ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Surinder S JodhkaSubscribe to RSS - Surinder S Jodhka

Agrarian Changes in the Times of (Neo-liberal) 'Crises'

Over the last two decades or so the dominant mode of talking about Indian agriculture has been that of “crisis”. Commentators and scholars have tended to attribute this crisis of the agrarian economy to larger processes at work, particularly to globalisation and the new policies of economic reforms initiated by India during the early years of the 1990s. While there may be some truth in these explanations, the framing of the “agrarian”, “rural” question in this discourse presents the complex and diverse rural realities in simplistic and populist terms. Such a discourse also invokes a sectoral policy response, where agriculture as a sector is seen as needing state attention, and ignores the internal dynamics of changing caste and class relations on the ground. Based on a revisit to two villages of Haryana, this paper provides a brief account of the changing nature of class relations in a post-green revolution rural setting with a specific focus on the changing nature of attached and “unfree” labour.

Religions, Democracy and Governance

This paper examines the dynamics of religion and democratic politics by looking at political mobilisations of marginalised groups in Punjab and Maharashtra. It argues that even when religious identity remains the bedrock of social life and individual experience, democratic politics brings out new configurations and alignments, in which neat boundaries of religious difference are occasionally blurred or overwritten by other identities. The Indian experience also reveals that religious groups are not homogeneous. While political mobilisation tends to unite them as communities with common interests, development policies have invariably disaggregated them, reinforcing the internal divisions and diversities within religious communities.

Plural Societies and Imperatives of Change

Development has been an attractive and powerful idea. It has dominated the political landscape of countries in the South ever since their decolonisation, mostly after the second world war. Notwithstanding criticisms and condemnations it continues to be an important component of state policy in most...

Comparative Contexts of Discrimination: Caste and Untouchability in South Asia

Based on empirical studies carried out in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during 2007-08, this paper offers a brief introduction to the prevailing dalit situation in the four countries and identifies specific problems of social inequality, discrimination and deprivation of the groups in these countries. The four studies clearly bring out the fact that even when the meaning of untouchability and its sources (religion or tradition) varies across south Asia, as also its forms (from physical touch and residential segregation to taboos and restrictions on inter-dining), physical movement and pursuing occupations of one's choice, its effects on those placed at the bottom are quite similar, i e, economic deprivation, social exclusion and a life of humiliation.

Dalits in Business: Self-Employed Scheduled Castes in North-West India

Academic writings have invariably tended to look at caste as a traditional system of social hierarchy and culture, which is expected to weaken and eventually disappear with the process of economic development and urbanisation/modernisation. Caste has indeed undergone many changes with development and urbanisation, but it continues to be an important fact in the public life of the country. We do not have many empirical studies that help us understand the contemporary nature of the reality of caste. What are the experiences of dalits who have ventured to set up their own businesses and enterprises? What are the ways in which dalits in the urban labour market negotiate with prejudice and discrimination? A survey of dalit businesses in two urban centres of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh tries to answer these questions.

The Ravi Dasis of Punjab: Global Contours of Caste and Religious Strife

The attack in May on two visiting religious leaders of Ravi Dasis in Vienna, presumably by a group of local militant Sikhs, sparked off widespread violence in Punjab. Though most of the violence by Ravi Dasi dalits was directed against public property and reflected their general anger at the Vienna incident, the mainstream media was quick to interpret it as yet another instance of caste conflict within Sikhism, viz, between dalit Sikhs and upper caste Sikhs. Such misrepresentations of caste and religious realities of Punjab today could lead to a communal divide between dalits and mainstream Sikhism. Based on an empirical study of the Punjabi Ravi Dasis, the paper tries to provide a historical perspective on caste and religion in Punjab today.

Plural Histories of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Anthropology in the East: Founders of Indian Sociology and Anthropology edited by Patricia Uberoi

Internal Classification of Scheduled Castes: The Punjab Story

Much before the question of quotas within quotas in jobs reserved for the scheduled castes acquired prominence in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab had introduced a twofold classification of its SC population. When the Andhra case went to court, Punjab had to rework its policy. It is useful to closely examine the Punjab case to see if the internal classification of SCs for quotas in jobs has served a purpose.

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