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2022 | Book

In Quest of Humane Development

Human Development, Community Networking and Public Service Delivery in India

Editors: Prof. Byasdeb Dasgupta, Dr. Prasenjit Sarkhel, Archita Ghosh, Bishakha Ghosh

Publisher: Springer Nature Singapore

Book Series : India Studies in Business and Economics


About this book

This book presents a multidimensional perspective on the interlinkage between human development, community characteristics and public service delivery with special reference to India. The chapters in the book analyze the influence of public service delivery on human development from neo-classical as well as Marxian point of view. Thus, the expositions in the book provides a balanced mix of macro and micro approaches in the study of development. The analytical discussions are supplemented by case studies and empirical estimates so as to demonstrate the applicability of the theory and the theoretical discourse about human development, community network and the success and failures of critical public services in the Indian context. The methodology followed in the chapters involves critical survey of existing literature, case studies, field survey and use of econometric techniques as well as statistical tools of index construction. While contributors are primarily scholars from neo-classical economics discipline, some are intellectuals from the field of political economy and development studies. Given the wide array of development perspectives, this book is of interest not only to students and researcher of development economics, social science and management, but also a valuable reading for development practitioners and policy makers, who would be interested in understanding how community and public institutions interact to determine access to health, education and social security services that shapes the wellbeing of disadvantaged populations. The lessons and implications are extremely pertinent to other emerging economies, in particular those in South Asia.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
The outbreak of novel Coronavirus (henceforth COVID-19) pandemic in December 2019 is undoubtedly the major economic and health shock of the century. Till date the mortality from COVID infection has touched 2.63 million worldwide and the case-loads are still increasing in many parts of the world. The book is an attempt to understand issues pertaining to human development, community networking and public services delivery with special reference to contemporary India from a humane perspective. Some of the chapters of the book deal with issues pertaining health, education and other relevant social sector parameters in the post-Covid context.
Byasdeb Dasgupta, Prasenjit Sarkhel, Archita Ghosh, Bishakha Ghosh

Perspectives on Human Development

2. Is the Notion of Human Development Capitalocentric?
The very concept of human development as it is used today in the mainstream neoclassical economic and, also in practice (as it is used by UNDP to construct Human Development Index) is based upon Amartya Sen’s capability approach. And hence, it also incorporates Sen’s notion of Development as freedom. The question is which freedom. We know in a capitalistic economic space a human being is generally envisaged as direct producer that is, he/she is the creator of discretionary wealth in terms of creating surplus value for the sake of productive capitalists and for capital accumulation thereby. In the neoliberal space such direct producers are to be homo economicus—the term which was used first in the nineteenth century by some political economists in the context of the works of John Stuart Mill. To be homo economicus the economic man must be self-sufficiently efficient meaning capable of producing surplus value (the term used here in Marxian sense) given his/her level of education and skill, a certain basic quality of health and in the process he/she is supposed to take care of his/her well-being meaning capable of improving his/her quality of life—the “quality” of which is erected on the basis of his/her ability to satisfy his/her own self-interest (as is propounded by Adam Smith). Here, the connotation of human development is very much based upon certain basic conditions of market economy where market is constructed as panacea of all ills in the society including the development of individual human being in the capitalist society. In this paper an attempt is made to disinter the concept of human development from a class-focused Marxist framework as developed by Resnick and Wolff in 1987 in their seminal work Knowledge and Class. In doing this there is an endeavour to have a take on Sen’s concept of (human) development as freedom and strive to find out how the very idea of human development as it is today used in the official circle (UNDP and like) all over the world is guided by capitalocentric logic.
Byasdeb Dasgupta
Chapter 3. Eleven Theses on the Humanization of Development: ‘Praxis Philosophy’ in World of the Third
This paper makes space for eleven possible moves to humanize development. The first is to turn to capabilities-functionings, quality of life and questions of well-being (in addition to ‘growth’). The second is a critique of the reduction of a part of humanity to the epithet underdeveloped and the consequent dehumanization. The third is a disaggregation of the map of the world into those that are ‘hooked to the circuits of global capital’ and those that are not and are outside (designated world of the third). The brunt of the cruelty of (capitalist) development projects is borne by the world of the third subjects. This paper is a critique of that inhumanity and an attention to the pain inflicted upon the world of the third. The fourth is a turn to those subject positions that constitute the world of the third. Such post-capitalist and post-Orientalist subject positions further humanize development. The fifth is a turn to the real human being; not data; not graphs; breathing, living human beings. The sixth is to re-establish a long lost real relationship with the ‘subaltern’. Not to study them; not to churn out papers on their miseries; but to relate to them and their miseries; to alleviate some of the social suffering, if possible. The seventh is a turn to being in the polis. Development Studies can perhaps be humanized only if it is singed in development practice, in transformative social praxis; i.e. if poverty is alleviated; not just studied. The eighth would be the displacement of ‘field work’ with immersion in subaltern life-worlds and worldviews, of research with action research, of theories of social suffering with practices of social healing. The ninth would be a turn to the Borromean Knot of knowing-being-doing. The tenth is a rewriting of politics as reconstruction and not just critique. The eleventh is a turn to praxis philosophy—a philosophy of not just being intelligent but about being good as well—where philosophy is not just a way of knowing but a dharma—a way of life and ethical living.
Anup Dhar, Anjan Chakrabarti
4. Measuring Human Development at Sub-National Level: Methods and Application
Ever since it came into existence in 1990, the UNDP Human Development Report and the HDI has become an important tool for measuring progress of a country beyond the narrow boundary of macroeconomic growth. This exercise has been replicated at country level, bringing out national and sub-national HDRs. In India, national HDR has been followed by state level and district level HDRs, bringing to fore some limitations of the current method. First, there is an acute lack of data support at necessary granular level. Second, often the global template is not sufficient to reflect the actual context and diversity of the region for which the report is being prepared and one has to adjust, innovate and modify. However, these exercises across the country have mostly been done in silos and there is no common template for preparing sub-national HDRs. As a result these reports are not comparable either across space or across time. In this paper we draw from the latest UNDP SDG framework and recent methodological advances in preparation of composite indices to propose a template that can be used for preparing SHDRs. The methodology is discussed and then sub-national field data is used to explain its application. The methodology suggested has the added advantage that being based on the SDG framework it can be used as a baseline to monitor progress against the SDGs themselves at state/district/sub-district level. It is expected that the framework will emerge as a platform for preparing HDRs across the country in coming years.
Souvik Dey, Jhilam Ray, Rajarshi Majumder

Delivery of Public Services in India

5. Deliver and Destroy? Communities and Access to Public Goods in India
While many of the current policy papers and documents underline the role of communities in delivering public goods and services—a phenomenon officially called communitization, this paper takes a different course and views communitization—not so much as an efficient mechanism for delivering public goods and services—but very much as a process that has its rebound effects on the communities themselves. It argues that the use of communities for the purpose of delivering public goods and services entails significant transformations in, if not the destruction of, these communities by seeking to answer the following questions: How do the existing policy documents view the instrumentality of communities? What changes does communitization introduce to the social life of the communities that are sought to be rendered instrumental for the delivery of public goods and services? Do communities remain the same as they gear up for the task? The paper thus pushes the delivery project beyond its narrow, instrumentalist and albeit economistic understanding with the help of a series of ethnographic studies conducted by us since the beginning of this new millennium in various parts of India’s east and the northeast. The ethnographies cited here were conducted in the villages of Nagaland, on mainly the poor and marginalized sections of victims displaced as a result of riverbank erosion in the northern and north-central districts of Maldah and Murshidabad, respectively, in West Bengal, on sections of adivasi informal mining labour of Keonjhar and the scheduled caste villagers of Karadabani in Nayagarh—the last two in Odisha. The paper concludes by arguing that the community may be viewed as a veritable site of contest between the communitized communities, on the one hand, and the forces resisting it, on the other.
Samir Kumar Das
6. Delivery of Safe Drinking Water in Rural India: An Appraisal of Public Water Supply Initiatives
Availability of potable water is crucial for ensuring better quality of life. As the demand for potable water is inelastic, it’s mostly provided by the public agencies in countries like India. Owing to poor conservation of rainwater and lack of surface water treatment, public supply of water largely depends on groundwater. However, due to rapid depletion of groundwater and declining water table, the focus has now shifted to piped water supply. While earlier water supply policies have stressed on habitation-based water connection the recent policies and programs have focused more on household-level connection. In tune with this, delivery of water supply is now more decentralized and the capacity of the local institutions has been augmented to increase water coverage. However, recent reports suggest that a substantial portion of rural populace still lacks drinking water supply in their premise. The paucity of water coverage necessitates deeper probe into the implementation of the rural water supply programs. In this paper, we review the rural water supply programs and the rationale for shifting the target from habitation to household via decentralization. We further investigate the coverage of piped water connection under the National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) and attempt to identify the critical stumbling blocks that impedes universal water connection. We superimpose groundwater level data obtained from the Central Ground Water Commission on piped water connection data. We use panel regressions to estimate the influence of decentralization on the extent of water coverage controlling for groundwater availability and population demographics. Our results suggest that decentralization might not have been effective in increasing water coverage even after controlling for groundwater availability. The findings suggest that along with supply side intervention demand-based management needs to be properly implemented to ensure sufficient water coverage in rural India.
Subhalakshmi Paul, Prasenjit Sarkhel

Education, Health and Social Security for Human Development

7. Higher Education in Quest of Humane Development: Envisaging the Future in the Post-COVID Era
The universities have been undergoing transformation since long. The speed of changes got expedited in the wake of the Pandemic. Given the role of higher education in creating conditions for development, this chapter looks at how the possible linkages between university and development are changing and what implications these changes have for the nature and content of development. While the reduction in public funding appears certain world over, the introduction of digital technology in the classroom is turning out to be a game changer with the changing concept of time and space associated with the university as the classroom can now become global with the possibility of asynchronous teaching–learning. This chapter seeks to argue that public good character of higher education is to be upheld notwithstanding these changes. In fact, with increasing cross-border mobility, higher education is now a global public good. Higher education plays a unique role in the formation of the self and the society. However, given the increasing reliance on online education, growing university-industry collaboration, increasing reliance on market to achieve efficiency in the context of internationalization, it is doubtful whether higher education can contribute towards development which is humane. Under the influence of world ranking of universities, the top universities are getting disembedded from the local and national context within a system which is getting more and more differentiated. These developments undermine the objectives of access and equity. The concept of quality is being redefined too with changing demand for skill and acceptance of lifelong learning to remain relevant in the job market. While the ivory tower image of the traditional university is no longer tenable, it is important to ensure how the university space can be protected from interference from outside and universities remain both intellectually and morally independent to serve the society better.
Saumen Chattopadhyay
Chapter 8. The Effect of Employment Guarantee Scheme on School Attendance in Rural India
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India guarantees 100 days of wage employment per year to rural households. A burgeoning literature documents how the employment guarantee scheme has affected different aspects of rural economy like poverty alleviation, rural asset creation, and rural–urban migration. This paper contributes to this literature by studying the effect of the scheme on educational outcomes of households who work under the scheme. The paper estimates the effect of employment guarantee scheme on school attendance of 14–17-years-old boys in India. Using data from a nationally representative household survey, we compare the educational outcomes of two types of rural households—(1) households that applied for work under the scheme and obtained work and (2) households that applied for work under the scheme but didn’t obtain work. We find that a household’s work in the scheme reduces the probability that a 14–17-years-old male household member attends school by 14%. Estimation using an older subsample of boys who attended school before the implementation of the scheme shows that the negative effect is not driven by unobserved household heterogeneity that affects both school attendance and work in the scheme. The results indicate that a well-intended employment guarantee scheme can have a perverse effect with long-term consequence for the beneficiaries and the economy as a whole.
Tushar K. Nandi
Chapter 9. Health and Well-Being of the Elderly People Before and After COVID-19 Outbreak: A Survival Challenge in West Bengal, India
In the last century, India has witnessed a rapid increase in the elderly population with the significant interstate disparity depending upon the pace of demographic transition. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic might create a finite change in the economic health and multidimensional uneasiness by the death toll of experienced human capital from the large proportion of elderly people, with co-morbidities. The present study systematically assesses the relative importance of socio-economic factors and other factors related to the health and well-being of elderly people residing inside and outside old-age home, before and during COVID-19 lockdown. The health and well-being of elderly people have been derived through the Overall Health Utility Index (HUI) method using primary information on different physical and mental attributes from 458 elderly respondents in and around Kolkata (265 residing outside and 193 residing inside). During COVID-19 lockdown and unlock process (April–June,’20), a cross-sectional phone call survey has been conducted on health and well-being from 98 elderly (20% from the previous sample). A comparative picture of health and well-being between elderly people residing inside and outside old-age home in West Bengal, India, has shown that the socio-economic factors have the highest importance. The financial insecurity, social isolation, abuse, problem with assets, loneliness, frustration, and insufficiency of essentials including medical needs have been predominating factors for survival challenges in their present life of elderly. Elderly who stay at old-age home are suffering more in terms of survival before and during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the absence or insufficiency of social security measures compared to elderly who stay with their family. The health and well-being of elderly have been sacrificed a lot during COVID-19, compared to pre-pandemic situation mainly due to inaccessibility of healthcare, prescribed food, and supplements; problem in receiving pension/remittance; and social distancing protocol. Better social relations with suitable social pension, door to door ration and medicine supply, health check-up, etc. under public control could improve the well-being of elderly even in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priya Biswas, Sanchita Roy, Debaprasad Sarkar
Chapter 10. Experience of Social Security for Unorganized Workers in West Bengal
This paper has tried to investigate the following questions: (a) employment conditions of unorganized workers of West Bengal vis-a-vis India, and social security initiatives for unorganized workers adopted by the Government of West Bengal; and (b) extent of social security measures taken by the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary data have been used to analyse these questions. This paper shows that the employment condition of the unorganized workers is worse in West Bengal than that of all India averages. The Government of West Bengal took several social protection measures for unorganized workers. However, the number of actual beneficiaries of these programmes is very insignificant compared to eligible beneficiaries. The Government of India announced several relief packages during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, a tiny portion of those packages has been spent for social security purposes. The Government of West Bengal also took some initiatives for returnee migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, State action was not sufficient to keep migrant workers in their natives, and migrant workers have started to migrate again.
Arghya Kusum Mukherjee
Chapter 11. Backward Regions Grant Fund and Its Utilization: A Case Study in the District of Adilabad, Erstwhile Andhra Pradesh
“Backward Regions Grant Fund” (BRGF) is a programme of the Indian government designed to “address regional imbalances in development” in 250 backward districts of India. It was launched in 2007 and terminated in 2012. The scheme supplemented the other development programmes. Its objectives were to bridge critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that the existing inflows failed to meet adequately and to strengthen the Panchayat- and Municipality-level governance with more appropriate capacity building. In addition, the scheme sought to facilitate and encourage participatory planning, decision-making, implementation, and monitoring at the Panchayat and Municipality levels to address the local felt needs. In this paper, we have attempted to evaluate the state of public service delivery in India through a case study in Kotapalle Mandal, Mancherial district of Telangana. Kotapalle Mandal was in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh during the BRGF period. We used primary and secondary data to arrive at our conclusions on the efficacy of the utilization of the fund. It was found that paucity and irregularity of funds had hindered the planning and execution of meaningful developmental works. In addition, the objective of facilitating participatory planning at the grassroots level also seems to remain unfulfilled.
Bishakha Ghosh, Archita Ghosh

Gender and Human Development

Chapter 12. Understanding Costs of Violence Against Women and the Need for Contextualisation
Violence against women and girls undermines women's fundamental human rights affecting one in three women in the world at all stages of their lives. Women are exposed to physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence irrespective of their age, education or income groups. Violence against women has immediate and long-term health consequences for women and girls. In extreme cases, it can be lethal, resulting in death. Violence also severely impacts women's economic participation and care work. The socio-economic impacts of violence against women and girls at the individual/household and the community levels contribute to the nation's social and economic costs. The social and economic costs of violence against women is significant. Globally, progress on the elimination of violence against women and girls has been slow. Women's equality and empowerment (SDG 5) is critical for all dimensions of sustainable development, and thus the attainment of SDG 5 is central to the achievement of all the SDGs. Violence against women and girls is an outcome of complex dynamics of multiple and intersecting forms of structural injustices, including gender inequality. For addressing violence against women and girls, it is crucial to focus on prevention. Formulation of the preventive strategy to address violence against women and girls calls for systemic changes, which cannot be achieved at the individual level alone. Preventive strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls must assess the individual, community, organisational and societal structures, laws and policies, social norms and practices that perpetuate harmful constructions of masculinities, gender inequality, and other social injustices which intersect with gender inequality. For formulating effective strategies, it is also imperative to identify and address the context-specific drivers of violence against women and girls.
Manasi Bhattacharyya
Chapter 13. Women’s Labour Force Participation in India and Continuing Gender Inequality: A Reflection of 15 Major States in India in the Reform Era
Evidence from the literature on the female workforce in India shows that real agricultural wages, expenditure per capita and gross domestic product are trending downwards. Although a number of studies suggest a U-link between women's progress and participation in the labour market. Studies also confirm the relationship between the structure of the economy and women’s economic activity. Experiences in India indicate that women's participation in the labour market has been trending downward from 1993–94 to 2011–12. It is expected that such a high annual growth rate over an extended period of time will generate sufficient employment and reduce unemployment and the incidence of poverty. This paper acknowledged that the participation rate of women at both an aggregate level and in all demographic, cultural and economic variables was declining significantly. This pattern is more marked for the less educated, married women and youth. This paper has attempted to unfold the actuality behind the recent sharp decline in female labour force participation in India, in a period of rapid economic growth, and to identify factors underpinning the long-term drifts in female participation.
Anupam Hazra

Financing for Human Development

Chapter 14. Backward Regions Grant Fund: Is the Allocation Justified?
The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) was an Indian government programme designed to ‘address regional imbalances in development.’ The scheme, launched in 2007, supplemented other development programmes. It had two objectives. The first was to bridge critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that the existing inflows failed to meet. The other was to strengthen the Panchayat- and Municipality-level governance with participatory planning, decision-making, implementation and monitoring at the Panchayat and Municipality levels to address the local-felt needs. Our work takes a critical look at the allocation of funds under BRGF based on official data. We have selected the district of Adilabad, a particular backward district, for our study. Adilabad was part of Andhra Pradesh during the BRGF period. However, it came under the newly constructed state of Telangana in 2014. We examine the criteria taken for the fund's distribution, and an alternate criterion is suggested for any such future programmes.
Archita Ghosh, Bishakha Ghosh
Chapter 15. Private Provision of Public Goods Through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India
CSR spend by private companies can supplement resources for public service provision. In India, the share of CSR expenses is maximum in education followed by healthcare. These resources improve access to basic services but often without engagement with the community. Lack of community participation from the inception of the project does not build capability within the community. The projects may become unsustainable once the companies withdraw their funding. This article critically examines the CSR models of companies and their engagement with community leading to long term capacity building. In this regard, we have conducted case studies of CSR projects undertaken in different sectors: public health, education, environment and livelihood. The companies selected are all reputed public and private sector enterprises. Our study reveals that many of the projects attempt to deliver public service through very high investments. But they do not build the capability of the community. Due to lack of community engagement, they may not be able to achieve the major objective meaningfully. The existing arrangement may get stressed and conflict with project objectives. On the other hand, projects that engage community improve capability of the community with low cost systems. It may lead to innovation by community through development of local institutions. These projects educate communities to appreciate local resource for its appropriate use for livelihood generation. The recent approval of CSR contribution in PM CARES Funds may only supplement government resource to fight pandemic without entailing much desired innovation through community engagement.
Indranil De, Sudhir Kumar Sinha
In Quest of Humane Development
Prof. Byasdeb Dasgupta
Dr. Prasenjit Sarkhel
Archita Ghosh
Bishakha Ghosh
Copyright Year
Springer Nature Singapore
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN

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