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Horn OK Policy
117 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
Ep 4: Farm Laws & Protests
Dr. Mekhala Krishnamurthy, Professor of Sociology at Ashoka University, discusses the Farm Bills passed by the Central Government in mid-2020. Protests against these central reforms have been relentless, especially from the farming communities of Punjab and Haryana. The 3 bills aim to de-regulate the agricultural marketing system by allowing farmers to sell directly to private players (and bypass State-controlled agri markets or mandis), enable contract farming, and reduce restrictions on purchasing and stocking imposed by the Essential Commodities Act. Champions of these laws herald them as significant as the 1991 Liberalization Reforms and that farmers have been unshackled from the grip of middlemen. However, protestors fret that farmers have been exposed to capitalist forces without adequate protection and that the Centre has hastily encroached on a State issue without adequate stakeholder consultation.Prof. Krishnamurthy lends great lucidity to this incredibly complicated set of issues. Over the first hour of the episode, we get a better sense of what agricultural marketing really is and its facets: how they differ from regular transactions, what the role of middlemen is, why APMC mandis serve an important function etc. Once this important base is set up, we dissect the recently passed Farm Bills, including their pros and defects. Finally, we discuss the future of agriculture in Punjab and Haryana, 2 states with their unique agriculture challenges that are at the forefront of the frustration against the Farm Bills. Show Notes: Prof. Krishnamurthy's co-authored study of Agricultural Markets in Bihar, Punjab, and Odisha: https://casi.sas.upenn.edu/agricultural-markets-studyIndian Express Op-Ed on Arthiyas in Punjab and Telangana: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/the-arhtiya-business-7098629/Timestamps: 0.00: Intro7.56: Discussion of Agricultural Marketing?33.10: Role of Intermediaries and Middlemen in Agricultural Marketing1.01.00: Were the laws passed too hastily?1.20.49: Infrastructure in Agriculture1.29.15: Essential Commodities Act Amendment vs. Onion Exports 1.37.47: Contract Farming Bill1.42.55: State of Agriculture in Punjab and Haryana
79 minutes | Nov 30, 2020
Ep 3: A V-Shaped Recovery in Employment, Income, and Consumption?
Prof. Marianne Bertrand of Chicago Booth and Dr. Kaushik Krishnan, Chief Economist at CMIE, discuss to what extent India is showing a V-shaped recovery. "V-shaped recovery" and "green shoots" are being flung around in newspapers and discussions everywhere. But how were India's households affected economically during the lockdown? And to what extent have their employment, income, and consumption levels recovered since then?To better answer these questions, Marianne Kaushik join me in discussing their findings from analyzing CMIE's household surveys. They and a team of two other economists- Prof. Rebecca Dizon-Ross of Booth and Prof. Heather Schofield of UPenn, have published a series of op-eds (linked below) that shed light on how employment, income, and consumption of Indian households have behaved during and post-lockdown. Their first oped, published in May, highlighted the economic carnage Covid19 and the lockdown brought about. Since then, they have conducted a more extensive study of how the economic fundamentals of households have recovered. While CMIE's unemployment levels are back to pre-pandemic levels by July, all's not well in employment, as the Employment-to-population ratio continued to be lower than before post-lockdown. However, while incomes have rebounded dramatically post-lockdown, they continue to be 25% lower year-on-year in June, and consumption of key items such as dairy/eggs/meat and other food items have also registered some recovery but not fully by August. We explore what these different set of results, along with other findings from the study, means for a V-shaped recovery for India.Show Notes:Most Recent Op-ed (*Highly Encouraged Reading and Basis for this episode!*): https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/blog/2020/employment-income-and-consumption-in-india-during-and-after-the-lockdownBusiness Standard's abridged version of the Oped, v1: https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/employment-income-in-india-during-and-after-lockdown-a-v-shape-recovery-120112601501_1.htmlFirst Op-ed (published in May): https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/blog/2020/how-are-indian-households-coping-under-the-covid19-lockdownTimestamps:0.00: Intro 4.15: Understanding CMIE's survey mechanism and scope, and how they managed to survey during the lockdown 18.59: Discussion of May Oped's findings of income losses and unemployment 24.59: Recovery in unemployment, but continued concerns for the employment 33.26: Quick chat about growth in GST revenues 41.30: Income transitions during and post-lockdown 53.47: Consumption trends 58.39: What do the findings mean for a V-shaped recovery? What's a reasonable timeline for a recovery? 1.05.05: Policy responses (MGNREGA and EPFO wage subsidy)
84 minutes | Sep 26, 2020
Ep 2: Land Laws Labyrinth
Dr. K.P. Krishnan, Prof. at NCAER and former Secretary of Land Resources, introduces great clarity to the black box that is land reforms in India. Land laws and legislation are a labyrinth in India. They have historically posed nightmares for landholders and farmers who have been the victims of land-grab by the government using its eminent domain powers. Protests and agitation sparked by such incidents (such as the one against the Tata Nano factory in West Bengal) led to the 2013 Land Act being passed, replacing the archaic 1894 Law. However, some experts and economists feel that land is now too time-consuming, expensive, and cumbersome to acquire, which holds back economic growth.To help us navigate this labyrinth and such inherent tensions, I speak with a former veteran IAS bureaucrat and a current economics professor at NCAER- Dr. KP Krishnan. Dr. Krishnan has held in Secretary-level positions in crucial ministries such as Land Resources. He also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from IIM and has produced extensive literature on the issue of land's role in India's economy and related policy prescriptions. The bulk of the conversation related to such legislation revolves around Land Acquisition, aka the government's eminent domain powers over land. We start by unearthing the 2013 Land Act and understanding its impact on land-grab and whether it has come at the expense of economically beneficial land acquisitions. We discuss attempts of reform since the 2013 Act by the Modi government as well as State governments. Specifically, Dr. Krishnan, who was Additional Secretary of Land Resources between 2014 and 2017, helps shed light on why Modi's land reform attempts at the time went bust. Finally, as Dr. Krishnan mentions in the very first answer, there is an excessive focus on land acquisition. The real question is: why don't private markets work for land, as they do for labor or capital? We discuss in-depth one of the big reasons: poor titling and land records in a country where almost 90% of the land parcels face legal disputes. What are the solutions to this issue? Are there short-cuts we can take to expedite the process?Timestamps: 1. 0.00: Introduction2. 6.20: Contextualizing the 2013 Land Acquisition Act3. 10.05: There is an excessive focus on Land Acquisition.4. 16.15: Does the 2013 Act address the issue of land-grab and find the right balance?5. 23.00: Does the 2013 Act stifle economic activity?6. 37.35: Context behind the 2014/15 Modi govt land reform attempts. Why did they fail?7. 47.50: States like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra have passed amendments in line with the 2014-15 Central level reform attempts. How has land acquisition and land-grab fared in such states?8. 51.40; Karnataka recently allowed farmers to sell their land to non-farmers. Is this the right move?9. 56.05: Why does a private market for land not exist? 10. 1.03.55: Impact of land titling and land market distortions on credit levels in India. What are the solutions?11. 1.08.00: NITI Aayog has a draft Land Titling law out focussed on conclusive land titling. Is this the right set of legislation needed to solve the problem?12. 1.10.30: Assessing the Digital India Land Records Modernization Program. Where are the successes and what's further needed?13. 1.13.40: A Nifty solution to the issue of land records using data from financial institutions/lenders.14. 1.18.00: What would your plea be for the government to focus on now?
74 minutes | Jul 22, 2020
Ep 1: Labour Crisis in India
Prof. Santosh Mehrotra, head of the Center for Informal Sector and Labour Studies at JNU and a former Planning Commission member, joins us today to analyze the labour crises during and before COVID19 and how policymakers should resolve them. More than 100 million Indians have lost their jobs since the national lockdown was enforced in March. However, even before the pandemic, there were fault lines in India's labour force: unemployment was at a 45-year high, youth were unable to find quality jobs, and the labour force continued to be stubbornly informal. What's the near term outlook for jobs? How should the government address labour laws to boost investment and hiring? How can more formal and good quality jobs be introduced? Are an urban MGNREGA and minimum income guarantee potential solutions in mitigating the economic effects of the pandemic? These are just some of the far-reaching questions we address in our comprehensive review of India's labour situation. Music by Sonto & Village Polka.
5 minutes | Jul 18, 2020
Ep 0: Preface/The First Horn
In Episode Zero of Horn OK Policy, host Adarsh Kumar gives a preface to the podcast, which aims to address economic and policy-related issues that affect India. Music by Zubin Kirpalani (aka Sonto) & Village Polka!
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