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

New open access paper with Aashish Gupta in JEEM

My paper with Aashish, “Health externalities of India’s expansion of coal plants: Evidence from a national panel of 40,000 households,” is now available open access at JEEM at this link.  Here’s the abstract:

Coal power generation is expanding rapidly in India and other developing countries. In addition to consequences for climate change, present-day health externalities may also substantially increase the social cost of coal. Health consequences of air pollution have proven important in studies of developed countries, but, despite clear importance, similarly well-identified estimates are less available for developing countries, and no estimates exist for the important case of coal in India. We exploit panel data on Indian households, matched to local changes in exposure to coal plants. Increased exposure to coal plants is associated with worse respiratory health. Consistent with a causal mechanism, the effect is specific: no effect is seen on diarrhea or fever, and no effect on respiratory health is seen of new non-coal plants. Our result is not due to endogenous avoidance behavior, or to differential trends in determinants of respiratory health, either before the period studied or simultaneously.

You should also check out Kelsey Jack’s overview paper in the same issue on “

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Upcoming book discussion at IIT Delhi!

If you are in Delhi on Oct 25th, please mark your calendars for a book discussion of Where India Goes with IIT Delhi’s Ambedkar Study Circle at 2:30pm in LH 308.  Dean and I are really looking forward to it!

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An Insightful Article on SBM by Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph

We wanted to share this interesting article by Manini Chatterjee that came out in The Telegraph today.  Manini has talked about how the SBM fails to address the root causes of poor sanitation in India. SBM, as a sanitation campaign, has remained silent on the issue of manual scavenging, and has so far failed to address the links between caste and waste disposal.

She quotes Bezwada Wilson  (National convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan) to show how the campaign has failed to solve the bigger challenges that the sanitation problem in India faces at present- “there is an inexorable link between occupation and caste; the occupation of manual scavenging is linked with caste. We have to break the link between caste and occupation before we set out to achieve Swachh Bharat.”  She also questions the SBM’s focus on building toilets without having to say anything about improving the plight of people who do the cleaning jobs.

r.i.c.e. research has found that beliefs, values, and norms about purity and pollution contribute to the ubiquity and social acceptance of open defecation in India. In India, dealing with pit emptying has been linked to a job that lower caste people do.

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SARI Paper Presentation on October 10 at IIT, Delhi

 

r.i.c.e. is delighted to share that our execuitive Director, Diane Coffey, will be presenting a paper ‘Measuring Explicit Prejudice: Findings from Social Attitudes Research, India’ on 10th October at the seminar talks in IIT, Delhi .  The paper has been co-authored by Payal Hathi, Nidhi Khurana and Amit Thorat.  It uses the data from SARI survey, a phone survey being conduced by r.i.c.e in India.

Please join us for a discussion at the given venue.

Venue, Date and Timings:

The talk will be held at 3.30 PM on TUESDAY, 10 OCTOBER, in the HSS Committee Room, MS 610.

Abstract of the paper:

Measuring explicit prejudice, meaning measuring clearly stated
discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, is an important tool for
understanding discrimination in a society.  This working paper presents results about explicit prejudice against women and Dalits in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan using newly collected mobile phone survey data.

For some of the indicators of explicit prejudice that we study, we
compare data from India with data collected in the United States.  These comparisons are useful both because of the parallels between casteism in India and racism in the United States and because declining explicit prejudice in the United States provides an opportunity to contextualize research on social attitudes and explicit prejudice more broadly.

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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 permanent black 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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