Saturday, December 27, 2014

Government Spending on Health in India: Some Hopes and Fears of Policy Changes

Shailender Kumar Hooda

Most countries in the world spend a sizable amount of public fund on health, though delivery of health services is organised through a mix of government and private providers.  The countries recording high level of public spending in health have secured better health outcomes compared to the countries with low spending, barring few exceptions like the US, where high public spending co-exists with high exclusion. Some however have also managed better outcomes with little public funds while improving allocation of funds, better management and effective service delivery mechanisms (NCMH, 2005). India’s performance in improving the health outcomes, even after announcement of more than 21 committees and commissions on health sector reforms, has remained far from satisfactory levels. For instance, some of the health outcomes (infant, child and maternal mortality rates) are not only lower than the Millennium Development Goal targets but even worse than some of the developing countries. The infant mortality rates (IMR) of India is around 54 whereas Sri Lanka's IMR is 17 (WHR, 2010). The life expectancy at birth (64 years) of an average Indian is at least 15 years lower than that of developed countries and even lower than the neighbouring Sri Lanka (74 years). Almost half of Indian children suffer from malnutrition which is even worse than what recorded in some places in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50 per cent of women suffer from anaemia (WHR, 2010). The rural-urban gaps in health outcomes are not only persisting but have widened over the years. In order to understand this unsatisfactory performance in the health sector, one needs to look at the gap between health policy commitments by the government and the allocation of funds in respective segments.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wither Away the Pressure on India's Patent Law

Saradindu Bhaduri

Once again, India is under pressure from the US to revise its patent law. Anyone familiar with the activities of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) would know that this is nothing new. It has been among the USTR’s primary mandates to use trade restrictions in order to persuade (to put it mildly) countries to strengthen their IPR laws. There is, however, a qualitative difference between the actions it has initiated in the past and its current intent to persuade India to change its IP laws. This time, the USTR is putting pressure on India to weaken its IPR laws so as to make it compatible with patent law in the US, which allows ever-greening of patents through smaller inventive steps. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Political Economy of African Underdevelopment


The African continent has been looked down as a group of under developed nations without a stable economic, political and social setup. Our common sense is mixed with racial overtones, which we carry from casteist- colonial mind set. We are confined superficially to corruption, dictatorship and other fringe issues in understanding the underdevelopment in African continent. However, the problems of Africa have deeper and stronger roots.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

“What next?”: Sawal ka jawab bhi sawal hai!

Gourab Ghosh

With the Bengaluru Comissioner of Police M.N. Reddi's refusal to grant permission to the city-based organizers of Kiss of Love to hold an event in the city in solidarity with the string of events that have taken place in recent times, beginning with Kochi, it is time again for us to think, discuss and act on certain questions regarding the Kiss of Love campaign as a form of 'protest'.  There has been a good amount of discussion in academic circles, in the mainstream and the social media, about the nature of this campaign. It has, by its seemingly 'sensational' nature, even managed to become a topic of household conversation in 'developing' India. It is no surprise that the ultraconservative, fundamentalist, patriarchal and right-wing section of commentators immediately said, “Why this? Why indeed?”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What is happening in East Jerusalem? The Crisis at Al-Aqsa and its Aftermath

Arjun Sengupta

Over the last few weeks East Jerusalem has been ablaze. With clashes, protests and killings taking place every other day, particularly in the beleaguered Holy City, the area is once again in the throes of conflict. While the mainstream media establishment in the west has chosen to portray these developments as another episode in the supposedly endless “cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians, the nature and intensity of the escalation warrants a closer look. At the heart of the ongoing strife has been the question of access to the Al-Aqsa mosque. To understand the ferment in Jerusalem, one needs to reckon with the developments at Al-Aqsa over the last few weeks.