Anusha Nath joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as an economist in 2016. She has taught at Boston University, Delhi University, and the University of Minnesota, where she is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Economics. Anusha’s current research focuses on applied microeconomics, development economics, and political economy. Her work has been featured in the The Economist, Economic and Political Weekly, and Brookings India Policy Forum.
Anusha holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Delhi University and a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University.
This paper uses two successive rounds of voter surveys in rural West Bengal in a household panel to find reasons for the recent decline in the Left Front’s political popularity. It does not find evidence of any significant role of changes in voter age distribution, media exposure, private benefits received from development and welfare programmes administered by local governments, or the vote-generating effectiveness of such programmes. A more important role was played by voter dissatisfaction with local leaders on corruption and lack of involvement in the provision of education services, and with non-local leaders on attitudes towards women, the poor, and local communities.
This paper reports results of a household survey in 12 Singur villages, six in which lands were acquired for the Tata car factory, and six neighbouring villages, with random sampling of households within each village. The results show that (a) the size of plots acquired were non-negligible; (b) the majority of those affected were marginal landowners engaged in cultivation; (c) the government’s compensation offers were approximately equal to the reported market values of acquired plots on average, but the inability of the official land records to distinguish between plots of heterogeneous quality meant that a substantial fraction of farmers were under-compensated relative to market values; (d) those under-compensated were significantly more likely to refuse the compensation offers, as were those whose livelihoods were more dependent on agriculture; (e) incomes and durable consumption of affected owners and tenants grew slower between 2005 and 2010 compared with unaffected owners and tenants; (f) earnings of affected workers fell faster than unaffected workers. Therefore, land acquisition resulted in substantial economic hardship for large sections of the rural population, for many of whom compensation offered was inadequate.
Politicians choose policies but depend on bureaucrats to implement them. This paper shows that electoral competition affects politicians’ ability to provide incentives to bureaucrats. In low competition constituencies, politicians have a high probability of being re-elected and therefore typically have longer tenures in office. This allows them to use long term incentives to motivate their bureaucrats, resulting in better performance compared to competitive constituencies. This prediction is in contrast to the re-election concerns mechanism studied in the literature that focuses on the effect of competition on politicians’ incentives to control their bureaucrats and argues that there is better performance in competitive constituencies. To provide empirical evidence for the dynamic incentives mechanism, a unique dataset from India is constructed by matching details of bureaucrats’ work histories with individual local public good projects under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme. The fact that administrative and electoral boundaries do not perfectly overlap is exploited to show that the same bureaucrat approves projects faster for the politician whose probability of winning is higher. This result is shown to be driven by bureaucrats’ incentives that are shaped by future promotions. The evidence suggests that higher political turnover in competitive constituencies limits incumbent politicians’ ability to use dynamic incentives to motivate bureaucrats, resulting in worse performance.