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The Idea of India: 'Derivative, Desi and Beyond'

The dalit discourse in India presents a sharp contrast to the "derivative" and the "desi" discourses governing nationalist thought and the "idea of India". The dalit discourse goes "beyond" the two in offering an imagination that is based on a "negative" language which however transcends into a normative form of thinking. The dalit goes beyond both the derivative and desi inasmuch as it foregrounds itself in the local configuration of power, which is constitutive of the hegemonic orders of capitalism and brahminism.

Soft Power in Indian Foreign Policy

This essay addresses first how the concept of soft power emerged, how it has evolved and then examines one significant effort by India to project soft power to the east. It thereafter looks at some major features of Indian foreign policy, discusses how soft power might or might not relate to them, and zeroes in on how Indians, including the Indian government, may distinguish between "public diplomacy" and soft power in their conceptions of Indian foreign policy.

The Politics of Independence in Bangladesh

Historians still do not have all the records they need to fully understand the freedom struggle of Bangladesh and offer a proper appreciation of the role of all the participants. Political parties remain justifiably attached to their founders; partisans attached to India and Pakistan also have their memories, points of view and all merit attention. To recover the deeper history of independence, however, scholars need to study its popular dimensions, and, in that light, it is most obvious that radical student leaders and countless lesser lights in the people's struggle for independence still do not have the place in history they deserve.

Vietnam: Voting for Continuity in a Time for Change

If doi moi (renovation) was a turning point in Vietnam's history, the 2011 Congress of the D'ang Công Sán Viêt Nam (the Communist Party of Vietnam) has sent a clear message to the party leadership that it cannot rest on the modest success of past reform. The congress called for the immediate attention of the one-party government to basic economic, administrative and social problems. What will the impact of the congress be on the short- and long-term political and economic policies and strategies of Vietnam?

'Science' in the Risk Politics of Bt Brinjal

Drawing on the literature on controversies, especially on the health risk assessment of genetically modified organisms in Europe, and long-standing debates in science and technology studies, this article argues that science-based risk assessment has inherent limitations, however rigorous, independent, and peer reviewed the work may be. In this context, the debate on Bt brinjal needs to broaden its frame from science-based assessment of consequences to evaluate society-oriented causes and objectives. We need to ask questions such as: What kind of society do we wish to live in? What kind of science and technology do we want? Who sets the agenda for science and technology development and who controls the science and technological decisions?

What Anna Hazare's Movement and India's New Middle Classes Say about Each Other

Anna Hazare's hunger strike against corruption in April 2011 attracted disparate intellectual strands from within the Indian middle class. These strands brought complementary skills to the table. The neo-Gandhians conferred legitimacy; India Shining provided energy and finances; and Legal Activists helped navigate the legislative path. The movement also attracted the opprobrium of the Independent Left. Understanding these intellectual strands helps explain the Anna Hazare movement. Equally, the movement sheds light on India's new middle classes and their forms of political engagement.

The Institutions of Democracy

This essay describes and compares Parliament and the Supreme Court and examines the relationship between them. Parliament may still be a great institution, but its members are no longer great men. How long can a great institution remain great in the hands of small men? The SC has held its place in the public esteem rather better than the Lok Sabha, despite the occasional allegation of financial impropriety. Parliament, the SC and the party system have all begun to reveal hitherto concealed deficiencies which should be brought to light and criticised, but constructively and not destructively.

Foreign Educational Institutions Bill: The Rhetoric and the Real

The Foreign Educational Institutions Bill 2010 is only a legislative extension of economic liberalisation to the educational sector. The ostensible reasons for the bill, viz, to address the low gross enrolment rate, and the poor quality and shortage of educational institutions in the country constitute the justificatory rhetoric that hides the agenda of opening the national higher education sector to world trade.

Land Acquisition Law and the Proposed Changes

An analysis of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and its interpretation by the courts shows that the holder or tenant of the land has suffered in major ways. It gives the government complete power to acquire land for any "public purpose" while the courts have virtually adopted a handsoff attitude and allowed all kinds of land acquisitions for private companies. The proposed Land Acquisition Amendment Bill makes it much easier for the government to acquire land for any private company, is nonparticipatory in nature and has escape clauses as far as giving jobs to the displaced or the provision of "land for land" is concerned. The rehabilitation and resettlement bills which are also on the anvil may provide solace to the displaced but history has shown that such schemes do not work.

Ending Indifference: A Law to Exile Hunger?

Can we agree in this country on a floor of human dignity below which we will not allow any human being to fall? No child, woman or man in this land will sleep hungry. No person shall be forced to sleep under the open sky. No parent shall send their child out to work instead of to school. And no one shall die because they cannot afford the cost of hospitals and medicine. Can we agree that whatever this costs, we will pay? A comprehensive National Food Security Act will be the first step in ensuring a hunger-free India.

A Marxist Post-mortem of Soviet Socialism

The most complete and plausible explanation of the demise of the Soviet Union would combine the best insights of prevailing non-Marxist accounts within a more comprehensive Marxist account that gives prominence to the rise of the nomenklatura, a capitalist class-in-formation that would eventually do much of the shovelling to bury the Soviet order. Long before Yeltsin hauled the red flag down, this class-in-formation had already occupied positions of control over major productive assets; however, legally sanctioned property relations constrained it, and thus it could not systematically appropriate the surplus product. Convinced that Soviet relations of ownership stood in the way of economic development, leaders of the nomenklatura and their allies overwhelmed the demoralised and disorganised remnants of workers' power.

Teaching and the Neo-Liberal State

Under the neo-liberal State, the idea that educational institutions can be run along market principles has gained both currency and a sense of normalcy. It is the teacher on whom the largest burden of the outcomeoriented institutional culture has fallen. Teachers are required to spend a substantial part of their time formally planning, describing, justifying and assessing their own activities.

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