 44 83.7 0.33 0.35 further details and the unit data are
15 Punjab 94.8 96.9 60.1 78.6 75.1 84 68.2 85.4 0.68 0.79 released soon.
16 Rajasthan 91.5 94.3 26.5 60.7 60.1 68.5 41 85.8 0.23 0.42
Based on the limited data available,
17 Tamil Nadu 96.4 97.7 80.9 76.3 70.2 76.7 90.6 99.5 0.86 0.83
this article looks at some main indicators
18 Uttar Pradesh 90.4 93.6 23 47 57.6 65.7 27.2 65.1 0.12 0.14
of maternal and child health, and nutri-
19 West Bengal 94 96.5 64.3 75.2 61.3 70 47.6 78.9 0.50 0.58
India 92.6 95.1 43.5 81.1 57.5 70.6 46.6 81.1 0.34 0.47
tion. What we find is that while there are
The index of child health is an unweighted average of normalised values of columns 3 to 6. To arrive at the index, the certainly some advances made in terms
indicators have been normalised using the procedure applied by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for of these indicators, the outcomes are at
the Human Development Index (HDI), namely, Yi = (Xi - Xmin) / (Xmax- Xmin) where Yi is the normalised indicator for state i,
Xi is the corresponding pre-normalisation figure, and XmaxandXminare the maximum and minimum values of the same best patchy with many areas showing
indicator across all states. The normalised indicator varies between 0 and 1 for all states, with 0 being the worst and 1 being stagnation. A preliminary look seems to
the best. A simple average of the normalised values for the three indicators is the index of child health.
Age groups: “12–23 months” for immunisation; “below 5 years” for nutrition. indicate that in those areas where special
All data for 2005–06 is from NFHS-3. Data for all indicators for 2013–14 is from RSoC except for children who survive to age efforts were made, such as increasing
5 which is from SRS (2013).
The absolute values of the index are strictly not comparable over two periods because of the normalisation applied. institutional delivery and expanding
Inferences can however be obtained on the basis of ranking of states. immunisation coverage, some results are
At both time points, Kerala, Tamil The RSoC does collect some data on seen. This calls for greater investments
Nadu, Punjab and Maharashtra are access to anganwadi centres and their in health and nutrition with a more
amongst the best performers. This is borne services. Once again with the limited comprehensive approach addressing
out by other studies as well. Amongst the data available, it is difficult to make various aspects together. In the current
poorly performing states are the north useful comparisons. A cursory look does context, where the central government
Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, show some expansion in the outreach of in the name of decentralisation is with-
Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar the ICDS. For example, 49% of children drawing from its responsibility in many
Pradesh. While these states have been under three years are reported to be of these issues, there is a need to
ranked in the bottom on indicators of availing of supplementary nutrition in rethink whether that is a wise strategy.
health and nutrition for a long time, RSoC compared to 32.5% in NFHS-3 (44% What is also worrying is that some
what the RSoC data show is that most of and 33% respectively for children in the of the crucial central interventions on
these states show some advance, although age group of 3–6 years). However, unit nutrition and health have seen a mas-
still far behind the levels of Kerala or level data is necessary to make any further sive cut in expenditure after the Four-
Tamil Nadu.3 Uttar Pradesh, however, is sense of how such an expansion could teenth Finance Commission’s recom-
a cause for concern as not only does it have affected nutrition outcomes. mendations. Some states remain far be-
have the worst index for child health, there hind and need all the support that they
is also relatively slow improvement in the Concluding Remarks can possibly get and, overall, while we
years since 2005. While it is beyond the One of the main issues related to health might be moving ahead, India still has
scope of this article to analyse the reasons and nutrition data in India is the lack of large gaps to fill as far as providing
for these regional differences, what is regular monitoring data that is available universal health and nutrition services
clear is that the regional patterns in health at a disaggregated level, that can be are concerned.
18 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

notes References opinion/child-development-kerala-tops-gujarat-

1 See http://www.nhp.gov.in/janani-shishu-sura- CIRCUS (2006): Focus on Children under Six, Citizens’ flops-bihar-hops-1244716?pfrom=home-
ksha-karyakaram-jssk_pg. Initiative for the Rights of Children under Six, opinion.
2 The same index for 2005–06 was also used in New Delhi. Kumar, S and Dansereau E (2014): “Supply-Side
Sinha (2013). Economist (2015): “Nutrition in India: Of Secrecy and Barriers to Maternity-Care in India: A Facility-
3 Tamil Nadu also seems to show stagnation. A Stunting,” 4 July, http://www.economist.com/ Based Analysis,” PLoS ONE, Vol 9, No 8.
look at the indicators shows that this is because news/asia/21656709-government-withholds- Lim, Stephen S, Lalit Dandona and Joseph A Hoising-
of the decline in immunisation coverage while report-nutrition-contains-valuable-lessons-se- ton, et al (2010): “India’s Janani Suraksha Yojana,
other indicators show improvement. For a couple crecy-and A Conditional Cash Transfer Programme to
of years following a few deaths of children Increase Births in Health Facilities: An Impact
GoI (2005): “National Rural Health Mission: Evaluation,” Lancet, Vol 375, No 9730, pp 2009–23.
(allegedly as a result of immunisation), there Meeting People’s Health Needs in Rural
was a decline in immunisation in the state. This Menon, Purnima and Aparna John (2015): “A Re-
Areas,” Framework for Implementation 2005–12,
was also possible because as a response to the view of Data on Nutrition in India: Preliminary
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New
deaths the Government of Tamil Nadu withdrew Findings,” POSHAN Project, IFPRI, http://
immunisation in the community by the village poshan.ifpri.info/files/2015/02/Menon_India-
health nurses and required all people to go to a Hindu (2015): “India Way Behind on WHO Health NutritionData_GNR-Delhi_Feb-2015-v6.pdf.
health facility for the same. The reasons for the Targets,” 14 May, http://www.thehindu.com/ Rai, Rajesh Kumar and Prashant Kumar Singh (2012):
declining trend in immunisation in Tamil Nadu news/national/india-way-behind-on-world-hea- “Janani Suraksha Yojana: The Conditional Cash
need to be looked into carefully and also lth-organisation-health-targets/artic le7202- Transfer Scheme to Reduce Maternal Mortality
checked whether this has continued over time. 411.ece. in India–A Need for Reassessment,” WHO South-
4 For some discussion on reasons for state-wise Khera, Reetika and Jean Dreze (2012): Regional East Asia Journal of Public Health, Vol 1, No 4,
variations and a similar index also see Khera Patterns of Human and Child Deprivation in pp 362–68.
and Dreze (2015). India, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 47, No 39, Sinha, Dipa (2013): “Health and Human Develop-
5 See Menon and John (2015) for details on com- 29 September. ment: Comparative Experiences of Tamil Nadu
paring nutrition data from different surveys in — (2015): “Child Development: Kerala Tops, Guja- and Uttar Pradesh,” unpublished dissertation,
India. rat Flops, Bihar Hops,” http://www.ndtv.com/ Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 19


Chennai’s Rain Check Unfortunately, successive governments

have allowed for weaker plans and poor
enforcement of the rules; they have even
Fifteen Years and Counting pushed for amendments that regularise
violations and exemptions that will
benefit the more affluent.
Satyarupa Shekhar, Madonna Thomas
Submitting to Real Estate

The recent floods in Chennai hennai remains unprepared to The state’s approach to city governance
are a fallout of real estate combat rains every year. This, can be seen to be exemplified by the case
despite various citizens’ groups of the Adyar Poonga, an eco-park built
riding roughshod over the city’s
calling for the need to abide by planning on fragile estuarine lands of the Adyar
waterbodies. Facilitated by an rules and regulations since the past 15 creek. In 1993, a group of civil society
administration that tweaked years. The current floods in Chennai are organisations comprising Citizen Con-
and modified building rules and a wake-up call to everyone to think sumer and Civic Action Group (CAG),
about how the city has developed Exnora and the Environment Society of
urban plans, the real estate
without any reflection on the implica- Madras filed a case in the Madras High
boom has consumed the city’s tions of violating the urban ecology, in- Court to restrain Tamil Nadu for build-
lakes, ponds, tanks and cluding our rivers, lakes, wetlands and ing activity and housing projects. The
large marshlands. open spaces. petition sought to protect five major
Tamil Nadu experiences severe water lakes in Ambattur, Kakkalur, Nolambur
shortages and water stagnation/flood- and Chitlapakkam from being converted
ing every year. The recent policy focus into residential sites and an Ambedkar
in the state has been on groundwater Memorial. Unfortunately, the court
recharge through rainwater harvesting, ruled that the government could use 1.5
but in practice, the public water utility acres—rather than the original 45
has been acquiring “water fields”—public acres—for the memorial to be set up.
agricultural lands in the peripheries of Through the 1990s and 2000s, this frag-
Chennai—where the levels and quality ile estuarine area was overrun with ex-
of groundwater is amenable to cater to tensive construction that included the
[This article was written before the rains the city’s burgeoning water demands. Leela Palace hotel and several high-end
and floodings restarted on Sunday, Simultaneously, poor planning practices residential and commercial buildings. In
29 November 2015.]
and lax enforcement of building rules 1995, M A M Ramasamy, a real estate
Satyarupa Shekhar (satyarupa.shekhar@cag.org. have resulted in the majority of the baron, sought permissions to construct
in) and Madonna Thomas are with the Citizen city’s lakes and ponds being built over, multistorey buildings close on a portion
Consumer and Civic Action Group, Chennai.
obstructing its natural hydrology. of the estuarine lands.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 19

In 1996, the Chennai Metropolitan constructions have taken place therein illegal constructions till 1999. The state
Development Authority (CMDA), the city’s in the form of construction of residential also extended regularisation schemes in
apex planning agency, gave the necessary quarters for ministers and other govern- 2000, 2001 and 2002. CAG had challenged
planning permission after the builder ment officials, including the construction Section 113A in 1999 and each of the sub-
had paid the requisite fees and trans- of residential quarters for the members sequent regularisation schemes in 2000,
ferred 2,321 square metres of land under of the Legislative Assembly, etc.” Though 2001 and 2002, respectively. In 2006,
the open space reservation (OSR) rule to the government has repeatedly removed Justice A P Shah held that the government
the Corporation of Chennai. The Corpora- slums and informal settlements from the could regularise violations till 22 Febru-
tion of Chennai was to give the building areas adjoining the river under the guise of ary 1999 and directed that a monitoring
permission but objected that the proposed safeguarding them, it has also frequently committee be set up within the CMDA to
building violated the Coastal Regulation allocated land and built low income frame the guidelines and penalties for this
Zone (CRZ) prescriptions of no construc- housing in large marshlands and natural process. However, in 2007 the government
tion within 500 metres of the high tide line. catchment areas in the city, such as proposed further amendments to the
However, Ramasamy furnished evidence Semmenchery, amplifying the vulner- T&CP Act 1971 to allow for regularisa-
that the site was located 720 metres— abilities of the urban poor. All this while tions till 1 July 2007. When this was chal-
well beyond the high tide line, and also the state—both the judiciary and the lenged in 2007, the high court ruled that
got the Indian Institute of Madras (IIT executive—have abetted and even par- the ­government could take actions for the
Madras) to state that a public road was taken in the acquisition and degradation purpose of administration, but that it could
already in existence between the creek of wetlands and w ­ aterbodies. only do so by framing proper rules and
and the building site. In 1997, Rama- guidelines. As a result, the Justice Mohan
samy petitioned the Madras High Court Making It Easy Committee was set up on 1 June 2007 to
to mandate the Corporation of Chennai Several citizen groups have also been look into the regularisation process till
(CoC) to give the necessary permission criticising such dilution of planning 2007 and its recommendations were rati-
and received a favourable response. The rules and guidelines. CAG had challen­ged fied as guidelines and rules in Go 234 and
CoC, having already sought and acquired the Tamil Nadu government’s decision 235, respectively. The reco­mmendations
the OSR lands and unable to contest the to regularise building violations in the under GO 234 were r­ eje­­cted by the high
planning permission given by the CMDA, Madras High Court in 1987. In 1998, the court because they were too liberal.
was compelled to give its permission. Government of Tamil Nadu introduced Fourteen years after the government
The CAG challenged this order in Section 113A, an amendment to the Town had promised the high court in 1999 that
1997 on grounds of public interest but and Country Planning (T&CP) Act 1971, it would enforce the rules, it amended
lost on account of the area “booming with and framed the relevant rules under the T&CP Act with Section 113C allowing
developmental activities and several Government Order (GO) 190 to regularise for further exemptions, and set up yet

The Problem of Caste

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20 DECEMBER 5, 2015  vol l no 49  EPW   Economic & Political Weekly

another committee—the Justice Rajes- the devastation from unexpected flood- the site where low income communities
waran Committee (JRC)—to frame the ing to the results of nature and climate were allocated land. The Pallikaranai
rules and guidelines. The JRC recom- change when in fact it is a result of poor marshlands, once a site for beautiful
mendations are far more liberal than planning and infrastructure. In Chen- migratory birds, are now home to the
even the provisions of Go 234 of the nai, as in several cities across the coun- second of the two landfills in the city where
T&CP Act—that had been rejected by the try, we are experiencing the wanton the garbage is rapidly leeching into the
Madras High Court. For example, where destruction of our natural buffer zones— water and killing the delicate ecosystem.
the GO 234 prohibited all developments rivers, creeks, estuaries, marshlands, These are all human-made disasters
in the Aquifer Recharge Area and the lakes—in the name of urban renewal and we need to take drastic steps to
Red Hills Catchment Area, JRC allows and environmental conservation. The immediately arrest and reverse these
developments with negligible safeguards. Tamil Nadu government created the developments. It is critical that we have
Similarly, where the GO 234 stated that Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT), high quality data and knowledge of our
no buildings with any encroachment, earlier called the Adyar Poonga Trust, to urban ecology and built drainage net-
including aerial encroachments, on to implement the Adyar eco-park and the works in the public domain, the lack of
waterbodies shall be considered for Cooum restoration projects. But in reality, which has crippled the impact of citizens
exemption, the JRC has permitted develop- this is yet another institutional mechanism and activists in the city. One immediate
ments on sites within 15 m from the that is facilitating the development of need for a map of the current floods
waterbody subject to conditions imposed transportation and other infrastructure would be to identify the most vulnerable
by the Public Works Department/Execu- along the rivers. There have been frequent neighbourhoods to sharpen the govern-
tive Authority. The JRC also states that statements about the threat to the rivers’ ment’s response, particularly for the urban
“in cases where the construction is made sustainability posed by sewage outflows poor. By adding information about the
in the land use zoning which is in- and this has been used to facilitate further contours and elevation of the city we can
compatible to the land use, the applicant evictions. However, CAG has made note create zones of risks from future instances
cannot make any additional construc- of several instances where large drains are of flooding and the resulting potential
tion in future and has to give an under- emptying sewage and industrial efflu- vulnerabilities.
taking to that effect.” ents into the Cooum River that cannot We would also use such a map to assess
By going well beyond the terms of possibly have been generated by the slum the extent of damage to life and property,
Section 113A ostensibly to provide reme- dwellers living close to the banks. Yet, and to monitor if the government’s current
dial procedures that extend well beyond we see evictions underway without any relief and response efforts are appropriate.
CMDA parameters, the JRC recommenda- action on the real polluters. The current Identifying the extent to which the state
tions seek to obfuscate the issue of rains and floods have, ironically, strength- has built low income housing in flood-
penalising violators and making the vio- ened the government’s argument for the plains and catchment areas would be
lated buildings follow the CMDA’s plan- need to protect slum dwellers but where a powerful tool to challenge such an
ning norms. Through the setting up of they will be moved remains to be seen. approach that places the urban poor in
scrutiny and core committees with The Kosathalayar River basin joins situations that amplify their vulner-
specific empanelled professionals, the Pulicat Lake, Madhavaram–Manali wet- abilities. Such a map can also be layered
JRC seeks to shift accountability from lands and the Puzhal, Korattur and with information about other public
the promoters and owners of these viola- Retteri lakes before draining into the sea infrastructure, such as primary health-
tions. It is evident that the current floods at the Ennore creek. The CMDA classified care centres, dispensaries, public toilets,
in Chennai are not natural disaster but a large portion of this area as a “Special storm water drain network and municipal
can be attributed almost entirely to un- and Hazardous Industrial Area” in the landfills, to enable analyses on their
restrained construction and repeated Master Plan–2026, and the Ennore creek quality and adequacy. Mapping informa-
regularisations of violations, and con- that used to be home to sprawling man- tion on the extent and nature of viola-
tinuing on our current path will not only groves is fast disappearing with soil tions and encroachments and the ways
lavishly reward lawbreakers but is a foot dredged from the sea being dumped in which violators compromise public
in the door for those who desire to make there. The Kodungaiyur dump site in the health, safety and convenience of other
a case for future transgressions, even if Madhavaram–Manali wetlands is one of residents of the city to make a compel-
the recommendations made by various two municipal landfills that service the ling case for the city’s planning and
committees emphatically state that they city. Velachery and Pallikaranai marsh- monitoring authorities to enforce build-
are only for stipulated periods. lands are a part of the Kovalam basin ing norms, impose penalties on violators
that was the southern-most of the four and to reclaim ecologically valuable
Another Institutional Mechanism river basins for the city. Today, the areas. But most importantly, it is critical
Today, we have the chief minister of slightest rains cause flooding and water that such maps and data are in the public
Tamil Nadu stating that officials are stagnation in Velachery, home to the domain so that citizens are better able to
doing the best they can in the face of a city’s largest mall, several other com- challenge governments and hold public
natural disaster. It is easy to attribute mercial and residential buildings, and also officials to account.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 21

Given that in India the out-of-pocket

The Essential Cancer Drugs (OOP) expenditure as a percentage of
private expenditure on health has always
remained on the higher end,2 a large
Vasudha Wattal segment of Indian consumers often find
such therapies extremely unaffordable.

There are no public procurement he move to bring about some So, while one may not question the
programmes for cancer on changes to the National List of essentiality of cancer medicines as such,
Essential Medicines (NLEM) has the question of who bears the responsi-
the lines of those that exist
been much in discussion at the Indian bility for updating the list of essential
for AIDS or tuberculosis. It is price regulator’s office, the National Phar- medicines may in fact be subject to some
worth considering whether it maceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA). The scrutiny. Towards revising the NLEM
is feasible to institute a drug recommendation has now been approved 2003, the Ministry of Health and Family
by the authority and found its way to the Welfare set up a core committee com-
procurement programme
Department of Pharmaceuticals earlier in prising ministry officials, officials from
based on international/ March 2015. The suggested changes the Central Drugs Standard Control
national competitive bidding include addition of 12 cancer drugs and Organisation (CDSCO) as well as the Indian
or shopping, like those already deletion of three medications which are Pharmacopoeia Commission, and senior
believed to be not in much use for cancer medical practitioners. This committee
in place in the National AIDS
treatment in India. This recommenda- updated the list after a series of national
Control Organisation. If patients tion, if accepted, will automatically bring consultations with specialists and thereby
in developed countries are all these drugs under price control. While came up with the NLEM 2011. A core
finding it difficult to survive the it is not the first time that cytotoxic drugs committee has since been reconvened
are being considered for inclusion in the under the chairmanship of Director
astronomical prices of cancer
NLEM, there seem to be two things about General of the Indian Council of Medical
drugs, a developing country like this issue that need greater clarity. One is Research to revise and update the NLEM
India, with a large part of its the involvement of the price regulatory 2011. While this committee is yet to sub-
population below the poverty body rather than the health ministry in a mit its suggestions, the NPPA, on the
matter that concerns identification of directive of the government, has come up
line or among the middle class, is
medicines essential for the Indian popula- with a list of its own recommendations.
even worse affected in the battle tion, and the other revolves around However, it should be noted that the list
against the disease. understanding the need for price control of 12 drugs that has been considered by
at all in the case of cancer drugs. the NPPA is not its own suggestion but is
said to be based on the recommenda-
Essentiality of Cancer tions of experts from a reputed oncology
Essential medicines, as defined in the centre in Mumbai, the Tata Memorial
preamble of the NLEM 2011, are those Centre. Regardless, the involvement of
that satisfy the priority needs of the two ministries has created some confu-
majority of the population while addre- sion as to whether price control is based
ssing the disease burden specific to the on NLEM or the NLEM is decided as per
country. Its primary purpose lies in the need for price control.
ensuring rational use of medicines bear-
ing in mind three factors: cost, safety Price Control and Competition
and efficacy. Given that cancer accounts Rarely has a debate on the pricing policy
for 6.7% of total deaths in India,1 it com- for pharmaceuticals ever died down
mands significant attention in terms of without a fight. The argument most
its contribution to the disease burden. strongly voiced by critics of price regula-
Out of these, oral and prostate cancer tion policies is that they tend to stifle
among men, and cervical and breast innovation and prices should be left to
cancer among women, are the rapidly free market adjustments. Now, a free
growing concerns in India. Further- and a competitive market presupposes
more, delayed diagnoses and inadequate consumer sovereignty, advance price
Vasudha Wattal (vwattal@gmail.com) is a or suboptimum treatment, especially information and price competition,
researcher at the Indian Council for Research when the patient is unable to access or factors which are often missing in the
on International Economic Relations, New complete the therapy, lead to poor can- healthcare sector, and is a major reason
cer survival (Mallath et al 2014). why governments end up regulating
22 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

prices for hospitals, physicians and drugs billions of dollars to clinical research. It Rs 8,00,000 (for Trastuzumab used for
(Hsiao 1995). The market for cancer is indeed true that firms need to recoup treatment of breast cancer).4 Thus, the
drugs, specifically, has never been gov- the costs and also generate funds for cost of one drug alone is 10 times the
erned by free market forces, and the rea- further investment in research and de- earnings of an average individual in a
sons for this are manifold. In cancer velopment. However, one may question given year. This figure is yet to include
therapy, each drug has an effective whether the high prices are truly reflec- the cost of cancer diagnostics and radia-
monopoly by itself. This does not neces- tive of the clinical benefit that these tion therapy which itself runs into lakhs
sarily hold only when a drug is patented. drugs provide. Recognising this con- of rupees.
In the treatment of a largely incurable cern, in the UK, the National Institute for So while deliberating on the inclusion
condition such as cancer, each drug ends Health and Care Excellence (NICE) eval- of life-saving drugs in the list of those
up being used at some point during the uates a new drug based on such param- which are price controlled, let us look at
course of treatment. Consider, for exam- eters and then takes a decision on the other purposes that the NLEM could
ple, there are four drugs to treat a particu- whether it should be made available in meet. The NLEM document clearly out-
lar type of cancer. Here unlike other dis- the country. Even in the US, drugs that lines the potential uses that this list could
ease conditions, it is not possible to pick offer modest benefit and an uncertain be put to, including those of a guidance
the most cost-effective medication out of chance of overall survival combined document for hospital drug policies,
the lot. It is very likely that the doctor will with extremely high costs, come across procurement and supply of medicines in
use each of them at some time (Siddiqui as a challenge while expending public the public sector, reimbursement of medical
and Rajkumar 2012). It is also not possible funds (Hillner and Smith 2009). expenses and medical donations. There
to induce competition at a later stage In addition, there is also the matter of are, as per my knowledge, no public pro-
through molecules in the same pharma- just how high prices should really be in curement programmes for cancer on the
cological class or even clinically inter- order to reflect the cost of innovation. lines of those that exist for AIDS or tuber-
changeable drugs belonging to different Various pricing methods to achieve a culosis. It is worth considering here
classes. The reason for this lies in not only “reasonable” level of profit have been whether it is feasible to institute a drug
the fact that competition among drugs suggested by economists such as Peter procurement programme based on in-
approved for the same cancer indication is Arno and Alan Garber which, while ternational/national competitive bidding
hardly ever based on price (Kantarijan keeping intact some of the incentives for (ICB/NCB) or shopping, like those already
and Rajkumar 2015), but also that among developing new drugs, will limit distor- in place in the National AIDS Control
cancer drugs there are no “substitutes,” tion resulting from market pricing. How- Organisation (NACO). If patients in deve-
only replacements. Therefore, as the newer ever, making these calculations itself loped countries are finding it difficult to
versions display enhanced overall sur- runs into numerous practical bottle- survive these astronomical prices, a deve-
vival or improved progression-free sur- necks, and increases the risk of pushing loping country like India, with a large
vival, they tend to replace the now obso- away investors and thereby drug availa- part of its population below the poverty
lete older versions. These and other fac- bility (Maitland 2002). line or among the middle class, is even
tors have raised concerns even in the US worse affected in the battle against can-
about the rising cost of cancer drugs. To Control or Not cer. Thus having a mechanism for dealing
While the US does not have any price con- Regulation of pharmaceutical prices is with this deadly disease should be given
trol mechanisms, several other European not specific to India alone and in several due consideration. As Edmund Burke put
countries, such as France, Germany and Organisation for Economic Co-operation it, “What is the use of discussing a man’s
the UK do, and hence are able to maintain and Development (OECD) countries where abstract right to food and medicine? The
relatively lower prices. various forms of pricing policies exist, question is upon the method of procuring
The problem is complicated further the pharmaceutical companies are will- and administering them.”5
when cancer patients stick to more ex- ing to negotiate a lower price to gain
pensive innovator/original brands rather entry to these markets.3 This suggests Notes
than switching to available cheaper that there may not be an immediate 1 IHME 2013 as cited in Bloom et al (2014).
2 As per World Bank statistics, in India, the out-
generics, even when some of the original threat to availability from instituting
of pocket health expenditure as a percentage of
brands are astronomically priced and lower prices, given that there is scope for private expenditure on health has remained in
may increase the overall lifespan only by earnings to be made from the sheer size the range of 80%–90% for more than 10 years
and as of 2013 it stands at 85.9%. For details,
a few days or weeks. This makes patients of the market. see http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.
especially vulnerable to high costs in But in the present scenario, accessibi- XPD.OOPC.ZS/countries/1W-IN?display=default.
countries like India with little or no lity does seem like a potential concern. 3 This argument has also been used to encourage
value-based pricing policies for cancer drugs in
health insurance. According to the Economic Survey of the US, given that its market size is fairly large
It may also be argued whether these India 2014–15, India’s per capita net na- among all OECD countries. See Siddiqui and
Raj Kumar (2012: 940–41).
reasons are sufficient to warrant price tional income is Rs 88,533 while the
4 See NPPA order http://www.nppaindia.nic.in/
control over such drugs that are manu- highest cost of treatment amongst the 12 order/om19-78-13-21-11-14.pdf.
factured after expending years and drugs recommended by the NPPA is 5 As quoted in Maitland (2002).

Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 23


References Effectiveness: A Case Study in the Challenges Mallath, Mohandas K, David G Taylor, Rajendra A
Associate With 21st Century Cancer Drug Pric- Badwe, Goura K Rath, V Shanta, C S Pramesh and
Bloom, D E, Elizabeth T Cafiero-Fonseca, Vanessa Richard Sullivan (2014): “The Growing Burden of
Candeias, Eli Adashi, Lakshmi Reddy Bloom, ing,” Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 27, No 13,
pp 2111–13. Cancer in India: Epidemiology and Social Con-
Lauren Gurfein, Eva Jané-Llopis, Alyssa Lubet,
Elizabeth Mitgang, Jennifer Carroll O’Brien Hsiao, William C (1995): “Abnormal Economics in text,” The Lancet Oncology, Vol 15, No 6, e205–e212.
and Akshar Saxena (2014): “Economics of Non- the Health Sector,” Health Policy, Vol 32, No 1, Maitland, Ian (2002): “Priceless Goods: How Should
Communicable Diseases in India: The Costs Life-saving Drugs Be Priced?,” Business Ethics
pp 125–39.
and Returns on Investment of Interventions to Quarterly, Vol 12, No 4, pp 451–80.
Promote Healthy Living and Prevent, Treat, Kantarijan, Hagop and S Vincent Rajkumar (2015): Siddiqui, Mustaqeem and S Vincent Rajkumar
and Manage NCDs,” World Economic Forum, “Why Are Cancer Drugs So Expensive in the (2012): “The High Cost of Cancer Drugs and
Harvard School of Public Health. United States and What Are the Solutions?,” What We Can Do About It,” Mayo Clinic Pro-
Hillner, Bruce E and Thomas J Smith (2009): “Effi- Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(4), 500–04. 10. 1016 ceedings, Vol 87, No 10, pp 935–43, doi:10.
cacy Does Not Necessarily Translate to Cost /j.mayocp.2015.01.014. 1016/j.mayocp. 2012.07.007.

24 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


Writing the Present alternative mode of coexistence, social,

economic and political institutions rep-
resent vectors of interest but not the
entire field of engagement.
Lata Mani We need a fresh language—visual, lin-
guistic, analytic—for thinking about the
Critical discourse in India has I can’t help but dream about a kind of criti- present. We need a language that enables
cism that would try not to judge but to bring… us to pause and reflect on the things we
largely been shaped by the social an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the
witness, not merely possess facts and fig-
sciences. This article suggests that grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the
sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would ures about them. What dominates today
the exploratory sensibility of the multiply not judgments but signs of existence; is positivist, instrumental, technical–
arts and the humanities has a it would summon them, drag them from their managerial and teleological thinking.
sleep. Perhaps it would invent them some- This perspective has served to anaesthe-
specific and productive times- all the better. All the better.
tise us to the violence of neo-liberalism,
contribution to make in the present —Michel Foucault, “The Masked Philosopher,”
(Rabinow 1997: 323) making it seem rational and historically
context in which knowledge is inevitable. The challenges to power have

instrumentalised and language n the contemporary period the lan- primarily cast their critique within the
deemed transactional. guage of power and that of critique is dialectic of subjugation and resistance, with
shaped by an instrumental concep- the affective dimension being comprised
tion. Both bring a forensic sensibility to of a potent mix of rage, nostalgia, fear and
their tasks, marshalling facts, contesting a modicum of hope. But there is more,
their veracity and significance, arguing much more to be said; and prior to that,
over details. The form of engagement even more to be noticed and restored to
resembles a joust. Arguments collide, at the centre of our consciousness.
times fragment each other, but most One of the ruses of power is to pretend
often follow parallel trajectories with no as if that which it desires already exists
hope of convergence. The discursive tem- and, if it does not already exist, will do
perature tends to be hot and the rhythm so given time. A particular idea of the
of the prose urgent and pointed. We can- future dominates; and the present is
not be surprised if this context favours a deemed no more than a staging ground
retreading of normative ground over a for its emergence. From this perspective,
re-visioning of possibilities, the didactic the past is rubble, the present inconse-
certainty of judgment over the exploratory quential, and the future the only thing
sensibility of literature and poetry. that matters. But, however much it may
When critique is enmeshed in the dis- be wished away, it is the present in
cursive practices of the ruling paradigm, which we live. It is in the present that
its ability “to bring an idea to life” is the past is lived and relived, imagined
deeply compromised. Politics is not solely and reimagined, pilloried and em-
a contest over access to power, decision- braced. And it is on the present that the
making, and legitimate social authority. future is sought to be imposed. Atten-
It is equally a practice and a space for tion to the present thus becomes critical.
imagining, reimagining, how we might What is the role of the arts and the
live with each other and with the rest of humanities in this context? It is in part to
Lata Mani (maillatamani@yahoo.com) writes the phenomenal world. When conceived make palpable as experience those ab-
from Bengaluru.
as a struggle for a form of life, for an stractions that shape the ruling paradigm
24 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

and, in enabling us to feel their implica- sounds of the night: the symphony of an idea that is especially relevant to the
tions and effects, lead us towards under- crickets, frogs, the hoot of the owl, the argument of this essay. The circle of con-
standing what the abstraction serves to rustling of leaves, the footfalls of humans, fusion is the region in which objects
occlude, mask or distort. Put another snippets of conversation trailing in the gradually go from being out of focus, to
way, it is to represent the density, par- wind. These sounds are as intrinsic to being in sharp focus, to once again mov-
ticularity and rich complexity of lived urban life as the resonant echo of a pres- ing out of focus. Playing within the circle
experience and in that process unsettle sure horn or vehicles accelerating, decel- enables one to experiment with the way
the ability of an abstraction to continue erating and squealing to a halt. Urban light-rays transform objects, at once
to make sense. I would argue that it is at nature is teeming, not merely endan- revealing things hitherto not visible and
this epistemological level that we need gered. Life springs forth in empty plots, remaking what we see. It is a fertile
to intervene; calling into question not abandoned lots, even in manicured parks; metaphor for understanding interpretation
only the so-called facts claimed as true from every crack and crevice in the not as surgical dissection and conclusive
by current thinking but countering its pavement. Yet the imagined soundscape revelation, but as the art of exploring
assumptions with an altogether different of the city, or of nightlife as we tend to the perceptual–conceptual depth of field.
imagination. The word theory comes think of it, hardly ever summons these We open ourselves to observing how
from theoria, meaning the act of obser- facts. Grandi and I set out to explore playing with focal depth illumines ob-
vation. What is it that is right here and these dimensions of the city at night. jects and phenomena in new ways, ena-
which we fail to see? And what textual, It was important to us to offer an bling us to travel from familiar zones of
aural or visual forms might enable a dif- experience of integrated plurality: not clarity to those spaces contiguous to
ferent quality of attentiveness? simply a multiplicity of elements or stim- them that are currently blurred so far as
uli (the promise of urbanism) or their we are concerned. It illustrates how al-
Experiment I: The Video-poem manipulation through technological tering the angle of perception not only
A video-poem is neither filmed poetry nor means (as with commercial entertain- remakes what we see, but also the place
poetry on camera. It is an effort to remake ment). Without disavowing the con- from which we see and by extension the
the relations between image, text and structed nature of the narrative, we mode of our witnessing.
sound. According to Tom Conyves (2012), sought to build into it something of the Signs of existence pulse around us.
As one word, it indicates that a fusion of the
expansive sensuousness of the natural Whether it is aesthetic or ritual practice,
visual, the verbal and the audible has oc- world and the difficulty of taking hold forms of sociality or pleasure, much of
curred, resulting in a new, different form of it cognitively. And to do this while what neo-liberal ideology codes as passé,
of poetic experience. As one word, it rec- respecting the ability of a viewer to navi- backward or else dismisses as local, inci-
ognises that a century of experiments with
gate the shifting thresholds of the dental, irrelevant, insignificant, residual
poetry in film and video…is the narrative
of a gradual movement from the tenuous,
known, the unknowable and that which or in need of being cleared away, is not
anxious relationship of image and text to is yet to be discovered. Image, text and just here but is thriving. Paying attention
their rare but perceptible synthesis, i e, from sound were crafted to this end. to this fact, to these practices, we can
poetry films to film poems to poetry videos Nocturne I addressed urban nature trace at a micro-level some of the pro-
to videopoetry.
while Nocturne II took as its object the found cultural transformations that are
Nocturne I and Nocturne II were col- built environment. In both cases a single even now underway. In doing so, we can
laborations with Nicolás Grandi (Grandi line of text was written once the visual introduce tonalities not audible in the
and Mani 2013). Grandi’s interest in assembly was almost complete. In Noc- clash and clang of macro policy debates.
refreshing the image in an era of visual turne I, “Every tree a forest” sought to
excess intersected with my interest in extend the visual play of shadow and Experiment II: The Multi-genre
the potency of words as a non-transparent light, mystery and illumination. The Collection
medium capable of evoking at once mys- words appear one by one, part-way The video-poems extend preoccupations
tery, surprise, clarity and complexity. through the video-poem and form a full I had been pursuing through the multi-
This magical propensity of words to sentence only towards the end. By con- genre monograph, in which a broad the-
make new meaning had ceded ground to trast, “Immanence is Plenitude” in Noc- matic concern was sought to be ad-
neo-liberalism’s drive to literalise lan- turne II arrives at the very beginning as dressed by interweaving analytic prose
guage, to fix meaning in pursuit of a declaration, and fragments of it repeat with poetry, the observational with the
globalised, frictionless communication. throughout the video-poem—“im tude,” sociocultural (Mani 2009, 2013). The
How might one experiment with the “nence is,” “ma ple,” et cetera. The words intent was to move towards a more explo-
image–text relationship to restore to flash like neon lights insistently chal- ratory orientation, away from critique-
both the ability to convey mystery, sur- lenging the conflation of plenitude with as-wrecking-ball. The impulse grew
prise, clarity and complexity? consumption in the imagination of from a realisation that many dimensions
There was, additionally, a shared urban life. of existence fell outside the restricted,
interest in sound. Indeed, the idea for the In using a telephoto lens to carve into and restricting, purview of dominant
video-poem emerged from the everyday the dark of the night, Grandi works with narratives. An extract.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 25

The Room: has chosen to keep. Owner and object are thus marginal and insignificant, what did it
free to be in the present, as is the visitor. So it suggest about the kinds of stories that
Brother and sister live atop a flight of stairs
is that we feel spaciousness amidst the clutter.
that is in complete disrepair. A 10-foot-by-10-
And the freedom to encounter the scene with-
needed to be told? What might this con-
foot room doubles as a living-cum-sleeping text call for in terms of narrative form?
out past or future remaking what is before us
area. To its right is a tiny enclosure that is
the kitchen. Neither bathroom nor toilet are
(Mani 2013: 29-31). I felt that there was an analytical
in evidence; they are presumably to be found The Room is one of a set of inter woven argument to be made addressing the
off the dark corridor to the right of the en- pieces about Avenue Road, the main multidimensionality of issues involved.
try door and shared with others on the same artery of Bengaluru’s wholesale district. But there was also an ethos to be con-
floor. It is hard to believe that their grand-
father once owned many of the properties on In 2009, when the street was under jured: dispassionately, non-polemically,
this narrow street that abuts Avenue Road. threat of being widened I spent exten- evocatively. And given the discursive
The room is gaily cluttered. Photographs, sive time in its environs. (The matter violence of the arguments for road wid-
calendars and wall hangings festoon every
remains undecided.) The proposal had ening, it was critical to attend to lan-
inch of available space. Elders, youngsters,
gods, goddesses, certificates and plaques are divided the community though it guage and rhetoric. I also felt that, as
nailed to the wall or neatly placed on the seemed that, on the whole, opposition to with other issues related to “the develop-
shelves that line it. A rope is strung across the widening Avenue Road outstripped sup- ment imperative,” it was important to
room like an aerial bridge. On it hangs what is
port of it. Activists surveyed the area, proceed by means eccentric to the cir-
left of an old curtain made of wooden beads
and clothes in need of airing. Beneath it, a fish estimated how many buildings would be cuits along which the debate was unfold-
tank filled with utilitarian and ornamental destroyed, the numbers of workers and ing. To travel directly on its pathways
items serves as a curio cabinet. It would seem families that would be affected and the was to risk being swept into a centripetal
that every object ever bought or received has
been retained and given a place.
practical difficulties of widening a vortex, to be sucked in and drowned out
Although the room is small and the objects narrow, densely populated thorough- even before one could be heard.
many, one does not feel overwhelmed. A quiet fare. Alternatives to widening Avenue It was in response to this intuition that
dignity pervades the space. The objects seem Road were also mapped out in detail. Avenue Road Suite came to be written as
to exist in and as themselves. They do not ap-
pear to carry the burden of family history or
Discussions with traders and people it was. It comprises six short pieces: two
memory. They are not a mirror in which the on the street were animated. Those in descriptive–analytical texts, two obser-
past is sought or in which the present is re- favour of widening the road generally vational accounts, one anecdote and a
flected. They are found objects in the journey spoke in abstract terms: of the project rumination on the words, “street” and
of life whose value is quietly acknowledged in
their retention. Over time they have become heralding the future, of the pointless- “road.” The descriptive–analytical texts
integral to the lives that unfold in their midst: ness of clinging to the past, of youth and serve as bookends. “Every Aspect a
keepsakes that bear witness and offer a kind people with money increasingly prefer- World unto Itself” is a broad strokes
of joyful, silent companionship.
ring malls to traditional shopping areas sketch of Avenue Road and of the dy-
It is this relationship with objects that of-
fers a clue to their arrangement. A laissez- like Avenue Road, the importance of namic of accommodative mutuality and
faire approach is in evidence. Metal, plastic, accepting compensation while it was on systemic indifference that organises life
cloth, wooden and paper items spanning offer. Those against road widening spoke on the street. This theme is then extended
four decades of production mingle in the
concretely: of the rupture of lives, the to nature, in contemplating a tree grow-
fish tank. The television is perched between
a statue and a stainless steel container. Its termination of decades-long relation- ing on a building façade, picked up again
screen is v isible only up close, being par- ships, the historical significance of the in an anecdote about a stationary store
tially obscured by the curtain drooping from street and its by-lanes, its energy, its and thematised in the final piece, “The
the clothesline. An economy of space may
be said to be at work. But it cannot by itself
diverse faces (a wholesale market by day, Ideal of a Global City.” “The Room” re-
make sense of the artful jumble of things. food gully at night). An entire physical produced above and placed between
The aesthetic expresses a way of relating to and social ecology was evoked. In the “The Tree” and “The Stationary Store”
artefacts in which the value of things has not media-led civil society debate on road ponders life with objects as it is currently
been reduced to their function or to their so-
ciocultural significance. This explains why
widening, the latter position was dubbed lived and doubles as an oblique critique
there is no attempt to group items accord- as nothing other than nostalgia for a of how consumerism remakes it into a
ing to any consistent logic or to showcase a world already on life-support. Activists fraught relationship. “A Street Is Not a
few so as to tacitly reflect some hierarchy, adroitly argued against this view, point- Road,” enfolds critique of the disruptive
whether about the relative value of things or
the status and imagined trajectory of those ing to rights violated, livelihoods lost, impact of road widening into a semantic
who possess them. Thus it is that the past the impracticality of resettlement, etc. consideration of both terms as well as
does not hang heavily over the room and the For me, the perspective of the pro- their synonyms. The concluding text pulls
future is nowhere to be found.
development brigade forcefully raised the together recurring themes into a brief
Not burdened by the weight of social attribu-
tion, the things in the room can be as they are. question of genre. Its trading in future-ori- critique of the notion of a global city.
Our interest is evoked but without the accom- ented abstractions depended on a discur- Each piece treats a particular aspect
panying anxiety that by and large mediates sive sleight of hand: a dismissal of the liv- of life on Avenue Road. Elements from
our current relationship to things in which hu-
ing present as a dead or dying past. If that one piece reappear in others, adding tex-
mans and their belongings seemingly exist to
prop each other up. These are simply objects which overwhelmingly predominates and ture, at times a different inflection. The
one has gathered along the way and that one is indisputably alive is brushed away as six texts can stand alone but it is when
26 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

read together as they are intended to be largely shaped by the social sciences. which it is expressed. Recasting argu-
that a broader picture emerges. The rhe- However, the instrumental thinking of ment as a polyphonic form can bring
torical strategy is to render fact as des- this period and its bequest, the transac- alive what is left out or is in the shadows
cription. This choice reflects an interest in tional nature of communication, compel of the dominant framework, giving it
“signs of life” to paraphrase Foucault; and us to integrate into our practice a fresh another valence and making it matter in
relatedly in representations of such signs reconsideration of language and of a different way. It enables one to pause
that prompt a consideration of new or else forms of representation, concerns core on questions that may seem tangential
neglected facts. The same impulse led to to the arts and the humanities. Reflect- but are, in fact, intimately related to the
crafting these essays (as also the mono- ing on the terms of our discourse—the issues being contested. The quotidian
graph) so that each chapter retains a de- worlds they open and those they quietly and the seemingly trivial throw their
gree of autonomy. Each piece is not mere- shut—is one way to deepen our rhetoric own light on the so-called large predica-
ly an illustrative example or object lesson, and nuance our understanding. ments addressed in policy discussions.
subsidiary to a linear argument which is The language of social science and Poetry, art, literature and creative non-
presented to the reader as a fait accompli. that of political discourse has lost the fiction can enliven our language, our
It is at once its own “sign of life” and also capacity to move us. We can knowledge- understanding of the present, and
gives life—breath, flesh and blood—to ably debate poverty without our bodies reanimate our imagination of the future.
the broader argument of which it is a part. and hearts physically sensing the true
Interleaving pieces in this way enables meaning of hunger. We can discuss the
Conyves, Tom (2012): http://critinq.wordpress.
one to alternately explore part and whole, right to pollute of the developing world com/2012/10/13/videopoetry-a-manifesto-by-
the whole in part, the part in whole; to try as though it were without material tom-konyves/.
and intuit the complex, non-linear, non- consequences for the region in whose Grandi, Nicolás and Lata Mani (2013): Nocturne I,
http://vimeo.com/66952917; Nocturne II, htt-
reductive relations between them. defence the principle is being invoked. ps://vimeo.com/63462567. Republished by The
Abstractions battle each other at an alti- Continental Review, Spring 2015, http://www.
In Conclusion tude apparently remote from the reali- thecontinentalreview.com/nicol-grandi/.
Mani, Lata (2009): Sacred Secular: Contemplative
The two experiments I present here ties they claim to represent. Cultural Critique, New Delhi: Routledge.
grew from my sense that the arts and The arts and the humanities can — (2013): The Integral Nature of Things: Critical
the humanities could serve to aerate our breathe new life into sociocultural cri- Reflections on the Present, New Delhi: Routledge.
Rabinow, Paul (ed) (1997): Ethics, Subjectivity and
language, our approach to critique. Crit- tique, broadening the scope of our in- Truth: The Essential Works of Michel Foucault
ical political discourse in India has been quiry and pluralising the genres through 1954–1984, Vol 1, New York: The New Press.

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Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 27


Muslims have nothing to do with any

Double Nature of mass killing or terrorism. Extremists do.”
I could also see that it had been circu-
Orthodox Truths lated by Muslim friends and relatives—
who are staunch critics of Islamist terror
Reactions to the Paris Carnage and even of Islamic fundamentalism.
But I found it disturbing that Muslims,
even those who critique ISIS—actually I
Tabish Khair do not know any Muslim who supports
ISIS—unthinkingly circulate a posting

In the aftermath of the terrorist here was the usual bandying like this. If an American posts these facts,
attacks on Paris, a popular left around of accusations after the he is issuing a valid critique of United
latest Islamist carnage in Paris on States’ (US) foreign policies and a defence
wing argument highlighted
the night of 13 November 2015, when of Muslims at the same time. But when a
the culpability of imperialism terrorists wreaked havoc in the city, killing Muslim reposts it, he might be sending
in fuelling this violence. This around 130 innocent people, mostly left- out another signal, inadvertently.
form of anti-imperialism ends leaning music lovers who traditionally Because the fact remains that all those
stand up for refugees. Fingers of accusa- tens of thousands listed as killed in Syria,
up denying historical agency
tion were pointed at refugees and immi- Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan (we can add
to Muslims, and people in the grants in some European quarters (though to the list)—as against a “paltry” 120 in
postcolonial countries as a whole, there were at least as many expressions Paris—were not mostly killed by the US
and often becomes an excuse for of solidarity). or even by Western nations. Less than a
Some sweeping Islamophobic gener- 10th of the casualties in all these
Islamic fundamentalism. This
alisations were inevitably made about nations—except Afghanistan—may be
article argues for a politics which Muslims, (in)tolerance and (un)democra- attributed to direct US or European
escapes this trap of speaking a cy, which must be sweet music to the ears action. All the rest have been killed by
truth that is also a lie. of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), other, yes, Muslims. A lot of them have
as they share an identical understanding been killed by various Islamist groups.
of Islam. Valid points were taken by lazy To jam all these numbers together and
politicians on the right and fashioned into shove them in an envelope under the
a club to clout Muslims, immigrants, mul- door of the White House seems to be a
ticulturalism, etc. mistake—or dishonest.
I say this and, immediately, a certain
The Half-Truth kind of Muslim—often quite left-leaning—
But these are not my concern in this arti- stands up and starts quoting political tracts
cle: I have written about these matters in about colonialism and imperialism. By this
the past, and there are (thankfully!) many account, in different ways, Muslims have
Europeans and Americans who regularly been and are continuously manipulated by
counter such xenophobic libel. the US or, if the man is truly “left-leaning,”
I am more concerned with some well- imperial Western capitalist powers.
meaning answers, which have now been This account makes Muslims sound like
offered so often that they have become zombies, totally incapable of thinking for
lame excuses. Take this Facebook posting, themselves and organising creatively:
widely circulated over the next few days: all they can do is be clubbed by “Western”
People killed in Paris: 120. People killed in imperial powers, after which they grunt,
Syria: 1,15,000. People killed in Afghanistan: get up painfully and lumber, like zombies,
7,46,976. People killed in Pakistan: 95,000 after the nearest “Western” power, only
since 9/11. People killed in Iraq: US killed to get clubbed down again. Centuries of
half a million innocent people...
this, and Muslims do not seem to have
This was a well-meaning, factual learnt. They stupidly let themselves be
posting; as far as I could see, it had been exploited and manoeuvred time and
put out (at least in the earliest rendition I again! Aha, actually, these devious evil
discovered) by a (white) American critic “Western” powers do not even need to
Tabish Khair (tabish_khair@hotmail.com) of American policies, and it included the do the clubbing themselves anymore: it
teaches at the School of Communication and heart-rending plea: “Don’t mistake na- looks like they can just programme various
Culture–English, Aarhus University, Denmark.
tional or political problems for religious. Muslim zombie-groups to kill one another.
28 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

There are good grounds for a critique hierarchy was thus formed, in geographical, 18th and 19th centuries, that reinforced
of colonialism—something mainstream class and racial terms that would have a pro- critical thinking and, within regions, a
found, even crippling, effect on the econom-
Europe has seldom faced up to—and ic and social prospects of the vast majority of degree of egalitarianism. Rousseau could
imperialism. But, in some contexts, it is the world’s population. be openly atheistic in the 18th century;
also just a weak excuse. If you look at the As was the case with the Facebook Bertrand Russell could write “Why I Am
ground realities, it gets weaker. Take Iraq posting I looked at earlier, what John Saul Not a Christian?” in 1957. Is it wrong or
and Syria today: I would be the last person says is legitimate and factual, and it racist to ask: how many Muslim intellectu-
to deny that vested interests in the US behoves him, as a white Canadian, to have als will be allowed to do something simi-
initially allowed ISIS to thrive, to oppose the self-awareness, intellectual integrity lar even today in any Muslim nation? How
Iranian influence in the region, and and sociocultural distance to assume many religious Muslims will be willing
marginalise Russia. But (even if we mo- such a stand. But the moment a position to stand up for Muslims who do so?
mentarily look away from the ISIS claim to like this is automatically repeated by a What all this highlights is a fact that
be “Islamic”) can the role of countries like Third World speaker, it changes shape— Karl Marx saw very clearly and leftists
Saudi Arabia and Turkey be considered its truth becomes grained with many have lost sight of in recent years: the
negligible? easy fibs too, and the exploitation of the bourgeoisie. For Marx the bourgeoisie
If one wants to look at the problem non-West becomes a mechanical, almost was a “revolutionary class.” It was due to
honestly, one has to concede that the non-agential matter. It starts smelling the creative, questing, critical spirit of the
mess in Iraq and Syria today is the result rotten like an excuse. “European” bourgeoisie that, as Marx
of the mutual rivalries of Saudi Arabia, puts it in The Communist Manifesto,
Iran, Turkey and other countries in the Internal Failures “[a]ll that is solid melts into air, all that
region—and the US, being a global super- For one, unperceptively, it filters away any is holy is profaned, and man is at last
power, is inevitably involved. Yes, the US true cognisance of internal non-Western compelled to face with sober senses his
looks after its own interests, and as is colonial and precolonial failures—caste real conditions of life, and his relations
the case with all countries, half the time exploitation, tribalism, educational with his kind.” Marx’s quarrel was not
these are short-term interests with long- deterioration, gender status issues, feudal with this spirit, but with its material limi-
term drawbacks. Why should US play structures, etc—with the sweeping broom tations and growing contradictions.
Mother Teresa to a bunch of squabbling of European capitalist colonisation. Now On the other hand, what we have in
Third World nations anyway? Every I know that things were not as bad as most Muslim nations (and increasingly
time Muslims put the blame for their later European colonisers sometimes led in the putative “Hindu” nation of India
problems on US or Europe or the past, they us to believe (early European travellers these days) is a “radicalism” that believes
speak the truth, but only a half-truth— were often much more positive—actually in curbing the critical thinking of those
and hence they also utter a lie. our myths of precolonial Golden Ages few members of the postcolonial bour-
There is a trend in the tradition that I partly come to us from European sources geoisie who dare to think for themselves.
still feel closest to—Marxist criticism— too), but that does not mean that things In West Asia, this is compounded by
that encourages Muslims (and post- were hunky dory either, before the evil the fact that the bourgeoisie is largely
colonial thinkers in general) to fall into European stepped in. missing (and in this sense the Free Syrian
this trap, the trap of speaking a truth that Also, let us face it, “Capitalism” did Army has no chance to stand up on its
is also a lie. Let us look at a neutral de- not descend on Europe as a boon from own against Islamists, and never did,
scription by John S Saul (2006: 1–2), an Jehovah. It needed centuries of slow despite Western enthusiasm). The easy,
admirable intellectual, who has dedicated accumulation of goods, information, complicit wealth brought in by oil hides
his life to the cause of global justice and knowledge, freedoms, skills and, above this by enabling an artificial economic
Third World nations: all, a critical attitude. Some of it came from betterment. But the bourgeoisie is not
[I]t is impossible to understate the significance the Arabs during the early Renaissance: it simply a matter of economic capital; it is
of the economic breakthrough that occurred was accepted, resisted, discussed, em- also a matter of cultural and educational
with the rise of capitalism in western Eu-
ployed, changed and developed in due capital, entrepreneurship, personal free-
rope between the 15th and 19th centuries.
It is, of course, particularly pertinent here course. Muslims—and Hindus too— doms and, what is indivisible from them,
to note what Europe did with the economic regularly forget that Christianity itself critical thinking. It is in the latter sense
strength which the vagaries of history re- came to Europe from another part of the that Marx considered the bourgeoisie a
warded it: in fact, Europe chose to accelerate world; it was negotiated and moulded in revolutionary class; when the bourgeoisie
a process of world conquest that had begun
with the exploits of Spain and Portugal in the ways that refashioned it as a faith, slowly gets reduced to basically its economic
very earliest days of mercantile capitalism’s replacing (among other things) the advantages, it ceases to be revolutionary.
dawn and that continued unabated as strong- centrality of a jealous patriarchal god Unfortunately, the emulative paradigm
er, more fully realized capitalist economies with the notion of an all-loving, all-forgiv- in West Asia seems to be Saudi Arabia, a
emerged […]. To make a long story short, the
rest of the world was subordinated to the eco-
ing, almost effeminate Jesus. country where a tribal chieftainship has
nomic requirements of expanding European The sheer adaptability of Europe tends been turned into a powerful oil-rich
economic and military might […]. A global to be forgotten, as well as elements, in the monarchy, sustained with the help of a
Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 29

very narrow interpretation of Islam, There are many ways of not just being or herself—as long as there are Islamic
which is now spawning even narrower Muslim but also of being religious in countries where the veil is not just a
radical “protest” groups, such as the Al Islam. But this is also a fact: religious choice. If such a Muslim is seriously con-
Qaeda and the ISIS. Muslims tend to kowtow to fundamental- cerned about personal choices, he or she
ists because they cannot fully sanction should work to make the veil only a
Interrogating Islam these myriad differences among them- personal choice in Muslim countries,
Let us stop then, in the light of what has selves. They can live them at times, but societies and thinking—after which I
been said, and look at another predictable almost never legislate them. would be willing to not just accept it but
reaction to the Paris atrocity: religious One wonders whether many orthodox even celebrate it as a personal choice in a
Muslims pointed out that acts of terrorism Muslims are not living a lie in their ordi- secular, democratic nation.
have nothing to do with Islam. Yes, they nary, domestic lives? Can you really justify At the core of all such responses is the
were right—but were they only right? Is the differential treatment of women, of little domestic lie, and I am increasingly
it not time for them to ask themselves wives and daughters, nieces and aunts, convinced that this germ of a lie is embed-
some other questions too? and claim that it has nothing to do with ded in the duplicitous relations that
I will frame some questions for them: structures of power? Take the insistence sustain orthodox—and even plainly reli-
Is there really no connection at all bet- of orthodox Muslims to cover “their” gious—gender relations in most Islamic
ween fundamentalist interpretations of women head to foot, while they them- societies. This is a serious drawback of
Islam, steeped in intolerance of “deviance” selves flaunt their ill-clipped beards. In many contemporary Muslim societies, and
within the flock, and the act of fanatics all possible terms of honest thought, this just because European racists use it as a
who shoot and kill others in the name of represents an inequality, an injustice—it club against Muslims does not mean that
Islam? Is there no connection at all can be accepted as a religious practice we need to dismiss it as valid self-criticism.
between extremist, intolerant Islamism only with the assumption (implicit or To this is added (as among many in Hindu-
and the insistence of ordinary religious explicit) that all humans are not equal. tva circles too) an obsession with the “evil”
Muslims to regulate the dress of women, Here, I use “equal” in its basic democratic of others and the past, which not just re-
the behaviour of men, and so many other and secular sense—that, despite differ- duces one’s awareness of present possibili-
matters? I find it increasingly difficult to ences in ability, all humans need to be ties but also creates a self-fuelling circle
see how peaceful fundamentalist Muslims, treated equally and be given the same of resentment and grievance that finds
who are convinced that non-practising opportunity to be human. its ultimate—and ultimately nihilistic—
Muslims will eventually burn in hell, are expression in the suicide bomber.
very different from, say, the ISIS, which Choice and Proscription True, it is a sad world where all lives
is simply not as eternally patient as them? When I objected to the veil once in public, are not yet equivalent, where some can
Notice, what I say here of religious a female Palestinian poet, dressed in a be killed without mourning because, as
Muslims can also be said of some Hindus low-cut frock, responded to me with Judith Butler laments, they have already
in India. But my concern here is Muslims. these words: “The veil is a personal been filed as “dead.” And yet, our initial
This is something my leftist friends in choice, like the bikini. Why doesn’t responsibility, in a pragmatic sense, is to
India or Europe often do not understand. France want to ban the bikini, which is our families and friends: when our Third
Despite being atheists, they are willing to just as derogatory to women?” Sounds World societies fail, our towns collapse,
speak up for the rights of fundamentalist convincing, does it not? Let me assure it is our failure, not that of Europe or
Muslims—because they believe in differ- you, it is not. No Western country makes America, no matter what their vested
ence. They do not want to be intolerant bikinis the prescribed dress for women interests. We cannot put the blame on
about tolerance; they do not wish to be (who can dress in a myriad ways, like others or (Listen, O Bhakts!) on the past.
fanatical about secularism. I can see their men) even on a beach, while many Muslim
logic. I agree with their logic to a large countries and even societies insist on Reference
degree. But it also worries me; surely, women being veiled in public. Saul, John S (2006): Development after Globalization:
Theory and Practice for an Embattled South in a
one can claim the right to differ only if As such, any Muslim who says that a New Imperial Age, New Delhi: Three Essays
one allows others the right to differ too? veil is just a personal choice is lying to you Collective.
Fundamentalist Islam—like any other
kind of religious fundamentalism (such
EPW Index
as Christian fundamentalism in the US),
like Nazism and Hindutva—does not do An author-title index for EPW has been prepared for the years from 1968 to 2012. The PDFs of the
this, though religious Muslims might. Index have been uploaded, year-wise, on the EPW website. Visitors can download the Index for all the
My last novel, How to Fight Islamist Terror years from the site. (The Index for a few years is yet to be prepared and will be uploaded when ready.)
from the Missionary Position, was, among EPW would like to acknowledge the help of the staff of the library of the Indira Gandhi Institute
other things, an attempt to show how a of Development Research, Mumbai, in preparing the index under a project supported by the
religious Muslim ought not to be confused RD Tata Trust.
with a fundamentalist, let alone a terrorist.
30 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Downscaling of Economic System as disobedience, cooperatives, work-
sharing, and post-normal science. The final
part, titled “Alliances,” explores the pos-
sibilities of linking with other similar
Nandan Nawn counter-hegemonic positions, practices, and
movements around the world, such as fem-

he book under review is an en- book reviewS inist economics, economy of permanence,
semble of a variety of “keywords” buen vivir (good living) and ubuntu.
that are deployed for constructing Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era edited by The more than 50 contributors to this
“counter-hegemonic narratives” of eco- Giacomo D’Alisa, Federico Demaria and Giorgos Kallis, volume, besides the three editors, belong
nomic growth. These alternatives repre- New York and London: Routledge, 2015; pp xxii+220, to different disciplines, schools of thought
Rs 2,600.
sent a corpus, deliberately termed as and walks of life, with more than one-
degrowth—instead of a-growth.1 De- fourth connected to the Institute of
growth: A Vocabulary for a New Era is as a discipline, policy science and even Environmental Science and Technology
more of an overview, it is less of an ency- as a system of thought. This contest (ICTA), Autonomous University of Barce-
clopaedia, and certainly not a diction- takes place at conceptual, methodical lona. Except the very few from Global
ary. It tries to explain and interrelate the and theoretical levels. South and southern hemisphere, the
concepts used in degrowth literature. For instance, in the very first sentence, contributors belong to the Global North,
The central connecting thread in derowth the book declares that “[d]egrowth is a if not predominantly Europe.
literature holds economic growth respon- rejection of the illusion of growth and a
sible for stagnation, impoverishment, in- call to repoliticise the public debate colo- What Is Degrowth?
equality, socioecological disaster, pollution nised by the idiom of economism.” Else- Multiple interpretations of degrowth are
and alienation from means of livelihood— where, the neoclassical variety is criti- spread across the length and breadth of
or, in short, the econo-socio-ecological qued for its “narrow vision.” The hetero- the book, which the editors consider as a
crisis faced by the humanity. One of its dox stream is also criticised for its long- strength. Degrowth “expresses an aspi-
most prominent interpretations, from held beliefs in demand stimulus or tax ration” which cannot be captured in single
ecological economists, calls for downs- reforms. One can safely conclude that sentence, like freedom of justice (p xxi);
caling the economic system. appropriateness, applicability or action it is a “frame” for convergence of different
vis-á-vis degrowth, or whichever name lines of thought, practices, imaginations
Question of Economic Growth it be called, is restricted to the societies (p 4); it “signals a radical critique of society”
The concept of economic growth has that do not face demand constraint. In (p xxv), a “revolutionary idea” (p xxv) and
been debated in the past two and half fact, the editors restrict the controversial “a deliberatively subversive slogan” (p 5);
centuries. The debate has not just been matter of applicability of degrowth in it is a “desired direction where societies
about economic aspects but has also the Global South to just one paragraph. will use fewer natural resources apart
covered social, ecological, environ- The book is divided into four parts from organising and living differently”
mental and political thought. Several besides a meticulous introduction to (p 3); it imagines a society with a smaller
questions have been asked. What is the degrowth and an epilogue. The first part, and different metabolism to serve new
purpose of economic growth? How to titled “Lines of Thought,” captures the functions (p 4); it “is an expression of
increase its rate? How to sustain it? Are various lines or schools of thought that Gandhian economic thought in the West
there limits to it? Different strands of have influenced degrowth traversing from [...] from an Indian perspective” (p 207).
thought within degrowth, by definition, conceptual and theoretical such as bio- There are several other explanations.
reject the very validity of these ques- economics and steady state economics to The editors put the most idealist pro-
tions. They, instead, explore “radical processes and practices like critique of nouncement:
and critical” alternatives to growth. development and anti-utilitarianism. The In a degrowth society every thing will be differ-
As Fabrice Flipo and François Schnei- second part, titled “The Core,” deliberates ent: different activities, different forms and
uses of energy, different relations, different
der, founders and members of “Research on a variety of concepts and systems such
gender roles, different allocations of time
and Degrowth” collective, put it in the as entropy and capitalism to processes between paid and non-paid work, different
Foreword of this volume “building a society and schools of thought such as depoliti- relations with the non-human world (p 4).
based on the frugality, sharing and con- cisation and neo-Malthusians vis-à-vis
viviality in the West has ‘economic de- various strands within the degrowth Keywords
growth’ as its fulcrum.” In the process, movement. Part three, titled “The Action,” The justifiably lengthy introduction links
thinkers and practitioners alike, as the deals with the diverse concepts, principles, degrowth with the other “keywords.” Most
contributors in the book, challenge, con- slogans, and practices around which of the entries in the first two parts also
test and critique hegemony of economics degrowth movement has thrived, such make an attempt to link the “keyword”
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 31

in question with degrowth. Some do it elements, but also the unjust elements of currencies, cooperatives). It also dis-
remarkably, like bioeconomics, critiques growth vis-á-vis gender and indigenous cusses the debate over the politics and
of development, currents of environment- peoples, apart from its inability in gener- political strategies in degrowth litera-
alism, societal metabolism, political ecology, ating happiness. ture on bringing about the alternative
capitalism, care, dépense, depoliticisation, The next section, “Degrowth and Auto- institutions instilled with “values of de-
gross domestic product (GDP), happiness, nomy,” emphasises the importance of tools growth,” which are expected to replace
decolonisation of imaginary, Jevon’s par- that are “understandable, manageable and the “current institutions of capitalism”
adox, neo-Malthusians, simplicity, and controllable” by their users apart from col- (p 14). This is rather strange, given the
social limits of growth. Some others fail on lective self-limitations. The third section, tense relationship between degrowth and
this count, like environmental justice, “Degrowth as Repoliticisation,” addresses capitalism. Replacement of institutions
steady state economics, autonomy. Some the damage that the myth of sustainable that represent capitalism calls for replac-
like anti-utilitarianism, commodification, development has created by reducing the ing capitalism itself—it is a historically
commodity frontiers, commons, conviviali- “core contemporary dilemma” to just a specific mode of economic and social
ty, dematerialisation, entropy and emergy search for technocratic solutions. organisation that drives on the logic of
establish a stronger relation with growth, Though the volume does emphasise that accumulation or expanded reproduction.
instead of degrowth. Some like pedagogy degrowth “signifies a transition beyond Pitching degrowth, in its present state
of disaster and peak oil do neither. capitalism” (p 11) and rejects a “greening” and form, as a replacement, is premature,
The introduction traces the history of growth or green capitalism, the entries if not overtly ambitious. Perhaps the
degrowth as a term, from 1972, the year of on “anti-utilitarianism and capitalism” editors are aware of the limitation, and
much debated Limits to Growth, the Club rightly represent the unease that degrowth place the “Degrowth Vocabulary” as the
of Rome report (Meadows et al 1972). In protagonists face on “whether expansion “raw material” for “new imaginaries.”
contrast to the focus on resource limits is a necessary or contingent (hence mod- The entries in this well-designed
during its first phase in the 1970s, the ifiable) feature of capitalism” (p 60). collection are not meant to be encyclo-
second phase from 2001 concentrated on The book’s final section, “The Degrowth paedic. Indeed, most of them are not even
critiquing the myths of win-win solutions Transition” provides a commentary on introductory. Some provide a “deeper”
offered by “sustainable development.” various grass-roots practices (back-to-the- take—in particular, those on care, capital-
Five elements of degrowth literature are landers), “welfare institutions” (job guar- ism, conviviality, critiques of development,
discussed at length. The first, The Limits to antee, work sharing), alternative institu- depoliticisation, decolonisation of imagi-
Growth, captures not just the biophysical tions for money and credit (community nary, political ecology, societal metabolism,

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32 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


and social limits of growth. The editors’ quite apparent. Kudos to the painstaking National Institute of Science, Techno-
brief to the authors was to write “as simply work of translators and editors, both on logy and Development Studies and TERI
as possible” (p xxi) so that lack of know- the publication and the academic fronts. University in September 2014 at the
ledge on the previous debate and termino- One may bring two matters to the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The
logy does not stop anyone from reading an attention of the editors. First, a growing organisers are bringing the papers
entry. But the editors also asked the movement which aspires to be counter- together through an edited volume
authors to write without compromising on hegemonic may deliberate scrupulously (Gerber and Raina forthcoming). Hope
rigour. The end result is mixed: some of the before considering anything connected it can provide the necessary impetus to
entries are not only exhaustive yet concise with Brahminism even at the conceptual an Indian variant to degrowth. One can
enough to capture the essential elements level as the entry on anti-utilitarianism hardly disagree with the authors of the
within the limited space, while some others does. Second, the entry on GDP mentions Foreword that one may “[l]ike or hate
lack depth, imagination, if not correct that in 1991 gross national product was the term degrowth, [but] [...] can’t deny
understanding of the terms of reference. “quietly replaced” by GDP—one wonders that it opens up all sorts of debates that
Entries on anti-utilitarianism, bioeconomics, by whom, why and how. were previously closed.”
commodity frontiers, commons, convi- To conclude, this volume has brought
viality, dematerialisation, dépense, entro- together a valuable collection of entries Nandan Nawn (nandan.nawn@teriuniversity.
ac.in) is with the Department of Policy Studies,
py, emergy, GDP, neo-Malthusians, peak oil, against the most important “keywords,”
TERI University, New Delhi and a member of
and simplicity—besides those mentioned knowledge of which is essential to under- the Indian Society for Ecological Economics.
earlier in this paragraph—are explained stand degrowth. This is especially so be-
in a comprehensive manner. But the vol- cause degrowth is sweeping a large num- Note
ume is out of depth on environmental ber of European countries and making 1 See, van den Bergh and Kallis (2012) for a com-
parison between degrowth and a-growth.
justice, currents of environmentalism, its presence felt in Latin America. In India,
steady state economics, autonomy, happi- like in many other locations, degrowth References
ness and Jevon’s paradox. is still a “missile word.” Quite obviously Gerber, Julien-François and Rajeswari Raina (eds):
the debate is yet to pick up in academic (forthcoming): Post-growth Thinking in India,
New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan.
Conclusions arena, leave alone the policy space. The Meadows, Donella H, Dennis L Meadows, Jorgen
Much to its credit, this volume introduces only event in India so far has been a Randers and William W Behrens III (1972):
Limits to Growth, New York: New American
a host of non-English literature (and symposium, “Growth, Green Growth or Library.
authors) to English-speaking audience. Degrowth? New Critical Directions for van den Bergh, Jeroen C J M and Giorgos Kallis
(2012): “Growth, A-Growth or Degrowth to
While the translation is not always per- India’s Sustainability” organised by the Stay within Planetary Boundaries?,” Journal of
fect, the amount of labour involved is Indian Society for Ecological Economics, Economic Issues, Vol XLVI, No 4, pp 909–19.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 33


some protagonists from the Indian sub-

Chimera of Trans-Imperial continent operating in the interstices of
the British and the Ottoman empires.
Fascinating Tapestry
Through her study of five principal pro-
Kingshuk Chatterjee tagonists, and several minor ones, Seema
Alavi gives us a flavour of what it meant to

id imperial frontiers have the Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire have lived in a Muslim ecumene (that is,
solidity that countries have in our by Seema Alavi, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: an inhabited space) which operated on
times? In an age when a “pass- Harvard University Press, 2015; pp xiii +490, Rs 1,495. the interstices of the Raj and the Ottomans.
port” was merely used to regulate the flow The principal protagonists—Sayyid Fadl,
of people who were going to “pass through and operated in the interstices of the Siddiq Hasan Khan and Maulanas Rah-
a port,” such solidity was not even con- empires, make of what they were doing? matullah Kairanvi, Jafar Thanesari and
ceived of, let alone strived at. Hence, for all Were they still trapped by their experiences Imdadullah Makki—came from different
practical purposes, till the introduction of in their countries of origin, and continued parts of India and traversed great distanc-
passport regimes on a global scale towards to engage with preoccupations generated es in South Asia and West Asia. All of
the end of the World War I, it was perfectly by these even after physically relocating them were under the scanner of the Raj
possible for people to move across king- themselves? Or were they able to tran- on account of their reformist views about
doms and empires in a manner that shows scend the parochial confines and think of Islam, which made the British paint them
frontiers to have been fairly porous. a larger “ecumene”? The book under re- with a broad brush as “Wahhabis.”
What did the people who actually view is an engaging attempt to address Alavi weaves a fascinating tapestry
travelled across such imperial frontiers, these basic questions in the context of with the lives of fugitive mullahs and
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 33

runaways as they negotiated imperial 1866 in the realm of the Raj. Maulana Im- characterised Muslim culture till the
fault lines and borders. She argues that her dadullah, too, fled India for Mecca after early years of the 20th century.
protagonists were neither quite seditious falling foul of the colonial establishment The feature common to such a diverse
Wahhabis, nor were they simple loyal sub- and from there continued to contribute to range of people was their cultivation of a
jects of the Raj. Alavi contends forcefully the Indian Muslim intellectual discourse, sociocultural space which defied any
that her protagonists, like innumerable generating religious literature in both Ara- easy labelling by the Raj—the British
other Muslims from the Indian subconti- bic and Urdu. Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Indian documents label them as “Indian
nent, were not reconciled to colonial domi- a penniless Naqshbandi scholar of the Ahl-e Arabs,” for in colonial eyes they were not
nation. They were, instead, determined to Hadith movement who became the con- quite the one, nor entirely the other.
test the limits of the raj by availing of the sort of the Begum of Bhopal, caused much This refers to a protracted cultural shift
networks of movement across the regions anxiety among successive British residents that characterised the Indian Muslim
of South Asia and West Asia that were with his advocacy of a unified Muslim experience, which after almost six cen-
flourishing in the 19th century with better Ummah (community), despite being located turies of a Persianised high culture was
communications put in place, ironically, by physically right in the middle of the Indian from the early 19th century gradually
the colonial rulers—working out, as it subcontinent. Jafar Thanesari, a disciple making room for one that was relatively
were, an “imperium” of their own. (and later a biographer) of the rebel Sayyid more Arabicised. Alavi does not concern
Ahmad Barelvi, was yet another baghi of herself with the decline of the former,
Muslim Ecumene 1857 and of the border areas who spent 18 but chooses in the main to provide her
Sayyid Fadl carved out a political niche on years of his life in the penal colony of the readers with a flavour of the latter—
the Arab coast of the Gulf making use of Andamans before establishing himself as connecting the shift with the struggle
his official contacts both in India and in a visionary of the Muslim world. between the forces of (respectively) tradi-
the Ottoman court at Istanbul. Maulana Alavi argues that in their different tionalism and reformism that began in
Kairanvi, a rebel of 1857 who smuggled ways these protagonists were giving the world of Indian Islam in the wake of
himself out to Mecca remained associated shape to the vision of a Muslim world, a British ascendancy. What is distinctive
with the reformist circles in the Madrasa “Muslim ecumene” which rose above the about this particular treatment is that
Saulatiya in the Ottoman empire even as boundaries of their country of origin, the author situates the experience not
he fed into the seminary at Deoband in and shaped the “cosmopolitanism” that merely on the personal matrix of the

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34 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


protagonist, or even on the political use them better on account of their con- which is a pity, because it leaves out
matrix of resistance to colonial order— nections with the Raj, rather than on ac- people like Jamal al-din Asadabadi
she goes beyond both to plot the shift on count of the sheer depth of their learning (al-Afghani), whom Alavi refers to almost
the still larger matrix of a “Muslim of Islam, which had supposedly taken as an aside. Jamal al-din was perhaps the
space” that was essentially internation- them to Mecca (after all, contrary to what poster boy of 19th century Muslim cosmo-
al (an anachronism, for the discourse of Alavi suggests, unlike Cairo, Damascus politanism—travelling as he did between
“nations” had not quite made it into the and even Baghdad, Mecca has never been Qajar Persia, British India, Afghanistan
non-European world), and more impor- a major centre of learning in the entire and the Ottoman empire—urging people
tantly, how did it develop in the history of Islam). to unite in defence of Muslim cultural val-
interstices of two empires, one ascend- Thanesari and Siddiq Hasan did not ues, transcending the divide between
ant and the other in terminal decline. travel even as much as the other three. Sunni and Shi’i, and that between Turk,
The most detailed, and therefore, fasci- While they all speak of a Muslim world, Arab, Persian, Afghan and Indian. By
nating sections of the book, deal with the their cultural imagination seems tethered deliberately choosing all the protag-
material and political context of the rise more closely to their own South Asian onists of an Arabicised Muslim cultural
of the “Muslim ecumene.” My personal fa- experiences than a cosmopolitan imagina- ecumene from India, Alavi has left her
vourite is the small section, tucked quietly tion should. One wonders, therefore, highly impressive account of “Muslim
away within the discussion of reformism, whether Muslim transnationalism would cosmopolitanism” looking like “Sunni–
dealing with the story of the 19th century not have been a better label to describe Indian transnationalism”—and these
arms trade in the Persian Gulf and its such protagonists. are not quite the same.
neighbourhood. The story of how Euro- Finally, a word on transliteration. The
pean arms land at Muscat and then get Conclusions generally established rules of translitera-
smuggled through the southern reaches A story, after all, turns on the protagonists tion maintain that the Persian “-i” is a suf-
of the kingdom of Persia and through the storyteller chooses to make use of. fix, and the Arabic “al-” is a prefix—thus,
Afghanistan, finally to land up in the fron- Alavi confines herself only to Indian Tarjuman-i Wahhabiya, not Tarjuman-i-
tier regions of British India assumes a Sunnis, some of whom successfully nego- Wahhabiya; Abd al-Hamid, not Abd-al Ha-
veritably lyrical quality. There are several tiated the porosity of imperial frontiers to mid. Transliteration in Urdu abides by the
other such subplots built into the various make it to the Arab lands. There is no same rules. The book, however, uses both
sections of the book each of which war- mention of others—from India as much the “-i” and “al-” inconsistently as prefix,
rants more detailed treatment. So much as elsewhere—who negotiated the very suffix or both. Such glaring mistakes are
so, that it would seem that the various same interstices with similar and perhaps very unusual in a publishing house as
chapters of the book were once conceived greater success, because their cultural illustrious as the Harvard University Press.
of as stand-alone accounts that were later space was Arabicised.
woven into a larger story. Thus, the Shi’i networks of Awadh, Kingshuk Chatterjee (kchat18@gmail.com)
Hyderabad and the kingdom of Persia did is with the Department of History, Calcutta
Cultural Imagination not even merit much of Alavi’s attention, University, Kolkata.
It is important, however, to raise a few NE
questions that a reader needs be mindful EPWRF India Time Series W
about while reading this work. Does the Expansion of Banking Statistics Module
19th century Indian Muslim cultural (State-wise Data)
imagination actually qualify as cosmopoli-
tanism? Sure, Sayyid Fadl was as much at The Economic and Political Weekly Research Foundation (EPWRF) has added state-wise
home in Moplah Malabar as on the Arabi- data to the existing Banking Statistics module of its online India Time Series (ITS)
an shores or even in Istanbul, being
steeped as much in Arab culture as he was State-wise and region-wise (north, north-east, east, central, west and south) time series
data are provided for deposits, credit (sanction and utilisation), credit-deposit (CD) ratio,
in that of Malabar. Indeed, Imdadullah and number of bank offices and employees.
Makki and Maulana Kairanvi made their
Data on bank credit are given for a wide range of sectors and sub-sectors (occupation)
mark more in Mecca by feeding into the such as agriculture, industry, transport operators, professional services, personal loans
Hejazi discourse on Islamic than they had (housing, vehicle, education, etc), trade and finance. These state-wise data are also
ever done in India—but it is difficult to presented by bank group and by population group (rural, semi-urban, urban and
make the claim that any of Alavi’s five pro- metropolitan).
tagonists (barring, perhaps, Sayyid Fadl) The data series are available from December 1972; half-yearly basis till June 1989 and
was actually able to rise above the parochial annual basis thereafter. These data have been sourced from the Reserve Bank of India’s
publication, Basic Statistical Returns of Scheduled Commercial Banks in India.
limits of their South Asian origin. If Fadl,
Including the Banking Statistics module, the EPWRF ITS has 14 modules covering a
Makki and Kairanvi negotiated the Otto-
range of macroeconomic and financial data on the Indian economy. For more details,
man and Gulf political spaces well, it was visit www.epwrfits.in or e-mail to: its@epwrf.in
more because of Ottoman’s willingness to
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 35

Civilians Caught in Crossfire administrative measures” (Francis and

Sampford 2012: 2-3).
International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
is the most important international law
Meha Dixit, Sameer Yasir that applies during situations of armed
conflict. Protection for the civilian popu-

India and Pakistan are parties to s tensions between India and lation is an essential component of IHL:
the Geneva Conventions which Pakistan rage, civilians residing civilians and all those not participating
along the disputed Line of Control in the fighting must not be attacked and
are the keystones of International
(LoC) and working international border must be spared and protected.1 India and
Humanitarian Law. However, (IB), continue to experience the fury of Pakistan are both parties to the Geneva
notwithstanding the IHL, mortar shells. The escalation of violence Conventions. Therefore, both countries
whenever both belligerents along the border has enormous physical, must respect the provisions of the IHL
economic and psychosocial ramifica- contained in these conventions. While
engage in ceasefire violations,
tions on the lives of civilians in these Pakistan has signed, but not ratified the
indiscriminate firing and areas. In the northernmost Indian state of 1977 Additional Protocol of these conven-
shelling across the Line of Control Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the worst- tions which strengthens the protection
and international border, the affected areas include Balakot, Sabjiyan, of victims of international armed conflict,
Mandi, Bhimber Gali (BG) and Krishna India has neither signed nor ratified it.
civilians residing in these areas
Ghati (KG) along the LoC which lie in Here it may be noted that considering the
are subject to fearsome violence. Poonch District; and Akhnoor, Suchet- universality of the Geneva Conventions,
This study points out that garh, R S Pura, Arnia (all these sectors are “their general principles, although not
escalation of violence along the in Jammu District), Samba and Kathua all the detailed rules implementing these
Districts along the IB. principles,” have now become customary
Indo–Pak border has enormous
For thousands of years, various cul- law binding on non-parties (Solf 1986:
physical, economic and tures across the world have developed 124). Therefore, according to one of the
psychosocial ramifications on the principles aimed at protecting “unarmed key principles of customary IHL, parties
lives of civilians in these areas. populations from violence at the hands to an armed conflict must make a dis-
of the armed.” Since the Fourth Geneva tinction between the civilian population
Convention of 1949, such efforts have and combatants and between civilian
come under the rubric of the “Protection objects and military objectives.
of Civilians” (POC) (Breakey 2012: 40).
Since the last decade or more, POC has Background
been endorsed in a series of reports India and Pakistan have fought three wars
by the United Nations (UN) Secretary- over the disputed region of Kashmir, where
General to the Security Council, certain a deadly insurgency has left thousands
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of civilians dead. Both India and Pakistan
resolutions and at least eight presidential have managed the conflict, instead of
statements. POC has also been incorp- resolving it. Kashmir issue has always
orated in a number of UNSC mandates been a major stumbling block whenever
(Francis and Sampford 2012: 2). the two estranged neighbours have
In addition, “as part of these initiatives, made attempts towards peace. In July this
the UN bodies have sought to entrench the year, after months of political deadlock,
POC in conflict in the obligations of par- both countries issued a joint statement
ties under international humanitarian, at Ufa, Russia on the sidelines of Shanghai
human rights and refugee law.” The UN Cooperation Organisation Summit (Hindu
bodies have repetitively urged states 2015). The joint statement included cer-
which are not a party to the key treaties tain actions such as dialogue between the
of international humanitar ian, human armies of India and Pakistan, a meeting
Meha Dixit (mehadixit@gmail.com) has
taught at Kashmir University and worked rights and refugee law to ratify them. between top security advisers to discuss
with Amnesty International and Sameer Yasir Once ratified, all states are urged “to terrorism, mechanisms to facilitate reli-
(yasirshi@gmail.com) teaches at the Centre for take steps to implement these instru- gious tourism, the release of fishermen in
International Relations, Islamic University of ments within their jurisdictions through each other’s custody, and discussions to
Science and Technology, Kashmir.
appropriate legislative, judicial and expedite the 2008 Mumbai terror-attack
36 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

trial. “Both leaders condemned terrorism Commissioner, Abdul Basit, turned down regulations pertaining to the laws and
in all its forms and agreed to cooperate the Indian government’s demand to refrain customs of war on land, annexed to the
from meeting separatist leaders from Kashmir
with each other to eliminate this men- 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions.3
(Jeelani 2015).
ace from South Asia” (Hindu 2015). Although, Article 25 of the Hague Regu-
At Ufa, the Prime Minister of India Amid the border tensions between lations prohibits “the attack or bombard-
also accepted an invitation by the Prime India and Pakistan, the civilians on both ment, by whatever means, of towns, vil-
Minister of Pakistan to attend the South sides of the LoC and IB are at the receiv- lages, dwellings, or buildings which are
Asian Association for Regional Cooper- ing end. Towards the end of August it undefended,” and is based on the prin-
ation (SAARC) summit to be held in 2016 was reported that three civilians were ciple of distinction between civilians
in Islamabad. However, the joint state- killed and 17 injured in R S Pura, Jammu and combatants, the regulations do not
ment did not make any mention of Kash- due to shelling by Pakistani forces. A as such state that the parties to the armed
mir. Reportedly, this fuelled resentment Border Security Force (BSF) official had conflict make a distinction bet ween
within many sections in Pakistan. Soon, stated that India retaliated in equal civilians and combatants (Henckaerts
on 16 July, tensions escalated between measure. “Pakistan Rangers resorted to et al 2005: 3).
the two countries as both made compet- unprovoked firing late last night initially During the World War I, the Hague
ing claims of 2003 ceasefire violations. with small arms and later fired mortar Conventions proved to be inadequate
On 26 November 2003, both India and shells at BSF posts and civilian areas in considering the dangers emanating from
Pakistan had agreed to a ceasefire in the R S Pura sector. The BSF fired back,” air warfare and of the problems pertain-
the first formal truce between the two the official said. Reportedly, eight civilians ing to “the treatment of civilians in enemy
armed forces since the inception of mili- were killed and more than 46 injured territory and in occupied territories.”
tancy in J&K. Guns along the LoC, IB and due to shelling by the Indian forces on the The International Conferences of the Red
in Siachen Glacier fell silent the next Pakistani side (Upadhyay and Ahmad Cross held in the 1920s took the initial
day. But the calm was broken in Septem- 2015). Further, at the Balakot sector, in steps towards laying down additional or
ber 2013, when an exchange of gunfire Basoni village located along the LoC, just supplementary rules for the protection
occurred between the forces of two within two days on 15 and 16 August, six of civilians during war.4 These efforts,
countries (Yasir 2014). civilians were killed. This included the after a great deal of struggle, culminated
While the IB is an internationally recog- sarpanch of the village, a woman, two in the Geneva Convention of 1949, which
nised boundary that separates the states of teenagers, and a 10-year old boy. provides protection to civilians, includ-
India from the provinces of Pakistan, the ing in occupied territory.5
LoC is the de facto border established after IHL and Protection of Civilians The Geneva Conventions are con-
what is called the first war over Kashmir Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their tained in four international treaties and
between India and Pakistan in 1947, fol- additional protocols form the cornerstone their additional protocols. The conven-
lowing a tribal invasion by Pakistan. While of IHL, which seek to regulate armed con- tions seek to regulate armed conflict and
India would like to formalise this status flict and protect the civilian population. protect the civilian population. While
quo, Pakistan does not accept this plan However, “the first systematic codification the first Geneva Convention of 1864 pro-
since it wants greater control over the of the restraints on the methods and tects wounded and sick soldiers on land
region (BBC 2015). In the aftermath of con- means of warfare” was Instructions for during war, the second convention of
flict, it was called the Ceasefire Line; how- the Government of the Armies of the 1906 protects wounded, sick and ship-
ever, it was renamed the “Line of Control” United States in the Field prepared by wrecked military personnel at sea during
following the 1972 Simla Agreement. Francis Lieber in 1863 during the American war. Further, the third convention of
As a result of the increasing tensions Civil War (Solf 1986: 121). 1929 pertains to prisoners of war, while
along the border and political disagree- As far as the regulation of the means the fourth convention of 1949 provides
ments between India and Pakistan, the and methods of warfare in treaty law is protection to civilians, including in
national security advisor (NSA) level concerned, it dates back to the 1868 occupied territory.
talks, which were scheduled for 23–24 St Petersburg Declaration, the 1899 and The 1977 Additional Protocol I of the
August 2015 in New Delhi, were cancelled. 1907 Hague Conventions and the 1925 fourth convention strengthens the pro-
According to Pakistan, these talks Geneva Gas Protocol.2 Lieber Instructions tection of victims of international armed
or the Lieber Code was used as the conflict, while the Additional Protocol II
…cannot be held on the basis of the precon-
dition set by India. The latter had stressed that
primary basis for the development of the strengthens the protection of victims of
Pakistan should not have a meeting with All Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, non-international armed conflict. They
Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders which in turn influenced later develop- further place limits on the way conflicts
from Kashmir and that the agenda of the talks ments (Doswald-Beck and Vité 1993). are fought.6
between India’s National Security Adviser
Some provisions relating to “the pro- The Geneva Conventions, which were
and his Pakistani counterpart should not
extend beyond terrorism. In early August
tection of populations against the conse- adopted prior to 1949, were concerned
2014, the Government of India had suspended quences of war and their protection in merely with combatants, not with civil-
the dialogue process after Pakistani High occupied territories” are included in the ians. The experience of the World War II
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 37

demonstrated the catastrophic outcome as law.9 Malcolm MacLaren and Felix methods of warfare and of particular
of the absence of a convention for the Schwendimann note: weapons,” however, it did not resolve the
protection of civilians during war. The Customary law may ‘intervene’ for the sake of
principle controversies regarding its inter-
1949 Convention took account of the dis- the rule of law in armed conflict where States pretation (Meron 2000: 79). Neverthe-
astrous experiences of World War II. The (or non-state actors qua definitione) are not less, it is generally agreed that the clause
convention comprises 159 articles. It con- party to the relevant treaty, or where the States signifies, at the minimum, that “the
tains a short section regarding “the general are party but the customary provision is more adoption of a treaty regulating particular
extensive in its coverage than the conventional.
protection of populations against certain aspects” of the law of warfare “does not
consequences of war.”7 However, laws They further argue that the custom is deprive the affected persons of the protec-
governing the conduct of hostilities in the binding in both cases. Therefore, custom tion of those norms of customary humani-
Geneva Conventions still dated back to the should always be consulted while research- tarian law” that were not incorporated
1907 Hague Conventions. Military aviation ing the relevant law in IHL (MacLaren and in the codification (Meron 2000: 87).
did not even exist when the Hague Con- Schwendimann 2005: 1220).
ventions were negotiated. These laws were Solf notes that considering the univer- Impact on Civilians
updated by the 1977 Additional Protocols sality of the Geneva Conventions, it may The indiscriminate firing and shelling
of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. be said that “their general principles, al- by the Indian and Pakistani forces across
though not all the detailed rules imple- the LoC and IB is in violation of the IHL
Application of IHL menting these principles,” have now be- which seeks to regulate armed conflict
The sources of the law of warfare (Law come customary law binding on non- and protect the civilian population. The
of Hague) and of humanitarian law (Law parties (1986: 124). Moreover, the status physical, economic, and psychosocial
of Geneva) are both customary and codi- of the Geneva Conventions as customary impact of the border violence on the
fied in treaties (Gardam 1993: 3). In law has been established by the Interna- civilians along the border villages in
international law, a treaty is usually tional Court of Justice and is rarely con- Jammu and Kashmir is discussed here.
defined as an agreement entered into by tested (Meron 2000: 80).
states and international organisations. Further, the Martens Clause “safeguards Physical and Economic Impact: IHL
There are significant obstacles to applying customary law and supports the argument forbids all methods and means of
the treaties to current armed conflicts. that what is not prohibited by treaty may warfare which:
Treaties are applicable only to the states not necessarily be lawful.” It is applicable Fail to discriminate between those taking part
that have ratified them. This implies that to all parts of IHL, not merely to belligerent in the fighting and those, such as civilians,
different treaties of IHL are applicable to occupation (Meron 2000: 87–88). As it who are not, the purpose being to protect
“different armed conflicts depending on first appeared in the Preamble to the the civilian population, individual civilians
which treaties the states involved have 1899 Hague Convention, the Martens and civilian property; cause superfluous in-
jury or unnecessary suffering; cause severe
ratified.” While almost all states have Clause states:
or long-term damage to the environment.10
ratified the four Geneva Conventions of Until a more complete code of the laws of war
1949, the 1977 Additional Protocol I has is issued, the high contracting parties think The indiscriminate firing by both the
not yet achieved universal adherence. it right to declare that in cases not included Indian and Pakistani security forces
in the Regulations adopted by them, popula-
Since the protocol applies “only between poses a huge threat to the lives of the
tions and belligerents remain under the pro-
parties to a conflict that have ratified it,” tection and empire of the principles of inter-
civilians and their property, residing on
its effectiveness today is limited because national law, as they result from the usages both sides of the border. It frequently
a number of states that “have been established between civilized nations, from causes “superfluous injury or unneces-
involved in international armed con- the laws of humanity and the requirements sary suffering” and “severe or long-term
of the public conscience (Shearer 2001).
flicts are not a party to it.”8 damage to the environment.” As far as
Besides the treaty, customary inter- The 1907 Hague version was somewhat the healthcare provisions for the people
national law (CIL) which is the other different; “populations” were replaced during peacetime and situations of
primary form of international law, is by “inhabitants,” the older term “law of armed conflict are concerned:
characteristically defined as a “general nations” was substituted for “international In all circumstances, in times of peace and
and consistent practice of states followed law” and “requirements” were replaced during conflict, States have an obligation to
by them from a sense of legal obligation” by “dictates.” Even though both the 1899 maintain a functioning health-care system.
Similar provisions exist in IHL that require
(Goldsmith and Posner 1999: 1113). And and the 1907 versions mention “laws of
States to provide food and medical supplies
customary international humanitarian humanity,” it has become a common to the population....... Though both IHL and
law “is the basic standard of conduct in practice to refer to them as “principles of IHRL allow States to predicate their obligations
armed conflict accepted by the world humanity” (Meron 2000: 79). on the resources available to them, a lack of
community.” It is universally applicable The International Court of Justice, in resources does not justify inaction. Even in
cases where resources are extremely limited,
regardless of the application of treaty its advisory opinion, acknowledged the States should adopt low-cost programmes
law and is based on widespread and relevance of “the Martens Clause to that target the most disadvantaged and mar-
almost uniform state practice regarded considering the legality of means and ginalized members of the population.11

38 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


According to the locals and journalists destroyed during the cross-border firing. there are no facilities in these villages or
who were interviewed along the LoC and However, during the field research in even in nearby towns which would take
IB, despite continuous threat to the lives the border villages, the locals noted that account of the psychosocial needs of these
of civilians residing in the border areas, there is a lack of adequate facilities for people. It may be noted that where there
there are hardly any adequate medical the treatment of the injured cattle and are barely sufficient medical facilities for
facilities. Tarachand from Sidherwan vill- sufficient compensation to those whose the physical health or treatment of the bor-
age in Akhnoor sector along the IB said: farms and/or homes have been destroyed der people, even the idea of human and
There is one dispensary between four villages
or cattle have been killed or injured other resources for their psychosocial
and that too closes at four in the evening. is hardly ever provided. Sunil, from health would seem far-fetched.
And the closest hospital is in Akhnoor which Sidherwan village said: Further, the threat of being displaced or
is around 15 kms away from our village. Dur- actual displacement is a major cause of
If someone’s farm in the village is destroyed
ing the shelling, the dispensary remains open
during the shelling, she/he is just provided concern which deeply affects the civilians
till late. However, it lacks efficient doctors.12
with around Rs 2,000 per acre to cultivate in the border areas at the psychosocial
the land again.15
Those who get injured during the level. The recent escalation of border
shelling often have to travel to the town However, a critical issue is that due to tensions between the two estranged
or city for treatment. There are hardly recurrent firing and shelling, the land neighbours has rendered a large number
any ambulances and even during emer- may become infertile or unproductive. of civilians in the border areas homeless
gencies, there is scarcity of ambulances Yet, no insurance is offered to the farmers or internally displaced. While refugees are
and doctors. Further, during border for the farms in these border villages. people who have crossed an international
tensions, the civilians are frequently Besides, most people in the villages along boundary and “are at risk or have been
confronted with the issue of food and the IB and LoC are dependent on agricul- victims of persecution in their country of
water scarcity. Vijay Bharadwaj, a local ture and cattlerearing and during border origin,” the internally displaced persons
journalist from R S Pura, who has been tensions they cannot get to their farms (IDPs), have not crossed an international
relentlessly highlighting the issues which or have to migrate away from them boundary, but have, for whatever reason,
confront the villagers along the IB, noted: which are their only source of livelihood. fled their homes.17
During firing and shelling, people who flee
There is no convention for IDPs com-
their villages to take shelter in the safer areas Psychosocial Impact: The constant parable to the 1951 Refugee Convention.
often have to live without food for days. Even physical threat to their lives and limbs or Nevertheless, the IHL offers them pro-
those who continue to stay in their villages the loss of farms and cattle is likely to tection in situations of armed conflict.
are often deprived of food since they are unable
resound in the psyche of the civilians “Under IHL, people are protected from
to go out to collect firewood for cooking.13
residing in the border areas. The upshot and during displacement as civilians,
Besides, the locals in the border vil- of the physical and economic threat is the provided they do not take a direct part
lages noted that the state rarely offers undesirable psychosocial consequences in hostilities.” Several rules of IHL offer
adequate compensation to those fam- for the border people. The approach protection to the civilian population and
ilies who have lost a member; and also termed as “psychosocial” in relation to their violation often is a root cause of
to those who have been injured during the armed conflict is summarised in the displacement. For instance, the IHL pro-
the cross-border shelling. Roshan Lal from 1997 Cape Town Principles and is ex- hibits attacks by parties to an armed
Flaura village in Suchetgarh stated: plained in the following manner: conflict on civilians as well as civilian
In 2014, my leg was severely injured during The term ‘psychosocial’ underscores the close objects. It further forbids indiscriminate
the shelling. After I was injured, my nephew relationship between the psychological and methods of warfare that may have ad-
took me to R S Pura and I was admitted at social effects of armed conflict, the one type verse consequences for civilians.18
the Bakshinagar hospital for 25 days where of effect continually influencing the other.
my leg was operated upon. The state provid- ‘Psychological effects’ are defined as those
The indiscriminate firing and shelling
ed me Rs 53,000 in compensation. After the experiences that affect emotions, behaviour, across the border by both India and
operation, I was not given medicines in time. thoughts, memory and learning ability and Pakistan have led to the internal displace-
I was not recovering. Therefore, I went to a the perception and understanding of a given ment of the civilians on both sides. Further,
private hospital in Amritsar where I stayed situation. ‘Social effects’ are defined as the
effects that the various experiences of war
during the field research conducted by the
for around 35 days and ended up spending
over Rs 3 lakh on my treatment. I had to mort- (including death, separation, estrangement authors along the LoC and IB, it became
gage my land to pay the bills. A certain amount and other losses) have on people, in that apparent that the supply of relief materials
of money was provided by my relatives.14 these effects change them and alter their re- for the IDPs by the state is rarely adequate.
lationships with others. ‘Social effects’ may
In addition, some locals from Sidherwan During the cross-border firing, the Indi-
also include economic factors. Many indi-
noted that if a person is injured during viduals and families become destitute be- an government usually provides emer-
the shelling, the state usually provides cause of the material and economic devasta- gency shelter to the civilians in schools
her/him merely Rs 5,00. Further, in the tion of war, losing their social status and and government buildings in the safer
place in their familiar social network.16
border villages, there is an invariable areas. However, these shelters are usually
threat of the civilians’ cattle being killed Yet, the psychological health of the insufficient. Along the LoC and IB, the
or injured and/or farms or homes being civilians in border areas is sidelined and civilians are demanding underground
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 39

bunkers which can be used by them for kaccha huts instead of concrete houses humane treatment, including respect of life
shelter during the firing and shelling in which are more prone to being damaged and physical and moral integrity, and forbid-
ding, inter alia, coercion, corporal punish-
their villages. In February 2015, a pro- during the cross-border shelling. There is ments, torture, collective penalties and re-
posal was sent by the J&K government to also an invariable fear among the people prisals (Plattner 1984).
the centre for setting up 20,125 commu- in these areas of the splinters of mortar
nity bunkers at an estimated cost of shells entering their huts which may not Although the Fourth Geneva Conven-
Rs 1,006.25 crore in 448 villages close to just damage the huts, but also injure or tion comprises a number of provisions in
the LoC in Kashmir and the IB near Jam- kill those residing in them. Nazia, on her favour of children, however, the principle
mu. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Chief way to Drati from the burial of her rela- on which the rules pertaining to children
Minister of J&K told the state assembly tive who was killed at Basoni in Balakot, are based is not stated explicitly in this
that the proposal would cover a popula- pointed out: particular Convention (Plattner 1984).
tion of 4,02,455 close to the border areas Most people in my village (Drati) live in kaccha Protocol I attempts to fill this gap through
in districts of Jammu, Kathua, Samba, huts and are always worried about shells Article 77 which states that
Rajouri and Poonch.19 However, a num- landing inside them.23
Children shall be the object of special respect
ber of villages in these areas still lack Further, the tensions along the border and shall be protected against any form of
underground bunkers. erode the social fabric of life. It may be indecent assault. The Parties to the conflict
Irfan Khan, son of the slain sarpanch, noted that due to the firing and shelling, shall provide them with the care and aid
they require, whether because of their age or
Karamatullah Khan, from Balakot along as civilians in border areas get displaced
for any other reason.24
the LoC said: or become homeless, it not just has huge
There were bunkers in the border areas which economic repercussions, but psychosocial Even though, India and Pakistan have
villagers had constructed in the early 1990s consequences as well. Since the people in not ratified the Additional Protocol I,
when the firing between India and Pakistan these areas may have to live away from however, they must respect the IHL which
was a daily occurrence. However, during the
time when peace prevailed in the region, their homes, their community life is dis- offers general protection for children as
these bunkers were not used much for nearly rupted. Even those who continue to stay in persons not taking part in hostilities,
10 years. Most of these bunkers were, in time, their villages are frequently unable to take and special protection as persons who
filled with mud and other things. But the bun- part in communal gatherings or religious are particularly vulnerable.
kers here are as important as water, air and
food. The government should provide each celebrations or activities. The disruption During the border tensions between
village with fresh bunkers. If that happens of life severs family and community ties. the two neighbours, children have always
many lives would be saved.20 In addition, most locals who were inter- been adversely affected. They are often
Further, Sunil from Sidherwan which viewed during the field research said that killed or injured. As mentioned previously,
is located along the IB highlighted the the state has not yet provided them land within two days (15 and 16 August) in
issues concerning underground bunkers for emergency shelter which it had prom- Balakot, Poonch, six civilians were killed.
in his village, ised. The villagers from Sidherwan noted Among them were two teenagers and a
Between two–three villages including Sid-
that the government had promised them 10-year old boy. In addition, the border
her wan, there is only one bunker around land in safer areas for emergency shelter. tensions lead to the disruption of educa-
one km from Sidherwan, however, that too However, no one has received it so far. Un- tion. As a result of the firing and shelling,
is usually filled with water especially during like the people of Jorafarm in Suchetgarh, children may even have to spend months
the monsoons.21
who do not have farms and are willing to without schooling. Bilash Sharma from
In August this year, at the height of settle in safer areas, most people along the Sidherwan who is currently pursuing
border tensions in Poonch, when one of IB and LoC who were interviewed depend graduation said:
the authors interviewed Pawan Kotwal, on agriculture and are merely demand- In September 2014, due to continuous shell-
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu regard- ing emergency shelter in safer areas. This ing, we had to leave the village. Schools
ing the state government’s proposal on is because the latter cannot leave their were shut for around 20 days. We were pro-
bunkers for the civilians in border areas, farms and settle elsewhere permanently. vided government accommodation in a
school in the safer area.25
he explained:
The Central government recently approved a Impact on Children and Young People: Besides education, children during
pilot project of Rs 60 lakh to set up under- IHL offers general protection for children the cross-border shelling are unable to
ground bunkers in Jammu. We are already
working on this project, apart from the state
as persons not taking part in hostilities, engage in recreational activities. Fur-
government’s proposal for setting up of 20,125 and special protection as persons who ther, due to invariable fear of the border
bunkers in the villages close to the LoC in are particularly vulnerable. violence, children, in particular, may
Kashmir and International Border near Jammu. even be more vulnerable to psycho-
Presently there are no bunkers in the Poonch During international armed conflicts, children
region. I am sure if these bunkers are con- come into the category of those protected by logical problems. Jyoti who is married in
structed in different areas in the times of crisis the Fourth Geneva relative to the protection Gakhriyal village in Akhnoor noted:
they will save lives.22 of civilian persons in time of war. By virtue
of this, they benefit in particular from all the Whenever there is firing in Gakhriyal, it is
Another cause of concern is that a provisions relative to the treatment of protect- difficult to explain the children. They get
number of people along the border live in ed persons, which state the basic principle of extremely scared. A few days back (in early

40 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

August), firing and shelling took place in the and Their Additional Protocols,” accessed on 25 Doswald-Beck, Louise and Sylvain Vite (1993): “Inter-
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9 ICRC (2014), “Customary IHL – Helping to Im- Gardam, Judith Gail (1993): Non-combatant Immu-
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14 Personal interview with Roshan Lal from Flau- accessed on 29 August 2015, URL: http://www.
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Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 41


Challenging Economic Inequality

Tactics and Strategies

Susan Engel, Brian Martin

Economic and social inequality is a major problem, nequality in various realms—economic, political and social—
implicated in poverty, ill health and exploitation. appears to be an enduring feature of human societies. How-
ever, many challenges have been made to extreme forms of
Inequality has increased in many countries since the
inequality: for example, democratisation movements have chal-
1980s and it is also widely seen as unfair, yet action lenged dictatorships and various forms of political exclusion;
against it has been sporadic and often ineffective. To labour movements have campaigned against economic inequality
better understand why inequality has persisted, it is making the case for a living wage and social protection; and social
exclusion of various groups is widely castigated as prejudice.
useful to look at tactics that reduce public outrage over
While all forms of inequality have persisted, what is notable is that
it. These include covering up the existence and impacts economic inequality has increased and, according to many ana-
of inequality, denigrating those who are less well-off, lysts, become much more extreme within countries through pro-
explaining the existence of inequality as natural, cesses of corporate globalisation (Cammack 2009; Piketty 2014).
Most humans have a well-developed sense of fairness (Moore
necessary or beneficial, using official channels to justify
1978). Haidt (2012) argues that fairness is one of the fundamental
inequality, threatening those who challenge it and moral foundations deriving from humans’ evolutionary past. It
rewarding those who defend it. Each of these tactics can is found in people of all political persuasions, and is especially
be countered, resulting in a set of options for those important for those on the left. On an informal level, many
parents observe that their children compete for their attention
pursuing a fairer world.
and resent being treated unequally. In workplaces, grievances
develop when workers are rewarded differently when doing
the same work. Yet, despite this sensitivity to fairness, wide-scale
economic inequality in contemporary societies has persisted
and sometimes increased.
Governments are often seen as the means for redressing
unfairness: they have the capacity to redistribute income and
wealth through policies of taxation, investment and welfare.
Despite the efforts of reformers, though, the divergence between
the wealthy and the impoverished has continued within and
between countries. A whole range of data has come out over the
past few years to support this claim (Inequality.org 2015; OECD
2011; Piketty 2014), the most recent being an Oxfam report that
by 2016 over half the world’s wealth will be owned by just the
richest 1% of the world’s population. The trend to increasing
inequality is clear in the report: “In 2010, it took 388 billionaires
to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population;
by 2014, the figure had fallen to just 80 billionaires” (Hardoon
2015: 3).1 Although there are periodic expressions of concern
and impressive-sounding policy statements, political concern
about inequality is seldom as great as for economic growth,
terrorism, crime and a host of other topics. Indeed, until the
We thank Shaazka Beyerle, Danny Dorling and Stellan Vinthagen for rise of the global justice movement and the Occupy movement,
valuable comments on a draft of this article.
inequality was not a serious agenda item for most governments.
Susan Engel (sengel@uow.edu.au) and Brian Martin (bmartin@uow.edu. To better understand how economic inequality has been
au) are in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, University of marginalised in public discourse and thinking, it is useful to look
Wollongong, Australia.
at tactics of outrage management (Martin 2007). When a
42 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

powerful group does something that might be perceived as un- step in the analysis is to point to counter-tactics that increase
just, it can use several types of tactics to reduce public outrage, concern about inequality. These are (Martin 2007): (i) expo-
with the key ones being to: (i) cover up the action, (ii) devalue sure of inequality, (ii) validation of those who are most op-
the target, (iii) reinterpret the action by lying, minimising pressed or marginalised, (iii) interpreting inequality as a
consequences, blaming others or reframing, (iv) use official form of injustice, (iv) avoiding official channels but instead
channels that give an appearance of justice, and (v) intimidate mobilising support, and (v) resisting intimidation and rewards.
or reward people involved. To illustrate these counter-tactics, we use several examples,
A good example of how these tactics are employed is in cases with special attention to the Occupy movement.
of torture, which is widely condemned but, nevertheless, often Because tactics to reduce or increase outrage are found in so
tolerated and rarely prosecuted. Individuals and governments many different sorts of injustices, there is potentially much to
implicated in torture hide their activities, denigrate victims as learn by comparing tactics used, or not used, in different issues.
terrorists, criminals or subversives, lie about the extent of torture, In undertaking an analysis of tactics used in relation to inequality,
minimise the impact of it, blame individuals for abuses, reframe there is much to learn from the dynamics of outrage over torture,
torture as “abuse” or define it away (as in the case of water- massacres and other injustices.
boarding), use courts or investigations to whitewash actions,
threaten victims of reprisals if they speak out, and reward Cover-up
compliant officials with jobs and promotions (Martin and If people are not aware of an issue, they will not be concerned
Wright 2003). The same sorts of tactics are found in a wide variety by it. Even if they know it exists, the issue may be disguised or
of injustices, including censorship (Jansen and Martin 2003), covered over in various ways, so it is less likely to be noticed.
sexual harassment (McDonald et al 2010), corporate crimes such Nearly everyone knows about the existence of inequality, but
as Bhopal (Engel and Martin 2006), and genocide (Martin in various ways its visibility is reduced, thereby reducing
2009). Therefore it is plausible that similar tactics serve to re- awareness and the likelihood of action against it.
duce people’s concerns about inequality. One way to reduce awareness is physical separation. This is
Tactics used to reduce public outrage are most apparent in sud- most obvious in residential stratification by income, with rich
den injustices, such as police beatings and massacres of protesters. people likely to live in exclusive areas. The former system of
In the aftermath of the exposure in 2004 of the torture and abuse apartheid in South Africa involved separate facilities for blacks
of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by United States (US) prison guards, and whites. However, formal apartheid is far more likely to
outrage was expressed throughout the world, and the methods of create a backlash than a seemingly natural separation, thus
devaluation, reinterpretation and official channels were obvious this is not a common tactic. Poverty in the midst of affluence is
(Gray and Martin 2007). Inequality is different in that it is an sometimes accepted as normal, but for some it can be disturbing.
ongoing process, with few sudden events to trigger an increase in Beggars and homeless people are usually absent from wealthy
concern: it is a “slow injustice” (Martin 2006). Therefore, tactics areas; sometimes governments instruct police to force them out of
to reduce outrage are likely to be more routine and institutionalised. their usual areas, which serves to reduce the visibility of poverty.
Usually, tactics to reduce concern about inequality are used Cover-up of inequality is partly about hiding poverty but more
in an intuitive way rather than as part of a conscious strategy about minimising understanding of the wealth of the rich. A num-
or conspiracy to subordinate the poor. Most perpetrators of ber of surveys has shown that people significantly underestimate
violent and cruel acts believe they are justified in what they income and wealth differentials in their country and would prefer
do, or do not think their actions are all that important (Baumeister a more equal wealth distribution that the one that they incorrectly
1997), and undoubtedly those acting in ways that foster inequali- think is the case (Norton and Ariely 2011; Norton et al 2014).
ty feel similarly. Furthermore, perceptions are shaped by self- In many parts of the world, including India, the wealthy and
interest, with research supporting Lord Acton’s classic saying that the impoverished live in clear view of each other: there is little
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts abso- attempt to hide inequality. This suggests that cover-up, as part
lutely” (Kipnis 1976; Robertson 2012). As well, a small per- of the toolkit working for inequality, is not as common as a
centage of people display antisocial personality traits, hav- lack of interest in the topic or as reinterpreting inequality as
ing concern only for themselves and not others; some of due to the supposed intelligence and hard work of the wealthy
these individuals rise to positions of power within hierarchi- or devaluing the poor, where the poor are said to be responsi-
cal systems (Babiak and Hare 2006; Berke 1988). For these ble for their situation because of their laziness, lack of smarts
reasons, it is not surprising that some people want greater or because they are simply “Shameless”—as the British TV series
inequality and believe it is good. puts it. These methods are described in the next two sections.
Rather than try to determine people’s motivations, our aim
here is to illustrate the tactics that reduce outrage over inequality. Devaluation
This involves noting methods well known to informed observers One of the most potent ways to reduce outrage over injustice is
but seldom combined into a tactical or strategic analysis. We to discredit those at the receiving end. Therefore, attempts
use examples from different parts of the world, as our goal is may be made to lower the status of victims of injustice, thereby
to demonstrate the plausibility of the crucial role of tactics diminishing concern about the injustice itself. Poor people are
rather than provide exhaustive proof. Following this, the next regularly blamed for their own misfortune, a process called
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 43

“blaming the victim” (Ryan 1972). They are castigated as being Lying in this context involves giving false or deceptive informa-
lazy, cheating, unclean, drug-dependent, criminal and in other tion about the extent, consequences or responsibility for inequali-
ways unworthy. The basic idea is that success in the contest for ty. For example, it might be claimed that unemployment pay-
riches is due to the characteristics of the competitors, and ments damage the initiative and prospects for the unemployed,
those who are poor are failures in every way. when the evidence says otherwise. People can lie to themselves
Blaming the victim is aided by a psychological process called in a process called self-deception (Trivers 2011), so those who
belief in a just world (Lerner 1980). Some people believe the world provide false information may also be deceiving themselves.
is fair and, when confronted with evidence to the contrary, main- There is a close connection between the techniques of cover-up
tain their belief by saying people are responsible for their own and reinterpretation by lying. In cover-up, people do not know
misfortune. Those who are unemployed are blamed for not find- a problem exists; in reinterpretation by lying, they are given
ing jobs even when unemployment is structural, with dozen of false information about it. Consider the well-known fact that
applicants for every vacancy. People who are highly committed to the per-capita gross domestic product in India is much less
just-world beliefs are more likely to blame poor people for their than in Britain. What is little known, at least outside India,
poverty. This belief is common across developed and developing is that prior to the British conquest of India, living standards of
countries and it results in a poverty/shame nexus (Walker 2014; working people in the two countries were similar, and that
Chase and Bantebya-Kyomuhendo 2015). Policies and public com- a significant part of their subsequent divergence can be attri-
mentators push poor people to feel ashamed, and some of them buted to colonial exploitation (Davis 2001). Yet many internet
take this on and devalue themselves. Shame has traditionally been sources on British imperialism in India start with its supposed
seen as a useful mechanism for social cohesion and control, yet benefits, with students asked to weigh up the positives and
the negative impacts of it on the poor have received little atten- negatives as if the railways could make up for the between 12
tion. Walker (2014: 40) has shown how its “psychological conse- and 29 million deaths during the late Victorian era famines
quences can be severe; … low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, that can be largely attributed to British policy (Davis 2001).
eating disorder symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder, and The broader point here is that current level of inequality is
suicidal ideation have all been associated with shame...” known but the historical processes leading to it are seldom
Shame on its own is damaging enough but when it becomes understood or publicised.
part of government policy it becomes stigmatising and even more “Minimising” means suggesting that the scale or consequences
damaging to the poor. Inducing shame has long been a feature of inequality are not as serious as they actually are. An example
of many social welfare programmes; its use has increased in is the prominence of the $1.25 a day measure of global poverty.
recent years with measures like income quarantining. An even Using this measure the World Bank could claim in 2014 that
more disturbing trend is the deliberate use of shaming and the number of people living in poverty declined from 1.93 billion
stigmatisation in order to get people to construct their own in 1981 to 1.2 billion in 2011 and looked at as proportion of the
latrines (Engel and Susilo 2014). world’s (growing) population, the fall sounds large. The $1.25
Walker (2014: 44) also provides evidence that the shame a day measure was calculated by taking median of 10 lowest
associated with poverty has grown with globalisation since poverty lines across the globe in 1985, it only allows people a
the 1980s. The corollary to increased emphasis on individualism very frugal existence and results in a shortened life expectancy.
and consumerism of the past decades may well be greater The measure significantly understates the level of global poverty,
shame and stigma for those who have not succeeded. The even considered in absolute (not relative) terms. To achieve a
counterpoint to devaluation of the poor is glorification of the reasonable life expectancy and the associated quality of life,
wealthy and this has also increased since the 1980s. Individual Edward (2006) calculated that the associated income was
success stories are regularly presented as moral lessons in the closer to $3 a day. When we look at the poverty figures using
virtues of hard work and enterprise. Similarly, successful com- even a $2 a day calculation, there has been less progress in
panies are presented as models, with their methods emulated, poverty reduction—in 1981 there were 2.59 billion in that
even though their success may only be short term and due in category and for 2011 the estimate was 2.2 billion. The conse-
large part to luck (Rosenzweig 2007; Taleb 2001). quences of the $1.25 a day calculation cascade, if you are above
In situations where inequality is stark, devaluation of those that you are no longer regarded as absolutely poor. The Econo-
who are disadvantaged is a key method of reducing outrage, mist (2008, 2009) is very fond of labelling those with incomes
with poverty-related shame now the “cement” in the structures above $2 a day as the new middle class!
that maintain inequality and perpetuate poverty (Walker 2014: At yet another level, the very focus on poverty, not inequality,
191). Those who are ashamed of their poverty are less likely to is a way to minimise concern about inequality because
confront the wealthy, thereby contributing to de facto cover-up. empowering the poor has, over the past few decades, not been
regarded as being in any way linked to the power or wealth of
Reinterpretation the rich (Freeland 2012; Marcuse 2015). When inequality is the
Reinterpretation involves explaining why inequality is acceptable, focus, the rich come under scrutiny as the Occupy movement
necessary, natural or beneficial. This has a stronger cognitive showed. Here we see how different tactics converge as this
component than devaluation. Four techniques of reinterpretation is an issue of both minimising inequality and reframing it,
are lying, minimising, blaming and framing. discussed shortly.
44 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

As well as blaming the victim (a type of devaluation), it is Those who do better at school obtain high grades and more
also possible to blame others. For example, governments can advanced degrees, which may be prerequisites for certain
blame greedy corporations and corporations can blame ineffec- types of jobs. Not having a diploma, degree or sufficiently high
tive governments, or they can blame previous governments or grades can be a rationale for denying a person a job, even when
individual politicians. In the case of inequality, the “blame” is the credential or grades are irrelevant to the work (Collins
often put on supposedly natural socio-economic processes. For 1979; Dore 1976). The education system seems to offer a justifica-
example, the Economist (2015) attributes a large part of the recent tion for inequality, even though there is no necessity that those
upsurge in US inequality to an escalation in assortative mating, with degrees should receive higher income.
which they describe as where “clever, successful men marry Welfare agencies, providing various payments and services
clever, successful women” rather than as, say, people marrying for those in need, are usually highly bureaucratic, with many
in their own class. Again, this blame also converges into the complex rules concerning who is entitled to what. Applying
area of framing, which is the most potent reinterpretation these rules according to rigid formulas helps legitimate the
technique. It is a process of seeing and presenting inequality in social location of those served: if a person or family is ruled as
a way that makes it seem acceptable or natural. Historically, ineligible for a payment for unemployment or disability, this
religious doctrines or local philosophies were a major force in serves as a type of official statement that they do not deserve
framing inequality. Confucius said that when a country is “well any more.
governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of” (cited in The legal system regularly makes rulings that reinforce the
Walker 2014: 5). In India, the Vedic civilisation attributed ine- legitimacy of inequality. Those who are seriously disadvantaged
quality and poverty to people’s actions in their previous lives and are more commonly subject to attention from the police and
the later development of karma encouraged acceptance of existing courts, whereas high-level crimes, such as massive corruption
circumstances. The Christian tradition started out promoting or production of dangerous products, are seldom prosecuted.
poverty as the way to salvation but this did not last long and the In the aftermath of the Bhopal disaster, the company responsible,
more pertinent legacy is the distinction between the deserving Union Carbide, was able to escape with minimal penalties. The
and the undeserving poor. These traditions too often counsel various court cases on behalf of victims of the disaster led to
acceptance of one’s situation, say that poverty is natural, or pitiful levels of compensation, yet gave a stamp of legitimacy
promise that things will be different in a future life. While such to the outcome (Engel and Martin 2006).
doctrines can provide peace of mind for individuals, they also Official channels are rule-based systems that promise to
reduce the incentive to question or challenge inequality. provide justice. Yet these systems are themselves biased in
Since the late 1970s, neo-liberal ideas have actively promoted ways that make them tools for the rich and powerful. As writer
inequality as a natural state. As one of the founding fathers of Anatole France famously commented, “In its majestic equality,
neo-liberalism, Friedrich von Hayek (2006/1960: 76), said: the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg
It has been the fashion in modern times to minimize the importance of
in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” When the rules are
congenital differences between men and to ascribe all the important dif- biased or applied in a biased fashion, they give the appearance
ferences to the influence of environment. However important the latter of fairness without the substance.
may be, we must not overlook the fact that individuals are very different
from the outset. The importance of individual differences would hardly Intimidation and Rewards
be less if all people were brought up in very similar environments. As a
statement of fact, it just is not true that ‘all men are born equal.’
Some of those who challenge inequality are met with reprisals,
including harassment, job loss and assault. When workers, espe-
Neo-liberalism promotes belief in meritocracy, in which peo- cially low-paid workers, organise to demand better wages and
ple rise in the system according to their talents. This can serve conditions, they are sometimes met with harsh opposition.
to justify inequality, because it assumes that social systems are Union organisers are special targets. The US, the most unequal
hierarchical and that divergences in outcomes are natural. The industrialised country, is noted for employer campaigns
ways that people at the top of hierarchical systems use their against unions.
power to reward themselves is obscured. Equally, stigmatisa- Whistle-blowers—employees who speak out in the public
tion of the poor has grown as this approach attributes poverty interest—are often subject to reprisals (Miceli et al 2008).
to failure, laziness, lack of intelligence and so on. These include whistle-blowers in government and corporations
Academics present many arguments to justify inequality, for who expose corruption at high levels, for example, tax avoid-
example arguing that talented people need to be amply rewarded ance by wealthy people, pay-offs to government officials who
so they will undertake important jobs, that low wages lead to give favoured deals to corporate friends, or even just the pack-
higher employment, that prejudice is natural and greed is ages obtained by those with high incomes. The Occupy move-
good (Dorling 2010). ment, which burst into public consciousness in 2011, was essen-
tially a protest against inequality. In some countries, Occupy
Official Channels protesters were subject to attacks by police.
Various formal processes in society give a figurative stamp of Intimidation can serve to discourage challenges to inequality;
approval for inequality. The most important is schooling, which a parallel tactic is offering rewards to those who serve to protect
is a system that reproduces and legitimates social stratification. or justify inequality. One example is corrupt union officials,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 45

who connive with employers to keep a poorly paid workforce better is personal involvement with those who are otherwise
quiescent. Leaders of left-wing political parties, who say they stigmatised. Dalit groups in India have reframed cultural beliefs
support a fairer society, can be lured by the privileges of office, that traditionally worked to oppress them as untouchables, to
and become far more conservative when they are elected. create new identities. The belief that they were the earliest in-
There is a long history of progressive parties and politicians habitants of India has been used to develop a “Dalitology” that
failing to live up to the expectations of their followers (Boggs validates their existence rather than undermines it. This has
1986; Miliband 1969). developed along with a range of Dalit literature that resists the
These five sorts of tactics to reduce outrage over inequality inevitability of discrimination against Dalits (Nimbalkar 2006).
often overlap. For example, elections are an official channel When wealthy, prominent business persons, such as Warren
that often promises more than it delivers, while rewards Buffet and George Soros, speak out against inequality, this has
for party leaders serve to buy off challengers. The value in an extra impact because they have nothing to gain financially
classifying tactics is to clarify and group the great variety of from measures for social justice. While it is important for
methods used, and to show more clearly pathways for taking oppressed people to take stands on their own behalf, forming
action to oppose inequality. Each of the five types of tactics alliances with those in other parts of society is vital.
reducing outrage over inequality can be countered by corre-
sponding tactics to increase outrage. We now turn to exam- Interpretation
ples of these outrage-increasing tactics, with special attention Given the various methods of reinterpretation—lying, mini-
to the Occupy movement (Gitlin 2012; Graeber 2013; Sitrin mising, blaming and framing—the counter-tactic is to inter-
and Azzellini 2014). pret inequality as unjust and harmful. The inherent unfairness
of extreme inequality needs to be highlighted, as well as the
Exposure impacts of inequality.
If cover-up is a key method for reducing outrage, then the obvi- In recent years, one of the most powerful analyses of the
ous counter-tactic is exposure of the injustice. This is indeed the harmful impacts of inequality has been the book The Spirit
method used by many who seek social justice: social problems Level (Wilkinson and Pickett 2009). The authors document
are documented and publicised. that societies with greater economic inequality are worse off
In some workplaces, the salaries of top management are not in various ways, such as having greater crime and suicide
disclosed, and furthermore are disguised through such tech- rates.2 Their focus is on the damaging psychosocial impacts of
niques as providing share options. When salaries are publicised inequality on society in general. There is also a growing body
and compared to those of low-level workers, this can cause of research specifically on its impacts on the wealthy, which
outrage, which is even greater when top management is involved shows that wealth blunts the parts of the brain linked to empa-
in corrupt activities. thy and that the rich are more likely to violate road rules, cheat
The Occupy movement has served as a method of exposing to achieve financial benefits and even that they are more likely
inequality; indeed, its most lasting legacy may be putting ine- to shoplift (for a review of research, see Lewis 2014).
quality on the public agenda. Through public protests and Others have argued that inequality can lead to slower
through the memorable attention to a division in society economic growth, or even stagnation (Acemoglu and Robinson
between the wealthiest 1% and the other 99%, the movement 2012; Ostry et al 2014), countering the usual trickle-down
has drawn attention to economic inequality. A related campaign argument. Various authors have documented the huge influence
has been exposure of tax minimisation and avoidance strategies of powerful industries—energy, pharmaceuticals, transport—
by multinational corporations or the super-wealthy, for example on government policy, so much so that governments are often
by the Tax Justice Network. tools of special interests rather than serving the public interest
(Stiglitz 2012).
Validation Much of the intellectual debate over inequality occurs in
The technique of devaluation reduces outrage; the countervail- academic journals and books, but this has spilled over into
ing technique is validation of those who are the targets or victims public discourse, in part due to the influence of the social justice
of unjust actions and systems. Validation can be promoted by movement and the Occupy movement. Thomas Piketty’s 2014
treating poor and disadvantaged people with respect, by associ- book Capital in the Twenty-First Century achieved bestseller
ating them with positive symbols and values, and through their status, something that would have been unlikely without the
own dignified and courageous behaviour. increased public discussion of inequality. Very importantly,
A classic validation technique is organised action, taken in a Piketty and his colleagues have provided strong data demon-
resolute manner. When lowly paid workers join rallies, strikes strating the rise in inequality since the 1980s and refocused
and boycotts, and present themselves as worthy of respect, debate about state revenue away from cutting social security,
they are more likely to be treated seriously. Validation also health and education benefits and services and instead towards
occurs by association with valued individuals, organisations the income side of the state ledger, in particular the method
and symbols. When prominent people —respected politicians, and amount of taxation of wealth and income.
religious leaders or celebrities—speak on behalf of those who Another contributor to the public debate is research on
are disadvantaged, this contributes to greater respect; even happiness, in the field of positive psychology. Among the
46 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

well-established findings are that greater income can improve and was one support base of the newly elected Syriza-led gov-
happiness among those in poverty, but the benefits of added ernment (Henley 2015).
income are much more limited for those with a reasonable in-
come (Frey et al 2008). Furthermore, happiness can be relia- Resistance to Intimidation and Rewards
bly improved through such non-materialistic practices as The tactic of intimidation discourages expressions of concern,
building personal relationships, expressing gratitude and while rewards buy off dissent. To increase outrage and action aga-
helping others (Lyubomirsky 2008). Positive psychology can inst inequality, both intimidation and rewards need to be resisted.
be used as a warrant for changing society to foster community This is apparent in the courageous efforts of Occupy activists.
and egalitarianism rather than competitive materialism. Resistance is also important in other arenas, in small and
large ways. It can involve workers with access to information
Mobilisation, Not Official Channels about corruption and harsh treatment of disadvantaged
The most counter-intuitive aspect of the tactics for outrage groups having the courage and the skills to collect documents
management is that official channels such as courts may not and make them available to activists. It can involve journalists
be the solution but in many cases actually reduce outrage and writing stories exposing obscene behaviour by the wealthy
hence discourage popular action. This is because official channels and telling about courageous campaigners for social justice. It
give the appearance of justice but, when used to challenge can involve individuals quietly engaging with friends and
powerful groups, seldom the substance. Petitions, appeals to colleagues to shift attitudes concerning inequality.
authorities, interventions by international bodies, formal investi-
gations, courts, politicians or elections can sometimes be effective Conclusions
roads to reform, but to increase outrage over injustice, it is better Inequality is linked to considerable poverty, ill health and suffer-
to avoid relying on them. Although many who work in official ing, yet is entrenched in many countries. Although many people
bodies have the best of intentions and do everything they can consider extremes of inequality to be undesirable, public concern
to serve the population, they are constrained by narrow mandates, only occasionally reaches critical mass. Indeed, according to
bureaucratic requirements, limited resources, and the possibility Piketty’s (2014) analysis, it took the combination of the devasta-
of losing their jobs should they become too activist. tion of two world wars, high post-war population growth and
Insights from many decades of social movements show that the active labour movement to achieve the significant reductions
direct action can offer better prospects for change. The labour in inequality that occurred between the start of the 20th century
movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was instru- and the 1960s. To better understand the dynamics of concern
mental in improving workers’ rights in the West. The Indian about inequality, it is useful to examine tactics that reduce or
independence movement saw Gandhi write letters to the increase public outrage. Defenders of inequality can use tactics
Viceroy as a formality, not in any expectation that formal of cover-up, devaluation, reinterpretation, official channels,
appeals would be successful. He launched direct action cam- intimidation and rewards to reduce outrage; challengers can
paigns, such as the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, which changed use corresponding counter-tactics.
consciousness across the country: people became energised One implication of this analysis is that supporters of social
rather than resigned (Weber 1997). justice need to give attention to the full range of tactics. It is
Similarly, social justice campaigners have had the greatest not enough to assume that evidence and logic are enough on their
impact through organised mass action. The 1999 global justice own to stimulate action, given that existing perceptions and beliefs
protests in Seattle stimulated similar protests in many cities work to hide inequality and the desire to believe in a just world
across the globe. Likewise, Occupy Wall Street set an example promote the corollary belief that the poor are responsible for their
followed elsewhere in the US and the world. poverty. Equally it is important to understand the role of official
Two main sorts of direct action are relevant here: to challenge channels, including formal inquiries, government agencies, and
inequality and to promote equality. The Occupy movement elections. Many people assume that official channels are always
largely focused on increasing awareness of and concern about the appropriate avenue for seeking justice and, as long as officials
inequality, though it has also run a range of positive initiatives, in or politicians are committed to doing something, nothing further
the tradition of Gandhi’s constructive programme, to create the is required. However, the lesson from many other injustices,
skills, resources and vision of a more equal society. from sexual harassment to massacres of peaceful protesters, is
One example of an equality-promoting initiative is free soft- that when powerful perpetrators are involved, official channels
ware, cooperatively produced: it undercuts the intellectual sometimes give only an appearance of justice.
monopolies that serve the powerful software companies, and Many people put their trust in progressive governments to
by offering a positive alternative promotes greater access to a counter the inequality spawned by unbridled markets, but
range of capacities. More generally, peer-to-peer alternatives over the past several decades this trust has been broken
in several fields can expand the commons—in energy, trans- repeatedly. Despite this, citizens often look to governments as
port, information, creative works—and potentially undermine the main solution, rather than being part of the problem. The
market capitalism (Rifkin 2014). In Greece, in the wake of the analysis of the outrage-reducing role of official channels sug-
crisis, people set up successful solidarity health centres, food gests it is more productive to pursue methods that directly
centres and cooperatives in their hundreds, which inspired tackle problems, rather than relying on those in positions
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 47

of power to act on their behalf. When social problems are to it, starting with inertia and governments prioritising
highly entrenched, it is to be expected that formal processes economic growth over equality or sustainability. So, it would
have become implicated in the problems, either contributing to be easy for inequality to slip out of public consciousness, as
them or serving as escape valves. governments raise the alarm about other issues, such as
The Occupy movement, an aspect of the global justice move- terrorism. Generation of public outrage is part of the process in
ment, has put inequality on the agenda, so that mainstream addressing poverty and disadvantage, and in promoting social
media and politicians now take the issue seriously. However, justice; it needs to be accompanied by long-term efforts towards
there are strong forces working against any systemic approach different ways of organising society.

notes Power,” Global Society: Journal of Interdiscipli- McDonald, Paula, Tina Graham and Brian Martin
1 There has been a debate between economists over nary International Relations, 20(4): 475–90. (2010): “Outrage Management in Cases of
the last decade about whether the gap between Engel, Susan and Anggun Susilo (2014): “Shaming Sexual Harassment as Revealed in Judicial
countries is increasing or decreasing. Those argu- and Sanitation in Indonesia—A Return to Colo- Decisions,” Psychology of Women Quarterly,
ing that a decrease has occurred rely on very spe- nial Public Health Practices?” Development and 34: 165–80.
cific sets of income groupings, ways of measuring Change, 45(1): 157–78. Miceli, Marcia P, Janet P Near and Terry Morehead
of inequality and timeframes. For the key contribu- Freeland, Chrystia (2012): Plutocrats: The Rise of the Dworkin (2008): Whistle-blowing in Organisa-
tions, see Seligson and Passé-Smith (2014). We New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone tions, New York: Routledge.
take the position of Passé-Smith in this volume, Else, New York: Penguin. Miliband, Ralph (1969): The State in Capitalist Society,
that there is an absolute gap between rich and Frey, Bruno S, in collaboration with Alois Stutzer, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
poor countries and that for the most part it has Matthias Benz, Stephan Meier, Simon Luechinger Moore, Jr, Barrington (1978): Injustice: The Social Bases
been widening over the past few decades, and Christine Benesch (2008): Happiness: A Revo- of Obedience and Revolt, London: Macmillan.
though looking at relative gaps shows a slightly lution in Economics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Nimbalkar, Waman (2006): Dalit Literature: Nature
rosier picture. The most recent data regarding Gitlin, Todd (2012): Occupy Nation: The Roots, the and Role, Nagpur: Prabodhan Prakashan.
global inequality too highlight the illusory nature Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street, Norton, Michael I and Dan Ariely (2011): “Building
of the claims that inequality is decreasing. New York: HarperCollins. a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,”
2 The concern that The Spirit Level’s findings may Graeber, David (2013): The Democracy Project: A Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(1): 9–12.
impact public debate about inequality is dem- History, a Crisis, a Movement, London: Allen Lane. Norton, Michael I, David T Neal, Cassandra L Govan,
onstrated by the number of books and websites Gray, Truda, and Brian Martin (2007): “Abu Ghraib,” Dan Ariely and Elise Holland (2014): “The Not-So-
that appeared attempting to discredit its Justice Ignited, Brian Martin (ed), Lanham, MD: Common-Wealth of Australia: Evidence for a
findings. Rowman and Littlefield, pp 129–41. Cross-Cultural Desire for a More Equal Distribu-
Haidt, Jonathan (2012): The Righteous Mind: Why tion of Wealth,” Analyses of Social Issues and
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48 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


Towards Methodologies for Multiple

Objective-Based Energy and Climate Policy

Radhika Khosla, Srihari Dukkipati, Navroz K Dubash, Ashok Sreenivas, Brett Cohen

Planning for India’s energy future requires addressing 1 Introduction

multiple and simultaneous economic, social and ndia faces a challenging decade ahead in energy and climate
policymaking. The problems are multiple: sputtering fossil
environmental challenges. While there has been
fuel production capabilities; limited access to electricity
conceptual progress towards harnessing their synergies, and modern cooking fuels for the poorest; rising fuel imports
there are limited methodologies available for in an unstable global energy context; continued electricity
operationalising a multiple objective framework for pricing and governance challenges leading to costly deficits or
surplus supply; and not least, growing environmental contes-
development and climate policy. This paper proposes a
tation around land, water and air. But all is not bleak: growing
“multi-criteria decision analysis” approach to this energy efficiency programmes; integrated urbanisation and
problem, using illustrative examples from the cooking transport policy discussions; inroads to enhancing energy access
and buildings sectors. An MCDA approach enables policy and security; and bold renewable energy initiatives, even if not
fully conceptualised, suggest the promise of transformation.
processes that are analytically rigorous, participative and
However one adds the scorecard, there is no doubt that energy
transparent, which are required to address India’s decision-making is ever more complex and interconnected.
complex energy and climate challenges. The domestic energy policy context is made further chal-
lenging by the overlay of global climate negotiations. The
Paris 2015 climate conference required every country to submit
its intended climate contribution. India’s international pledge,
submitted in early October 2015, includes a reduction of
emissions intensity by 33%–35% from 2005, and an increase
of the share of non-fossil fuel-based electricity to 40% of total
capacity. This pledge has significant domestic energy implica-
tions, since energy accounts for 77% of India’s greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions (WRI 2014). In short, India’s energy future
requires addressing multiple and simultaneous challenges,
that together suggest great complexity.
Historically, the country’s policymaking has adopted a
rather straightforward supply orientation: can past trends
in energy supply be reproduced and enhanced? Although
recently, this is leavened by welcome attention to the demand
side, the discussions typically occur in silos around energy-
based ministries, which obscure linkages across sub-sectors
or larger strategic considerations. Perhaps most problematic,
social questions around energy have been excluded or at
most received lip-service treatment, such as access to energy,
The authors are grateful to Veena Joshi and V V N Kishore for their distribution of consumption, and environmental impacts. A
valuable inputs and to the participants of the MCDA workshop held at
the Centre for Policy Research in May 2015 for their feedback.
recent review of national modelling studies shows that these
Responsibility for all errors rests with the authors. questions often do not even get asked by studies of India’s
energy future (Dubash et al 2015). The overall result is a
Radhika Khosla (radhika.khosla@gmail.com) and Navroz K Dubash
(ndubash@gmail.com) are at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. number of disconnects: between domestic and foreign policy
Srihari Dukkipati (srihari@prayaspune.org) and Ashok Sreenivas (ashok@ debates, where climate policy is often treated as a foreign
prayaspune.org) are at the Prayas (Energy) Group, Pune. Brett Cohen policy issue, and between energy and climate policy, although in
(brett@tgh.co.za) is a Researcher in the Energy Research Centre, practice climate policy should be built around a sensible and
University of Cape Town.
well-informed energy policy.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 49

At the same time, the consideration of the multiple dimen- approaches, describe their existing applications to climate and
sions of development is, formally at least, already enshrined in development policy, develop one specific approach and apply it
Indian policy. The National Action Plan on Climate Change to the cases of the cooking and buildings sectors, and offer
calls for a “co-benefits” approach where the climate implications some concluding observations.
of development policies are explicitly considered. The Twelfth
Five Year Plan also discusses how to implement co-benefits in 2 Insights from MCDA Approaches for Policy
the context of national energy planning. While the language of A growing number of global studies address the complex
co-benefits emerged in the context of the climate debate, in challenge of linking climate and development in a multiple
the larger context of energy policy it is more usefully referred objectives framework (Ürge-Vorsatz et al 2014; UNDP 2011;
to as assessment of multiple objectives, which does not require Angelou and Bhatia 2014). For instance, the Asian Co-Benefits
declaring one objective as primary. Partnership (2014) highlights possible entry points to explicitly
This increasing policy attention to linkages between sus- integrate climate and development into decision-making
tainable development and climate considerations—expressed (IGES 2014). Co-benefits analysis to indicate synergies and
as co-benefits or multiple objectives—is backed by a growing optimise trade-offs has also been undertaken in the context
research base. Global models provide strong evidence of of the Clean Development Mechanism (Sun et al 2010: 78;
substantial complementarities between climate mitigation, TERI 2012: 148). Other studies inform discussion of Low
reduced air pollution and energy security outcomes in the Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) which help prioritise
South Asian region (Rao et al 2015). Indian studies, on actions based on their economic, social and environmental
the other hand, have paid limited attention to such linkages impacts (Cox et al 2014). The most ambitious effort to develop
but a few track achievements ex post of the multiple objectives a multiple objective-based analysis framework for climate
of energy policy (Dubash et al 2015). Clearly, the idea of policy is attempted by the United Nations Environment
energy policy as serving a range of economic, social and Programme (UNEP 2011; Ürge-Vorsatz et al 2014). Several of
environmental objectives simultaneously is taking hold. At these studies draw on MCDA to simultaneously examine policy
the same time, while the multiple objectives approach options against multiple objectives.
has won broad acceptance, there are few efforts, so far, to Drawing on the literature, this paper develops a specific
operationalise it. variant of MCDA approaches that offers a number of advan-
This paper presents one approach, based on “multi-criteria tages when applied to Indian energy policy. It requires
decision analysis” or MCDA, which is a well-established frame- policymakers to explicitly state, upfront, the goals which the
work in a range of decision-making arenas, to operationalise policy would seek to maximise. In the cooking and buildings
the idea of co-benefits. The paper builds on a slew of recent cases which will be discussed, the economic, social, environ-
studies and particularly deepens early work done by some of mental and institutional objectives were explicitly laid out at
us in the context of India’s low carbon expert group (Dubash the start of decision analysis. The approach also encourages
et al 2013). We enhance our earlier efforts by providing a consideration of factors that are often ignored, such as house-
clear methodological framework to consider the relationships hold drudgery in the cooking sector. And, it requires identify-
between multiple objectives, the tools to simultaneously deal ing relative weights for the stated policy goals, for example,
with quantitative and qualitative information, and those to in the case of the environment of minimising household air
aggregate and prioritise policy objectives based on different pollution versus reducing GHG emissions. This attention
stakeholder opinions. These characteristics enable MCDA enhances transparency of the process and effectiveness of the
to be deeply salient to energy policy, and allow for final decision.
policymaking to take into account complexities, while main- A second advantage is that MCDA offers tools for incorporat-
taining rigour and potentially avoiding the paralysis that ing both quantitative and qualitative information with equal
complexity can bring. rigour. In contrast with other approaches, such as cost-benefit
To explain these points more clearly and intuitively, we apply analysis, MCDA explicitly allows for the use of qualitative infor-
a MCDA approach illustratively to two cases in this paper: access mation which is often hard to analyse but nonetheless crucial
to modern cooking fuels and building energy efficiency. We to consider. The underlying argument is that all objectives need
envision the approach laid out to provide a starting point for to be considered, not only those that are quantifiable. For
more transparent, analytically rigorous and inclusive policy- example, Indian policymaking is frequently hindered by imple-
making processes around energy and climate change. Notably, mentation challenges of vested interests or limited bureaucratic
however, it could also be used for a much wider range of capability, but because these are hard to quantify they are left
applications, including adaptation through the process of state out of policy analysis.
action plans, as well as for other questions of social policy. The Third, given the careful consideration of qualitative informa-
critical message, however, is that this approach is not proposed tion and subjective weighting of policy goals, MCDA approaches
as a single decision-making tool to be used by policymakers in are necessarily underpinned by an early and continuous involve-
isolation. Rather it provides a framework for structured dis- ment of stakeholders. These include technical experts, policy-
cussion, which can inform policy trade-offs, design and imple- makers, industry, end-users and civil society. For example,
mentation. In the remainder of the paper we introduce MCDA for policies providing access to modern cooking fuels, it is
50 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

important to understand the preferences of the cook stove Goals, and the cost and climate implications of such a transi-
users themselves. This broadening of the information base tion need to be understood.
beyond experts to include relevant stakeholders likely adds to Buildings, on the other hand, represent the rapid urban
the complexity of the process, but certainly enhances buy-in transformation taking place. Buildings consume more than a
and enriches the analytical base by providing new insights— third of the economy’s electricity, and it is expected that two-
for example, cultural concerns around adopting different thirds of India’s 2030 building stock is yet to be built (Kumar
cooking solutions. et al 2010). Unlike traditional pathways to meeting energy
Last, the process of deliberation and repeated iteration with goals, energy efficiency in the built environment offers multi-
stakeholders improves the sectoral knowledge base and fills ple benefits that go beyond energy savings. The additional
information gaps. For example, policy analysis for the build- benefits include carbon mitigation, improved energy security,
ings sector requires gathering data on a range of issues, from job creation, and better socio-environmental outcomes. How-
the upfront investment needed for efficiency, to the local ever, if unaddressed, it is estimated that 1.2 gigatons of
pollution reduced from lower diesel generator use. CO2 emissions will be locked in as India’s building energy
While traditionally MCDA has been used for discrete demand increases fivefold over 2005 levels by mid-century
decisions, such as choosing between power plant sites, its (Urge-Vorsatz et al 2012).
application is not as well established for policy analysis We apply the proposed approach to these two cases as an
where discrete options are harder to identify. However, its illustration of MCDA’s potential utility to Indian policymaking.
benefits reinforce its emerging international potential: in The outcomes presented here are preliminary, notably because
South Africa, the Mitigation Potential Analysis used social, we relied on limited expert input and not on full stakeholder
environmental and macroeconomic criteria to assess a variety workshops. Hence, less salient than the final numerical results
of GHG mitigation options (DEA 2014); and in Chile, stake- is the underlying thought process, method and approach.
holder inputs were used to identify the most important co- The input data for the cases, and part of the methodology
benefits of mitigation actions and associated implementation in the buildings case, draw on NITI Aayog’s India Energy
conditions (MAPS 2015). Security Scenarios (IESS), a bottom-up energy accounting
The approach developed here draws on these international model (IESS 2015). This comprehensive database provides a
experiences and extends the few other efforts to operationalise useful starting point to undertake sectoral multi-objective
multiple objectives for Indian energy decisions. The latter analysis, as attempted here.
include an early framework for multi-criteria analysis (Dubash For both case studies, we define a set of national priorities
et al 2013), energy dashboards (Sreenivas and Iyer 2015; SSEF and preferences, drawn from our understanding of the public
2015; Narula et al 2015), sectoral analysis of the cooking sector discourse around Indian energy policy. In a formal decision-
(Jain et al 2015), and state-specific studies using the framework making context these objectives would ideally reflect clear
of sustainable development and green growth (GGGI 2014). political choices to guide energy and climate policy, while in a
Adaptation work is also beginning to engage stakeholders to multi-stakeholder context, they would be arrived at through
deliberate multiple objectives. The MCDA approach described consultation and discussion. We refer to these national priorities
in the next section focuses on energy-related policy issues, as “branch”-level objectives (as opposed to specific objectives
and can be extended to resilience and adaptation, as well as which we later refer to as “leaves”). Here we use four branch-
social issues. level objectives:
• Economic: Economic considerations are fundamental to policy-
3 Description of a MCDA Approach making. India is in the midst of an urban, demographic and infra-
We discuss the key steps of a MCDA approach in this section. structure transformation whose success rests on the economy’s
Our focus is less on methodological details (which are laid out ability to grow, create jobs and secure its energy future.
in accompanying appendices) and more on the reasoning and • Social: It is important that the poorest and most vulnerable
thought process. Each subsection describes one step of the gain substantially from development policies that reduce poverty
methodology by presenting a rationale for it, the process to be and inequality, improve access to quality and affordable goods
adopted, and expected outcomes. and services, and also act as an engine for further development
For ease of exposition we use two case studies, of the cook- (Dubash et al 2013).
ing and buildings sectors, to illustrate the approach. Both • Environmental: Development policies have environmental
carry significant development implications and are currently implications, which can have repercussions for human health
understudied. The cooking sector is important because over and quality of life. Negative impacts need to be minimised
86% of rural Indian households, representing over 700 million locally, such as air pollution, and globally, as in the case of
people, used solid fuels for cooking (Census of India 2011). GHG emissions.
The adverse health effects of traditional, open-stove cooking • Institutional: Ease of implementation is often neglected
with biomass are well documented and lead to an estimated during policy evaluation either from oversight or because
1 million premature deaths annually in India (Smith et al analysis is difficult. However robust policy assessment
2014). In this context, India is committed to transition to should account for implementation challenges, ex ante and
clean cooking fuels under the UN Sustainable Development ex post.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 51

A MCDA approach provides a structured way to explicitly In the cooking case, by contrast we ask: which policy options
consider these objectives. Below are its detailed steps.1 promote access to various modern cooking fuels for rural
households, in the context of achieving developmental goals in
Key Steps of a Policy Relevant MCDA Approach a climate-constrained world? Here, the problem’s scope incor-
Step 1: Define the problem. Identify the policy question’s scope and time porates a broader set of technologies by highlighting the
horizon by bringing all stakeholders on board at the start. choice between alternative modern cooking fuels, all with
Step 2: Identify policy objectives and specific metrics for assessment.
similar institutional choices. And it also signals attention to
Understand national priorities and stakeholder needs.
Step 3: Identify policy alternatives to evaluate. Consider range of alternative the sustainable development context: issues such as drudgery,
policy options and the metrics for their success. household air pollution and their adverse impacts on health
Step 4: Analyse the alternatives. Identify data gaps and provide a and well-being form the context within which the analysis is
transparent analytical basis for discussions. undertaken. The sector is also relevant from a climate point of
Step 5: Elicit stakeholder preferences and normalise quantitative and
view as the use of modern fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas
qualitative information. Integrate qualitative and quantitative information.
Step 6: Aggregate through weights and compare consequences. Capture the (LPG) and electricity lead to increased GHG emissions, while
relative importance of policy objectives. traditional cook stoves lead to high levels of black carbon
Step 7: Sensitivity analysis.Tests the robustness of the inputs and the process. emissions. The focus is on rural households where the energy
Step 8: Choose the preferred policy alternative. Implement the preferred access problem is acute, and for which various central and
alternative and evaluate results to feed back into the policymaking process.
state modern fuel programmes exist.
The second necessary parameter of problem structuring is
Step 1: Define the Problem defining the time horizon. Policy impacts can be evaluated
Step 1, to carefully define the problem, serves many purposes—it over the short, medium or long term, and either measured in a
ensures that the most relevant policy question is asked, that particular target year or aggregated over years. A shorter time
efforts are appropriately directed, and allows for defining a frame allows for more accurate cost calculations, without
greater range of options for the answer. This first step should assumptions of cost trajectories over the long term. On the flip
be undertaken with stakeholder input, and requires specifying side, a longer time horizon can widen possible policy choices
the scope and time horizon of the decision question, both of as there is time for institutional capacity and technology choices
which are central to articulating a clear decision problem. to expand. Also, while measurement of impacts in a particular
The scope frames the larger policy problem: this includes year provides straightforward comparisons with the targets
identifying its jurisdiction, technological choices, and institu- set for that year, cumulative impacts can provide insight into
tional arrangements. The impact of varying the question’s the path taken to get there. We illustrate the use of different
scope is illustrated by our two cases. In the buildings example, time scales as well as point and cumulative impacts through
one alternative is for the problem to be posed at the national our case studies. The buildings case examines policy impacts
level and to compare the benefits from the full range of in 2022 and the cooking case, by contrast, looks at cumulative
efficiency measures between the commercial and residential impacts of policies over the period 2013–32.
sector. Or, the scope can be narrowed to examine the benefits
in either the commercial or the residential sector. Similarly, Step 2: Select Specific Policy Objectives and Metrics
the problem’s technological scope can be varied: different for Assessment
efficiency measures, such as an efficient building envelope vs After defining the policy problem, the next step is to flesh
efficient appliances can be assessed; or, the focus can be on out the policy objectives. The overarching “branch” level
only one technology option that has a major impact. If the objectives have been discussed earlier: economic, social, envi-
technological scope is limited to one efficiency measure, ronmental and institutional. Step 2 requires identifying the
variability can be introduced by broadening the institutional next level of specific policy objectives, or “leaves,” within these
focus through different policy instruments, all of which branch-level objectives.
promote the same technology. The full objectives hierarchy is identified in three consecu-
Since the purpose of this paper is to bring forth the different tive sub-steps, which results in the outcomes illustrated in
applications of a MCDA approach, we structure the questions Figures 1 and 2 (p 53) for the two cases. While our case stud-
with differing scope for the two case studies. In the buildings ies use the two branch- and leaf-level tiers, in principle the
sector we focus on residential buildings, as 85%–90% of the objectives can be structured into a hierarchy with as many
new construction expected by 2030 will be for residential pur- levels of detail as required. An alternative option is to struc-
poses resulting in a sharp rise in the associated energy demand ture a “flat” hierarchy where all the objectives are considered
(GBPN 2014). Further, we consider one technology—an energy at the same level, although this is not explored further here.
efficient building envelope—since 70% of savings can be The first sub-step of identifying objectives is to clarify, and
achieved by the envelope itself (GBPN 2014). The variation in the potentially modify, the branch-level objectives which reflect a
policy options is obtained from alternative institutional choices. broad consensus about the type of development sought. As dis-
The final policy problem is defined as: which policy options cussed already, we use the economic, social, environmental
provide maximum benefits from India’s residential real estate and institutional objectives based on our reading of energy
transformation, through new building envelope efficiency? policy priorities. In a MCDA application, these branch-level
52 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Figure 1: Multiple Objectives and Policy Alternatives for the Cooking Sector Study
Which policy options promote access to modern cooking fuels for rural households, in the context of achieving
developmental goals in a climate constrained world? Time Scale: 2013–2032

Branch-Level Minimise Economic Minimise Environmental Minimise Social Minimise Institutional

Objectives Costs Impacts Costs Hurdles

Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise

Energy Subsidy Household GHG Upfront Recurring Drudgery Political Transaction
Import Bill Burden Air Pollution Emissions Expenditure Expenditure Economy Costs

Cumulative Cumulative Proxy scale: Cumulative Average Average Time spent Ex ante Ex post
import subsidy weighted CO2 cumulative cumulative collecting resistance transactional
bill due to burden for sum of equivalent capital recurring firewood to proposed costs, leakages,
Criteria cooking households expenditure expenditure (Hrs/week/ policy lack of
promoting GHG
fuels clean (HHs) using emissions incurred by incurred by HH) instruments institutional/
(trillion Rs) cooking traditional from cooking households households (Qualitative) entrepreneurial
options and (MT CO2-e (thousand (thousand capacity
(trillion Rs) improved emissions) Rs/HH) Rs/HH) (Qualitative)
cook stoves

Policy Alternatives: The policy options consist of using different instruments such as subsidies, incentives, market creation, and
availability of finance, to promote specific technology choices. They are: LPG; compressed biogas; electricity; improved cook stoves.
Business-as-usual or the reference case is included.

Figure 2: Multiple Objectives and Policy Alternatives for the Buildings Sector Study
Which policy options provide maximum benefits from India’s residential real estate transformation, through new
building envelope efficiency? Time Scale: In 2022

Branch-Level Minimise Economic Minimise Minimise Minimise

Objectives Costs Environmental Impacts Social Costs Institutional Hurdles

Maximise Maximise Maximise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise Minimise

Electricity Diesel Jobs Local Air GHG Upfront Recurring Political Transaction
Saved Saved Created Pollution Emissions Expenditure Expenditure Economy Costs

Annual Annual Annual Annual Annual CO2-e Incremental Annual Ex ante Ex post
electricity diesel direct jobs particulate equivalent cost to end recurring resistance transactional
saved from savings on created emissions GHG user to buy expenditure to proposed costs, lack of
Criteria efficient the import an efficient saved to policy institutional
from saved from emissions
construction bill from efficiency reduced from home, end user, instruments frameworks
(TWh) reduced installations diesel buildings spread over the full (Qualitative) and capacity
generator (Qualitative) generator (MT CO2-e over full building (Qualitative)
use use (metric emissions) population population
(kilotons) tons) (Rs) (Rs)

Policy Alternatives: The policy options use different institutional instruments to scale residential buildings envelope efficiency.
They are: mandatory building codes; financial incentives to end users to buy efficient homes; financial and administrative incentives
to real estate developers; and building ratings. Business-as-usual or the reference case is included.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 53


objectives should be informed by political choices (such as burden and minimising household fuel cost are preferentially
policy or legal documents) and ideally be reinforced through independent because evaluating a policy against one leaf-
stakeholder input from policy experts to ensure that they objective requires no knowledge of how the same policy does
capture the current multiple and simultaneous demands of in the other leaf.
development. If needed, it is also possible to refine the branch-
level objectives. For example, in some contexts it might be use- Step 3: Select Policy Options to Evaluate
ful to explicitly include energy security as an objective. If such The policy options to evaluate are selected after determining
modification is made, however, it is important that the branch- the objectives hierarchy (Step 2). This sequence allows for a
level objectives transcend particular sectoral interests. That is, greater range of options to be considered, with input from rel-
energy security could feasibly be included, but the decision evant stakeholders who are asked to identify wide-ranging
should not be driven by the resultant implications for any one policy options.
specific sector or policy. Since the policy problem for the cooking case is framed
The second sub-step requires identifying the next level of around alternative fuels, each policy option represents the
detail of the objectives, or the “leaves” within each branch. For promotion of a particular fuel or technology choice, through
example, in the buildings case, the branch-level objective of sets of policy instruments. For each option, it is assumed that
minimising social costs involves leaf-level objectives of afford- best efforts will be made to increase adoption of clean cooking
ability (based on upfront cost, which tend to be high) and fuels by overcoming technological, economic and capacity
recurrent expenditure from the use of energy efficiency meas- challenges and through creation of new markets if needed.3
ures (which tend to be low). Splitting affordability into these The policy options considered for the cooking case are:
two subcategories captures two related, but distinct, elements • To promote LPG as a cooking fuel by increasing rural LPG
of affordability. availability and affordability;
The leaf-level objectives also need to be relevant to the • To promote biogas by enabling an efficient feedstock market,
particular policy problem being considered. Returning to the encouraging entrepreneurial activity in biogas bottling opera-
buildings case, we considered, but ultimately rejected, includ- tions and improving affordability through subsidies;
ing a leaf-level category for indoor occupant comfort, even • To promote electricity for induction-based cooking through
though it is valued socially. This is because the framing of the improved rural electricity access, combined with quality day
policy problem (in Step 1) focuses on a single technology (the and evening supply, and affordable tariffs; and
buildings envelope) as a result of which all policy options, in • To promote improved cook stove adoption through availability
spite of their different institutional choices, will result in the of clean burning, efficient and user-friendly cook stoves, and a
same level of occupant comfort. If the question was structured diverse sustainable feedstock (fuel pellet and wood chip) market.
to allow for multiple technologies, then different policies could In the buildings case, since the question’s scope requires all
result in varying occupant comfort levels, which would have policy alternatives to promote a single technology, each policy
made it an important leaf-level objective. considered has a different institutional focus. These are:
The third sub-step is to convert the leaf-level objectives to • To develop and adopt a mandatory energy code for new
specific criteria to assess the policy question. The criteria can residential buildings;
be either quantitative or qualitative, as decided during stake- • To provide financial incentives to consumers who buy
holder consultations. For example, the environmental branch efficient homes, to absorb the higher upfront costs;
for both cases includes a leaf-level objective of minimising GHG • To provide administrative and financial incentives to real
emissions, measured by estimating the CO2 equivalent emissions estate developers of efficient homes such as lower interest
from the respective sectors. The institutional branch, on the rate loans, increased floor–area ratio, and expedited process-
other hand, has leaf-level objectives of political economy and ing; and
transaction costs, both of which are qualitatively determined. • To promote a voluntary rating system for efficient homes
Political economy captures the possibility of likely ex ante to motivate end users and developers to put a premium on
challenges to implementing a policy in the form of interests energy efficiency.
who mobilise for or against a policy. Transaction costs captures The business-as-usual or reference case is considered in
elements salient to policy implementation ex post, which both case studies to benchmark against the current scenario.
include capacity and skills required, scope for rent seeking, Both sets of policy options were chosen after an iterative
and the availability of specialised institutions. process with defining the decision question in Step 1. In
There is a further important consideration when selecting practice, it is not uncommon to return to the first step and
objectives. In order to subsequently assess trade-offs across refine the decision problem in light of the policy options to
them, MCDA approaches require that the leaf-level objectives evaluate. For example, for cooking the available policy options
are “preferentially independent.”2 Put simply, this means that were spread across technologies and policy instruments. How-
a judgment about how a policy option does in one leaf can be ever, given the limited understanding of the trade-offs among
made without a priori knowledge about how the same policy the different technology choices, it was decided to focus on
fares in any other leaf (Basson 2004). For example, in the policy options that vary only by technology. The building
cooking case, the two leaf-objectives of minimising the subsidy energy policy context, on the other hand, is constrained by
54 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

serious data gaps, making it evident at the outset that results (World LP Gas Association 2005). A “high” score (implying
would be more rigorous if the question in Step 1 assessed a hard to implement) is thus assigned for transactional costs.
single technology choice with institutional variability among Appendix 1 shows the analysis matrix for the social, economic
the policy options. Iterations of this nature between clarifying and environmental branches in the cooking case (Table A1, p 58),
the decision problem and the policy options allow decision and the institutional branch in the buildings case (Table A2, p 58).
makers to be guided by what is practically useful, as opposed
to being bound to a theoretical methodology. Step 5: Normalising Quantitative and
Qualitative Information
Step 4: Analyse the Policy Options The matrix created in Step 4 makes explicit the quantitative
The next step is to assess each policy option along each objective. and qualitative scores of different policy options across leaf-
Depending on the objective, policies can either be assessed level objectives, in their respective units. Any assessment of
quantitatively (e g, quantum of CO2-e reductions) or qualita- trade-offs and synergies, however, requires the scores to be
tively (e g, institutional objectives). This equal emphasis on brought to a common scale or normalised. Moreover, the com-
quantitative and qualitative metrics is important as policy mon scale cannot be assumed as linear but rather must reflect
decisions often have informal implications which cannot be the preferences of stakeholders. The next step of the MCDA
immediately reduced to a number. Step 4 and the subsequent approach discussed in this paper uses “value function” analysis
steps on normalising and weighting are the most technical, and to achieve both these goals. Other MCDA approaches can use
below we only allude to the method to provide some intuitive different methodologies for this step.
understanding of the approach. The different quantitative and qualitative policy scores at
A visual assessment of the different policy options, per the leaf-level are mapped on to a common 0-100 scale by creat-
objective, is possible by creating a matrix with the policy ing value functions. Technical details of arriving at a value
options as rows and the leaf-level objectives as columns. Each cell function are given in Appendix 2 (pp 58–59), where we illus-
of the matrix represents a policy’s score for a particular leaf. We trate the process with an example from the cooking case. The
use the cooking case to illustrate the methodology for calculat- process of producing value functions is designed to account for
ing the quantitative and qualitative cells within the matrix. differing stakeholder preferences regarding the additional
In some cases, a quantitative criterion is simply assessed using benefits from the policy at different levels.5 This differing
available data and literature. For example, GHG emissions from value to stakeholders, of marginal benefits at the lower end of
cooking for each fuel are derived from a combination of the the scale vs the higher end of the scale, determines whether
annual average useful energy requirement for cooking per the scale is linear or not—it is linear if the marginal benefits at
household, fuel calorific value, stove efficiency, and the fuel emis- all levels are the same, and non-linear if they are not.
sions factor. In other cases, a leaf-level objective that is difficult At the end of this step, all scores (e g, the qualitative “high/
to measure could be quantified using a proxy. For example, health medium/low” scores and the quantitative scores in their
impacts of household air pollution are difficult to measure as respective units) are mapped, and translated, to values between
they depend on often unknown factors such as the habitation 0 and 100. These values make leaf-level objectives comparable
type or the provisions for ventilation. Hence, we use a proxy and possible to aggregate.
scale by considering the number of households exposed to Working through the value function exercise facilitates
pollution, which is calculated as a weighted sum of the num- greater understanding about the decision problem, its chal-
ber of households using traditional and improved cook stoves, lenges, and mutual learning about the preferences of those
with higher weight for households with traditional stoves.4 involved. It rests heavily on consultations, and often brings
Qualitative criteria, which entail value judgments and can- forth the competing perceptions of relevant stakeholders.
not be easily calculated, require a constructed scale that allows Ways of dealing with differing stakeholder perceptions are
systematic scoring based on judgment. We construct a scale in discussed at the end of this section.
the cooking case for the institutional leaf-level objectives of
political economy (ex ante resistance) and transactional costs Step 6: Aggregation through Weights
(ex post implementation costs). Specifically, a constructed scale Value functions provide a normalised score for each policy option
of three levels (low, medium and high) is used. Scoring on this across all the leaf-level objectives. The next step of decision-
scale requires thinking through, assessing and providing making is to aggregate these value scores to capture how a
rationale for the scores. For example, promoting LPG requires policy does at the branch level. In order to aggregate, however,
improving rural LPG adoption through subsidies, increased the relative importance or weight of each leaf-level objective
rural dealerships and improved cylinder availability. We argue needs to be deliberatively determined. In other words, one
there would be minimal ex ante resistance to such a policy cannot assume, for instance, that the gains to stakeholders from
because a large number of voters would benefit, and hence minimising household or local air pollution are valued equiva-
we assign a “low” score for political economy implying low lently to the gains from minimising global GHG emissions.
resistance. On the other hand, given smaller habitations and Answer difficult questions about which objectives stakeholders
lower rural population density, costs for transportation, value most is central to weighting. For example, in the cooking
operating dealerships and bottling plants would be high case, is minimising upfront expenditure more valued than
Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 55

minimising a recurring expenditure, and how do these compare Figure 3: Illustrative MCDA Results for the Cooking Sector Study
with minimising drudgery? These trade-offs are often made Social
implicitly by policymakers and may not accurately reflect
stakeholder perceptions. As in previous steps, weighting re- 80
quires facilitation across stakeholders as different groups 60
could rank objectives differently and/or be willing to trade 40
them off differently.
One technique to determine the relative importance of leaf-
level objectives is trade-off weighting (Basson 2004). Its first Institutional 0 Environmental

stage is for stakeholders to identify the most important leaf

within the branch. Then, through the weighting exercise, stake-
holders identify how much of the benefit from the most important
leaf they are willing to trade, to obtain the maximal benefit
from another leaf within the same branch. Technical details of
the weighting process are presented in Appendix 3 (p 59). The
method results in the relative weights of the leaf-level objectives Economic
Reference LPG
LPG Biogas
per branch, which enables aggregation of leaf-level scores within Electricity
Electricity Improvedstoves
Improved stoves
a branch. The process can be extended iteratively to obtain the
relative weights of the branch-level objectives too. In our case Figure 4: Illustrative MCDA Results for the Buildings Sector Study
studies, we do not weigh the branches against each other. 100
Instead, we obtain one score per branch or a 4-dimensional
score for each policy option to better visualise the trade-offs
among the social, economic, environmental and institutional
objectives. These results are discussed in the next steps. 40
Step 7: Sensitivity Analysis
Institutional 0 Environmental
The outcomes of a MCDA exercise should be subject to sensitivity
analysis to evaluate the robustness of the inputs and process
followed. As discussed, there may be widely varying inputs
during consultations which result in different value functions
or weights. Similarly, changes to assumptions, e g, fuel pene-
tration trajectories under different cooking fuel policies, can
dramatically alter final scores. The robustness of inputs can be Economic
evaluated by choosing alternative inputs and checking for any Reference
Reference Building energy codes
energy codes
inordinate changes in the final ranking of policy options against Financial
Financial incentives end users
incentives for end users Real estate incentives
estate developer incentives

each objective. If the ranking changes, the corresponding Building

rating systems

inputs need to be interrogated and the process repeated. For and requires minimal additional subsidies, making the trade-
example, changing the trade-offs between recurring expenses, offs primarily with respect to both these branches. In essence,
upfront expenses and drudgery time within a reasonable range the analysis concludes that policies pushing modern fuels
does not change the final order of the cooking policy options on achieve better social and environmental outcomes but require
the social branch, suggesting that the ranking is fairly robust. institutional and financial commitment.
The buildings case results are presented in Figure 4. The
Step 8: Choosing the Preferred Policy Option policy option targeting end-users scores well on the economic,
The above steps lead to an evaluation of each policy option social and environmental branch objectives, but with significant
across each objective, and make explicit the complementarities institutional challenges. As end user incentives are targeted to
and trade-offs between objectives. home owners who would invest in horizontal construction (as
The preliminary results for the two case studies are shown opposed to the real estate developer incentives which are more
in Figures 3 and 4. For the cooking case (Figure 3), all policy geared towards high rise construction), the results suggest that
options do well in comparison with the reference case on the in the short term, horizontal construction offers more oppor-
social branch-level objective. This is primarily due to the increased tunities from energy efficiency than high-rise buildings. The
subsidy to clean burning fuels or technologies resulting in trade-offs which emerge are mainly institutional and often so-
reduced costs and drudgery. The options promoting modern cial. For instance, while the building codes policy scores highly
cooking fuels do better environmentally as they reduce house- on most fronts, unless the institutional issues of ineffective
hold air pollution and marginally lower GHG emissions.6 For code compliance structures and inadequate technical capacity
institutional and economic objectives, however, the reference are addressed separately, the option is not feasible. For the
case does better since it is a path of least institutional resistance social objective, higher upfront costs make efficiency adoption
56 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

difficult, except when end user financial incentives are provided. opens the country up to questions of credibility and locks us
Ratings and the reference case perform poorly on most into long-term energy decisions that are not informed by com-
branches, but with least institutional resistance as they require prehensive analysis.
little change from the status quo. MCDA approaches do not provide an easy answer to these
complex issues. However, they offer a way to focus on a good
Dealing with Differing Preferences amongst Stakeholders process as the starting point for a good answer, and refine
The approach presented in this paper assumes a relatively ho- understanding over time starting from our current benchmark.
mogeneous stakeholder group that will be able, albeit with If MCDA approaches are to be taken forward in policymaking,
some negotiation, to reach consensus on all aspects of the they raise a few considerations. The first is the need to involve
decision cycle: from determining the objectives, to the shape stakeholders from the start with a commitment to deliberation.
of value functions and weighting for scoring policy options. If This can require working against current policymaking
however, no clear winners or losers emerge from policy options processes which may not foster engagement across groups with
because of conflicting stakeholder views, the approach can be differing agendas. Second, executing a MCDA approach requires
used to facilitate further deliberation on the trade-offs and time, capacity and resources. Often it is data intensive, requir-
ways to improve the policy options. For instance, a potential ing extensive input from decision analysts and stakeholders.
option can be identified, ranked second or third by each group As a starting point, the approach could be led by policymakers,
that will be acceptable to everyone. Where there is potential, think tanks, universities or civil society groups. A ratcheting
compensation can also be given to parties to overcome a blockage. strategy can be used to introduce MCDA principles into policy-
This ability to interrogate the transparent decision process is making, such as starting with an identification of all stake-
one of the prime advantages of MCDA techniques. holder groups and explicitly using the information gathered in
the discussions for decision-making. Subsequently, more
4 Conclusions structure can be introduced to the process by moving towards
Development policymaking, which incorporates energy and explicit identification of objectives, then gradually towards
climate considerations, is a complex undertaking. It involves value function and weighting exercises. An identification of
multiple objectives and various actors with differing agendas. enabling conditions and supporting tools (for example, the IESS)
The MCDA approach proposed in this paper offers a potentially will also be needed to deliver credible results. A MCDA expert can
useful way to work within this complexity, requiring decision- also be brought into the process to assist with technicalities.
makers to ask policy relevant questions and identify comple- Irrespective of the details of how the approach is operation-
mentarities and trade-offs. At the same time, MCDA approaches alised, MCDA fosters more transparent policymaking about un-
can be perceived as complicated and are not trivial to imple- derlying assumptions, sensitivities, and trails of argument that
ment. Our intent is to put forward a multi-criteria approach lead to a particular result. This emphasis on communication
less as a rigid decision tool, and more as a framework to facili- and audit trails regarding decisions can benefit our status quo
tate structured discussion. and is relevant across timescales. In the immediate climate
This intent is motivated by the need for rigorous judgment context, it would strengthen coherence between India’s do-
embedded within a process of transparent discussion to over- mestic and international position on climate change which
come the pathologies in our current decision-making processes. rests on the principle of not compromising development objec-
For instance, policy decisions routinely involve implicit trade- tives. Further, it can be employed to distinguish between ad-
offs as a default, but which are not articulated either in the ditional climate actions that India could undertake with exter-
decision process or outcome. The recent target of increasing nal aid which fall outside the scope of co-benefits. In the longer
domestic coal production from 600 MT to 1,000 MT by 2019 is term, it can be used for other opportune planning purposes
a case in point. While accelerating growth rates of domestic and gradually be introduced into other spheres of policymak-
production can increase energy security and perhaps provide ing such as health and education, amongst others.
cheaper electricity in the short to medium term, this is only Ultimately, successful implementation of the approach will
one aspect of the necessary policy context. The local environ- likely generate evidence to build capacity within and outside
mental consequences of coal use on air pollution and water the government to have a more open, considered, and involved
stress should be equally presented as outcomes of the policy approach to policymaking. Such a robust policy-planning
decision. Another example is India’s stated co-benefits basis framework can allow for India’s energy and climate actions to
for climate policy, which is conceptually promising but not yet be compatible with its broader social, economic and environ-
backed by an explicit methodology. The absence of the latter mental goals.

Notes 4 As modern fuels do not lead to household whether increasing savings of Rs 200 from
1 Note that these steps need not be linear, and air pollution they have zero weight in the Rs 100 to Rs 300 is more, or less, or as valuable
there could be iteration between some steps. proxy scale calculation, and hence do not con- as increasing savings of Rs 200 from Rs 300 to
2 Preferential independence is not the same as tribute to the fi nal sum. Greater the proxy Rs 500.
mathematical independence. score, greater the impact of household air 6 GHG emissions are lower in these cases due to
3 Promotion of one particular fuel does not imply pollution. reduced black carbon emissions.
negative growth in the adoption of the other 5 That is, if the range of possible savings is Rs 100 7 Subsidies in the reference scenario taper off
clean cooking options. to Rs 500, stakeholders need to determine over the 20-year period starting from the current

Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 57

base of government programmes. Subsidies for Dubash, Navroz K, D Raghunandan, Girish Sant from Global Modelling Studies, Policy Brief,
each fuel remain at current levels. A full subsidy and Ashok Sreenivas (2013): “Indian Climate New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research.
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holds under each policy scenario. Trend analy- Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLVIII, No 22, New Delhi: Shakti Sustainable Energy
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from IHDS (2010). GBPN (2014): Residential Buildings in India: Energy Sreenivas, Ashok and Rakesh K Iyer (2015): “A
8 If the relative value of going from A i to Ci is the Use Projections and Savings Potentials, Global ‘Dashboard’ for the Indian,” Economic & Politi-
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9 The actual difference of Rs 2,220 translates to Brandt (2010): “Co-benefits of CDM Projects
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Appendix 1 Table A2: Elements of the Buildings Case Analysis Matrix

Table A1 shows the matrix from Step 4 for the cooking case, for the social, Institutional
Policy Options Political Economy ex ante Resistance Transactional ex post Costs
environmental and economic objectives (all quantitative). The scores are
Reference Low Low
all aggregated for the period 2012–32. For the social objective, scores are
averaged at a household level, and the aggregate time spent in fetching Codes High High
firewood is averaged to number of hours spent per week for each house- End-user incentives Medium High
hold (HH).7 Developer incentives Medium Medium
Ratings Low High
Table A1: Elements of the Cooking Case Analysis Matrix
Social Environmental Economic
Policy Options Capital Recurring Time Household GHG Subsidy Energy The “low” scores in Table A2 imply that the policy option has low costs
Expenditure Expenses Spent Air Emissions Burden Import either ex ante or ex post to its implementation. For example, continuing
(000 (000 (Hours/ Pollution (MT CO2-e) (Rs Trillion) (Rs Trillion) with the status quo in the reference case invites little opposition and thus
Rs/HH) Rs/HH) Week/HH) (Million does well on these two institutional leaf objectives. A “high” score, on
HH Years)
the other hand, means that the policy will have high resistance to it and
Reference 14.1 197 2.3 316 5,226 4 12
be difficult to implement. Building codes, because of the upfront resist-
LPG 12.4 174 1.9 237 4,476 11 16 ance to them from real estate developers, and the low state and technical
Biogas 11.8 182 1.9 237 4,513 11 11 capacity to implement them even if they are made mandatory, score
Induction 13.5 174 1.9 237 4,732 7 12 poorly on both leaf objectives.
Improved stoves 13.6 175 2.2 346 4,780 12 9
Appendix 2
Table A2, provides the matrix column resulting from the institu- The analysis matrix from Step 4 (Appendix 1) can be normalised with
tional objective of the buildings case. We select the buildings case value functions where each policy’s score (or matrix cell) is mapped to
to demonstrate the qualitative assessments across policies as each a value between 0 and 100. For each leaf objective (i), a value of 0 is
buildings policy option is defined by a different policy instrument assigned to the worst score (Ai), and of 100 to the best score (Bi). A value
(as opposed to the cooking case where each policy option employs a function that internalises stakeholder preferences can then be drawn
variety of policy instruments, making its institutional assessment less between the best and worst scores for each leaf. This is done by select-
straightforward). ing the midpoint (Ci) between the worst (Ai) and best (Bi) scores.

58 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The value of Ci (between 0 and 100) corresponds to the relative value, to The weight for each leaf-level objective, Dx, is calculated as: wx = gx  /∑g x.
the stakeholders, of going from Ai to Ci and from Ci to Bi. The process is The branch-level score for each policy option is calculated as ∑ (vi*wx),
iterative for subsequent midpoints between Ai and Ci and between Ci and where vi is normalised value of the policy option for the leaf-level
Bi until a value function is constructed with sufficient resolution. objective, Di.
For example, in the cooking study, the recurring household expenditure A short example from the cooking social objective follows. The most
ranges between Rs 1,74,000 and Rs 1,97,000 aggregated over 20 years, important social leaf objective is assumed to be recurring household
which translates to a yearly range of Rs 8,700 (best) to Rs 9,850 (worst). expenses. Another social leaf objective, upfront expenditure, varies from
Their midpoint is approximately Rs 9,275 per year. Consultations, especially a maximum household cost of approximately Rs 14,000 (value of 0) to
with poorer households, could reveal that reducing running expenses the lowest cost of Rs 12,000 (value of 100) (Table A1). Since the rural
from Rs 9,850 to Rs 9,275 is more than twice as valuable as reducing poor exhibit high discount rates we estimate that to reduce upfront cost
them from Rs 9,275 to Rs 8,700—because poor households tend to have by the difference of Rs 2,000, households would be willing to increase
fixed budgets beyond which any expenses are difficult to meet. The pref- their recurring costs by Rs 15,000 over the 20-year period.9 This increase
erence would translate to a value score of 70 for the Rs 9,275 data point, of Rs 15,000 corresponds to a value of 73 according to the recurring ex-
as reducing expenses at the higher end is valued more than at the lower penses value function, determined in the previous step (Figure A1). That
end. This process is iteratively repeated to construct the value function is, stakeholders are willing to give up a value of 27 on a scale of 100 in re-
shown in Figure A1.8 curring expenditure to make the maximum possible reduction in upfront
costs. A similar process is followed for leaves within the social branch:
Figure A1: Value Function for Recurring Household Expenses for the drudgery is traded against recurring household expenses by monetising
Cooking Study the average time spent collecting firewood using minimum wages.
100 The illustrative trade-off calculations are presented in Table A3. In the
absence of extensive stakeholder consultations, the numbers demonstrate
the steps involved in a multi-objective analysis and are not intended to
60 replace actual deliberations. However, such methodological insights

could be useful to inform deliberations and arrive at a consistent

approach to resolve differences.
20 Table A3: Illustrative Weights for the Social Branch-level Objective of the
Cooking Case
0 Leaf-level objective → Capital Expenditure Running Expenses Time Spent Branch
170 175 180 185 190 195 200
(000 Rs/House) (000 Rs/House) (Hours/Week/House) Score
Recurring Expenses
Recurring Expenses in
years Policy Options ↓ Cost Value Cost Value Cost Value
Ref 14.1 0 197 0 2.25 0 0
Appendix 3 LPG 12.4 76 174 100 1.88 100 95
One of the MCDA techniques to understand the relative importance of Biogas 11.8 100 182 86 1.88 100 93
leaf-level objectives is trade-off weighting, described here. First, the most Induction 13.5 26 174 100 1.88 100 86
important leaf objective within the branch is identified (D1). The weight
Improved cook stoves 13.6 19 175 99 2.16 25 62
for each leaf, Dx, is arrived at by determining how much of D1 can be
Trade-off value (gx) 38 100 58
traded for increasing the value of Dx from 0 to 100. The trade-off value
Weight (w x) 0.20 0.51 0.29
(g x) for each leaf is determined through consultations.

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Economic & Political Weekly  EPW   december 5, 2015  vol l no 49 59


Imaginations of Self and Struggle

Women in the Kashmiri Armed Resistance

Inshah Malik

This paper aims to interpret construction of the self his paper is drawn from my doctoral work focusing on
and struggles of nationhood of some Muslim women the question of Muslim women’s agency in political
struggles, which involved extensive fieldwork in Indian-
in Kashmir’s resistance movement against Indian
administered Kashmir. Meeting young and old pro-freedom
control, focusing on the phase of the armed struggle in activists and recording impressions of their journey of self-
the 1980s. It argues that they have been continually construction was a substantial part of this endeavour.1 The
refashioning their notions of self and notions of just movement, pitted against Indian control in Kashmir, has seen
many transformations, including a shift from violent to non-
and free political community, and have cast
violent resistance. Three phases worth mentioning are the
themselves in religious–cultural terms to suit the needs Plebiscite Front movement (1960s), the armed struggle (1980s),
of the movement. and the Quit Kashmir movement (2008 onwards). The tensions
Muslim women with an active role in the armed between the “West” and “Islam” over the female body and
rights are replicated in a similar fashion between Kashmir
struggle underwent a process of self-constitution in the
and India. With the military occupation of Kashmir and
processes of engagement with their immediate social unacknowledged Islamophobia in modern India as a result of its
and political context. There are women with a Muslim partition history, the question of Muslim women is often knitted
identity, who may or may not be practising Muslims in with narratives of “victimhood” and “lack” of agency.
This paper will focus on the armed struggle phase in the
when they intervene in political action. Yet, they were
1980s. It aims to interpret self-construction and struggles over
invariably cast in religious–cultural terms, forgetting nationhood by Muslim women (with regard to more general
that they have challenged both the Indian state and its political questions as well as questions of gender justice).
patriarchy of militarism, alongside that within their
The Armed Resistance
own community.
The 1980s were cataclysmic for a pre-industrial Muslim
society, materially affluent due to the implementation of fair
distribution of wealth under the “land to tillers” policy (Dar
2010). This material homogeneity of society forced to the
centre stage the question of the undetermined political status
of Kashmir, which served as a banner for people from different
religious backgrounds (Bose 2005). The armed struggle in
Kashmir is not groups of armed men functioning on the fringe,
but is embedded in the social fabric, and refashioned and
reproduced for the performance of collective political will. It is
a phenomenon marked by mass-level production of resistance
through social and political processes (Ganguly 1996). The
Islamic Students’ League (ISL) was formed to spearhead
political mobilisation and cultural resistance. Students played
a fundamental role in creating this mass political culture
and also became a force for consistent resistance. In order to
create a lasting impact in society, women’s participation was
considered fundamental.
Women’s organisations with social/religious roles existed
Inshah Malik (inshah.malik@gmail.com) is a PhD candidate at the much before the mass resistance culture came into being, but,
School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, in this phase, women carved out stronger political roles for
New Delhi.
themselves. It is in this phase that the Dukhtaran-e-Millat
60 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
(DeM; Daughters of the Nation) turned from propagating reli- the nationalism in the Indian feminist project. This tension
gious education to employing religion for political change.2 In signifies the power hierarchy between the Indian state and the
Anantnag, the Women’s Welfare Organisation, working on Kashmiri people. Though neither Kashmiri women’s self-
social issues, decided to wind up in the wake of the armed expression nor Indian feminism are monolithic, some patterns
struggle. Some of its members, together with members of the are nevertheless visible.
ISL, formed the Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM; Muslim Against this background, it is imperative to investigate
Women’s Centre).3 It functioned as an autonomous parallel women’s self-construction, as pointed out in the mosque-
women’s organisation to the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front going women of Egypt (Mahmood 2005), and their notions of
in 1989. The Jammu Kashmir Mass Movement (JKMM), led by nationhood during the 1980s armed struggle in Kashmir. The
a woman, is an example of a political organisation where era of the 1980s is a phase laden with questions of identity:
women were vested with decision-making powers and leader- self, womanhood, being Muslim, or Kashmiri. These inter-
ship roles.4 It is an interesting exception to the norm of male actions or conversations of the 1980s have opened up a public
leadership, and it continues to exist. space for women and also a scope for the formation of
their agency.
Muslim Women in Kashmir’s Armed Struggle
Muslim women in Kashmir are seen either as victims caught Self-construction
amidst a violent conflict, or somehow abandoning the cause of The complex social process of self-construction is fundamental
women’s rights by embracing the cause of “separatism,” or in understanding both the individual and collective actions in
helping their “violent” men. The position of considering Kash- a given context. The notions of alternative selfhood exercised
miri women as mere victims fails to acknowledge the exist- by Kashmiri women are often contextual, experiential, and
ence of the power hierarchy between armed Indian militarism reflect active choices. The respondents of this study took
and Kashmiri men. For instance, Ayesha Ray (2009) notes that several routes to engage with the world and shaped their
Muslim women’s groups like the DeM and MKM were fighting identities through the actions they decided to take after
to mobilise women in their support, but offering sanctuary to certain political awareness.
militants—the very same men who were the cause of their Aasiya Andrabi, leader of the DeM, understands her self-
(the women’s) suffering in society. Ray largely ignores the formation through a moral, spiritual journey initiated as a result
oppression of the Kashmiri community under continual mili- of running into a certain low in her life. In 1981, Andrabi
tarisation, much like how Western white feminism ignored the finished her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Kashmir
question of “race” for black women. Some Indian feminist University. With a hitch in her career plans, she began to
work on Kashmir often furthers the Indian occupation in a contemplate better ways of being productive in society. First,
unique manner by not addressing the political question that is Islamic identity, and then politics became her goals of self-
the one primarily affecting the Kashmiri Muslim women. construction. Not only was it an alternative self-construction,
At the level of activism, the Centre for Policy Analysis (CPA), but also an alternative approach to all aspects of life.5
a non-governmental organisation, tried to express solidarity Many respondents termed themselves constant witnesses
with Kashmiri women in their public meeting held on 12 Janu- of oppression, or what they described as zolm (tyranny). Early
ary 2012 at their office in New Delhi, by again emphasising in their lives, they were exposed to bitter realities of social/
narratives of female victimhood without any comment on the political discrimination and violence.
political status of Kashmir. The MKM press statement issued In the late 1980s, Jamia Masjid, in Nowhatta, was the site of
on 30 October 2012, against leaflets published by the CPA, re- daily protests, with sloganeering and stone pelting as the
flects on this invisible power hierarchy that existed between means of registering dissent. It had become a site for children
MKM and CPA members: to witness or participate; while boys were often beaten up, the
The issue of women’s rights in Kashmir does not appear separate from girls cheered on their brothers for their defiance. The first
the larger political crises of the state. Human Rights violations at the chairperson of the MKM, Bhaktawar Rahim relates the story of
hands of Indian army are often a result of the resistance Kashmiri a traumatic event.6 After the elections in 1987 were “rigged,”
women have shown to the Indian rule. To call it ‘women fighting for
better governance’ is an act of deceit by intellectual members of the the protests had intensified across Kashmir. One day, when
organisation (Center for Policy Analysis). As much as nationalism is her brother was visiting a doctor regarding his eye infection,
criticized for not allowing equal partnership for women still Indian he suddenly went missing. Bhaktawar’s family searched
women themselves have gone through the process of nation build- everywhere in vain. Finally, they were informed that he had
ing and it gives them no right to deny it to the women of Kashmir.
We resist all methods of backchannel policies that tend to depoliti-
ended up at a notorious interrogation centre named “Red 16.”
cize us from the central important question of Kashmir’s right to self- He was only 11 years old and had suffered brutal third degree
determination. torture, after which leading a normal life became impossible.
—Anjum Zamaruda Habib (Kashmir Observer 2012) The memory of such an incident proved to be a turning point
There is a tension between Kashmiri women’s self- for Bhaktawar.
expression and Indian women’s intervention. Indian feminism Certain others grew up with stories and experiences handed
often disregards Kashmiri women’s allegiance to the azadi down to them in the form of anecdotes, consequences of violent
(freedom) movement, while Kashmiri women, in turn, abhor or oppressive pasts, from their elders, family, or friends. These
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 61

stories laid the foundation of their interactions with the world. work sets about questioning the meanings assigned to terms
Farida Dar, the leader of the JKMM, grew up knowing that her such as equality, modernity, secularism, or politics itself. Andrabi,
uncle had been banished from Kashmir unfairly in 1947, and while contemplating the idea of women’s participation in
he suffered just to catch a glimpse of his family again. Although, politics, points out that the politics played over the Kashmir
Farida had never met him, she was pained by his troubled story.7 issue is steeped in hypocrisy, which is not permissible for men
The central identity of “victimhood” has been instrumental or women. It is not about acquiring power, and Sharia law
in cementing the way participants of this study chose to does not permit women to become rulers because men are the
constitute themselves. Yasmin Raja (MKM) was raised by her protectors and guardians of women.
family in Jammu and attended a school in Khati Talao.8 A The DeM does not believe in secularism or in the Western
recurring incident at school led her to think deeply about the sense of equality between the sexes. In Islam, women and men
situation of Muslims in Jammu. Her teacher often experienced are different but equal in their rights. They have different roles
blackouts during classes. Yasmin learnt from her classmates and duties. In some situations women have a better position,
that in the 1947 Jammu massacre the teacher’s entire family in some other situations men are better placed, Andrabi
was killed by mobs led by Hindu political groups. This experi- argues. Furthermore, she points out, man’s physical capacity
ence of Yasmin’s teacher and political lessons from her father, makes him more suited to the responsibility of ruling, and
a former member of the Plebiscite Front, were instrumental in men are equipped to deal with crises better. Women, on the
shaping her mind. For her, the ignored massacre of Muslims in other hand, are often short-tempered, according to Andrabi:
Jammu was proof enough that India was not a place for “I know this from personal experience, if I could have my way,
Muslims to live. She decided to meet the pro-freedom leaders I would have divorced my husband hundred times a day.”
in Kashmir. The DeM’s alternative conceptualisation of Western ideals of
Religious motivation is often behind women’s participation, equality and women’s right to political action are all rooted in
even though they may disagree with the politics employed. Islam. Andrabi argues it to be her Islamic right and duty to
Khadija Begum (Shobei Khawateen, ISL) is a devout Muslim plunge into political action and also enable other women to do
and a believer in taking a stand against oppression, no matter so. She believes that whenever a referendum is granted to the
who the oppressor is.9 She believes that helping others and Kashmiri people, women are not permitted to just obey their
keeping them out of trouble constitutes a large part of her husbands, brothers, or fathers. Women must have their own
Muslim identity. In the 1980s, she had young children and opinion and should be involved enough to form this opinion.
lived in Batmalun, an area rife with sentiments of azadi. Many To substantiate her view, she uses a Quranic story. The story of
militants were from that area, and when a fight ensued be- an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, who, according to the Quran,
tween them and the army, they would be on the run, often had declared himself God and asked his subjects to accept
through the lanes and alleys around her house. She was aware him as one. His wife Asiya became the only person in his king-
that helping and opening doors to them meant being prepared dom to reject his boastfulness and arrogance.
for suffering, yet she did so, simply because she empathised Andrabi argues that in this story it is clear that women are
with their mothers and felt their anguish. to use their wisdom and exercise their own will in all matters.
She further comments that Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh, was
Islamist Intervention murdered for her rebellion and it has a lesson for all Muslim
The women’s organisational work has broadly employed two women, that power cannot force us into submission. She
specific kinds of interventions in the armed struggle for self- encourages women to take their independence seriously, to
determination: Islamist intervention and Kashmiri nationalist contemplate on their political and moral positions. She com-
intervention. The women struggling in this phase for freedom ments on her political position by connecting it to the story of
make important social, political and gender interventions as Asiya in the Quran:
central to the overall political questions.
She [Asiya the wife of Pharaoh] rejected the god of her time and I, re-
Islamism (a set of ideologies that propagate Islam as a guide ject the god(s) of my time, whether Manmohan Singh or Omar Abdul-
for social, political and personal life) has been a rising force in lah. I reject their treacherous oppressive rule in Kashmir. For this they
the region since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Among the want to jail me, torture me or whatever, I offer myself up. Nobody can
active women’s organisations, the DeM took a strong Islamist tell me, you are a woman and woman has to be submissive. A woman’s
position; the demand for an Islamic state and uniting of the submission, like man, is ultimately to God.10
Muslim world found prominence in their rhetoric. The leader
of the DeM, Aasiya Andrabi, believes that politics and religion Political Awakening
cannot be separated from each other. She argues that Islam As a student in Government Women’s College, Anantnag,
without politics is nothing; it is a mere set of beliefs. For her, Andrabi witnessed a full-fledged raid conducted by the Indian
Islam is an absolute way of life. It covers all aspects of life, Army to nab the student dissenters, right from their class-
whether political, personal, or social. rooms and hostels. The Indian Army operated with extreme
Andrabi made her political opinions public in 1983, but her high-handedness and many protestors were beaten up, includ-
engagement with religion was never been bereft of political ing women students. After the raid was over, an impromptu
understanding of the Kashmir problem. The DeM’s political protest was initiated by Andrabi herself. She travelled from
62 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Anantnag to Lal Chowk and addressed a huge gathering while point for the DeM, since after this it came directly under the
elaborating on the violence she witnessed. The scene became security scanner.
intense and slogans condemning the army’s behaviour rever- Kashmiri society stems from interactions between several
berated everywhere. philosophical movements of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam,
This incident provided Andrabi assurance to live a life and draws on several humanistic ideas and philosophies. After
based on the values of Islam and teach them to her fellow the advent of Islam in the region in and around the 14th century
women. She realised, Islam was the only road to liberation for through the saints of Central Asia, this interaction created a
women. She started a darsgah (religious teaching centre) from common shared culture of living for all. In modern times,
an old mud house in Sazgarpour. She educated herself in however, Kashmiri society is fragmented, with elites among
networks of the Jamaat-e-Islami, but disagreed with them Muslims who distinguish themselves from the rest as more pious
over several political stances, one of them being their admira- or educated and enforce exclusionary practices of endogamy.
tion for Sheikh Abdullah, despite his compromised position Revivalist Islamism came to reject this view as heretical with
with India over the Kashmir issue. Soon, her single darsgah roots in the Hindu caste system, and not in Islam.
sprouted into a chain, spreading across Kashmir. These centres Andrabi comes from a Sayed family, and early on, she came
imparted Islamic education to women exclusively, reading to reject the view that somehow Sayeds are better than the
Kashmir’s political situation through the prism of religion. rest.11 The normative teachings of her family did not appeal to
The movement grew as a platform for lower- and middle-class her much. Sayed women were not to involve themselves in
Kashmiri women. public life, they were not expected to befriend people from the
lower sections of society or with people in particular professions,
Rising to Prominence due to their nobility. Though most of her cousins and family
A cultural programme entitled “Jashn-e-Kashmir” (celebration lived a very modern life, she had to struggle to live the version
of Kashmir) was organised by the Ministry of Culture in New of Islam she believed to be the right one. She befriended the
Delhi; they flew in Kashmiri women to perform folk dances. daughter of a milkman and struggled to maintain their friend-
This move created resentment among darsgah members as ship, much to her parents’ dismay. Islamism appealed to her,
they began to contemplate the commodification of women’s naturally, because, she argues, quoting a verse from the Quran,
bodies. They published a pamphlet entitled “A Message to the the Sharia does not accept any such hierarchy: “We created
Daughters of Fatima” as a criticism of this act of the govern- you into nations and tribes, so you recognise each other, not that
ment. The pamphlet raised several issues, such as “purpose of you despise each other, verily, best among you are the pious”
women’s creation,” “exploitation of women,” “women’s gender (49: 13). The members of the DeM, therefore, found a refuge from
roles of pleasing opposite sex,” and “Indian state’s role.” The social hierarchies, of classes and familial discrimination, and
pamphlet created an alternative goal of “women’s piety” as began to propagate cross-sectional marriages among Muslims.
real salvation for women. Fatima Zahra, the Prophet’s daughter,
became a pious role model as opposed to the depiction of Addressing Patriarchy
women in Bollywood. Andrabi and her band of women received The DeM’s radical stance also reflects in its rejection of the cul-
applause for their work and several media outlets referred to tural patriarchy of Kashmiri society. The women of the DeM
them as “‘Dukhtaran-e-Millat.” This name was gladly accepted realise that Kashmiri society is a male-dominated one, which
by the women because it came to represent their own senti- is structured in a manner that controls women’s liberty and
ments towards Millat (nation of Islam). They resented the restricts their choices. The cultural ideals of womanhood,
idea of territorial nationalism and believed it to be the West whether through Habba Khatoon or Lal Ded, teach women to
employing the sword of nationalism to divide the people with persevere and accept their fate and construct themselves
artificial boundaries, where none existed before. As a result of only in relation to their husbands, fathers, and sons. But, the
their views finding public audience, the DeM began its media DeM believes these ideals are formed to restrict women’s self-
cell. Andrabi’s lectures were recorded and sold as recorded actualisation. In Islam, women are not subject to men, women
cassettes and CDs in all markets in Kashmir. ISL members are subject to God, just like men. This is why, after marriage,
coordinated the sale and distribution. women do not take their husband’s name; woman is not a gift
With massive inroads into the cultural and social fabric of to be transacted between men, she is born in her own right,
Kashmir, Islamism overall came to be recognised as a menace they argue.
and the government imposed a blanket ban on the darsgahs The DeM’s religious understanding was pitched against not
run by the Jamaat-e-Islami. Though the Jamaat did not just the sociocultural understanding of religion, but also the
protest the ban, the DeM began a march from their office in tradition of religion and its dominant male power. Imparting
Sazgarpour to Haval. The women members of the organisation religious education to women was an extremely cumbersome
broke open the “locked down” Jamaat-e-Islami darsgah in process replete with obstacles and hindrances. One of the
protest and then proceeded to the Main Square in Lal Chowk. earliest challenges was to convince the traditional religious
This event appeared in the media with headlines such as complex about women’s rights. On many occasions Andrabi
“Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Nation) came on the roads and her women were faced with situations where men or the
to defy the government ban on darsgah.” It was a turning clergy opposed their religiosity in different ways. Andrabi had
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 63

to suffer tremendous confrontation from male scholars even to Kashmiri nationalism became dominated by Muslim spiritual-
the point of ridicule, but she consistently focused on the wom- ism, with an approach of coexistence. The former Kashmiri
en’s rights position in Islam. She defended women’s participa- cultural identity known as “Kashmiriyat” became a tool of
tion in religious education through Sharia. She believed Islamic propaganda for the Indian state. Kashmiriyat is understood to
law has obliged women to be educated and to be active in edu- be an ideal shared culture that was destroyed due to the ad-
cating others. vent of the armed struggle. This narrative has been criticised
In 1983, Andrabi held an ijtimah (religious conference) at a by the later movements of Islamism and Muslim spiritual
mosque in Nawab Bazer near Hilalia Darsgah. At the mosque, nationalism for its silence over hierarchies and unequal power
the Imam Mufti Rashid had locked the mosque before Andrabi’s distribution between different ethnic groups.
arrival, even though he had agreed to provide a space to women Popularity of Islamist interventions remains because of its
for a religious conference. Having been informed about the radical stances on questions of societal oppression and hierarchy,
Mufti’s decision to not allow women into the mosque since it while Kashmiriyat fails to acknowledge internal hierarchies
was against Islam, Andrabi decided to engage the Mufti in a and pertinent questions, not sufficiently recognising social
religious duel and sought his explanation as per the Quran oppression as underpinning the political question. Further-
and Sunna. He appeared to be very stubborn and adamant. more, through the co-option of the National Conference into
What transpired between the Mufti and Andrabi is of funda- the Indian nationalist project in Kashmir, any references to
mental importance to the discussion of patriarchy. this culture of Kashmiriyat are read as an appreciation of the
Andrabi refuted the Mufti’s arguments about the domestic Indian project.
space being the woman’s place. She argued that Allah (God) The sense of Kashmiri nationalism, which later came to
has indeed put the responsibility of religious duty on both men dominate the self-determination movement in the 1980s,
and women equally and has obliged women to carry out the was employed by two major women’s organisations: Shobei
duty of educating others. She cited the example of the Prophet’s Khawateen (ISL Women’s Wing), and the MKM.
wife Ayesha as the biggest religious scholar after the Prophet, The ISL began a radical politicisation project in 1983, of
and her contribution to Islam. She argued, through examples which women were also a part. The ISL quickly became a
of Muslim women in Islamic history, it is clear that no such powerful platform for the youngsters in Kashmir. Women
domestic restriction was actually a part of Islamic tradition. were driven to it for the political issues it addressed, and that
The Mufti had to admit that his religious interpretation was it allowed women a respite from otherwise traditionally
unsubstantiated by the tradition of Islam. In this manner, gendered roles. The ISL’s political work entailed “awakening”
the DeM was able to open some mosque spaces to the women the Kashmiri people, emissaries going door to door and from
in Kashmir. village to village speaking against the tyranny and oppression
The DeM started an intensive campaign against the social evils of the time. Rahma Khan is one of the earliest women recruits
of dowry, exploitation of women in workplaces, and economic of the ISL movement, who took the ISL’s mission beyond its
exploitation in domestic spaces. Door-to-door campaigns were time into the armed struggle later.12 The ISL became very
designed to introduce Sharia law and women’s rights to the popular among students and entered political discussions.
Kashmiri people. Dowry is an anti-Islamic act and detested in One day, as they announced their idea of throwing open its
the sight of God, and women’s earnings belong to them and space for women too, Rahma jumped at the opportunity when
should not be snatched from them. The places women work at her brother mentioned it to her. Commenting on her decision
and jobs women do must ensure their honour and respectability; to join the ISL, Rahma says:
professions that harm women’s honour or jeopardise their social Despite being an uneducated person, the attraction of the activity, the
position are also against the Sharia. The DeM empathised with feeling to be able to contribute to the cause was incredible, so when my
women through their journey towards piety, but recognised a brother mentioned about women’s wing, I jumped at the opportunity.
paradox. Andrabi argues that in many cases of oppression against Initially, the recruitment of women was informal, engaging
women reported to her organisation, she found the perpetra- them as sisters and mothers to support the politicisation
tors were often other women. Therefore, in order to change process. This space allowed the women to later craft a more
women’s situation, women have to often stand against women predominant position for themselves in the movement. The
when it is the women who help preserve a male-dominated ISL was a response to the hanging of Maqbool Bhat in 1983 in
system. This is why Islam is an alternative she argued. Tihar Jail, New Delhi, and many of these women assisted their
brothers and friends to march forward, finding a lot more
Kashmiri Nationalist Interventions and Shobei Khawateen purpose in the movement and carving a space for their own
Kashmiri nationalism has remained a well-known political selves. The ISL conducted Milad (Prophet’s birthday) marches
undercurrent in Kashmir’s right to self-determination move- and innumerable women joined these marches. Yasin Malik,
ment. The ideas of alternate nationhood are both romantic Ashfaq Majeed Wani, Hameed Sheikh and many others made
and diverse, ranging from ideas of a pan-Islamic empire to active contributions as prodigies. In 1987, the decisive election
spiritual Kashmiri nationalism. However, the 1980s saw a year when Muslim United Front members were incarcerated,
split in the shared Kashmiri cultural identity between Pandits women of the ISL independently held their first convention at
and Muslims, towards more religion-based identity politics. Hotel Taj. The ISL had politically backed the women’s own
64 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

initiatives. At the convention, the Indian state’s suppression of at different places, mostly at homes. Hundreds of copies were
Kashmir’s liberation movement was discussed. For such an made by women overnight, as Shareefe remembers: “Our
endeavour, emanating from the need of working for collec- hands would pain or feel numb from so much writing.”13
tive political will, the women expected no reward.
The women spent their own money and contributed from Against Patriarchy
their homes, investing in the organisation of the freedom The women of the ISL were going against the tide and conven-
movement. They went from one place to another, and held tion, and as a result had to face a plethora of problems of
conventions and seminars deliberating on the need to rise up sexism and patriarchy. Women’s contribution was viewed as
against the Indian rule in Kashmir. To work in a political unnecessary. People used religion to question women’s public
struggle, for women, was actually a preliminary step towards role. One of my respondents, Maryam Rehman,14 faced pres-
experiencing freedom themselves. The ideals of revolutionary sures first-hand to cover herself in a burqa. At some point, she
women, Leila Khaled from Palestine or Zainab Al-Ghazali was not even taken seriously because she did not adhere to
from Egypt, were promising to the women of the ISL. They the patriarchal perceptions of morality. Maryam fought such
drew lessons from their lives and contemplated over the issues pressures and defended her stance on religion by pointing out
of freedom and solidarity among themselves. The movement that religious duty cannot be obligated on someone by force.
gradually grew in all parts of Kashmir, and centres were Islam is clear about not using any force.
established in villages and districts in the north and south of Women’s participation was frowned upon and invited
the Kashmir Valley. The women’s wing remained open to the taunts that would label their contribution as some kind of
counsel of male leadership and accepted their ideas in competition with men. They were often reminded of their
strengthening plans, strategies and execution of the political “inferiority” or gendered roles as a better means of living their
agenda set by the women. life. Despite such negative experiences, the women of the ISL
The ISL women did not employ literal Islam in their activism, continued working, often collaboratively with other women’s
except for the humanistic messages it had to offer for fighting organisations, especially the DeM. In their personal lives too,
the oppression. It was a space open to all, religious women, women had to face huge problems.
secular women, as well as non-Muslim women. The question Masarat Malik was a young member of the MKM, and her
of women’s rights and protection from violence became central relatives often said that women should have nothing to do
to the debates in the ISL. Members began to argue about the with politics.15 In her defence, she often used examples of
safety of women from all strata of society, including women Fatima Jinnah or Benazir Bhutto from Pakistan politics to
from far-flung villages, who live under the shadow of army make a case for her own participation in the movement. With
control. One of the important things that were anticipated time, her resolve became stronger to the point where she
was to rescue Kashmir from Indian occupation, which could believes that no revolution can be successful without equal
generally improve living conditions for all, including women, participation from all sections of the society. This is the sense
and provide an environment to think about strengthening the of equality that led her to carve out a role for herself in the
moral foundations of women’s rights. movement, and not because she wanted to continue believing
Women raised funds for sustaining on their own and fur- in the socially enforced idea of subordination.
thering the agenda for the self-determination of Kashmir with
an added emphasis on women’s rights. One of the early chal- Conclusions
lenges was to reach out to women and increase their base, so Self-constitution is derived from the processes of engagement
the ISL decided to provide economic help and domestic coun- with one’s immediate social and political context. Women in
sel to its members. Female members could look up to the ISL the resistance have chosen the path of self-actualisation and
for any help concerning their personal issues, children’s edu- morality for performance of agency in this phase of struggle.
cation, monetary help and medical assistance. Women have also inherited the idea of struggle from their
For participating in the events, members were paid daily families and engaged with them throughout their childhood.
expenses and provided help with logistics to ensure nothing The term “Muslim woman” entails a complex set of mean-
would keep them from participating since their families ings. Women are in a relationship with Islam in diverse ways
would not support these expenses. Money was raised amongst in the resistance against occupation and militarism. In this
members and interested donors in order for the movement to process of resistance, they draw on Islam either as Islamists
continue. The whole movement gave tremendous vigour, or as Islamic/Muslim feminists. But, there are also politically
feeling of sacrifice, and confidence to believe they could active women bearing a Muslim community identity, who
change the fate of their entire people through constant struggle
and devotion.
In the 1980s, when photocopiers were still a distant dream, available at
women sat in groups for nights on end to write posters and
make copies of the literature to pass it on to members and fol- Oxford Bookstore-Mumbai
lowers. Posters of Zainab Al-Ghazali or Leila Khaled were the Apeejay House, 3, Dinshaw Vacha Road, Mumbai 400 020
highlights of such night groups. These collectives would meet Ph: 66364477

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 65


nevertheless may not be practising Muslims when they inter- notions of self and notions of struggle for political freedom,
vene in political action. Though their sources of resistance are drawing on elements from within their culture. Their invest-
multiple, Muslim women in politics are almost always under- ment in cultural/religious meaning is also shaped by resist-
stood solely in religious–cultural terms, forgetting that, in all ance to dominant Islamophobic assault. Thus, the struggles
these cases, women have challenged both the Indian state/ for religious equality and gender equality have played a
occupation and the patriarchy of their own community. significant role in women’s participation in the larger strug-
Hence, like women elsewhere, they have been refashioning gle for freedom.

Notes 6 Interview conducted by the author at the Bhakta- Bose, S (2005): Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths
1 Interviews were conducted by the author dur- war’s residence in Batmalun on 16 June 2013. to Peace, Cambridge, MA: Havard University
ing February–June 2013. The real identities of 7 Interview conducted by the author at Farida’s Press.
some of the respondents are protected upon residence in Novgam on 21 June 2013. Dar, Hamidullah (2010): “The Fall of the Feudals?”
their request. 8 Interview conducted by the author at the MKM’s Kashmir Life, 13 May, viewed on 18 June 2010,
2 DeM is a women’s exclusive Islamist organisa- office in Raj Bagh, Srinagar on 26 June 2013.
tion running as a parallel authority to the All 9 Interview conducted by the author at Khadija’s
residence in Batmalun on 30 June 2013. feudals-444/.
Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC).
10 Story of Pharaoh and his wife Asiya mentioned Ganguly, S (1996): “Explaining the Kashmir Insur-
3 This article refers to the MKM prior to its split gency: Political Mobilization and Institutional
in the Quran, Chapter 66. Interview of Aasiya
(unless specified), which only happened when
Andrabi with the author conducted in June 2013. Decay,” International Security, Vol 21, No 2,
its chairperson, Anjum Zamaruda Habib, was
released from jail in 2007. The other faction of 11 Interview of Aasiya Andrabi with the author pp 76–107.
conducted in June 2013. Kashmir Observer (2012): “Delhi Groups Don’t Rep-
the MKM is headed by Yasmin Raja and the
faction is a member of the Hurriyat Confer- 12 Rahma Khan was interviewed on 12 March resent Our Women: MKM,” 31 October, viewed
ence (M) under the leadership of Mirwaiz 2013 at her residence in Batmalun.
on 10 November 2012, http://www.kashmirob-
Umar Farooq. See, “About Us,” J&K Muslim 13 Shareefe was interviewed on 15 April 2013 at
her residence in Bemun. server.net/news/top-news/delhi-groups-dont-
Khawateen Markaz. represent-our-women-mkm.
4 The APHC faction (G) under the aegis of Syed 14 Interview conducted at Maryam’s residence in
Naetpour on 17 April 2013. Mahmood, S (2005): Politics of Piety: The Islamic
Ali Shah Geelani has 11 executive members
15 Interview conducted with the author at Masarat’s Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton,
and two of them are women representatives,
Anjum Zamaruda Habib of the MKM(G), and residence in Kanitar on 12 February 2013. NJ: Princeton University Press.
JKMM patron Fareeda Behanji. The JKMM is Ray, A (2009): “Kashmiri Women and the Politics
the only organisation of both men and women, References of Identity,” paper presented at the SHUR
headed by a woman. “About Us,” J&K Muslim Khawateen Markaz, ­Final Conference on Human Rights and Civil
5 Interview of Aasiya Andrabi with the author viewed on 12 October 2015, http://www.kha- Society, Luiss University, Rome, Italy, 4–5
conducted in June 2013. wateenmarkaz.com/content/about-us. June.

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China’s One Belt One Road commodity-rich West and Central Asia
to emerging South and South-east Asian
countries along the road which has a huge
An Indian Perspective potential consumer market. To facilitate
this development, China has set up a
$40 billion Silk Road Fund.
Geethanjali Nataraj, Richa Sekhani
Conception of One Belt One Road

The One Belt One Road initiative he growth of China has been Much of China’s logic on the project is
is the centrepiece of China’s remarkable since it undertook based on geopolitics and on the export of
reforms in 1978. It is currently the its huge infrastructure-building capacities
foreign policy and domestic
second largest economy in the world and therefore Chinese President Xi Jinping
economic strategy. It aims to having overtaken Japan. In order to sus- has made the programme a centrepiece
rejuvenate ancient trade tain this development, the concept of the of both his foreign policy and domestic
routes—Silk Routes—which “Silk Road” was proposed. The renewed economic strategy. The One Belt One
initiative of the belt and the road is pro- Road (OBOR) was proposed by Xi Jinping
will open up markets within
posed to cope with the profound changes during his visit to Indonesia in October
and beyond the region. India and challenges that emerge in the course 2013. The project is comprehensive and
has so far been suspicious of of development. The grandiose idea is multifaceted, and seeks to establish China
the strategic implications of rooted in history with the new “Silk not only as an Asia-Pacific power, but as
Road Economic Belt” and the 21st century a global one.
this initiative. If India sheds
Maritime Silk Road (MSR) which earlier Since decades, China’s opening-up
its inhibitions and participates linked the major civilisations in Asia, policy has favoured development of east
actively in its implementation, Europe and Africa for many years. China and coastal areas while west China
it stands to gain substantially in According to the official document and inland areas limited by their geo-
titled “Vision and Actions on Jointly graphical location, resources, and devel-
terms of trade.
Building Silk Road Economic Belt and opment foundation have remained rela-
21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” the tively less developed. The OBOR strategy
project aims to create an open, inclusive contributes to the establishment of “one
and balanced regional economic coop- body two wings” of the new pattern of
eration grouping with a common ideo- comprehensive opening up (Hucheng
logy that benefits all the countries 2014). Through this initiative, China
involved in the initiative. The vision hopes to develop and modernise its
reflects the demand from relevant coun- landlocked and underdeveloped south-
tries to open up infrastructure bottle- ern and western provinces, to enable
necks, and to improve connectivity with them to access the markets of South-east
large markets in Asia and Europe, as Asia and West Asia, thus shaping China’s
well as the need for China’s own devel- regional periphery by exercising eco-
opment and security. nomic, cultural and political influence.
To achieve its objective, the new Silk Further, the Chinese leadership is facing
Road Economic Belt will link China to difficulties in managing the transition
Europe cutting through mountainous re- to a “new normal” of slower and more
gions in Central Asia and the MSR that sustainable economic growth because
links China’s ports with the African of the property market challenges, excess
coast and then pushes up through the capacity in industry, debt burden and
Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea financial risks in the Chinese economy.
(Minnick 2015). The MSR will extend In fact, excess capacity in Chinese factories
from the Quanzhou province in China, is a serious problem. It is expected that
heading south to the Malacca Strait, by promoting investments in course of
from Kuala Lumpur it will head to Kolkata, implementation of OBOR projects, new
Geethanjali Nataraj (geethanjali@orfonline. crossing the northern Indian Ocean to opportunities and markets would be
org) and Richa Sekhani (richa.sekhani@ Nairobi, Kenya. created for Chinese firms which would
orfonline.org) are with the Observer Research Therefore it offers a tremendous have a multiplier impact on production
Foundation, New Delhi.
opportunity to connect resource- and of goods and services domestically,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 67
Figure 1: China’s Proposed Silk Roads “inheritance” and “record” as the project
is an important component of the
Netherlands DUISBURG
“Chinese Dream,” which extends both
Germany Kazakhstan in space and time. With 58 countries
involved with the OBOR, it accounts for
Italy Black Sea Uzbekistan BISHKEK
the economic aggregation of $21 trillion,
Greece Turkey KASHGAR (East Sea)
with a 29% share in global trade.1
Mediterranean Sea TEHRAN
Unlike the traditional Silk Road, which

East China
ensured exchange of goods and tech-
nology, the New Silk Road also plans to

Bay of
HANOI HAIKOU link policies, infrastructure, trade, finance
and people. Figure 1 presents the regions
Sri South

covered along the route and Table 1
Malaysia presents percentage shares in world
population and world gross domestic
product (GDP).
Silk Road Economic Belt Maritime Silk Road China–Pakistan Economic Corridor
Implications for Those Involved
Source: Xinhua, Council on Foreign Relations.
OBOR provides a platform to expand
thereby creating more jobs and higher Also, most of the projects (in their initial trade volumes between China and mem-
incomes for the Chinese populace. Given phases at least) would be financed by ber countries. Presently, trade between
its huge foreign exchange reserves, total- Chinese financial institutions like China China and other partner countries along
ling about $4 trillion, China is in need of Investment Corporation, China Develop- the road boasts of a solid foundation. For
avenues to invest so as to earn a reason- ment Bank, etc, and China-dominated most of the countries involved in the
able return on the same. institutions like Asian Infrastructure project, China is their largest trade part-
Among all the driving factors, the Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICS New ner, largest export market and the main
strategic rationale for initiating the OBOR Development Bank (Brazil, Russia, India, source of investment. Trade and foreign
is of utmost importance. The project China, South Africa [BRICS]). Some direct investments (FDI), over the past 10
clearly reflects the deepening of Chinese observers believe that this would help years between China and other coun-
interests in strategically important regions China in faster internationalisation of tries, have had an annual average growth
to its west, for instance, the Persian her currency, the Renminbi. Thus it is of 19% and 46%, respectively. According
Gulf. Many of the spectators are of the quite apparent that China has a grand to Fidelity Worldwide Investment Report
view that this new initiative by China is vision in promoting OBOR; a vision (2015: 3), China’s trade value with the
a response to the much-hyped “pivot to which will seek for a greater role (both OBOR countries reached almost Renminbi
Asia” by the United States (US) (Leverett, political and economic) in the inter- 7 trillion in 2014 accounting for 25% of
Leverett and Bingbing 2015). According national community. total foreign trade value, while the com-
to a few experts, the launch of this pro- bined weightage of trade with the US,
ject, if handled proficiently, will act as a The Economics Eurozone and Japan was around 34%.
non-military catalyst that will accelerate Economic and trade cooperation is the Considering that China has maintained
the relative decline of US’s power over foundation of the construction of OBOR. strong trade and economic cooperation
the Persian Gulf and will ensure more The Chinese officials use three keywords with the countries involved in the project,
balanced distribution of geopolitical influ- to define the new project: “connection,” this new initiative will boost economic
ence in this region, which is seen to be cooperation which will ensure regional
Table 1: List of Regions along the OBOR and Their
strategically vital. % Share in World Population and GDP* integration. According to the Chinese
Financial integration is another impor- Share in World Share in President, the annual trade with the
Population (%) GDP (%)
tant factor driving the implementation of countries involved in the project would
North and East Asia 21 20.1
OBOR. This project will help the inter- surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.
Central Asia 1.4 0.7
nationalisation of the Yuan and encour- Chinese agriculture and mining are the
West Asia 5 6.26
age Chinese companies to issue Yuan South-east Asia 9 0.99
two key industries which are expected
bonds to fund projects for the OBOR South Asia 23 6.36 to benefit as the route will encourage
initiative. As more and more trade will Eastern Europe 1.4 1.5 mineral exploration. The OBOR initiative
get channelised through the route, the Southern and Western Europe 2.3 8.37 will also help China to identify new
demand for Chinese currency will increase. East Africa 2 6.35 growth drivers for imports and exports,
This will further help increase its Total 65 50.6 and hence diversify China’s trading pro-
* Percentage share in population and gross domestic
weightage in the International Mone- product (GDP) is calculated by the authors and data of GDP
file leading to trade creation. Through the
tary Fund and special drawing rights. and population was taken from the World Bank. OBOR, China is planning to encourage
68 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

competitive industries to reap the ad- Nations (ASEAN) and Central Asian BRI, passes through Pakistan Occupied
vantage of high-end technology and in- countries will increase because of infra- Kashmir (POK). According to the docu-
crease overseas investment. This will structure development. This could also ment released at the Bao Forum Confer-
further assist in exploration of resources encourage overseas expansion of Chi- ence in March 2015, the creation of mar-
which will improve China’s supply of nese cement industries in these regions. itime facilities with China’s aid will have
energy resources. Under this initiative Additionally, the freight movement by an obligation for the host country to
China plans to build both hard and soft road will increase through multimodal serve Chinese interests, including strate-
infrastructure from the Indo–Pacific to connectivity. Overall, the countries are gic interests (Rajan 2015). This is worri-
Africa to improve the relations at both expected to gain as OBOR will encourage some for India as Chinese will eventually
economic and political fronts. demand, burgeoning of new industries increase their military presence in the
China, however, has to be critical and creation of trade. Indian Ocean and will reshape the eco-
while formulating its plan. The route is nomic arrangements in the region. Fur-
in three directions—east, west and India and OBOR ther, the railway route planned under
south, and hence needs to be clearly According to various experts from dif- BRICS is expected to link Pakistan and
differentiated. ferent countries from the east coast of China via POK, which will be of strategic
The benefits of the project are not just Africa to north-east Asia, India’s role in importance in the event of conflicts with
limited to China alone and gives tremen- the belt and road initiative (BRI) has India, and will facilitate China to supply
dous opportunities to its members to been acknowledged and is seen to be missiles and spare parts to Pakistan.
boost and revitalise trade with other essential. The Indian Ocean is vital for This might have serious consequences
countries, and seeks out new markets pursuing the economic and strategic on India’s power to negotiate with China
and better accessibility. With connectivity interests of China. However, unlike most on the territory of Ladakh and further
improving, the OBOR-covered countries of the ASEAN and South Asian countries cause tension on border.
are more likely to gain a larger share who have welcomed the idea of BRI,
among Chinese trading partners. Being India has not. For India, the proposal to Impact on Trade: The Silk Road Eco-
the final destination of the New Silk build BRI is vague and does not give nomic Corridor initiative is similar to
Road, Europe is also an important region surety as to how serious Beijing is about that of BCIM and the CPEC. India has a
for China from an economic viewpoint. opening up trade and cultural exchanges direct and indirect presence in all the
Through better connectivity, OBOR may along the Himalayan barrier. The pro- three economic corridors. BCIM gives
promote the reconciliation between the ject has several implications for India. India greater presence in the region as it
European Union and Russia. It will also is a formal member. India pursues its soft
provide Europe a platform to balance its Impact on Security: India, in order to power in the Silk Road Economic Corri-
transatlantic relationship. There will be balance China’s north–south connec- dor that outvie economic and political
a greater chance for Europe to cooperate tivity to South-east Asia, has been pro- development. The CPEC would link to
with the markets of West Africa, the Indian moting east–west connectivity through the larger Indian market in order to
Ocean, and Central Asia. Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. India is reach its full economic potential. This
OBOR will also connect resource and concerned about the Bangladesh–China– corridor will open up the flow of trade
commodity-rich West and Central Asia India–Myanmar (BCIM) economic corri- between India and Pakistan, which pres-
to emerging South and South-east Asian dor which links Yunnan with the north- ently has to be routed through third
countries which have a huge potential east of India. countries instead of receiving them
consumer market. Southeast Asia, though Through the OBOR, China is countering directly. Further, India does not enjoy
rich in resources, suffers from an infra- the strategies of India and is promoting its much leverage to guide ocean trade
structure deficit and low levels of indus- greater presence in the north-eastern re- markets despite having proximity to the
trial development. The project has the gions of India, a part of which China claims sea and a strong navy. Through the OBOR
potential to address this gap and pro- as its own territory. These, along with project, India will get access to more
mote development in the region. For China’s plan to supply eight type 039 A business in an environment which will
countries like Cambodia and Laos, the submarines to Pakistan, have made India promote business-friendly reforms.
OBOR project could be a game changer. anxious of China’s policy of a “balanced” Although China is the largest trade
Further, the large-scale investment South Asia. With China’s aid to Pakistan partner with most of the countries
needed to build OBOR might encourage and the launch of BRI, such submarines involved in BRI, India is also a significant
Chinese steel makers to build more will be more than doubled. India, on the trading partner, especially with African,
capacity in South-east Asia, West Asia other hand, only has 13 ageing conven- South Asian and South-east Asian coun-
and African countries by setting up inte- tional submarines which could result in tries. India will have economic con-
grated steel mills with nearby iron ore an India–China arms race and geopolit- sequences once the BRI is launched. Port
mines. Chinese cement industries will ical rivalry in the Indian Ocean region. development in Myanmar, Bangladesh,
benefit in the long-term, as the demand Further, the China–Pakistan Economic Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan, which
from the Association of Southeast Asian Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of the are incorporated in the BRI, have the
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 69

potential to change the bilateral equation agenda. More South-east Asian nations the country better implement and inte-
of India further to its disadvantage (Sibal coming under China’s sphere of influ- grate its “spice route” and the “Mausam
2014). This is because it favours China’s ence would result in a serious setback to project.” Besides tangible benefits of
trade flows through the Indian Ocean. India’s traditional concept of the subcon- physical connectivity, the integration of
This also will lead to trade diversion tinent as its privileged sphere. these projects will also invigorate a
of Indian goods and services. China and Further, the project, though informal climate of mutual trust, stability and
India export some similar sets of goods at present, offers an alternative against prosperity between member countries.
to countries like Thailand, Myanmar, the US-led Trans–Pacific Partnership (TPP) Additionally, India could also expedite
Cambodia in South-east Asia region, Sri in the Asia–Pacific and Transatlantic the progress on the Chabahar port on
Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal in South Asia, Trade and Investment Partnership between the Iranian coast which will give India
a few countries in Western Europe and the European Union and the US. These access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Central Asia. Once the OBOR is built, mega free trade agreements through This would enable India to be a major
countries might divert their trade from their policies and rules of global trade, player in the overland Silk Route.
India to China because of easy access to particularly where multilateral level con- India’s participation in OBOR will give
Chinese goods and currency exchange. sensus is more necessary, will make it a new start and a new bright spot in
difficult for the government to regulate India–China cooperation as it will foster
Why Should India Join: China has a the market and will have economic policy coordination, increase trade and
tradition of using the “chequebook” i mplications on India’s trade. investment and ensure people-to-people
policy against India. And under the MSR, Moreover, India and China are mem- connect and most importantly integrate
China is developing ports in Bangladesh, bers of the BRICS Bank, which aims to the financial system. For India, MSR could
Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and is trying to offer financial support for infrastructure prove to be a boon and help enhance its
enlarge its sphere of influence using its projects and sustainable development. regional and bilateral cooperation. India
economic might in the Bay of Bengal By refusing to be a member of BRI, India’s does not have the same economic might
and Arabian Sea. Thus the MSR is noth- infrastructure needs may get neglected. as China has, but investing in neigh-
ing but an economic disguise to the This may further interfere with the bouring littoral countries will help in
“string of pearl” theory. China is invest- economic cooperation among the BRICS reducing China’s sphere of influence to
ing huge amounts in India’s immediate countries and may cause conflict. some extent.
neighbours and these South-east Asian Once the issue relating to strategic
countries tend to use the “China card” and economic implications is judiciously Challenges
against India, which is to try to play with analysed, India could benefit from partner- The grandiose plan of OBOR has been
the India–China mistrust in order to fur- ing in BRI. From a strategic perspective, painted as everything from a response
ther their development and economic India’s involvement in OBOR will help to home-grown economic problems to


May 16, 2015

Men Doing Feminism in India: An Introduction – Romit Chowdhury, Zaid Al Baset

Masculinity Studies and Feminism: Othering the Self – Sanjay Srivastava
Embracing Feminism – Sibaji Bandyopadhyay
Disrupting Coherence: Self Reflections of a Male Ethnographer – Pushpesh Kumar
Doing and Undoing Feminism: A Jurisdictional Journey – Oishik Sircar

For copies write to:

Circulation Manager,
Economic and Political Weekly,
320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel,
Mumbai 400 013.
email: circulation@epw.in

70 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


a masterful reshaping of the regional because of the presence of underdeve- existing plan of the OBOR. The belt is
economy. However, the complete reali- loped and immature markets along the planned to pass through POK. India
sation of the project as estimated will route. Terrorism can further add to the should seek to make the route pass
take about 35 years, which will mark the risk. The potential of conflicts and geo- through the Indian portion of the region
centenary of the foundation of the People’s political tension with the US and the of Kashmir. This would help her not only
Republic of China in 2049. Though the unbalanced trade relations between China economically revive Kashmir, but also
project has been met with scepticism and Russia can further act as a hurdle. ease tensions and build mutual trust on
from its neighbours, it has huge potential India may also challenge OBOR as the both sides of the border. Similarly, along
across regions. initiative is seen more of a threat to the the maritime route, India should attempt
However, the plan is yet to finalise country rather than an opportunity. to make the route pass through another
its strategic vision. The success of the Therefore, it is the adequate planning port like Kochi or Mumbai. Such a measure
project depends on addressing both in- and coordination between the member would augment India’s own infrastruc-
ternal and external challenges being countries that will be required for ture development efforts by attracting
faced by the Chinese economy. successful implementation of the OBOR foreign capital and technical expertise.
The Chinese are expecting quick initiative. It is evident that India needs to actively
results. As the project involves large- engage in the development of the pro-
scale infrastructure development, the Conclusions ject, right from the beginning. She needs
plan needs to be given at least a 10-year In sum, the OBOR initiative is a centre- to heed China’s call to participate in the
time frame for success which means that piece of China’s foreign policy and project geographically, politically and
expectation should be revised. Since domestic economic strategies. It is aimed financially. The OBOR provides India a
China is planning continuous invest- at rejuvenating two ancient trade routes perfect opportunity to attract foreign
ment in infrastructure in the countries and opening up markets within and capital to develop a significant proportion
that are less developed and unstable, beyond the region. In order to make of her requirements. Simultaneously,
there is a potential for a debt crisis OBOR successful, China is keen to offer India has the opportunity to tap new
and limited returns. Moreover, China more economic and financial assistance markets and make good economic re-
presently is grappling with its own to countries on the route and beyond turns by investing in infrastructure and
economic issues and the slowdown through a connectivity programme, tech- industrial corridors along the OBOR.
can also have implication on its OBOR nical exchanges and by building infra- India can also enhance her international
strategy. Therefore, serious planning structure. China has already started tak- prestige by playing the role of an inter-
would be essential. ing several initiatives by investing in national mediator between an aggres-
China has allocated $40 billion to its infrastructure projects and seeking a sive China and a suspicious West. India
Silk Road Fund and established a $100 comprehensive engagement with mem- thus has a lot to gain from OBOR, pro-
billion AIIB. According to a few analysts, ber countries. However, better planning vided it sheds its inhibitions about the
the actual fund needed for the plan will be essential. same and participates actively in its
might exceed three or four times the From an Indian perspective, it is ap- implementation.
amount allocated. The additional require- parent that the OBOR initiative of China
ment will have to be met either by will seriously hamper India’s efforts in Note
issuance of special bond or low-cost increasing its share in global trade and 1 The list of the countries involved can be found
finance by the China Development Bank. commerce if India chooses to stay out. in “The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st
China has to be vigilant of the financial Not only is India likely to lose existing Century Maritime Silk Road May 2015” pub-
lished by Fung Business Intelligence Centre.
challenges or else the ambitious project and prospective markets, but also see its
could end up as expensive boondoggle. share in global capital inflows come
OBOR has also received criticism and down. In such a situation, it becomes im- References
scepticism from many member countries, perative for policymakers in India to Fidelity Worldwide Investment Report (2015): One
Belt, One Road: Building Links, Strengthening
particularly ASEAN. They see this project plan out strategies that not only mitigate Influence”, March.
as an attempt by China to dominate its adverse consequences of OBOR, but also Hucheng, G (2014): “Deepen Economic, Trade Co-
operation, Co-create New Brilliancy,” Ministry
neighbouring region and therefore are enables the country to reap benefits of Commerce, People’s Republic of China,
facing coordination problems. Further from the same. 4 July.
regional and territorial disputes of China has repeatedly reached out to Leverett, F, H Mann Leverett and Wu Bing-
bing (2015): “China Looks West: What Is at
China can interfere with the project. India and other countries of the region Stake in Beijing’s ‘New Silk Road’ Project,” The
Additionally, the Chinese failure in to partner in the implementation of the World Financial Review, 25 January.
Minnick, W (2015): “China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’
considering regional politics and non- OBOR. India should therefore not miss
Strategy,” Defence News, 12 April.
interference policy can expose the project the bus and strive to gain maximum eco- Rajan, S (2015): “China: President Xi Jinping’s
to political risks from both local opposi- nomic and geopolitical advantage out of South Asia Policy–Implications for India,”
South Asia Analysis Group, 27 April.
tion and competing regional power. the corridor. To begin with, India should Sibal, K (2014): “Silk Route to Tie India in Knots,”
China’s OBOR dream can also get affected seek to add more Indian nodes in the India Today, 25 February.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 71


‘Outsider, We Love and Fear You’ indigenes of the Andaman Islands, the
author twice uses a racist term “primi-
tive” that was abandoned a decade
Dialogue with the Nicobarese ago. In 2006, the Indian government
replaced the term “primitive tribal
group” with “particularly vulnerable
Ajay Saini tribal group.” Terms like “savage,” “stone
age” and “primitive” have been used since

The Nicobarese are not against n his article, “Interreligious Mar- colonial era, which reinforce the belief
“outsiders” and have a long riage in Nicobar Islands: Opportuni- that the indigenes are backward people.
ties and Challenges” (EPW, 30 May Governments use such terms as a pre-
tradition of embracing different
2015), Swapan K Biswas touched upon a text for forced development, whereby
cultures. They respect religious sensitive issue and aptly argued that the indigenes are alienated from their
heterogeneity and even though conversions and interfaith marriages land and resources. Therefore, by labe-
the Hindu population in Kamorta were common among the Nicobarese. Of lling the indigenes of the Andaman as
late, the tribal leadership of Nancowry “primitive,” the author reinforces the
and Katchal is small, there
has opposed out-group marriage alli- abovementioned discourse that disem-
are numerous Hindu temples ances for which the author gave two powers the indigenes.
around, to which the Nicobarese reasons: the power tussle between the The article also has multiple factual
have never objected. Their Muslim and Christian Nicobarese and errors. The author’s claim that the “Briti-
reservation politics. shers permanently occupied both the
opposition to marriage alliances
The precipitating factors for opposing Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1858
with outsiders is not religiously marriages with outsiders, which the with a plan to start a penal settlement to
motivated but provoked by author has entirely missed, are intricately imprison Indian prisoners who revolted
the undue advantage that the linked with a gradual shift in the outsid- against them in 1857,” is wrong. In fact,
er’s identity—from a munificent patron it was only in 1868 that the Nicobar
non-Nicobarese have taken by
of the community to a menacing agent. became a part of British India. The
encroaching on their land and Since the issue is critical and the Nicoba- Danish first occupied the Nicobar on 12
also disrupting the hitherto rese secular identity is at stake, it needs December 1755, renamed it as New
harmonious socio-economic to be analysed in the context of larger Denmark, but abandoned it in April
sociocultural and economic dynamics 1759. Later, Austria also occupied and
dynamics. A response to Swapan
that have recently compounded the situ- abandoned it. The British first occupied
K Biswas’s article “Interreligious ation in Nancowry. the Nicobar in 1807, but abandoned it in
Marriage in Nicobar Islands: 1814. Until 1868, the Danish enjoyed
(Re)Setting the Context sovereign rights over the Nicobar, which
Opportunities and Challenges”
Biswas’s article appears promising and were sold to Britain on 16 October 1868
(EPW, 30 May 2015).
well contextualised in the beginning. (Cahoon 2015).
However, as it progresses, it proffers a The construction of a penal settlement
fractured analysis; and in the end, on Kamorta Island, wherein 262 prison-
reduces the most pressing issue in the ers were incarcerated in 1869, and which
Nicobar to petty communal and reserva- got abandoned in 1888, was part of a
tion politics. Disconnected from field strategic manoeuvre. After the withdraw-
realities, the article fails to analyse al of the Danish, the Nicobar became infa-
the fluid intra and inter community mous for piracy for the next two decades,
relations in Nancowry. It seems to be where foreign pirates captured or dam-
based on the author’s casual observa- aged 26 passing vessels. The British colo-
tions, which he also implicitly conveys nised the Nicobar to control piracy and
at three instances: “my colleague...re- to curb the rival naval power in the coun-
vealed,” “according to some scholars tries of the immediate east (Singh 1978;
The author acknowledges the guidance who are observing…” and “some schol- Tamta 1992). Contrary to the author’s
received from S Parasuraman.
ars attribute…” On top of factual incon- claim, the French never “occupied” the
Ajay Saini (writetoajaysaini@gmail.com) sistencies and skewed analysis, the arti- Nicobar, though the French missionaries
teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, cle also appears distasteful given its had some unsuccessful conversion stints
racist remarks. While alluding to the in the islands.
72 decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The Nicobarese opposition to mar- inter-religion and out-group marriages of land to government employees at Ka-
riages with outsiders needs to be ana- remained common in the Nicobar. morta for constructing a temple and
lysed in the backdrop of their changing raising a park.1 The temple management
relations. The Nicobarese have always Munificent to Menacing committee used 200 square metres (ap-
lived isolated with intermittent cross- Post independence, the outsider’s identi- proximately) land for temple construc-
cultural contacts. Until the advent of ty among the indigenes has gradually tion, while the rest was used for con-
the missionaries, they had remained shifted from being a munificent patron struction of shops and residential build-
almost immune to change. Since the 15th to a menacing agent. In the Nicobar, the ings that were rented to outsiders.
century, the Portuguese, French, Danish Nicobarese tuhets (extended families) Since such land usage violated the
and Italian missionaries attempted con- exercise traditional ownership of land. terms of the land allotment order and
versions among the Nicobarese. However, On the request of the government, the ANPATR, the Nicobarese took up the mat-
it was only during the British regime community donated some land for ter with the administration. However, in
and after the World War II that the administrative purposes. With the set- July 1996, the assistant commissioner,
community embraced Christianity. ting up of governmental apparatus in Nancowry passed a contentious order
With their conversion to Christianity Nancowry, a large number of outsiders and permitted 34 outsiders to reside and
(98%) and Islam (2%), the indigenes were deployed in the islands. These peo- carry on business in Kamorta.2 Many
imbibed new values that ushered socio- ple constructed their hutments in Kam- outsiders took advantage of the order
cultural change among them. While all orta and gradually encroached upon the and migrated to the Nicobar.
the indigenes converted to organised nearby land. Even after retirement, a The influx of outsiders in the tribal
religions, some also continued observ- large number of them have not left the reserve has led to economic exploitation
ing their animist rituals. With no con- tribal reserve and their illegal settle- and sociocultural rupture among the
flict of religious faith, the Nicobarese ment has caused land encroachment Nicobarese. With a rise in crime rate,
society became a unique blend of Chris- issues in the islands. especially the ANPATR violations, the
tianity, Islam and animism. Since the The most sensitive encroachments are Nicobarese peaceful society has come
Nicobarese had the freedom to choose or related to a piece of land that the com- under immense pressure. With the help
reject the cultural traits of their newly munity allotted in goodwill to government of local activists, the Nicobarese filed a
adopted religions, the process of change employees for religious purpose. With public interest litigation (PIL) in the high
among them was not disruptive. the consent of Rani Lachmi, the deputy court against encroachments. Vide its
As the British were not interested in commissioner, vide order no 4/26/41/B-1, order, dated 12 December 2002, the
generating revenue from the Nicobar, dated 4 January 1954, allotted five acres high court directed the Lt Governor to
the indigenes were never coerced to pay
tax. With the opening of missionary
schools and gradual awareness among
the Nicobarese, the exploitative nature
of their trade relations with the outsiders EPW 5-Year CD-ROM 2004-08 on a Single Disk
changed. The sociocultural change gained
The digital versions of Economic and Political Weekly for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008
momentum after the independence of
are now available on a single disk. The CD-ROM contains the complete text of 261 issues
India. In 1956, the Andaman and Nico- published from 2004 to 2008 and comes equipped with a powerful search, tools to help
bar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal organise research and utilities to make your browsing experience productive. The contents of
Tribes) Regulation (ANPATR) was prom- the CD-ROM are organised as in the print edition, with articles laid out in individual sections
ulgated, which recognised the Nicobar in each issue.
as a tribal reserve and proscribed out-
With its easy-to-use features, the CD-ROM will be a convenient resource for social scientists,
siders’ entry. researchers and executives in government and non-government organisations, social and political
With the development of public infra- activists, students, corporate and public sector executives and journalists.
structure in the islands, the Nicobarese
Price for 5 year CD-ROM (in INDIA)
received rudimentary amenities, such
as healthcare, schooling, electricity, clean Individuals - Rs 1500
water and so on. The introduction of Institutions - Rs 2500
modern horticulture practices and co- To order the CD-ROM send a bank draft payable at Mumbai in favour of Economic and Political
operative movements streamlined the Weekly.
Nicobarese livelihood. While the rest of Any queries please email: circulation@epw.in
the indigenes experienced depopula-
Circulation Manager,
tion in the colonial and the postcolonial
Economic and Political Weekly
epochs, the Nicobarese prospered. The 320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel,
community perceived the outsider as a Mumbai 400 013, India
munificent patron and inter-island,
Economic & Political Weekly EPW decEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 73

implement the p ­ rovisions of ANPATR.3 Durga puja celebrations in the islands. opposed marriages with outsiders as a
In ­pursuance of the same, the deputy Even though the Hindu population in last ­resort.
commissioner issued an order (No 433) Kamorta and Katchal is small, there are In retrospect, I am reminded of my
on 13 October 2004 for the repatriation numerous Hindu temples around, to ­dialogue with a Nicobarese captain, who
of outsiders. However, the tsunami of which the Nicobarese have never object- on being asked about his opi­nion of the
­December 2004 pre-empted the repa- ed. Rather, they have cooperated in the outsider, paused for a moment and replied
triation process, and ever since then construction of temples by offering land. rather philosophically, “Outsider, we love
the i­ ssue has been pending. Therefore, the Nicobarese opposition to and fear them.” The Nicobarese love out-
With the inundation of large tracks marriage alliances with outsiders is not siders, as they have brought happiness and
of land and destruction of traditional religiously motivated. As evidenced in ­prosperity to the community. Now they
livelihoods post tsunami, the encroach- this discussion, the changing socio-­ also fear them since the outsiders are
ment issue has become critical. Other economic dynamics are the core of stealing the same from the community.
islands of Nancowry, especially Katch- the problem.
al, also grapple with land encroach- The tribal leadership is so anxious
1 The government servants could only get 2.64
ments. The Nicobarese argue that unso- about the “colonisation of central Nicobar acres of land in 1969.
licited outsiders come to the islands to by outsiders” that it even requested the 2 A document “Use of Land Allotted to Sri Sri
Radha Krishna Temple Complex at Kamorta,”
exploit the community, and some of administration to stop all the develop- dated 6 June 2007; accessed from the office of
them have married the Nicobarese girls ment activities in the islands for a year the assistant commissioner, Nancowry.
only to stay and establish business in and use the same resources to r­ epatriate 3 F No 39-292/2003-revenue.
4 A letter, ABAVP/ANI2007/01; accessed from
the islands. the unsolicited outsiders. 4 In its effort the office of Nancowry Tribal Council.
to solve the encroachment i­ssue, the
Conclusions community has tried everything that it References
The Nicobarese, per se, have no aversion could: requested the ­ outsiders, ap- Cahoon, Ben (2015): “Provinces of British India,”
Worldstatesmen.org, viewed on 6 July 2015,
to out-groups. In fact, it is the only indig- proached the administration and peti-
enous community in the islands which tioned the high court. However, justice es.htm#Andaman.
has embraced different cultures. The in- has always eluded it. In its frantic e­ ffort Singh, Iqbal N (1978): The Andaman Story, New
Delhi: Vikas Publishing House.
digenes respect religious heterogeneity to shield the c­ ommunity from further Tamta, B R (1992): Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
and participate in Eid, Christmas and disintegration, the tribal leadership has New Delhi: National Book Trust.

N Economic Growth and its Distribution in India
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• Pulapre Balakrishnan • Hans P Binswanger-Mkhize • Bhupat M Desai • Errol D’Souza • John W Mellor • Vijay Paul Sharma • Prabhakar Tamboli
• Ramesh Chand • Shinoj Parappurathu • Sudip Chaudhuri • Archana Aggarwal • Aditya Mohan Jadhav • V Nagi Reddy • C Veeramani • R H Patil
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74 decEMBER 5, 2015  vol l no 49  EPW   Economic & Political Weekly


Wholesale Price Index Foreign Trade–Merchandise

The year-on-year (y-o-y) WPI inflation rate continued to be negative for the 12th The merchandise trade deficit narrowed down by 28.1% to $9.8 billion (bn) in
consecutive month dipping to -3.8% in October 2015 (1.66% a year ago), but October 2015, compared to $13.6 bn in October 2014 while imports shrank by
the deflation is low compared to -4.5% recorded in September 2015. The index 21.2% to $31.1 bn, exports contracted, for the 11th month in a row, by 17.5% to
for primary articles group fell by -0.4%, compared to -2.1% in September 2015, $21.4 bn in October 2015. During April–October 2015-16, exports declined by
while the inflation for food articles inched up to 2.4% in October 2015 from 17.6% to $154.3 bn compared to $187.3 bn in the same period last year, while
0.7% a month ago. The fuel and power index fell sharply by -16.3% in October imports by 15.2% to $232.1 bn against $273.6 bn a year ago. The non-oil trade
2015, compared to 0.5% in October 2014. The index for manufactured products deficit was valued at $5.4 bn in October 2015 compared to $6.8 bn in October 2014,
declined by -1.7% in October 2015 against an inflation of 2.5% a year ago. while the oil trade deficit stood lower at $4.4 bn against $6.8 bn, a year ago.

Consumer Price Index Index of Industrial Production

The CPI inflation rate inched up to 5.0% in October 2015, compared to 4.4% The IIP growth slowed down by 3.6% y-o-y in September 2015, compared to 6.3%
in September 2015 and 4.6% in October 2014, owing to a sharp increase in in August 2015. The index of eight core industries registered 3.2% growth in
food prices. The food price inflation rate increased by 5.3% in October 2015, October 2015, same as in the previous month. Coal production grew by 6.3% in
against 3.9%, a month ago. The CPI-rural inflation rate rose to 5.5% in October, October 2015, compared to 1.9% in September 2015, while the growth in crude oil,
compared to 5.1% a month ago (4.8% a year ago). The CPI-urban inflation rate natural gas and petroleum refinery production declined by -2.1%, -1.8% and -4.4%,
increased to 4.3% from 3.6% (4.5% in October 2014). As per Labour Bureau data, respectively. Fertiliser production grew by 16.2% in October 2015 compared
CPI inflation for industrial workers and agricultural labourers increased to 5.1% to -7% a year ago. Growth in cement production rose by 11.7% in October 2015
and 3.5%, respectively, in September 2015 from 4.3% and 3.0%, in August 2015. against -1.2% in October 2014, while steel production fell to -1.2% compared to 14.2%.

Movement of WPI Sub-indices April 2014–October 2015 Merchandise Trade October 2015
Year-on-Year in % October 2015 Over Month Over Year (April–October)
($ bn) (%) (%) (2015–16 over 2014–15) (%)
Exports 21.4 -2.3 -17.5 -17.6
Imports 31.1 -3.7 -21.2 -15.2
Manufactured Products Trade Deficit 9.8 -6.8 -28.1 -9.9
-0.4% Data is provisional; Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry .
-1.7% Trade Deficits April 2014–October 2015
-6 $ billion
Primary Articles
Fuel and Power
-12 Non-Oil Trade Deficit
-16.3% -3
-$4.4 bn
April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S* Oct* -6
2014 2015 -$5.4 bn
* Data is provisional.
-9 Oil -$9.8 bn
Trends in WPI and Its Components October 2015* (%) Trade Deficit
Financial Year (Averages)
Weights Over Month Over Year 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Total Trade Deficit
All commodities 100 0.1 -3.8 7.4 6.0 2.0
Primary articles 20.1 0.0 -0.4 9.8 9.8 3.0
Food articles 14.3 0.3 2.4 9.9 12.8 6.1 April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S Oct*
2014 2015
Fuel and power 14.9 0.5 -16.3 10.3 10.2 -0.9 Oil refers to crude petroleum and petroleum products, while non-oil refers to all other commodities.
Manufactured products 65.0 0.0 -1.7 5.4 3.0 2.4
* Data is provisional; Base: 2004–05=100; Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Movement of Components of IIP Growth April 2014–Sept 2015
Year-on-Year in %
Movement of CPI Inflation April 2014–October 2015 16
Year-on-Year in %
Electricity 11.4%

5.5% Manufacturing
CPI (Combined) 5.0% Mining
4.3% -8
4 April M J J A S O N D January F M A M J J A Sept*
2014 2015
* September 2015 are quick estimates; Base: 2004–05=100.

Growth in Eight Core Industries October 2015* (%)
April M J J A S O N D Jan F M A M J J A S Oct* Financial Year (Avgs)
2014 2015 Weights Over Month Over Year
2013–14 2014–15
*October 2015 is provisional; Source: Central Statistics Office (CSO); Base: 2012=100.
General index # 100 0.8 3.6 -0.1 2.8
Infrastructure industries 37.9 5.2 3.2 4.2 4.2
Inflation in CPI and Its Components October 2015* (%)
Coal 4.4 17.6 6.3 1.3 8.5
Latest Month Over Over Financial Year (Avgs)
Weights Index Month Year 2013–14 2014–15 Crude oil 5.2 3.6 -2.1 -0.2 -0.9
CPI combined 100 126.1 0.6 5.0 9.5 5.9 Natural gas 1.7 1.6 -1.8 -13.0 -5.1
Consumer food 39.1 132.4 0.8 5.3 11.3 6.4 Petroleum refinery products 5.9 1.3 -4.4 1.5 0.3
Miscellaneous 28.3 117.9 0.3 3.5 6.8 4.6 Fertilisers 1.3 2.3 16.2 1.5 -0.1
CPI: Occupation-wise Sept 2015* Steel 6.7 6.0 -1.2 11.5 3.5
Industrial workers (2001=100) 266 0.8 5.1 9.7 6.3 Cement 2.4 5.9 11.7 3.1 5.6
Agricultural labourers (1986–87=100) 839 0.8 3.5 11.6 6.6 Electricity 10.3 3.4 8.8 6.0 8.2
#Aug 2015, * Provisional; Source: CSO (rural & urban); Labour Bureau (IW and AL).Linking factor used to compute inflation for 2013–14. # September 2015 * Data is provisional; Base: 2004–05=100, Source: CSO and Ministry of Commerce and Industry..
Comprehensive current economic statistics with regular weekly updates are available at: http://www.epwrf.in/currentstat.aspx.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol L no 49 75

India’s Quarterly Estimates of Final Expenditures on GDP for 2014–15
2014–15 2015–16 Financial Year
Rs crore | at 2011–12 Prices Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 2014–15 (PE)
Private final consumption expenditure 1483613 (6.2) 1443019 (7.1) 1543034 (4.2) 1594581 (7.9) 1592806 (7.4) 1540972 (6.8) 6064247 (6.3)
Government final consumption expenditure 306488 (1.6) 338349 (8.9) 276412 (27.6) 236561 (-7.9) 310018 (1.2) 356058 (5.2) 1157810 (6.6)
Gross fixed capital formation 769880 (8.7) 777597 (3.8) 789694 (2.4) 854802 (4.1) 807225 (4.9) 830687 (6.8) 3191973 (4.6)
Change in stocks 41969 (4.9) 40276 (4.4) 37469 (0.2) 44284 (4.9) 44076 (5.0) 42945 (1.0) 163998 (3.7)
Valuables 41528 (26.2) 36999 (8.9) 36010 (20.3) 53348 (43.6) 49589 (19.4) 53592 (44.8) 167884 (25.3)
Net trade (Export–Import) -34550 -62135 -40438 -8297 -39102 -72450 -145420
Exports 596944 (9.1) 628508 (-2.0) 607707 (-0.3) 601191 (-8.2) 558269 (-6.5) 598744 (-4.7) 2434350 (-0.8)
Less imports 631494 (-3.6) 690643 (1.1) 648145 (2.8) 609488 (-8.7) 597371 (-5.4) 671194 (-2.8) 2579770 (-2.1)
Discrepancies -74273 -7811 26616 98959 -51615 5182 43491
Gross domestic product (GDP) 2534654 (6.7) 2566294 (8.4) 2668797 (6.6) 2874237 (7.5) 2712998 (7.0) 2756985 (7.4) 10643983 (7.3)

India’s Overall Balance of Payments (Net): Quarterly and Annual

2014–15 ($ mn) ($ mn) 2014–15 (Rupees bn) (Rupees bn)
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 2015–16 FY 2014–15 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 2015–16 FY 2014–15
Current account -7859 -10128 -8425 -1525 -6190 -27937 -470 [-1.6] -614 [-2.0] -522 [-1.6] -95 [-0.3] -393 [-1.2] -1700 [-1.4]
Merchandise -34562 -38605 -39287 -31725 -34197 -144179 -2067 -2340 -2433 -1974 -2,171 -8814
Invisibles 26703 28477 30863 30200 28007 116242 1597 1726 1911 1880 1,778 7114
Services 16986 18992 20299 19406 17423 75683 1016 1151 1257 1208 1,106 4632
of which: Software services 17014 16917 17844 18625 17658 70400 1017 1025 1105 1159 1,121 4307
Transfers 16413 16344 16392 16393 16157 65542 981 991 1015 1020 1,025 4007
of which: Private 16626 16513 16527 16609 16274 66275 994 1001 1024 1034 1,033 4052
Income -6696 -6860 -5829 -5599 -5573 -24983 -400 -416 -361 -348 -354 -1526
Capital account 19179 16518 23551 30711 18073 89959 1147 [3.8] 1001 [3.3] 1459 [4.6] 1911 [5.8] 1,147 [3.5] 5518 [4.4]
of which: Foreign investment 20321 17678 13495 22067 7874 73561 1215 1071 836 1373 500 4496
Overall balance 11179 6897 13182 30149 11430 61406 668 [2.2] 418 [1.4] 816 [2.6] 1876 [5.7] 725 [2.2] 3779 [3.0]
Figures in square brackets are percentage to GDP.

Foreign Exchange Reserves Variation

21 Nov 31 Mar 20 Nov Over Over Financial Year So Far Financial Year
Excluding gold but including revaluation effects 2014 2015 2015 Month Year 2014–15 2015–16 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Rs crore 1817950 2010400 2187050 39090 369100 130210 176650 73038 108086 82800 251570 322660
US $ mn 293622 321309 332382 298 38760 12799 11073 19208 -14361 -485 16769 40486

Monetary Aggregates Variation

Outstanding Over Month Over Year Financial Year So Far Financial Year
Rs crore 2015 2014–15 2015–16 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Money supply (M3) as on 13 November 11252810 92770 (0.8) 1134440 (11.2) 600980 (6.3) 707260 (6.7) 1024980 (13.9) 1127570 (13.4) 1028160 (10.8)
Currency with public 1507880 63140 (4.4) 186300 (14.1) 75760 (6.1) 121530 (8.8) 118420 (11.6) 104760 (9.2) 140530 (11.3)
Demand deposits 912840 11740 (1.3) 88950 (10.8) 11910 (1.5) 22100 (2.5) 42240 (5.9) 58760 (7.8) 78760 (9.7)
Time deposits 8817170 17650 (0.2) 852290 (10.7) 507260 (6.8) 563310 (6.8) 863900 (15.3) 965330 (14.9) 796240 (10.7)
Other deposits with RBI 14920 240 (1.6) 6910 (86.3) 6050 (308.7) 330 (2.3) 420 (14.9) -1280 (-39.5) 12630 (644.4)
Net bank credit to government 3296700 13730 (0.4) 169990 (5.4) 81830 (2.7) 290540 (9.7) 337320 (14.2) 335860 (12.4) -38720 (-1.3)
Bank credit to commercial sector 7333550 48370 (0.7) 633760 (9.5) 254480 (3.9) 293960 (4.2) 709420 (14.3) 777450 (13.7) 594280 (9.2)
Net foreign exchange assets 2422920 26340 (1.1) 399950 (19.8) 99020 (5.1) 172270 (7.7) 92880 (6.0) 287290 (17.6) 326700 (17.0)
Banking sector’s net non-monetary liabilities 1821000 -4340 (-0.2) 71300 (4.1) -164370 (-8.6) 50730 (2.9) 116530 (7.7) 275010 (16.8) -143800 (-7.5)
Reserve Money as on 20 November 1984020 47080 (2.4) 238780 (13.7) 12490 (0.7) 55560 (2.9) 88540 (6.2) 217860 (14.4) 195710 (11.3)
Currency in circulation 1565960 38040 (2.5) 189980 (13.8) 74900 (5.8) 117650 (8.1) 123750 (11.6) 110100 (9.2) 147230 (11.3)
Bankers’ deposits with RBI 403160 8780 (2.2) 42550 (11.8) -69100 (-16.1) -62400 (-13.4) -35610 (-10.0) 109030 (34.0) 35850 (8.3)
Other deposits with RBI 14900 260 (1.8) 6250 (72.3) 6690 (341.3) 310 (2.1) 420 (14.9) -1280 (-39.5) 12630 (644.4)
Net RBI credit to government 454100 7110 (1.6) -113440 (-20.0) -131170 (-18.8) 89570 (24.6) 54840 (10.2) 108130 (18.3) -334180 (-47.8)
of which: Centre 452750 7910 (1.8) -112960 (-20.0) -131930 (-18.9) 91710 (25.4) 56080 (10.5) 107140 (18.1) -336600 (-48.2)
RBI credit to banks & commercial sector 97120 30500 (45.8) 34810 (55.9) 4820 (8.4) -105380 (-52.0) 34610 (393.3) 14080 . 145010 .
Net foreign exchange assets of RBI 2313810 39390 (1.7) 386850 (20.1) 124430 (6.9) 186530 (8.8) 85860 (5.8) 244470 (15.7) 324750 (18.0)
Govt’s currency liabilities to the public 20650 0 (0.0) 2040 (11.0) 1270 (7.3) 1220 (6.3) 1900 (14.1) 2000 (13.0) 2090 (12.1)
Net non-monetary liabilities of RBI 901660 29930 (3.4) 71480 (8.6) -13140 (-1.6) 116390 (14.8) 88670 (14.7) 150810 (21.8) -58050 (-6.9)

Scheduled Commercial Banks’ Indicators (Rs crore) Variation

Outstanding Over Month Over Year Financial Year So Far Financial Year
(As on 13 November) 2015 2014–15 2015–16 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Aggregate deposits 9102170 28840 (0.3) 901470 (11.0) 495140 (6.4) 568880 (6.7) 841360 (14.2) 955110 (14.1) 827730 (10.7)
Demand 813870 11550 (1.4) 82770 (11.3) 17170 (2.4) 19840 (2.5) 36970 (5.9) 51630 (7.8) 80100 (11.2)
Time 8288310 17300 (0.2) 818700 (11.0) 477970 (6.8) 549060 (7.1) 804400 (15.2) 903480 (14.8) 747610 (10.7)
Cash in hand 65570 7360 (12.6) 12030 (22.5) 7660 (16.7) 12210 (22.9) 4360 (12.1) 5390 (13.3) 7480 (16.3)
Balance with RBI 370880 -6990 (-1.8) 34090 (10.1) 20450 (6.5) -2200 (-0.6) -41000 (-12.7) 34080 (12.1) 56740 (17.9)
Investments 2691190 26900 (1.0) 288700 (12.0) 189660 (8.6) 199360 (8.0) 268320 (15.4) 206730 (10.3) 279000 (12.6)
of which: Government securities 2689360 26860 (1.0) 288500 (12.0) 189660 (8.6) 199600 (8.0) 268640 (15.5) 207550 (10.4) 278560 (12.6)
Bank credit 6830880 47760 (0.7) 606530 (9.7) 230250 (3.8) 294460 (4.5) 648610 (14.1) 733640 (13.9) 542320 (9.0)
of which: Non-food credit 6729240 40790 (0.6) 610740 (10.0) 222850 (3.8) 287240 (4.5) 633490 (14.0) 731610 (14.2) 546350 (9.3)

Capital Markets 27 November Month Year Financial Year So Far 2014–15 End of Financial Year
2015 Ago Ago Trough Peak Trough Peak 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
S&P BSE SENSEX (Base: 1978–79=100) 26128 (-8.1) 27253 28439 (39.3) 24894 29044 22277 29682 18836 (8.2) 22386 (18.8) 27957 (24.9)
S&P BSE-100 (Base: 1983–84=100) 8079 (-5.5) 8355 8547 (40.9) 7687 8980 6680 9107 5679 (-38.0) 6707 (18.1) 8607 (28.3)
S&P BSE-200 (1989–90=100) 3365 (-3.1) 3467 3472 (43.5) 3193 3691 2678 3723 2288 (6.0) 2681 (17.2) 3538 (31.9)
CNX Nifty (Base: 3 Nov 1995=1000) 7943 (-6.5) 8233 8494 (40.2) 7559 8834 6653 8996 5683 (7.3) 6704 (18.0) 8491 (26.7)
Net FII investment in equities (US $ Million)* 165894 (2.5) 166886 161901 (12.8) - - - - 136304 (23.4) 149745 (9.9) 168116 (12.3)
* = Cumulative total since November 1992 until period end | Figures in brackets are percentage variations over the specified or over the comparable period of the previous year | (-) = not relevant | -: not available | NS = new series | PE = provisional estimates
Comprehensive current economic statistics with regular weekly updates are available at: http://www.epwrf.in/currentstat.aspx.

76 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol L no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


Listening Hard
Amidst growing Islamophobia in Europe, the only hope is in educating your own and “the other,” in
discovering the rich past of coexistence, in dialogue, and exploring common identities.

Pawan Bali

atidza Mehmedovic walks through a sea of white understanding of food and health came to the West,” he says.
tombstones and raises her hands in prayer. This is her Bashir Mann, the first Muslim elected official in the UK, de-
pilgrimage—her own Mecca, she says. Mehmedovic scribes this as a full circle of civilisation. “Europe learned
recounts the dead—her husband, eldest son Azmir, younger everything from Muslims, and now it is the other way round.
son Almir, her two brothers and over 50 other family The people from Muslim countries come to Europe to learn
members—all killed in one single night. Twenty years later, the same thing they taught them,” he adds.
this is what remains—the silent, symmetrical tombstones, Samia Hathroub, a lawyer and French social activist, says
and the haunting memories of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. extremism is growing in France. “Most of the youth come from
Mehmedovic’s story is one of the stoic moments in the doc- dislocated immigrant families; some of them begin as drug
umentary Journey into Europe (https://www.youtube.com/ dealers, and go to jails, where they end up being radicalized.”
watch?v=ZleegkA-r4w) that underline the need to understand The isolation of the Muslim community adds to the problem.
the complex relationship of the Muslim world in Europe. The The rise of extremism reflects poorly on Muslim leaders in
120-minute film by Muslim scholar and former diplomat, Europe who have failed their younger generation, but also on
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, seeks to explore several layers of the state’s ineffectual integration policies. The colonial empires
this Muslim–European identity. The film digs out the rich past and the immigrants from the countries they ruled have failed to
of Islam in Europe, it unveils the challenges of the Europe’s growing find a common identity to hold on to. France makes
present, and in some heart-warming moments, it Islamophobia is a clear distinction between “originally French and
offers glimpses of hope that humanity will prevail. also reflected in the French from immigrant background.” In Britain,
The debates of the present have to be rooted in rounds of discussions being British is not being English. In Denmark, the
the past. In parts of Europe, the past of Islamic on EuroArabia—an immigrants are not seen as true Danes. Immi-
civilisation has been glorious, but often forgotten. grant histories have failed to find space in school
assumption that
In the film, Jose Antonio Nieto, the mayor of textbooks and, consequently, in national identities.
countries like France
Cordoba, remembers the richness of Andalusia in In Europe, if there are concerns about radicali-
would be Islamic
Southern Spain. “During the 10th century, under sation of young Muslims, there is also a surge in
Republics in 39 years
the Muslim rule in Andalusia, Cordoba was one of the right-wing sentiment. Marine Le Pen’s far-right
the greatest cities in the world. In Cordoba, we owe our char- anti-immigrant party is fast gaining popularity in France.
acter, our culture to the Muslims,” he says. Britain’s answer to the Tea Party, the United Kingdom Inde-
During the rule of the Caliphate, Cordoba’s main library pendent Party (UKIP), swept the local council polls in 2014,
boasted of over 4,00,000 manuscripts, and the period was with its anti-immigration sloganeering. A far-right group,
known for some of the famous scholars and inventors like Britain First, has launched a fight to “take the country back.”
Ibn Rushd, Ibu Firnes and Maimonides. Britain First volunteers patrol Muslim-dominated areas
The footprints of this Islamic civilisation are scattered across with heavily-armed military vehicles, distribute Bibles at
Spain and Sicily—in architecture, culture and daily habits: in mosques and organise frequent anti-mosque protests. Jim
food, like the couscous sold on the streets of Palermo in Sicily; Dowson, its founder, says the future of Britain would be
in the Sicilian dialect which is peppered with Arabic words; in “war” between the Islamic world and the originally British.
music and dance, where the “ole” in flamenco is derived from Europe’s growing Islamophobia is also reflected in the rounds
the expressions of “Allah.” In Palermo, the Monreale Cathedral of discussions on EuroArabia—an assumption that countries
and the Palentine chapel are standing examples of this mélange like France would be Islamic Republics in 39 years. Jean-Luc
of influences. Its structures have been inspired by Latin and Marret at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris dis-
Roman elements and Arabic arches. misses it. “Europe will not collapse under the weight of Muslims.
Nasser David Khalili, founder and director of Maimonides Islam can provide many things to Europe but Europe can provide
Foundation in the UK, says the contributions of Islamic civili- many positive things to Islam. Like in France, we are producing
sation have been critical during the times Europe and the West a new form of Islam connected to Western moderation and
were going through the “dark ages.” “From the 9th and 10th innovation and this could be the ‘new Andalusia’,” he says.
century onwards, the Muslims translated Greek and Roman Amidst all this, there are signs of normality. For instance,
books. Through that translation, mathematics, medicine and take sports, where over 45 Muslim players are a part of the
Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 77

Premier League, including top rankers like Edin Dzeko from

Bosnia, Samir Nasir, a French Moroccan Muslim, Yaya Toure
and Dema Ba from Africa. “When Dema Ba, a Chelsea player,
scores a goal, he prostrates and prays. The football fans go
crazy and celebrate. This normality is how we will build
relationships,” says Aqeel Ahmed of the BBC.
There are attempts to foster integration in architecture as
in the Penzberg Mosque in Germany whose contemporary
cubic structures hold prayer meetings and German language
classes at the same time. The imams here are dressed in suits
and offer regular tours of the mosque for non-Muslims.
In political circles, young Muslims across Europe are
making new beginnings. Cemile Giousuf, a German Muslim
of Turkish descent, became the first Muslim member of
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. In Denmark, a
young leader, Kashif Ahmed of Pakistani descent, founded
the National Party of Denmark to strengthen the immigrant
voice. Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, a Muslim MP in the UK, says,
“Muslims have to fundamentally abide by the laws of the
Quran, but beyond that, we have to abide by the law of the
country which we have chosen to call home.”
The signs of integration are heartening, but not enough.
There is still rising Islamophobia. There is isolation. There is
fear. Rowen Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, says
Islamophobia only reflects the fear and the panic. “When you
realize you are not close to your neighbour, you can either panic,
and project all sorts of terrible things on to them or you sit
with them and listen. We need to listen very hard to an average
Muslim neighbour, not an extremist voice, but those who are
unobtrusive and faithfully living their ordinary lives,” he says.
The onus of dialogue is also on the Muslims. The Muslim
community needs to get across the values of Islam and how it
fits in the religious landscape of European countries. Kristiane
Backer, a former MTV presenter in Denmark and a Muslim,
says Islam in Europe is fossilised and it is up to the young
people to take it forward. “They need to study the religion
through contemporary and classic sources and educate the
society and their own parents,” says Backer.
So the path ahead is in educating your own and “the other.” It
lies in discovery of the rich past of coexistence, in dialogue and in
listening hard. The path ahead is to explore common identities.
PS: At the Cambridge Mosque in London, a young man identi-
fies himself as Pedro and passes around his photograph with
Pope Francis. Like a prized possession, he circulates the picture
and the message associated with it. “I have been sent by the
Pope and he has asked me that every time you see a Muslim,
give him a hug. Tell him, it is from the Pope.” Pedro then
turns towards Muslim scholar Akbar Ahmed for an embrace.
On this uplifting note, the documentary Journey into Europe
concludes. A Christian man hugs a Muslim, inside a mosque,
carrying a message from the highest Church—a lasting image
offering hope that at the end of it all, humanity would prevail.
Pawan Bali (pawan_bali@yahoo.com) is an Indian journalist and film-maker based in
Washington DC. Currently, she works as a conflict resolution and communication consultant.

78 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly


Doing Science
The absence of affordable, high-quality books
and magazines on science, especially in regional
languages, could imperil the existence of a
democratic, rational society.
Prashant Singh

he year was 2009. A faculty member—probably Ajit
Mohan Srivastava from the Institute of Physics,
Bhubaneshwar—was delivering a lecture on relativity, in
Hindi, at the Department of Physics of the University of Alla-
habad. Earlier, it had been announced on the campus notice-
boards that the professor’s talk would be in Hindi. On the day
of the talk, a theatre of modest size was seated to full capacity
with students crowding the gate and the stairs leading to the
benches higher up. I’ve never seen such an impressively large
gathering of eager listeners for a scientific talk—unless they
were rounded up and herded in by the institute’s director or
other concerned organisers.
Normally, for such a lecture, it’s difficult to find enough
people to fill up the couple of benches in the front row. The
rest of the hall is usually conspicuous by its emptiness. But not
so in the case of Professor Srivastava. Such was the power of
the medium. Hari Prakash of the Physics Department of
Allahabad University congratulated the speaker for such a
successful talk. In reply, Srivastava narrated his own experi-
ences of the difficult time he had with English when he was
Books relating studying as an undergraduate in
to science which the same department. That was what
have the capability prompted him to deliver the talk in
Hindi so that students, particularly
of firing the
those who had just begun their
imagination are
degree courses, could understand
beyond the reach of the subject better. That was probably
most students, for the single-most important factor
both financial and that attracted students to flock to
linguistic reasons the lecture hall.
English is one of the major problems confronting any
student of the Uttar Pradesh education board who first en-
counters the Lecture Hall at the undergraduate level. It is
generally believed that the natural sciences do not require
much understanding of language, whereas the social sci-
ences do. That argument is fine as long as we remain con-
fined to books directly relevant to courses that mostly have
mathematical expressions. But these books hardly fire the
imagination. They don’t inspire. They can’t inspire. Books
relating to science which have the capability of firing the
imagination are beyond the reach of most students, for both
financial and linguistic reasons.
And yet, at the same time, we have religious/revisionist
organisations reaching out far and wide through the use of
all available media platforms, including television, print and
mobile phones (probably the most effective). For people doing
78 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

science, however, the literature related to science remains

confined to ivory towers. You can hardly find a magazine or a
book even remotely connected to science at the ubiquitous
bookstalls of W H Wheeler on Indian railway stations. Rail-
way bookstalls are a good indicator of what the aam admi is
reading. Titillating magazines like Manohar Kahaniyan are a
dime a dozen, as are voyeuristic soft-porn rags. But you’ll be
hard-pressed to unearth a single science magazine.
Science is also largely absent from TV screens, which are
awash with a tsunami of satsangs of babas, sadhvis and
televangelists, all streamed live. But nary a scientific ray
over the horizon. Why don’t we have affordable, readable
science magazines and books, especially in the regional lan-
guages? (The National Book Trust, which has done quite a
decent job of publishing quality books on the social sciences
at cheap prices, could surely play a role.) Why can’t scientific
minds organise their own satsangs beyond the confines of
college campuses? If people of science don’t assert them-
selves as a pressure group, they are putting at peril not only
science but also a democratic, rational society. Taking
science to the people is the moral and social responsibility of
those doing science.
Prashant Singh (prt.prashant@gmail.com) is with the Silicon Solar Cells Group at the
CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 79


go! The temple, located on the serene Nilachal Hill about

8 km from the Guwahati railway station, is a legendary
pilgrimage site. It is devoted to the mighty tantric goddess,
Kamakhya Devi. Apart from the central deity, the complex
of the temple houses other avatars of Kali, namely, Dhumavati,
Matangi, Bagola, Tara, Kamala, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta,
Bhuvaneshwari and Tripuara Sundari. White pigeons,
drenched with water and vermilion, stay put inside the
crevices of the stone carvings of the temple, in meditative
tranquil. On the whole, the temple exudes a slightly menda-
cious and eerie aura.
There is a fascinating story about the origin of the temple,
which is one of the 108 Shakti peeths. Legend has it that
once Sati fought hard with her husband Shiva to attend
her father’s great yagna. At the grand yagna, Sati’s father,
Daksha, insulted Sati. Sati was angered and in her shame,
she jumped into the fire and killed herself. When Shiva
came to know that his beloved wife had committed suicide,
he went into a frenzy of rage. He placed Sati’s mortal remains
White pigeons, on his shoulders and did the tandav
drenched with or the dance of destruction.
water and vermilion, To calm him down, Vishnu
stay put inside the hacked the corpse with his chakra.
crevices of the stone The 108 places where Sati’s body
carvings of the parts fell are called the Shakti
temple, in peeths. The Kamakhya temple is
meditative tranquil. believed to be extraordinary because
Goddess of Love On the whole, the Sati’s womb fell there.
There is also a history behind the
temple exudes a
name “Kamakhya,” which means
The Kamakhya temple in Guwahati in Assam is slightly mendacious
“Goddess of Love.” Kamadeva lost his
awash in legends and myths that revolve around and eerie aura
virility due to a potent curse. As a cure,
the metaphorical power or “shakti” within women. he sought out Sati’s womb and thus was freed from the curse by
the power of love. Following that, the deity of Kamakhya Devi
was established there and worshippers began trooping in.
Chitvan Singh Dhillon
An alternative legend suggests that the Kamakhya temple

s the airplane hurriedly descends, bidding adieu to is a place that witnessed the passionate encounters between
the august company of light-as-air clouds, all that I Shiva and Devi Sati. As the Sanskrit word for desire is “kama,”
see from my window is a vast expanse of land under the place was named Kamakhya, the home of the “bleeding
tea cultivation and an elephantine forest cover spreading far goddess.” In the month of Ashaad (June), the goddess is be-
and wide. I instantly conclude that this place is principally lieved to bleed within the confines of the “Garvagriha” or inner
representational of only one colour, and that is green. chamber of the temple. During this period, the Brahmaputra
Assam is undoubtedly the most vivacious of the eight states River near the temple magically turns crimson. The temple
that embrace “North East” India. Assam is synonymous with then remains closed for three days and the “holy water” is
overwhelming natural beauty, teeming wildlife, pristine water distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya Devi.
bodies, impeccable tea gardens, and affectionate, loving locals. Rationalists pooh-pooh the phenomenon, saying there is
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Assam a diminutive no scientific proof that it is blood that turns the river red.
sample of the entire country, just like a trailer to a block- Some locals say that the resident priests pour vermilion into
buster movie. the waters during the “auspicious” period. Since menstrua-
Beyond tourism, the state of Assam is also a symbolic pin- tion has long been metaphorically representative of a
nacle of religious heritage. Like all god-fearing Indians, I decide woman’s power to bring forth life, the deity and the temple
to kick-start my journey to Assam by paying obeisance at the of Kamakhya is a testimony to the “shakti” or power within
ancient Kamakhya temple located in the city of Guwahati. every woman.
My cab driver, a philosophical soul, tells me that legend has
it that anyone visiting Guwahati who gives this temple a miss Chitvan Singh Dhillon (filmbuff100@gmail.com) is a Chandigarh-based freelance
is forced to revisit it thrice in his lifetime. Well, thank god I did journalist.

Economic & Political Weekly EPW DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 79

and then moved on to learn Hindustani music at the feet of
Mighty Women, Begum Akhtar—alongside her full-time job as movement
teacher at the National School of Drama.
Tough Roles Begum Akhtari’s life brings to mind the riveting story of
another iconoclast in another age, Umrao Jan Ada. Two ren-
Two recent stage productions breathe life into ditions of her story—one in Muzaffar Ali’s film which cap-
tured the tawdry existence of the courtesan, played by Re-
the fiery times and passions of two outstanding, kha, and the other, a stage version by Anuradha Kapur, with
trenchantly independent women, Akhtari Begum Uttara Baokar as the aging Umrao—are memorable.
and Amrita Pritam. While Rita Ganguly chooses to use the form of a monologue
to present her paen to her guru, Saif Hyder Hasan brings us
Feisal Alkazi two accomplished performers—Deepti Naval and Shekhar

khtari Begum and Amrita Pritam are just two of the Suman—to recreate the life and times of poet and iconoclast
iconic women of the late 1950s and 1960s whom we Amrita Pritam and her friend, the lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi.
are beginning to rediscover and comprehend. While This production, Ek Mulaqat, is part of a completely new
one reached the heights of performance in Hindustani classi- brand of theatre from Mumbai, a revisiting of the city’s contribu-
cal music, the other was a doyen of Punjabi literature. The tion to the cultural history of India. The production has another
layers of social prejudice and ridicule that they faced and the companion piece by the same team of actor and director that
very singular lives they led, are now the subject Finally, it looks looks at the tempestuous relationship between the
matter of two new plays that seek to position them like Mumbai is maverick movie director Guru Dutt and his compan-
in the tumultuous times they lived in, and exam- beginning to ion, Geeta Bali. Finally, it looks like Mumbai is begin-
ine how their questioning of gender stereotypes ning to celebrate its own complex past, and happily
celebrate its own
broke many barriers, forever. complex past, and rediscover its talents in the film industry, without
Among others of the same generation, Amrita happily rediscover any of the conventional filmi trappings. How pro-
Sher Gill, painter extraordinaire, daughter of a fessional and personal lives intersect and feed off
its talents in the
Hungarian opera singer and a Sikh father, who was one another is the subject of both these plays.
film industry,
a Persian and Sanskrit scholar, was another trail- In the fading blue twilight of her verandah,
without any of the
blazer. She used her western academic training in middle-aged Amrita Pritam has locked out her
conventional filmi
art to re-present the Indian peasant. She also led a young lover and companion, Imroz. Is it to revisit
trappings those tender moments of intellectual camaraderie,
personal life of unfettered freedom. And then
there is Ismat Chughtai, recently re-discovered for many of us by bordering on love, that she felt for Sahir Ludhianvi? A trunk
Naseeruddin Shah’s mounting of her short stories. Another call from Bombay interrupts her reverie...Sahir is no more.
woman, another iconoclast, like her contemporary, Manto. And in the course of a single night, the director bring us the
Coming from an extremely modest Muslim background, the tender yet tragic tale of these two cultural giants.
legendary ghazal and thumri singer Akhtari Begum was one Loveleen Mishra also played Amrita Pritam in a production
of the daughters of a second wife of a rich lawyer. Rita Gan- directed by M S Sathyu a few years ago, but without any of
guly’s fine production on her, mounted earlier this year in the unstated eloquence and longing of Ek Mulaqat.
Delhi, walked us through her life. From her very early years, Deepti Naval breathes life into the passionate Punjabi poetry
Akhtari Begum proved to be a rebel who would live life on her of Amrita Pritam, her face transparent with emotion, hanging
own terms. The end of the dissolute onto every word of the prolific Urdu poet.
maharaja lifestyle that supported many LAST LINES He is a loner, unable to commit himself
artists like Akhtari Begum in Bhopal, to Amrita or any other woman. Shekhar
Lucknow, Hyderabad and Rampur Suman essays the part well, his perfect
comes alive in this solo show. For hers Urdu a foil to Deepti’s perfect Punjabi.
was a life lived to the fullest. Question- This is a production solely reliant on the
ing, mocking and satirising the feudal craft and delivery of language, though
order, patriarchy and power, Begum the director attempts to hold our inter-
Akhtar was a truly emancipated woman est visually with stills and projections.
in a pre-independence era. Two productions, two images of a
Rita Ganguly, now 75 years old and world gone by, two women, one always
energetic enough to mesmerise us labelled a tawaif (prostitute), the other
with a two-and-a-half-hour long perfor- considered “loose” and immoral be-
mance, has had an amazing career cause of her live-in relationship. Don’t
herself. Born into a Bengali family and miss them if they come to your city.
steeped in that culture, she became Feisal Alkazi (feisal.alkazi@rediffmail.com) is a theatre
the first female Kathakali performer ponnappa48@gmail.com director, author and educationist based in New Delhi.
80 DECEMBER 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

One-Week Orientation Programme

for Research Scholars and Teachers belonging to
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Marginalised Groups
February 22–27, 2016
The Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID), New Delhi is organizing a One-week Academic Orientation
Programme during February 22–27, 2016 for research scholars and teachers belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled
Tribes (ST) and other Marginalised Groups. The programme is sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research
(ICSSR), New Delhi.
The objective of the programme is to build research capacities of scholars and faculty members belonging to SC/ST and marginalised
groups in India. The programme is multi-disciplinary in nature that seeks to: i) refresh their theoretical knowledge and help to
identify the issues and debates relating to their specific research areas and the contemporary issues on development and disparities;
ii) develop their skills and ability to undertake research on those issues with appropriate data and methodologies (quantitative
and qualitative); and iii) improve their research capacity on how to write and publish research papers in peer-reviewed social
science journals. The week long programme will consist of lectures, policy debates, group discussions, exposure to databases,
research methods and hands-on exercises. There will be special lectures by reputed academicians on issues related to education,
health, industry & employment, poverty, gender issues etc. with a specific focus on development and disparities.
The young social science researchers and teachers from colleges, universities and research institutes belonging to any of the
above social groups interested in pursuing research related to development and disparities would constitute the targeted
audience of this programme. A batch consisting of 25–30 participants would be selected based on all India basis and their
suitability. The participants will get free boarding and lodging facility in the campus hostel on twin-sharing basis. To and fro
Three-tier AC train fare by the shortest route will be reimbursed.
Interested candidates may send their application in the prescribed format downloadable from ISID website (http://isid.org.in)
along with a write-up of about 500 words, giving their area of research interest, through e-mail to trainprog@isid.org.in on
or before January 5, 2016. Selected candidates will be intimated by 15th January 2016. Further details and programme
updates can be found at: http://isid.org.in/trainprog.html.
Institute for Studies in Industrial Development
4 Institutional Area Phase II, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110070
Phone: +91 11 2676 4600, Fax: +91 11 2612 2448


Panbazar, Guwahati : 781001, Assam, India
website : www.ccsu.ac.in
Building the intellectual foundations of an India with
Cotton College State University is pleased to release
STUDY PUBLIC POLICY advertisement for the following.
Admissions open for the January 2016 intake of our A. Recruitment of teaching positions (Rolling)
Graduate Certificate in Public Policy course. Take this A total of 27 posts of Professor, 53 posts of Associate
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Suitable for dynamic individuals who want to make a
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Build strong foundations in public policy analysis, 1. Registrar
economic reasoning, advocacy and governance by Last date of submission of application form for non-teaching
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For details please visit the University website :
Apply Online for Takshashila’s Graduate Certificate www.ccsu.ac.in
in Public Policy course at www.takshashila.org.in Helpline nos. 0361-2733530/2733513.
Last Date: January 10, 2016 Adv. No. ACAD/02/2015 and ADMIN/03/2015 Registrar

Economic & Political Weekly EPW december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 81


Capacity Building Workshop for New releases from Directed Initiative

Faculty Members of Management and 1. The Structure of Sociology:
Social Sciences (CBWFMSS-2016) Fixity in Professionalism —SAMIT KAR

Call for Registration 2. Social Thought of Swami Vivekananda —SAMIT KAR

School of Management and Department of Humanities available at
Dasgupta & Co, College Street, Kolkata 700 073
and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology,
Manisa Granthalaya, College Square, Kolkata 700 073
Rourkela, Odisha invite applications from young faculty
Jawahar Book Centre, JNU Campus, New Delhi 110 067
members of Management, Humanities and Social Sciences
to participate in a two week Capacity Building Programme
from February 17-29, 2016. The course is sponsored by
Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi.
The programme is open to all faculty members of
Management, Humanities and Social Science disciplines
in research institutions, colleges and university UG/PG
departments. The objective of this course is to develop
the teaching, research and analytical skills. Further, it will
strive to equip participants to acquire knowledge of the
latest trends in research methodology. All the expenses
relating to boarding, lodging and travel will be borne by
the host department. Those desiring of attending the
course may apply on the prescribed form available on available at
the website: www.nitrkl.ac.in or contact Dr. Chandan CNA Enterprises Pvt Ltd
Kumar Sahoo, Email: sahooc@nitrkl.ac.in or Dr. Nihar 27/13 Ground Floor, Chinna Reddy Street,
Ranjan Mishra, Email: niharhcu@gmail.com by 05.01.2016. Egmore, Chennai 600 008
Decision on selection will be communicated by 10.01.2016. Ph: 44-45508212/13

Women and Work

Edited by
The notion of ‘work and employment’ for women is complex. In India, fewer women participate in employment compared
to men. While economic factors determine men’s participation in employment, women’s participation depends on
diverse reasons and is often rooted in a complex interplay of economic, cultural, social and personal factors.
The introduction talks of the oppression faced by wage-earning women due to patriarchal norms and capitalist relations
of production, while demonstrating how policies and programmes based on national income accounts and labour force
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This volume analyses the concept of ‘work’, the economic contribution of women, and the consequences of gendering
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Forum against Oppression of Women • Srilatha Batliwala • Miriam Sharma, Urmila Vanjani • J Jeyaranjan

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82 december 5, 2015 vol l no 49 EPW Economic & Political Weekly