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

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Food Security for Interstate Migrants

This article uses a newly compiled transaction-level data set on 2 million-plus ration purchases made by interstate migrants to study the One Nation, One Ration Card scheme. The analysis suggests that despite gaining momentum, the initiative may still have some distance to cover. Interstate transactions remain small compared to intra-state sales. Success in implementing and benefiting from the scheme is highly skewed.

How COVID-19 Deepened the Gender Fault Lines in India’s Labour Markets

India has witnessed low levels of women’s labour force participation over the last four decades, with gaps of nearly 40 percentage points between the proportion of men and women in the labour force. Recent high-frequency data shows that COVID-19-induced lockdowns have had a disproportionate impact on women’s employment. Women bore the immediate impact of lockdowns, with 37.1% losing jobs (versus 27.7% men) in April 2020 and forming 73% of job losses in April 2021. Employment recovery has been slower for women. Prevailing sociocultural factors such as the increased burden of unpaid domestic work, gender digital divides, mobility restrictions, and the lack of institutional support at workplaces are discouraging women’s return to work. Even in January 2022, women’s labour force is 9.4% lower than January 2020 versus 1.6% for men. In this scenario, governments can support through gender-sensitive job-creation plans to expand women’s employment in the public and micro, small and medium enterprise sectors, and incentivise women’s entrepreneurship.

Impact of the Pandemic on Growth of the States

The slump and recovery in growth varied substantially and adversely affected disparate states.

Public Health for All

Universalising Healthcare in India: From Care to Coverage edited by Imrana Qadeer, K B Saxena and P M Arathi, Delhi: Aakar Books, 2019; pp 475, `1,495.

COVID-19 Cases and Vaccination Inequality: A Comparative Analysis of Political Regimes

Different regimes have different capacities to respond to pandemics. Historically, democracies outperformed autocracies in health outcomes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings, with a sharper tone, of full democracies (having higher COVID-19 cases than authoritarian regimes) and led to the formation of two competing hypotheses among the cross-national comparative political researchers: (i) biasing autocracy: that authoritarian regime manipulated and underreported COVID-19 cases, and (ii) efficient autocracy: that authoritarian regimes can control the spread of the disease effectively than democracies. We examined these two hypotheses, employing Benford’s test and generalised linear models, using the latest data set from the World Health Organization, EIU, United Nations, and other relevant sources. Findings include having no empirical support for the biasing hypothesis. However, the efficient autocracy hypothesis acquired partial empirical support. We further examined the data on COVID-19 vaccination for reliability (using Benford’s test), and the results indicated a potential case of data manipulation.

Nature of Health Insurance Demand in India

In this paper, an attempt is made to explore the elasticity of health insurance demand in India. Keeping in view the central and state government efforts as well as rural–urban disparities in the country, we evaluate whether people have appropriate information about these governmental schemes and the influence of other socio-economic factors on individual household choices.

What Does the COVID-19 Experience Tell Us about Indian Growth Drivers?

Parts of this paper were presented at SSS-AIU, Study Group and EGROW Foundation webinars, O P Jindal Finance Global Finance Conclave and Rajagiri Conference on Economics and Finance. Enthusiastic feedback helped improve it. In particular, the author thanks Charan Singh for the invitation to develop one of her op-eds, Arvind Virmani, Amartya Lahiri and an EPW referee for comments. The author would also like to thank Krishnandu Ghosh and Sandipan Saha for research assistance and Shreeja Joy Velu for secretarial assistance. This paper is an updated and abbreviated version of IGIDR WP-2021–025.
 

Needles, Blood, and Data

That COVID-19 has been difficult on gender minorities has been well-documented. Through a combination of abandonment by the state, reluctance towards women’s health beyond their reproductive capacity, and an epistemological gap at the heart of modern medicine, it is ensured that the effects of vaccines on women’s menstrual cycles remain ignored.

COVID-19 and Bank Behaviour

The article analyses the impact of the pandemic on the banking sector in India. Utilising data on Indian banks, it addresses two questions: fi rst, what was the magnitude of the impact on bank lending across ownership? Second, what was the impact on their costs and returns? This article is one of the early exercises to examine the impact on banks’ balance sheets in the Indian context.

COVID-19 as an Opportunity to Engage with Urban Malnutrition Challenge: Preliminary Insights from India

As the world is urbanising fast, a growing body of literature highlights malnutrition as an imminent urban challenge, further compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19. The nutrition policy discourse, however, is yet to accommodate this shift. In fact, it continues to exhibit a rural bias. This itself has partly been reinforced by the absence of authoritative evidence on urban malnutrition. Based on preliminary analysis of Indian data, this paper examines whether there is urbanisation of child malnutrition. The paper finds that urban India is witnessing a decline in nutrition advantage. While for less urbanised states, urban child stunting is relatively higher, in more urbanised states, urban child wasting is a challenge. Given that wasting is an indicator of acute malnutrition, it is partly attributable to lack of adequate food. Though it might be early to connect this to a looming hunger crisis, growing child wasting questions the claims of food security in urban India. Seeing this further in context of implications of COVID-19 provides a potential basis for broadening of the nutrition policy agenda.

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