research and policy advocacy for health & wellbeing in India.

Sanitation

Exploring the causes and consequences of widespread open defecation in India

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Sanitation

Social Inequality

Understanding how social discrimination impacts child and maternal health in rural India

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Social Inequality

Maternal Health

Exploring challenges and policy responses to adequate nutrition in motherhood to improve child health

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Maternal Health

Environment

Understanding the health consequences of climate change and air pollution, and exploring policy responses.

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Environment

Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone — just launched!

Congratulations to Jean Drèze on the launch of his new book, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone.  The book was just launched in a lovely outdoor ceremony in Ranikhet, Uttarkhand.  You can read about on the Black Swan publishing website.  There are actually two posts about the book, from Sept 21 and Sept 22.

I have learned a lot from reading the articles in this book as they came out over the years and really enjoyed reading the introduction on social development, democracy, research, and action as Jean was working on it.  It has some very important words of wisdom and experience for aspiring jholawala economists.  You can buy the book here and here.  Congratulations, Jean!

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Jean Drèze has a rare and distinctive understanding of the Indian economy and its relationship with the social life of ordinary people. He has travelled widely in rural India and done fieldwork of a kind that few economists have attempted. This has enabled him to make invaluable contributions not only to public debates on economic and social policy but also to our knowledge of the actual state of the country.

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Guest post: Air, health, and coal in India

This blog post was written by Sapna Gopal and was originally published at India Climate Dialogue:

If India reduced its air pollution to comply with the air quality standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Indians could live about four years longer on average, according to a study published on September 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal. If the country reduced pollution to comply with its national standards (lower than the WHO), its people could live more than one year longer on average, the study said.

“These results greatly strengthen the case that long-term exposure to particulate air pollution causes substantial reductions in life expectancy. They indicate that particulates are the greatest current environmental risk to human health, with the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the world similar to the effects of every man, woman and child smoking cigarettes for several decades,” co-author Michael Greenstone, director of Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago (EPIC), told indiaclimatedialogue.net. “The histories of the United States, parts of Europe, Japan and a handful of other countries teach us that air pollution can be reduced,

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What fraction of sexual violence in India is within marriages?: Media coverage of research by Aashish Gupta

In most countries around the world, marital rape may be prosecuted (see box 11 on page 113 of this UN report).  But in India, marital rape is not classified as a crime.  Recently the Government of India filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in support of keeping things the way they are: criminalizing marital rape, the Government reasons, would “destabilize the institution of marriage, apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands.”

Understanding the consequences of legally permitting marital rape requires, in part, understanding whether it is common or rare.  As writers and experts have reacted to the Government’s statement this week, they have often cited one of the few population-level statistical studies of this question: “Reporting and incidence of violence against women in India,” by r.i.c.e.’s Aashish Gupta.  Aashish summarizes:

Using data from the National Crime Records Bureau and the National Family Health Surveys, this article estimates, conservatively, the under-reporting of violence against women in India. I calculate under-reporting of sexual and physical violence, both for violence committed by “men other than survivor’s husband” and violence committed by husbands. In 2005,

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Three recent reviews of Where India Goes

We were very happy to find three reviews of Where India Goes in various corners of the internet and we wanted to share them with you!

The first is by Raghunath Nageswaran at Youth ki Awaas.  It provides a great summary of the book and includes some of our favorite quotations.

The second is by Mangesh Dahiwale at Velivada.  It talks about how sanitation in rural India is related India’s history and ongoing practice of untouchability.  It reminds us that working for social equality will be important for health and economic progress in India.

The third is by Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution.  It talks about how open defecation in India is not about lack of access to latrines but rather about choices not to adopt the sorts of affordable latrines that have pits that need to be emptied by hand.

We are very grateful to Raghunath, Mangesh, and Alex for helping us spread the word about rural open defecation, its causes, and its consequences.  Thank you!

 

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Where India Goes in The Economist

The book and the SQUAT survey are both quoted in an article in the Asia section of this week’s issue of The Economist: “Indian officials are humiliating people who defecate outdoors: Building lots of toilets does not guarantee they will be used.”

The subtitle is, of course, a point we have emphasized repeatedly here on the r.i.c.e. blog.  The main title is something we perhaps have not talked enough about.  There have been reports of not only humiliation but even some cases of violence in efforts to get people to use latrines.  In our own fieldwork we have met people who have told us that local government officials have threatened to take away their ration cards if they do not comply with the SBM.  It is no surprise that the victims are often low-ranking people in socially excluded groups.

One of the issues we raise in the book is that bad consequences are predictable when states try to get people to do something that they do not want to do — especially in large programs designed by socially distant administrators in physically distant capitals.  This suggests the question of whether the benefits are worth the costs.  Of course,

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Where “Where India Goes” Goes

In homage to the people who posted photos of On What Matters on top of things, a post on Where India Goes has been the past few days.  I won’t start by commenting on the “subtle art” of book curation that must have inspired the shopkeeper who arranged the store in the photo.

A reader has sent me a photo of Where India Goes alongside a newspaper article on a sanitation strike:

Where India Goes went to Azim Premji University on Thursday, where a great groups of students asked insightful questions:

And Where India Goes went to a dance party and a shopping mall in Gurgaon on Friday — and then to the entertainment section:

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Where India Goes: Back in the Kindle store with free sample

Where India Goes is back in the Kindle store.  I know that some of you pre-ordered the book for Kindle, only to have it mysteriously canceled the other day when it was supposed to be delivered.  In fact, that happened to me, too.  I’m sorry about that.  I wrote the publisher, and they assure me that it is fixed.

You can also get a free Kindle sample that includes Professor Deaton’s foreword and the first few pages of chapter one.  I successfully ordered it and had it delivered yesterday.

Thank you, also, to the India Human Development Survey for featuring Where India Goes in its recent IHDS newsletter.  Many analyses in the book would not have been possible without the IHDS.

 

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