This special issue edited by our project members Deval Desai, Sruthi Herbert and Christine Lutringer explores a matter of critical policy relevance and political importance: the unuse or underuse of public funds, and more specifically of special purpose social funds. The contributions ask: why are there unspent social purpose funds, what do they tell us about the structures of the administrative state, and what can be done to remedy the situation?
The eight chapters, which include contributions by project members Tanushree Kaushal, Luciano Monti and Anna Rita Ceddia, span across two different contexts : India and Italy. These radically different contexts also present valuable points of comparison. The analyzed funds diverge in terms of their institutional design, type of benefits and eligibility of beneficiaries. At the same time, they sit within decentralized democratic frameworks and fragmented and multilevel governance. Juxtaposing the cases, the papers reveal key processes related to fiscal, administrative and policy practices that cause underspending. The papers provide an innovative vantage point to analyze institutional design and reforms in multilevel governance contexts; administrative and bureaucratic state practices; modalities of state-society engagement; and mechanisms to increase democratic accountability.
Comparative philosophy is lively and the field is diverse and assembles different, sometimes even contradictory views. In his contribution to the edited volume ”Comparative Methods in Law, Humanities and Social Sciences”, Ralph Weber presents these different views and then proceeds to deal with the current conceptualisation of the logic of comparison, with specific attention for diminishing bias and the adequacy of bases of comparison. He helpfully states that one way of investigating the inner dynamics of a given comparison is to ask a set of questions: Who is performing the comparison? What commonality supports the choice of what has to be compared? What is being compared with what? In what respect(s) does the comparer compare that which they compare? What relation results from comparing what the comparer compares in that particular respect? How does the choice of the pre-comparative tertium restrict the realm of possible tertia comparationis? How does a chosen tertium comparationis qualify the comparanda? And what role does the comparanda play in the result of the comparison? Each of these questions reveals an enormous complexity, and the answers may be subject to criticism or require further clarification and substantiation. Moreover, most if not all of these questions are highly relevant for comparative legal research too. Weber also deals with some specific issues, such as generalisation, one-sidedness, and the identification of similarities and differences.
In a recent interview Ralph Weber, Principle Investigator in the Reversing the Gaze project, discussed his vision of a post-comparative philosophy with Nevad Kahteran (University of Sarajevo). The discipline, he says, should allow philosophers to be informed by a global outlook and use a variety of styles and conceptualizations from different traditions.
Weber seeks to address the issues of Eurocentrism and methodological problems in comparative philosophy. His book “Comparative Philosophy without Borders” (co-edited with Arindam Chakrabarti) analyzes previous approaches to comparative philosophy and offers paths towards post-comparative avenues.
In this paper, three of our project team: Shalini Randeria (Fellow), Deval Desai (Principal Investigator) and Christine Lutringer (Researcher) demonstrate a set of unintended political and institutional effects of the emergency mobilisation of unspent social welfare funds under Covid-19.
This article was originally written for Global Challenges: