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Dipankar Gupta

Gandhi before Habermas: The Democratic Consequences of Ahimsa

Without Gandhi India may well have become independent, perhaps even earlier, but would we have been a liberal, democratic nation state? This question should give us pause before we make little of Gandhi's legacy. Uncertain and imperfect though our democracy may be, it is still the world's largest, and it functions for the most part. All of us who value this form of governance ought to remember that we owe it to Gandhi, more than to anyone else, for giving us a start in the right direction. If Gandhi is to be measured in terms of charkhas, frugality and prayer meetings then certainly he is of little consequence today. But a sociological appreciation of Gandhi would take us beyond these emblematic acts to the unintended consequences of what he did and stood for. It is only then we realise the gravitas of Gandhi's living legacy.

When the Caste Calculus Fails: Analysing BSP's Victory in UP

The triumph of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2007 UP assembly elections has incorrectly been explained in terms of caste. The BSP did use caste but only as a metaphor to build innovative grassroot alliances, which demonstrated that the concerns of other communities mattered as much as those of the dalits. A disaggregated analysis, by assembly seats and by region, shows no simple correlations between caste and outcome. The electorates are too large and the social interests too diverse for any simplistic caste calculations to hold. Caste is an important factor, but only one of many; to explain everything in terms of caste robs voters of their secular credentials.

Whither the Indian Village

The village in India, where life was once portrayed as 'unchanging' and 'idyllic', has in recent decades seen profound changes. The twin shackles that once decided matters for India's villagers, caste and agriculture, no longer exercise their vigorous hold. While a break in caste rigidities has fostered greater fluidity in occupational choices, agricultural stagnation has ensured the constant march, in increasing numbers, of employable people in the villages towards urban areas. At the same time, vote bank politics means that parties and politicians continue to pay lip-service to the cause of villages, chiefly the poor farmer. It is in the light of these changes that the 'culture' surrounding agriculture and the village needs to be understood. While this culture is not altogether a stable one, its state of pronounced flux does hold out certain portents, whether these are understood by policy-makers and the vast majority of Indians, remains open to question.

Limits of Tolerance

A modern democracy cannot tolerate matters of faith trumping over matters of citizenship rights. There can be no question of tolerance when citizens are denied their status as equal citizens. With an intolerant secularism that insists on the inalienable rights of citizens and on the due process of the law, it is easier to mount public pressure against minority hunters and sectarian killers. Here we cannot make exemptions, or look for mitigating circumstances, on grounds of being a minority or impoverished and unemployed.

Identity Formation

Identity Formation Forming an Identity: A Social History of the Jats by Nonica Datta; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp viii+228, index and bibliography,

Survivors or Survivals

That liberal democracy is deliberating over the need to find universalitic principles for resolving particularistic cultural disputes is a demonstration of how the quest for enlarging citizenship in an activist fashion is an ongoing enterprise. This article attempts to examine the possibilities of reconciling particularistic demands within the context of a liberal democratic society arguing that liberal democracy should be more concerned with people rather than with things, with survivors and not with survivals.

Positive Discrimination and the Question of Fraternity-Contrasting Ambedkar and Mandal on Reservations

Positive Discrimination and the Question of Fraternity Contrasting Ambedkar and Mandal on Reservations Dipankar Gupta The divergences between Ambedkar and Mandal on their respective reservation policies are significant.

Feminification of Theory and Gender Studies

Feminification of Theory and Gender Studies Dipankar Gupta IT was gratifying to sec that a quiet little article called the 'Feminification of Theory' (EPW, March 25, 1995) excited so much reaction. Now that the dust has settled it is time to retrieve what exactly was being said in the original piece in order to clarify my position. I will not go into the many ad hominem remarks made against me by some of my critics. This would deflect attention from the principal issues which need to be discussed.

Secularisation and Minoritisation-Limits of Heroic Thought

Limits of Heroic Thought Dipankar Gupta While secularism appears to be an embattled ideology at present, this is not the first time secularism is being questioned. To overcome the limitations of the secularists' 'heroic thought' one should heed the sociological distinction between secularisation as social process and secularism the ideology. The usefulness of this distinction is seen in regard to the minorities question: secularism as ideology divorced from the process of secularisation contributes to the process of minoritisation, leaving the door open for its stated enemies to function legitimately in the political system.

Feminification of Theory

Feminification of Theory Dipankar Gupta The feminification of theory draws attention to the fact that the postmodern insistence on reading everything as text finds its fullest efflorescence in the domain of feminist studies. Regardless of gender, the postmodern credo encourages a partisanship towards contemporary feminist scholarship and a concomitant downgrading of both theory and conceptual and disciplinary rigour THE postmodernist denigration of theory and of disciplinary grids as