Orient Blackswan recently published the book „The State in India: Ideas, Norms and Politics“, which includes the study „The State, Social Policy and Welfare: Reflections on Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal“ by Prof. Rahul Mukherji and Dr. Himanshu Jha (Department of Political Science at SAI). The edited book offers an overview of the literature on the state and showcases the interplay of state and society in new sites: processes of globalisation, assertions of sovereignty, and across the regional and local.
Abstract of the chapter
This chapter examines some of the conditions under which the state is likely to be more capable in delivering welfare results. It argues that ideas held within the bureaucracy are as important as the political will to support such proposals. Ideas and competence within the technocracy matter, as much as the political support for governance projects. This framework is then applied to welfare provisioning in two comparable cases. The first was the successful implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The second is the relative failure of the state in West Bengal to implement the same program in the early years.
Rhein-Neckar Zeitung published an article "Eisige Todeszone und Traumland" on 8 January 2019, which presents Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels (Senior Professor and former Head of the Department of Cultural and Religious History of South Asia) new publication entitled "Kultur und Geschichte Nepals".
At the beginning, the article critically discusses the hype of the ascention of the Everest. Axel Michaels points out the resulting problems and dangers. In contrast, it mentions the time standing still in Nepal, its great social, cultural and political diversity, state-of-the-art developments and at the same time backward conditions.
The article also reports of the variety of stories of Nepalese culture and history, contained in the book: Religious, cultural, art and economic history, the history of water, the elephant or the shaman drum, the history of dynasties, of traditions, rituals, festivals, crafts or arts, which are still unchanged.
The article also mentions Michaels remarks on "Nepal on the Edge of Globalization", and the research center headed by him, "Documents on the History of Religion and Law of premodern Nepal" at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences.
Afterwards, it reports on the impact of the earthquake in 2015 and the organized donations of the South Asia Institute.
Finally, it points out Axel Michaels important question on the failure of the fragile state of Nepal. If Nepal is able to preserve its ethnic and cultural wealth and can solve the political problems of such a heterogeneous state, then the country is able to remain a "Shangri-La" of cultural diversity in times of globalization.
In addition, Deutschlandradio Kultur published an article and radio report on „ein Tempel für die Planeten" by Antje Stiebitz on 6 January 2019, containing contributions by Axel Michaels. The article and the audio file are available here.