Discipline wise list of recent selected publications

The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Modi's "Surgical Strike" On Black Money

Black money, by its very nature, is hard to estimate accurately; therefore the gains from demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes are also difficult to quantify. Thinking about the following ten questions will enable us to have a clearer account of what this will (or not) achieve.

India has more cash (12% of money supply) than other countries (3% in UK and 10% in the US), but it remains a small part of the total.

A Phased Approach Will Make a ‘Basic Income’ Affordable for India

Years ago, in 1991, Philippe Van Parijs made a strong case for universal basic income (UBI) in an article titled ‘Why surfers should be fed‘. More recently, the idea of a UBI has gained currency in India as well. Why the idea is appealing is easy to see: universality does away with the messy job of identifying the poor and when the UBI is in cash (rather than kind), it reduces the administrative burden in an already over-stretched government bureaucracy.

Could the virtual world of Pokémon Go be used to help rich Indians see real struggles of the poor?

I spent the period between January and March reading about the rise of the welfare state in many parts of the world, especially in England, where it was cemented in the 1940s and ’50s. An important thread in my reading was around the evolution of a consensus – fragile and difficult, though it may have been – across conflicting sections of society.

Understanding Juvenile Crime

Let me begin this essay on juvenile crime with a personal experience with juveniles, potentially delinquents. Recently, I was walking in a relatively secluded area of Delhi in broad daylight, when I heard a sound from a fast approaching motorbike from behind. Within a fraction of a second, I felt an inappropriate physical gesture. And within a fraction of the next second, I realised that this was by one of the three fancily dressed slum kids who zoomed past me. I felt anger and helplessness and reported the motorbike number, or whatever I could remember of it, to a nearby police chowki.

Book Review: Why you must read Gautam Bhatia’s ‘Offend, Shock, and Disturb’ to debate Free Speech in India

The title of this fine book does its contents a disservice, for it is about much more than speech which offends, shocks, or disturbs. Its aims are two-fold: first, to provide a doctrinal analysis of Indian free speech jurisprudence; and second, to critically examine it from a philosophical point of view.

Bhatia notes ruefully that the pathologies of the Indian legal system may limit the impact of these theoretical explorations in practice. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to ask whether Indian free speech jurisprudence is internally coherent and compatible with democratic ideals.

Was Godse more patriotic than Gandhi?

A few days ago, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament Tarun Vijay tweeted an appreciation of Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary, calling her a “symbol of strength”. The appreciation of this kind of “strength” was puzzling because it seemed incompatible with Vijay's praise in the past for Mahatma Gandhi, and for his criticism of the Emergency.

A Nobel for the idea of well-being

Much of the work by Angus Deaton, the winner of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, has been focussed on measurement issues. He has questioned the quality of data collected in large surveys and suggested ways of improving the surveys. He has also thought very hard about how these data could or could not be used, how to reduce measurement errors, and what inferences one can, or cannot, draw from data that might suffer from measurement errors.

Food Security

Food security: Bihar on the move
Bihar's public distribution system used to be one of the worst in India, but the system has improved significantly from 2011 onwards. The National Food Security Act, backed early on by the political leadership, enabled the state to include the bulk of the rural population in this improved system. However, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that the system is reliable, transparent and corruption-free.

Tackling India’s 'bare branches'

Both China and India have recently been in the global eye for their adverse sex ratios. China’s one-child policy has landed it in dire straits with almost 19 extra boys for every girl with the future implication that there would be close to 30 million excess males by 2020. India is in somewhat better shape with around 13 extra boys per girl. While India’s overall figure of excess males in the marriage market would not be quite as worrisome as China’s, the concentration of these males in the North and northwestern regions of India raises similar concerns.