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Gitanjali Sen

By D. Jayaraj  and S. Subramanian
Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2010, pp. 298, Rs.775.00


The book presents an array of relevant issues in development studies, such as child labour, educational participation, poverty, inequality, gender issues, that have skewed sex ratio and its relation to women’s well being; and issues related to collection of data and interpretations of statistical results. Already published in well-known journals of development studies across the world, most of the articles come with solid theoretical underpinnings, validated by empirical analysis. The indices developed or produced in relation to most topics should help one to present a comparative picture. ‘Out of School and (Probably) in Work: Child Labour and Capability Deprivation in India’ starts with the fundamental issue of child labour and its relation to poverty, a topic for my own PhD thesis which supports a much accepted fact (initially published by Basu & Van, 1998), that child non-work is a luxury good (One of the authors, Van, was my own PhD advisor and I too found the same fact while doing an empirical study on child labour in Vietnam as a part of my PhD thesis). It argues that anti-child labour policy with a blanket ban on child labour cannot be a successful tool if underlying issues of access to basic amenities, and capability deprivation are not addressed. The chapter on ‘Poverty Eradication Through Redistributive Taxation: Some Elementary Considerations’ will probably be more of a revelation to policy makers while it presents some elementary indices for measuring the relative ease with which a ‘progressive re-distributive tax’ can actually eradicate poverty. Using the National Sample Survey Data between 1960 to 1988, this work supports Sen’s (1981) seminal work that poverty is not so much a problem of not having enough income as it is of not reaching enough to people to move them out of deprivation. ‘Poverty and Discrimination: Measurement and Evidence from Rural India’ explains the current issue of measuring poverty from different dimensions, based on established theoretical models. It discusses ‘group-dimension’ in measuring poverty across states of India. Using the NSS data, this chapter compares the inter-state poverty across India using three established measurements of poverty indices, which are Head Count Ratio, Poverty Gap Ratio and Poverty Gap Index, the latter known as FGT Index. Using national level data, the essay compares the mean, median and modal consumption expenditure figures of SC-ST population with the rest of the population and does a cross-State comparison. The most interesting part of this essay, and which ...

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