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Adivasis and the Anthropological Gaze

Through the display of material culture, museums invoke not only an imagined Adivasi past, but also a fossilised vision of their cultural present. While these museums tend to fulfil a pedagogical function through the display of material cultural objects, the implicit ideology behind these exhibits has not received the attention it deserves in India. Why do ethnographic museums choose to display predominantly select groups like the tribals? Why not also display upper-caste women and men and their lifeworld? Here is where politics of representation becomes inextricably intertwined with ethnographic displays in museums. This article explores the dynamics of the anthropological gaze and how it has contributed to the construction of the Adivasis as the exotic cultural other.

Repairing Complex Historical Injustice

Political theorists no doubt have to take the history of injustice, for example, untouchability, seriously. But, the beginning point of repair of historical injustice is the "here" and the "now," the democratic context that shapes collective lives and aspirations. Comprehension of how deep the roots of injustice are, is important. But, it is also important not to get trapped too much in the past and in the politics of recrimination and resentment that divides society irremediably, and prevents the consolidation of a consensus on the need to battle discrimination.

Is Another Emergency Likely?

Through a discussion of the build-up to the 1975 Emergency, what happened then and thereafter, and of the run-up to the 2014 elections and the first year of the Narendra Modi government, it is argued that in spite of all its deficiencies, India's democracy remains vibrant and will fight another attempt at authoritarian rule. But if government policies favour the rich and systematically undermine the interests of the common people and their democratic rights, one cannot rule out institutions of the state--the bureaucracy with some help from the judiciary--administering another Emergency in one form or another.

The Agrarian Question in the 21st Century

Drawing from the late Archie Mafeje's work and revolutionary spirit, this article revisits the "classical" agrarian question and responds to scholars who argue that the "agrarian question is dead"--indeed, those who feel that "we have been liberated from the constraints of agriculture, land and nature." Far from being dead, it is argued that the agrarian question remains real to people's politics in the 21st century and will remain so, especially in the global South where rural movements are finding alternative ways to wrestle monopoly-finance capital that continues to run amok.

Value, Visibility and the Demand for Justice

This article begins with issues of mourning and commemoration that arose in the context of the killings in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It then relates them with questions regarding the worth and visibility of Black life. It then connects the political present with the political economy of race and the experience of state violence as these have structured urban America. The article ends by discussing issues posed by the social facts of caste atrocity and Black killings. It probes the relationship between dehumanising violence, political subjectivity and social justice.

The Business of Politics

A heady cocktail of politics, business emerges from the developments relating to one of India's biggest media conglomerates, the Chennai-based Sun group. The actions of different wings of the union government against Sun's owners, the politically influential Maran brothers, have raised a number of questions relating to allegations of breaking rules, taking advantage of proximity to power, economic offences and freedom of expression. These issues have, in turn, become embroiled in factional politics within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi and in the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Chennai, which is currently out of power both in the centre and in Tamil Nadu.

On Education

One of the greatest unmet challenges of contemporary India has been education. The state has not been able to live up to its self-professed role of providing education to all. It is necessary, in a context of massive and rapid changes brought about by a globalising world and a transforming society, to reiterate the well known but oft-forgotten adage that education is, in essence, about opening up the student's mind to the riches of the universe.

Understanding Vyapam

The Vyapam scam of Madhya Pradesh is not the familiar story of exam cheating. It is about the mutation of exam cheating into a service industry facilitated by the State. Understanding it requires a look at the political economy of a hollowed-out system of education. The scam found a congenial climate in the sociopolitical reality of Madhya Pradesh.

India's Handloom Challenge

The Indian weaver is dismissed in high places as an embarrassing anachronism, despite demand for his or her skills and products. In the new millennium, globalisation and a mindless acquiescence to imported notions of a good life threaten to take over, even as the West looks East for better concepts of sustainable living. Analysing today's crisis in the handloom sector, plagued by low-cost imitations from power looms, this article points out that we are caught in a meaningless dichotomy that could damage Indian handloom's unique reputation of coming from a system unmatched for delivering genuine sustainability.

A Subaltern View of Climate Change

In the context of the ongoing debate on climate change and the policies that nation states need to adopt to limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the author poses a relevant question: instead of asking what would happen to the world if everyone were to consume energy at the level of the rich "developed" American, we can now enquire why everyone is not consuming at the level of the above-poor "developing" Indian? He also suggests that the way the poor adapt, migrate and progress provides not just a sustainable approach to climate change but also one that addresses resource use.

Achilles' Heel of Public Policy

An inadequate information base and limited institutional capacity for policy formulation seem to be important factors constraining India's public policy pursuits. A look at the major recommendations of the Report of the High Level Committee on Reorienting the Role and Restructuring of Food Corporation of India illustrates that this has not changed in more than six decades of independence. Though a good understanding of the issue is essential for any policy formulation to be effective, an evaluation shows that there are good reasons to be sceptical about the committee's comprehension of issues, methods and interpretations.

Macroeconomic Aspects of Goods and Services Tax

The introduction of the goods and services tax may indeed be the biggest reform of taxation so far, but the proposal, as it stands, has led to confusion. Certainly, the myriad taxes producers face will be simplified. But the benefit will go to large-scale producers while the small-scale ones will be at a greater disadvantage than before. The cascading effect will be reduced but not eliminated. With resort to revenue neutrality, prices and costs will not decline. A "revenue neutral rate" will, however, be difficult to calculate and will be controversial, given the variety of taxes being replaced. The adoption of a fixed revenue neutral rate for all stages of production and distribution will lead to a rise in the prices of basic and intermediate goods, as also of services, making the introduction of GST inflationary, unless this problem is specifically addressed.


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