Health programmes that are using mobile phones to improve maternal health in rural India are examined. Presented by its promoters as a universal, accessible and “smart” empowering technology, how mobile devices transform gender inequalities on the ground is analysed. By using empirical data collected on a global mHealth programme deployed in Bihar, how mHealth devices negate the multifactorial dimension of gender and health inequalities is explained, and also how these devices can reinforce inequalities on the ground is examined.

There is limited experience in India of using mobile phones for sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, in rural areas where service coverage is still insufficient and accurate information is lacking. Information and integral support can be provided by leveraging mobile health (mHealth) services, but issues of privacy and gender sensitivity are crucial for its success.

A plethora of problems face Southern and Northern family agricultures in the current neo-liberal era of financial capital domination worldwide, and has paved the way for the revival of peasant struggles for their social emancipation and legitimate right of access to land and food. Obviously, such struggles also concern all categories of workers and people because what is at stake is the challenge to reach food sovereignty and to build our societies at the local, national and global levels, on the principles of social justice, equality and real democracy.

The BJP needs to think beyond farm loan waivers to address intensifying rural unrest. (Editorial)

There has been little investigation into whether the “social gradient to health”—whereby people belonging to groups higher up the social ladder have better health outcomes than those belonging to groups further down—exists in developing countries like India. The relative strengths of economic and social status in determining the health status of persons in India is evaluated using the National Sample Survey Office data set for 2004 and 2014. This is evaluated with respect to two health outcomes: the age at death and the self-assessed health status of elderly persons.

Large-scale survey data are used to question the most public claims about food habits in India. It is found that the extent of overall vegetarianism is much less—and the extent of overall beef-eating much more—than suggested by common claims and stereotypes. The generalised characterisations of “India” are deepened by showing the immense variation of food habits across scale, space, group, class, and gender.

The last budget of the Modi government comes against the backdrop of severe agrarian and rural distress. It is also the last opportunity to undo the damage caused to the rural economy by this government in the last four years. While the government has finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation, its response has been limited to empty rhetoric without any financial commitment. Going by the past record of the government, it is clear that it is serious neither in its commitment nor in its intent.

The Government of India’s NFHS–4 offers the best new data on open defecation in rural India to be eleased in over a decade. Although open defecation has become less common than it was 10 years ago, it is still highly prevalent, with more than half of rural households reporting open defecation. On average, change has been slow, even during the period of the Swachh Bharat Mission.

While microfinance companies have been studied and there is a growing consensus that they exclude the poorest, the impact of government microfinance programmes is relatively less understood. The National Rural Livelihoods Mission, which aims to reduce rural poverty by organising women into self-help groups, building capacity and providing access to microcredit is evaluated through a survey of 2,615 households in five districts of Madhya Pradesh. The focus is on four key questions. Who benefits and who gets left out? What is the pattern of household investment priorities?

Despite the international recognition accorded to the key role played by women in issues around water, the extent to which India’s national water policies accommodate gender concerns remains to be examined. Based on an in-depth content analysis of the three nwps—of 1987, 2002, and 2012—this paper argues that incorporation of women in the planning, provisioning, and management of water resources continues to be disregarded.