You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.

Books: Research

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Policies are proposed as ‘radical humanism’ to eradicate poverty and redress inequality while vanquishing caste and untouchability. On the economic policy side, the chapter recommends intensification of cash and assets transfers and tax policy reform to reduce inequality through higher income tax progressivity, wealth, gift and inheritance taxes, increased taxes on luxuries, use of earmarked taxes for their intended purposes of education and health and tax administration reform to counter tax evasion.

It recommends cutting back bureaucratic hurdles, expanding private-public partnership in the provision of socio-economic services such as hospitals, and encouragement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for services to the very poor.

It recommends perceptible step-up of women’s rights through proportional representation and children’s condition including health and education. It proposes a youth task force to implement compulsory social service by youth in rural and urban sectors following existing global and prior domestic experience, and proposes a framework for services by sector. It urges political reform while pointing out that caste-based politics is unlikely to serve the nation in the long run.

It traces the ongoing work at the United Nations to draw attention to financial transfers of the colonial era and strongly suggests international financial reparations to counter the ramifications of global colonialism.

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Exclusion, Isolation, Domination and Extraction

Poverty in India is intimately connected with caste, untouchability, colonialism and indentured servitude, inseparable from the international experience of slavery and race.

Focusing on historical and modern practices, this book goes beyond traditional economic approaches to poverty and demonstrates its genesis in exclusion, isolation, domination and extraction resulting in the removal of human and economic rights. Examining cash and assets transfers and enhancement of women’s rights, primary health and education, it scrutinizes inadequacies in compensatory policies for redressing the balance.

This is an original interdisciplinary contribution that offers bold domestic and international policies anchored in human radicalism to eradicate poverty.

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This chapter analyses the emergence of caste and untouchability in India and their ramifications for poverty and inequality. It points to India’s worsening caste separation despite constitutional guarantees against untouchability and protection of entry to public education and jobs. Caste remains the certificate for dominant castes to discriminate against lower castes in work, housing, movement, marriage and education resulting, effectively, in upper caste entitlements. This has direct impact on earning capacities. Data reveal lower castes occupy a lower share of the top income decile.

Caste structure comprises four main categories from priests to menials. The origin of caste is contestable. It cannot be attributed to Indo-Aryan Persia. Caste was categorized in purusha sukta, oldest among ancient texts circa 1200 BCE. Subsequent texts sharpened caste occupations, rituals and consequences of polluting caste mixes. Buddhism appeared and temporarily rid India of caste until the re-emergence of Hindu dynasties. Young widows were burnt alive on funeral pyres of deceased husbands at the diktat of brahmin priests even during eighteenth century. British rule further sharpened caste divisions through the judiciary and censuses. Caste continues with an important role in contemporary politics.

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The chapter lays out the objective of the book in identifying the sources of poverty and inequality in India complemented by global examples. It hypothesizes a sequence from genesis to proposed solutions. It summarizes relevant issues brought up in the course of the book. It cites slavery, colonialism, caste and other characteristics as sources of poverty and inequality and India’s limits in succeeding to eradicate caste and untouchability. It mentions measures such as the Human Development Index, Multidimensional Poverty and Happiness Score to reveal India’s condition through cross-country comparisons. It mentions the prevailing conditions of rural-urban income disparity, the condition of children in terms of health, nutrition and education, and the incomplete task of enhancing the role of women, among other manifestations. It provides a glimpse of the solutions offered through youth service reflecting available global practices, international financial reparations to counter the ramifications of colonialism, and domestic policies including tax policy to contain income inequality over and above intensified asset transfers.

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The chapter discusses economic indicators placing India in a comparison with China and Brazil to assess how selected indicators are linked to the state of poverty and inequality. There are deep contrasts revealing China overtaking India since the 1980s. China attracted much greater foreign direct investment. China’s industry share in GDP is much higher than that of India’s.

China’s authoritarianism contrasts with India’s choice of democracy. China selected an interventionist population policy while India abandoned it, magnifying per-capita contrasts. For example, though increasing, India remains behind China and Brazil in per-capita mobile and internet use.

China adopted an export-led strategy based on a handful of special economic zones in contrast with several times the number in India that, by and large, failed to deliver. Brazil, a middle-income country, has had a more volatile economic trajectory reflecting occasional political and fiscal instability. Its international debt service in terms of exports has been five times that of China and India putting pressure on public expenditure.

Certain Indian macro-economic policies were unanticipated and possibly inadequately prepared for, leading the poor to suffer disproportionately, for example, demonetization of the currency in 2016. Using 2000–18 data, it appears that macro-economic indicators worsened somewhat after 2014.

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Poverty in India is intimately connected with caste, untouchability, colonialism and indentured servitude, inseparable from the international experience of slavery and race.

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach and focusing on historical and contemporary practices, this book goes beyond traditional economic approaches to poverty and demonstrates its genesis in exclusion, isolation, domination, and extraction resulting in the removal of human and economic rights. It hypothesizes that poverty and inequality do not represent a static condition but can be attributed to institutions such as slavery and indentured servitude under colonialism through historical evidence from Western countries, and to practices of caste and untouchability in the Indian subcontinent, as evidenced from its ancient texts and modern literature. Their continuing ramifications are manifested in the prevalence of poverty and inequality.

Analysis of data from international and domestic sources reveals the continuation of poverty, and growing income and wealth inequality in India with cross-country comparisons that exhibit similar trends. The condition of the bottom 50 per cent of the population worsens while the top ten per cent benefits on a continuing trend. The Human Development Index, Multidimensional Poverty Index and Happiness Score are used to draw conclusions.

The book points to the inadequacies in prevailing compensatory policies to redress poverty and inequality. It recommends intensification of cash and assets transfers, tax policy reform to reduce inequality, selective expenditure policies in primary health, education and the environment, perceptible enhancement of women’s rights and role, and Dalit (Untouchables’) rights. Using ‘radical humanism’, it proposes compulsory social service by youth in rural and urban sectors, and doing away with caste-based surnames. It urges concerted efforts to push for international financial reparations to counter the historical incidence of colonial transfers.

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This chapter examines the trajectory of income and wealth inequality in India. There has been secularly rising inequality. From the ‘bottom’ 50 per cent of the above-20 working age, and even the next 40 per cent, that is, all but the top 10 per cent, increase in income inequality is clearly observed using data from 1980–81.

Though all income groups in India experienced real income growth, the rate went up more rapidly for higher income groups. China experienced even more rapid overall growth but suffered from the same challenge of growing inequality. Available analysis reveals that inequality increased within Indian states, between rural and urban areas, and within urban areas. Wealth inequality also increased as it did in China and Russia. The top 1 per cent experienced higher wealth growth.

India’s Human Development Index (HDI) rank remained unchanged between 2015–19 while China improved by five and Brazil worsened by five. India made progress in components of the HDI, Multi-dimensional Poverty Index that imposes further conditions on deprivation, and Severe MDP, but cross-country comparisons reveal it has fallen behind comparable countries. It has to catch up if it were to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ‘leaving no one behind’ by 2030.

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Insufficiency of nutrition, health and clean water provision, and the impact of climate change, urban pollution and lack of sanitary facilities for the poor are examined. Their inadequacy impinges directly on the poor. India’s past programmes on food security, public distribution, child development, rural health and national health insurance were introduced with fanfare but, by and large, attained limited to very limited success. There is little reliable Social Impact Assessment of government programmes.

Provision of healthcare remains among the lowest in the world, worsening down the income scale. India was behind its SDG goals for water and sanitation in 2020. Though the provision of basic facilities has improved, and open defecation decreased, the rate was slower than comparable countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Night soil removal continues to be performed mainly by the lowest castes.

Deterioration of groundwater through chemicals exacerbates poverty. Amelioration is a severe challenge despite a 2016 legislation. Local water resource management would comprise a bottom-up approach. Exposure to climate change has been daunting in various states with the worst impact on the poor as they tend to live in low-lying areas. India is 5th in the 2021 Climate Risk Index among 180 countries.

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The chapter is motivated to draw attention to the deleterious ramifications of uncontrolled population growth on poverty and the happiness of a society. Selected population and education statistics of Brazil, China and India are compared. China maintained fertility rates lower than Brazil and India. India’s child mortality remains significantly higher, and secondary education much lower. Population growth and per-capita GDP growth are closely associated. Despite progress, India needs to achieve lower population growth.

Urban population growth has been high in both China and India. In India it reflected an involuntary rural-to-urban emigration as income inequality widened after the 1991 economic liberalization evidenced in rates of wage growth by income per centile. Inequality increased even within urban areas. Extreme Poverty Headcount Ratio (those living below $1.90 a day) fell between 1981–2015 but India (13% of population) remained significantly higher than Brazil (3.4%) and China (0.7%).

The World Happiness Index (WHI) incorporates six variables reflecting the happiness of a population. India ranked 139 out of 149 countries using 2018–20 data. It is in the bottom layer for the ‘social support’ criterion though better in ‘freedom’. Perhaps if health, nutrition and education were available to the majority, social support would be less needed.

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This chapter addresses the role of racism, slavery and colonialism in the genesis of poverty and inequality. It hypothesizes a sequence of exclusion, isolation and domination of one population over another through unfounded premises such as race differences, laziness or less intelligence, and extraction by the former from the latter that culminate in poverty and inequality. It discusses instances from Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United States and Yugoslavia. It elaborates on the Black experience in the US and its links to poverty and inequality through statistical evidence.

Emerging admissions of historical injustices by a few ex-colonial powers short of genuine apology are found to be inadequate in both financial and non-pecuniary terms. The chapter concludes by pointing to the insufficiency of compensation offered as well as recent cutbacks in international aid budgets by countries including Britain.

An Appendix to the chapter provides evidence of prevailing inequality in the United States.

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