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In his essay named “The Political Economy of the State”, Devesh Kapur states that there are three key reasons why India’s innumerous poverty reduction programs have failed:

  • Administrative costs: A large share of the resources set aside for poverty reduction programs is lost in either the administrative costs or are siphoned off.
  • Corruption: The public functionaries have a lot of discretionary power — they can decide who are eligible for the program and they also have control over the actual disbursement of subsidies. As a result, they can easily engage in corrupt behavior.
  • Lack of accountability

Let’s take example of the public distribution scheme (PDS) in India — it checks all above boxes. In the current system, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) provides grains which are distributed below market price to the poor, through fair price shops a.k.a. ration shops. This system is highly inefficient.

  • It has high administrative costs: In 2012, the Indian union government spent 750 billion rupees on the PDS; however 21% of the country remained malnourished. In the two decades prior to 2012, the food production in India increased by 50%; however; there was little decrease in malnourishment levels.
  • It is highly corrupt: In fact, it is perceived to be the most corrupt public delivery system in India. The beneficiaries receive benefits worth only 12% of the money allocated.
  • There is no accountability

The structure of PDS needs to be overhauled to make the system more efficient:

  • Instead of indirect subsidies, implement direct cash transfer: In the current system, the government provides an indirect subsidy by providing food items below the market price through FCI. Subsidies are also given to the ration shop operators. Many such shop operators sell the FCI-provided food items in the black market and sell sub-standard grains in their shops. The government should transfer the money directly into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. This will eliminate any possibility of corruption by the shop operators.
  • Close the ration shops: Instead of distributing grains through ration shops, the government should let poor buy food from the open market e.g. through retail shops. The amount of direct cash transfer should be linked to the market prices of grains and food items. Closing of ration shops will eliminate leakages in the system.
  • Aadhar cards and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana should be pushed aggressively. An Aadhar card will ensure that poor people have an identification document which they can use to open a bank account. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana relaxes the bank account norms such as minimum balance, so that poor people are brought on board the banking system.

The National Food Security Bill, 2011 mentions some of these mechanisms; however unfortunately, the bill wasn’t passed in the parliament. However, the government has already implemented direct cash transfer to replace few subsidies — most notable being the LPG subsidy. Therefore, one can be hopeful that it will come to PDS as well.

Sources:

1. Devesh Kapur, “The Political Economy of the State” (Oxford, 2010)

2. “As Grain Piles Up, India’s Poor Still Go Hungry”, The New York Times, 7 June 2012, link, accessed 1 November 2015

3. “No proof required: PDS or NREGA, corruption must go on”, The Indian Express, 1 November 2014, link, accessed 1 November 2015

4. “The National Food Security Bill, 2011”, PRS Legislative Research, link, accessed 1 November 2015

5. “Direct Cash Transfer will be very beneficial to the people, says Chidambaram”, NDTV, 27 November 2012, link, accessed 1 November 2015

6. “Cash subsidy on LPG world’s largest direct benefit transfer scheme”, The Economic Times, 25 December 2014, link, accessed 1 November 2015

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I started blogging on blogger back in 2005. Then I saw some blogs on wordpress and simply fell in love with their templates. So, I shifted to wordpress, but was disillusioned in no time. I found posting (especially uploading images in a post) pretty confusing and returned to blogger. Again, after some months, I shifted to wordpress and now, at this moment, I feel like coming back AGAIN to blogger!

The reasons this time are,
1. Archiving
In blogger, archive is shown in a tree format, where you can click on each month and view the posts immediately. In WordPress, when you click on the month, you are taken to a new page which lists all the corresponding posts. And those are in ‘summary’ format, you have to click on ‘View Full Post’ to read complete post. This is too much clicking for a reader. In blogger, it takes much less clicks and you are not navigated to a new page unless you wish to read the post.

2. Blogroll
Blogger’s blogroll displays the latest post on that blog while WordPress has a basic simple blogroll.

3. Commenting on other’s blogs
When commenting, it’s easier to do it through blogger id, because it’s linked to the gmail id and most of the times, I am already logged-on on Google. So, no need to login again. Also, using blogger id gives you an option to receive follow-up comments on your e-mail.

4. Templates
Blogger seems to have added some new templates and I quite like my current one!

The only minus point with blogger is, if you need to import posts from another blog of yours, you need a .xml file while in wordpress, you just need to enter the url and login details, wordpress takes care of the rest.

So, I have decided to maintain both blogs. Every new post will come up on both blogger and wordpress while archives before 2007 are available only on wordpress.

My other blog – www.sanketaradhye.blogspot.com

Diwali!

Diwali – one of the biggest festivals in India. Diwali means light, happiness, new clothes, crackers, great food. I am typing this sitting in my hostel in Bangalore, while my family is 800 Kms away. Almost everybody from my mother’s side of family is there, celebrating Diwali together. There is something about festivals, doesn’t matter if you are away from family for rest of the year. Festivals have less to do with God or religion, they are really about whole family meeting at one place and catching up on each other’s lives.

For me, this is not first Diwali away from home. In four years of engineering, Diwali always came in submission days, the busiest days in any engineering student’s schedule. I had my share of fun here in Bangalore. Yesterday, I had gone to my uncle’s place whom I hadn’t seen in last ten years! I couldn’t find the house by myself, so he was coming to pick me up. We didn’t need any help to identify each other. It works like magic, something inside you tells that this person is from your own family. Contrary to what I had feared, there was no awkwardness at all. My uncle’s mother, was as affectionate as I have always remembered her. Ages ago, I had gone to their house in Harihar. I was 10 years old then!

There were two parallel conversations. I was talking to my uncle (my mother’s cousin) in English and to his mother in Marathi. You see, my family is a marriage of Maharashtra and Karnataka. My father is a Maharashtrian while my mother is a Kannadiga, though she was born and brought up in Maharashtra. So, only Marathi was spoken in my home. I used to hear Kannada only when mom’s side of relatives visited. Though I can understand Kannada a bit, I can’t speak it. And my uncle can’t speak Marathi!

That brings me to a promise I have made to myself umpteen number of times but never took enough efforts to fulfill it – to learn Kannada. Literally speaking, it is my mother-tongue. And now when I am in the capital of Karnataka, the centre of Kannada culture, its high time I work towards it.

When coming back to hostel, the atmosphere in the city was beautiful. Lamps in front of each and every house, colourful lighting everywhere, and the smell of crackers..aah! Diwali was finally here. More surprises were waiting for me in the hostel. Some enthusiastic friends of mine had done Lakshmi-Puja. And then, it was time for crackers! What a joy! Diwali just doesn’t feel like Diwali without crackers. Thanks to my dear friends, Jayaram especially for arranging everything.

Not a bad Diwali, right?! 🙂

Jab Kisi Ki Taraf….

So, I was going through my music collection today and came upon this song. Wow, I haven’t listened to this in years!
This is a piece of great work by Jatin-Lalit and Sameer.
What prompted me to write this post is a line of dialogue Ajay Devgan says just before the song starts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video on youtube which covers that part.
It goes like this,
Kajol: Tumne us ladki ko bataya kyon nahi?
Ajay: Yeh pyaar bhi ajeeb cheez hai. Jab iqraar ki puri ummeed ho to bhi dil kehne se darta hai. Aur mujhe to inqaar ka pura yakeen hai. Voh kisi aur ko chahati hai.
We all have been there! You like this girl/guy but at the same time you know that nothing can happen because she/he is already committed to somebody else. And you don’t really want to break their relationship. You are just content at getting to spend time with that person, with no expectations. Of course, its not simple, but gradually you do accept the reality.
Disclaimer: This has NOTHING to do with my personal life!

So, I was going through my music collection today and came upon this song. Wow, I haven’t listened to this in years!

This is a piece of great work by Jatin-Lalit and Sameer.

What prompted me to write this post is a line of dialogue Ajay Devgan says just before the song starts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video on youtube which covers that part.

It goes like this,

Kajol: Tumne us ladki ko bataya kyon nahi?

Ajay: Yeh pyaar bhi ajeeb cheez hai. Jab iqraar ki puri ummeed ho to bhi dil kehne se darta hai. Aur mujhe to inqaar ka pura yakeen hai. Voh kisi aur ko chahati hai.

We all have been there! You like this girl/guy but at the same time you know that nothing can happen because she/he is already committed to somebody else. And you don’t really want to break their relationship. You are just content at getting to spend time with that person, with no expectations. Of course, its not simple, but gradually you do accept the reality.

Disclaimer: This has NOTHING to do with my personal life!

Disappointed at NDA’s loss.

Happy that next government will be a stable one.
Glad that left parties went down.
Pleasantly suprised at MNS’s success.
Happy that Sharad Pawar has been denied a shot at becoming PM.

Sarca(u)stic ;-)

Whenever my mother has a holiday, she is a completely different person in the morning. You see, my mother likes to ‘use’ the holiday productively which means cleaning and putting the house ‘in order’. I simply shudder at this very idea! So obviously, my dear mother and me have peculiar conversations. Like these,

Dear Mother (DM): (looking at my bed) What’s with so many things lying on your bed? How do you even manage to sleep on that?

Me: (with cool voice and tone of an ascetic) Just four feet, that’s enough space for a man to sleep.

DM: Gives an expression filled with disbelief, disgust, anger.

I ignore her as usual and go off to jogging. I come back after 15-20 minutes,

DM: You back so fast?! (sarcastically) For how much time do you jog?

Me: Umm……..that would be……..2 minutes.

DM: I knew so! Actually, I think you go out only to buy the paper.

Me: You are absolutely right mother. I jog from my bike to the paper-stall wala. And even such a small distance takes me 2 minutes!

DM: Gives an expression filled with disbelief, disgust, anger.

I ignore her, as usual.

Atithi Deo Bhav!

This Kasab episode is frustrating me. Public prosecutor, Mr. Ujjval Nikam told media yesterday that this case will run for minimum six months. That too if court functions every day. So, we can safely assume that it will go on for eight to nine months. Kasab most probably will appeal in Supreme Court challenging the verdict. Another three-four months wasted there. After that, he will file a mercy petition with President. Considering what is happening in Afzal Guru’s case, there is a very high probability that Kasab will be a guest of Indian government for next 2-3 years! This is NOT justice.
Can’t we make an exception and speed up this case? Why I see no urgency? 
Kasab is a happy man though. He thinks a place in Jannat is already reserved for him, shows no sign of remorse and has put on four kilos in the mean time. And why not, after all our culture says, Atithi Deo Bhav! So what if he happens to be a cold-blooded murderer?!