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BACKGROUND AND QUESTIONS
In the Indian state of West Bengal many farmers work as sharecroppers (bargadars in the Bengali language), renting land from landowners in exchange for a share of the crop.
The traditional contractual arrangements throughout this state varied little from village to village, with virtually all bargadars giving half their crop to the landowner at harvest time. This had been the norm since at least the eighteenth century. However, because of the extreme levels of deprivation among the bargadars many thought this was unfair. In 1973, 73% of the rural population lived in poverty, one of the highest poverty rates in India. In 1978, the newly elected Left Front government of West Bengal adopted new laws, called Operation Barga.
The new laws stated that:
• Bargadars could keep up to three-quarters of their crop.
• Bargadars were protected from eviction by landowners, provided they paid them the 25% quota.
Both provisions of Operation Barga were advocated as a way of increasing overall output and the incomes of the farmers. Indeed, Operation Barga was subsequently cited by the World Bank as an example of good policy for economic development. One study suggested that Operation Barga was responsible for around 28% of the subsequent growth in agricultural productivity in the region. The empowerment of the bargadars also had positive spillover effects as local governments became more responsive to the needs of poor farmers.

Q1 Use your knowledge of economic incentives to explain the possible reasons for the success of Operation Barga in increasing overall output of the region and the incomes of the farmers. (3 marks)
Q2 From a consequentialist perspective, was the introduction of Operation Barga ethically justified? (6 marks)
Q3 Using a deontological ethical framework, construct an argument either in favour of
Operation Barga or against it. (6 marks)
Q4 Did the introduction of Operation Barga result in a Pareto improvement in allocations between the farmers and landowners? Explain your answer. (3 marks)

Q5 What can Pareto efficiency tell us about the fairness and equality of allocations? When discussing your answer be sure to reference the specific case of Operation Barga. (4 marks)
You are now asked to model the trade-off between free time and production for an independent farmer named Mamata who owns the land on which she works.
If Mamata was able to work 24 hours a day she could produce 4 tonnes of rice (the principal food crop cultivated in West Bengal) each day. You are told that Mamata’s utilitymaximising choice is to work for 8 hours and produce 3 tonnes of rice.
Q6 Use the model of decision-making under scarcity developed in week 3 to show Mamata’s optimal choice of free time and rice production. On this diagram be sure to label and define her feasible frontier, set of indifference curves and optimal choice. (5 marks)
Now you are informed that Mamata is no longer an independent farmer. Instead, she works as a bargadar and rents the land on which she works from a landowner in exchange for a 75% share of the rice that she produces (as is the case after the adoption of Operation Barga).
Q7 Using your answer to Q6 as a starting point, show (on a separate model) Mamata’s new optimal choice as a sharecropper. Again, be sure to label and define each of the relevant points and lines on your diagram. List each of the assumptions you made when developing your model. (8 marks)
Q8 Discuss how the models developed in Q6 and Q7 can be used by economists to evaluate the fairness of economic outcomes? (5 marks)

Sample Solution

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14 th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings ( Cheney, 2016) . The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader ( Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017) . While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “ arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.

 

References

Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them.  Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed , 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro.  Cultural and Religious Studies 4 (8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27.  Italica , 285-297.

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