Budget 2014: A look at Public Health

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HealthGDPThe new budget is set to be unveiled next week and there is a lot of speculation on the direction it will take. The blog will do a series on the budget and it’s implications for the nation.

Today’s post takes a look at an oft overlooked aspect of the budget: public health expenditure. I take a look at statistics on the nature of the public health system in India. It is clear that the health care system in the country is ill equipped to care of the population. The state’s unwillingness to invest in health infrastructure is difficult to understand, given India’s consistently poor showing in health outcomes. It is clear that the government needs to allocate more resources towards creating an affordable health care system, especially for the poor.

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The First 30 Days: A Twitter Flashback

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The first 30 daysRecently, Narendra Modi’s twitter account reached 5 million followers and he became the fourth-most followed political leader in the world. The PM has expressed his penchant for communication over Twitter and the party has encouraged BJP MPs to have a visible presence in social media.

It seemed only appropriate (and fun!) to take a look back at the first thirty days of the PM through Twitter. What does the PM talk to his Twitter followers about? I look at number of tweets by the PMO and an issue wise breakdown of the Tweets. Read the rest of this entry »

Whose Development?

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Type2 By now most people have read the leaked IB report indicting various NGOs in India for being ‘people- centric’ and for ‘questioning the Gujarat model of development’. This report and the consequent fall out got me thinking. Why is it that everyone from Modi to Sharad Pawar is beseeching us to not question the development mantra? And if development projects are all that they are made out to be why do people  regularly protest them? Is it all a big conspiracy?

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Bijli, Sadak, Pani

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PaniIn a recent interview, tech mogul and Lok Sabha candidate Nandan Nilekani claimed that the motto of ‘bijli, sadak, pani‘ (electricity, road, water) was passe. But is it really? In today’s post, I look at statewise data for access to electricity, roads and sanitation. How many Indians can lay claim to electricity, roads and water?

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The Growth Mantra

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If I haveNSDP heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times: Gujarat is a model state for economic development. The whole campaign seems to be run on this one irrefutable fact. But is it fact? To answer this question, I decided to look at the facts. I mined data from the RBI website and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. I compared the economic growth rates of 4 states: Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. I chose these states because they are generally considered better performers amongst Indian states. While Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra started at a higher base, Bihar represents a state which was in the doldrums a decade back but has fast caught up.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Curious Case of AFSPA

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KashmirFinal-page-0Prashant Bhushan, Kashmir and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act have been all over the news in the past couple of days. Prashant Bhushan’s suggestion that internal deployment of armed forces should require the consent of the people, led to a maelstrom. Bhushan was wildly misquoted, his own party distanced itself from his remarks and the AAP office was vandalized by right-wing elements seeking to defend the honour of this great nation.

I decided to see what the fuss was all about.  Read the rest of this entry »

Democracy and its Discontents State Focus: Chattisgarh

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Chattisgarh’s Assembly Elections are around the corner and all parties have been calling upon their star ralliers to rustle up the votes. Personally, I think the Chattisgarh elections are particularly important. Not because of what it means for the general elections, but because of what it means for the Indian Union itself. Chattisgarh has been the site of one of India’s most contentious and violent internal conflicts. While the government has fumbled through its response (including the truly appalling arming of the Salwa Judum),  we are at a critical juncture and policies in the next few years will have far reaching impacts for this conflict and separatist tendencies elsewhere in the nation too. There are crucial questions we must ask ourselves in responding to the Naxal threat: Why would a whole belt of the nation revolt against a freely elected, democratic government? What can the Indian government do to peacefully bring people back into the fold?

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