ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Anand SahasranamanSubscribe to Anand Sahasranaman

Distributional Dynamics of Income in Indian States

The distribution of income across Indian states for 2014–19 is examined in this paper. Particularly concerning in terms of high inequality are Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana—both income shares and real income growth in the bottom decile have declined from 2014 to 2019 in almost all these states. Across states, while Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe populations and small/marginal farmers and labourers are disproportionally represented at the bottom of income distributions, these groups are the most economically impoverished and increasingly vulnerable (due to declining real incomes) in the high inequality states. Using a stochastic model of income growth, this paper finds that states with high inequality are characterised by a negative redistribution of resources from poor to rich, raising concerns about the future of low incomes in these states.

Income and Inequality across Rural–Urban, Occupational, and Caste Divides

The evolution of income in India from 2014–19 is analysed, and it is found that the lower end of the income distribution has experienced significant losses—the bottom ventile shows not only a decline in income share of ~41% but also a negative real average income growth of -5.5% per annum. Further investigating the composition of this part of the distribution using rural and urban splits, it is found that even as income shares at the bottom of the urban distribution have increased over time, those at the bottom of the rural distribution have decreased—income share of the bottom decile of the rural income distribution declined by ~43%, and the real average income growth of this decile was -5% per annum. The bottom ventile of the consolidated Indian income distribution is composed primarily of rural incomes and therefore the decline in real incomes is essentially a rural phenomenon.

Financing the Development of Small and Medium Cities

Urbanisation in India is currently marked by two fundamental trends: lopsided migration to the larger cities and unbalanced regional economic development. In this context, this paper makes a case for the concerted development of small and medium cities as the key focus in the strategy to ensure sustainable urbanisation in India. As cities plan for the long term, among the most critical components they need are the availability of land and the provision of infrastructure and services for a growing population. This paper suggests the need for land banks and land readjustment mechanisms, and assesses the efficacy of current mechanisms for infrastructure provision in small and medium cities. There is also a rationale and need for the creation of new cities, either on the peripheries of large cities or around industrial clusters, with private participation and financing.

Panchayat Finances and the Need for Devolutions from the State Government

One of the key tests to real empowerment of panchayats lies in the ability of local self-governing institutions to finance their own expenditures through internal generation of resources. Based on an analysis of three villages in Tamil Nadu, this paper argues that many gram panchayats are today in a position to substantially finance themselves and build a culture of self-sufficiency, independence and accountability to their citizens, reducing their dependence on devolutions from state governments. It concludes that by incentivising competition among panchayats and instituting a rural development fund to enable them to access debt capital, the perverse incentives they now face can be mitigated to a large extent, leading to several significant positive outcomes.

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