Understanding India

Updated: Mar 26 2006, 05:30am hrs
INDIA: Social Development Report, brought out by the Council for Social Development, presents a realistic picture of the country, especially of those sectors that are often overlooked in regular discourse and discussions.

The report, based on commissioned studies, discusses current issues and provides a perspective to administrators and policy makers struggling with issues such as poverty, unemployment, regional imbalance, child labour, etc.

The report, explains council president Muchkund Dubey in the foreword, is designed to be a basis for advocacy for social causes and for intervention for social change by the agents of such change, particularly the state. The book covers various facets of social development in 13 chapters, written by renowned economists and experts. The authors, in most cases, suggest solutions, after analysing the current social issues and related problems.

For instance, R Radhakrishna and K Hanumantha Rao in Poverty, Unemployment, and Public Intervention make a case for linking rural manufacturers and traders to their urban counterparts. AR Nanda and Almas Ali in their paper on Health Sector: Issues and Challenges stress the need for introducing better management practices to improve the healthcare delivery system, within public and private system.

Oxford University Press
Rs 395 Pp 224

Jandhyala B G Tilak, while discussing issues in the education sector, argues that state must play a role in providing quality education to all, especially socially and economically underprivileged groups.

Debolina Kundu, while discussing drinking water problems, suggests that the government should set up regulatory bodies to oversee functioning of local bodies and civil society organisations.

Sukhadeo Thorat, in a chapter on Empowering Marginalised Groups: Policies and Change, concludes that protective discrimination measures such as job reservations have led to only small improvements in the status of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The government, writes Thorat, needs to take effective steps to enhance their access to productive assets including land. Saraswati Raju deals with the gender issues, and while acknowledging the progress made on certain issues, points out that instrumentalist logic for womens development has to change.

Abusaleh Shariff and Azra Razzack write about a usually ignored section in social indices, communal relations and social integration.

Amitabh Kundu, while dealing with issues concerning urbanisation, makes a case for adoption of a more inclusive strategy for balanced regional development.

Kuldeep Mathur in his chapter on Empowering Local Government: Decentralisation and Governance in India, traces the history of decentralsiation since the colonial days. C S Venkata Ratnam writes about issues concerning social security in organised sector.

The report devotes three chapters to problems concerning child labour. While

A B Bose writes on child development in India, J John and Pradeep Narayanan examine the state's failure in eliminating child labour.

The report has also extensive tables that rank Indias major states on parameters like demography, healthcare, basic amenities, education, unemployment and poverty, which present a revealing picture of the inequities that exist.