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The Political Context of Religious Conversion in Orissa

The apathy of dalit intellectuals and politicians over the communal incidents in Orissa reflects their prejudice and lack of confidence as regards the issue of conversion. The absence of a social movement in Orissa based on the praxis worked upon by B R Ambedkar has allowed fundamentalist and right-wing forces to take advantage of the deprived and the marginalised.

Misplaced Priorities and Class Bias of the Judiciary

It is clear from the recent record of the higher judiciary that the imperative of upholding civil liberties, socio-economic rights, and environmental protection has been subordinated to agendas such as the "war on terror", "development" and satisfying corporate interests. Far from remaining faithful to the motives that resulted in the institution of public interest litigation, the Supreme Court has tended to act against the interests of the socio-economically backward.

Development Policy and the Nature of Society: Understanding the Kerala Model

The quality of life is usually measured by three interrelated dimensions such as the human development index, the human freedom index, and the human distress profile. In Kerala, in spite of high HDI, the rates of suicide, crime, drug addiction, unemployment, etc, are high compared to other states. This essay argues that a high quality of life should register a high HDI, the maximum HFI and minimum HDP. It is necessary to work towards this complex objective if Kerala wants to sustain its claim to a high quality of life.

Leadership at Federal Reserve

In chapter 6 of their 1963 classic, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz argue that the tragic consequences of the Great Contraction of 1929-1933 could have been averted with a strong leadership at the helm of the Federal Reserve. The article turns this observation on its head and asks: If there is a strong leadership at the helm of the financial system, is there any assurance that there will be no crisis in the system, or if any crisis is brewing, will a strong leadership succeed in nipping it in the bud? It tests this in the light of what has been happening in Wall Street since the mid-1990s.

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.

Internationalisation of Higher Education: Strategic Implications

India's strategy with regard to internationalisation of higher education should be based on its potential to be an effective aid to the mitigation of the basic problems facing this sector. So far, the liberalisation policies have induced foreign providers to focus only on certain technical and professional fields of study that can earn them good market returns. In contrast to these modes, it is better to design a strategy that taps foreign universities and institutes of acceptable quality to work together with Indian universities/institutes to improve both access and quality. Augmenting and strengthening the capacity to produce more faculty in selected fields through such partnerships will help public universities play a more effective role in higher education.

China's Rise in the World Economy

The dynamic of China's rise in the world economy is complex and contradictory, characterised by both dependency and growing economic strength. What seems to be guiding the Chinese ruling class is a long-term, strategic, and competitive orientation to diversify and fortify a domestically rooted industrial base, extend the country's international economic and financial reach, and strengthen military capabilities, but to do so without provoking the United States. Given this trajectory, could China evolve into an imperialist power?

Culture as a Site of Struggle

The emerging mode of historical research, either consciously or unconsciously, comes into contention at each stage with the hegemonic school of thought: the nationalist with the colonial, the communal with the secular and the post-modern with the Marxist. The changes in historiography are not necessarily a mere process of evolution, but are shaped by continuous intellectual struggles, rooted in ideological influences, political interests and material concerns. Inherent in these struggles are a variety of issues like the concept of nationalism, the future of democracy and the practice of secularism. This article explores how culture is invoked in the making of these struggles and in the process draws attention to the relationship between culture, nation and communalism.

A Failed World View

It is remarkable that despite the inexactitude of economics as a body of knowledge, which should have left enough space for some if not several contesting economic ideologies, over the last 20 years or so all the major political parties in India cutting across the spectrum from the Left to the Right largely converged to a very similar point of view on economic management. Would the current global financial and economic crisis give us the courage necessary to re-educate ourselves to view the "logic of the market" more logically?

Sociology of Caste and the Crooked Mirror: Recovering B R Ambedkar's Legacy

Marking a century of debate, scholarship and politics, three texts by B R Ambedkar, M N Srinivas and Kancha Ilaiah, when read in intersection, present rich possibilities both for an understanding of caste and more importantly for a re-examination of the sociology/legal ethnography of caste and its genealogy. Ambedkar offered a multilayered, counter-hegemonic reading of caste that was lost on at least three generations of sociologists and possibly accounts for several of the conservative trends we have seen in the social sciences in institutions of higher learning. What is particularly interesting is the silence in the field of sociological work for at least five decades after Ambedkar's contribution to the sociology of caste.

The Fourth Delimitation:An Evaluation

This article critically discusses a few aspects of the recommendations of the Fourth Delimitation Commission. While on the whole the commission has done a fair job, there were certain lacunae in the delimitation and constituency demarcation exercise that need to be addressed. The presence of sitting legislators as associate members of the commission has also given cause for complaint of unfair functioning of the commission.

Framing a Discourse: China and India in the Modern World

One of the greatest tragedies of our times is that even as we speak of "a shrinking world" the languages available to us to characterise the relations between states have dangerously narrowed. In the hegemonic discourse, India and China are supposed to be "rivals" for economic power and stature and sections in the two countries view each other with suspicion. But we need to frame a counter discourse by turning to the experiences of individuals like Dwarkanath Kotnis, a doctor without borders, who was inspired to give expression to the ancient friendship between the two countries. We need similar acts of transgression on the part of many more people if the present sterile discourse about India and China is not to monopolise our imagination.


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