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Dialogue as Pedagogy

Most Asians live in several different centuries simultaneously in an intriguing mosaic. Such an existence entails possibilities for complementarities and exchange, but also real dangers of misunderstanding and conflict. This calls for a threefold dialogue—with the poor, with cultures, and with religions—that must be defined in terms of a liberating, enriching, and transformational promise. Such a dialogue must be both inclusively Asian and open to the world, and universally global and concretely local. This pedagogic process must address the Asian situation characterised by poverty, cultural diversity and popular religiosity.

How Users Configure Producer Identities

The challenges in dealing with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye affecting little children, are multiple and interrelated, involving medical, technological, economic and social factors. This article explores their interrelatedness, through a narrative anchored around the work and experience of two tertiary eye care hospitals in India. It seeks to illustrate that users not only influence care-providers, they can play a key role in forging producer identities. The girl child who comes to the clinic with the tumour is representative of many users. In responding to different complexities, the clinician emerges as an entity with multiple identities— as a “clinician–scientist–social activist.”

Bodies in Poverty

How and when did family planning become a blanket term for population control as well as poverty alleviation in India? How did contraception emerge as an economic virtue in family planning discourse, instead of a corporeal one? This paper interrogates whether poverty was the reigning theme in family planning, or the body, as the state—especially during the Emergency—moved from indirect interventions on the bodies of the poor through sterilisation programmes, incentives and disincentives, to the elimination of the poor themselves by demolishing their homes. When material poverty flowed into bodily poverty and transformed into an identity, Garibi Hatao became Garib Hatao.

The Transfer of Jodhpur Railways, 1947–48

The process of partition between India and Pakistan, that is, dividing up material assets, remains an under-written subject, barring its border-building aspects. While the old scholarship offered an adversarial account of this exercise, the recent attempts revise this narrative by stressing upon the cooperation evinced by the two sides. Where the former found antagonism, the latter has sought to locate some mutually agreed method in the madness. Focusing on Jodhpur, a princely state, which has not found a place in this matrix, this paper brings together a slice of history from the integration of the princely states with the history of partition, a connection not usually made. Delineating a facet of early interdominion relations on the division of asset of a princely state, it questions the “two peas in a pod” seeking-consensus approach to early India–Pakistan relations that puts two unequal entities together on an equal plane.

Where to Invest to Accelerate Agricultural Growth and Poverty Reduction

This study aims to understand the drivers that helped India achieve the challenging targets of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty before 2015. Have increased public investments or farm subsidies contributed to reducing rural poverty, directly through various public spending schemes or indirectly through increased agricultural land productivity? Utilising a structural equation to answer this question for the period 1981–82 to 2013–14, it was found that education and agricultural research and development produced the highest marginal returns for promoting agricultural income, while investments in rural infrastructure development and health provisions are the most effective in reducing rural poverty.

Explaining Falling Female Employment during a High Growth Period

What explains the decline of the already low female labour force participation rate in India, particularly during a period of rapid economic growth? Women’s economic participation is influenced by interrelated factors, each important unto itself. Increased attendance in educational institutions, declining child labour, higher household income levels, structural shift away from agricultural employment, and increased mechanisation of agriculture were some of the factors found to be driving female employment trends. Additionally, it was found that in rural areas the decline in animal husbandry, and in urban areas a fall in international demand for products of labour-intensive industries, have also contributed to the decline as women were the main employees in these sectors. Policy must create an enabling environment for women’s economic participation in India.

Mobilisation in Vidarbha

The present dormancy on issues of agrarian distress in the farmer suicide-prone region of Vidarbha is perplexing. A comparison of the social, cultural and political conditions in Vidarbha and Telangana reveals that the relatively greater presence of traditionally exploitative social relations in Vidarbha; narrow agrarian and rural social base of the distress therein; marginalisation of the rural in mainstream media; and greater importance of urban votes in the politics of Maharashtra have hampered the growth of sociopolitical mobilisation in Vidarbha, in contrast to Telangana. This has consequently led to the receding demand for a separate state of Vidarbha.

School Interactional Milieu in Tribal Areas

School milieus in tribal areas consist of triadic actors, namely tribal and non-tribal students, and teachers. The social interactions between actors are likely to be inequitable, characterised by distrust, blame, shame and stigma. Inequitable interactions influence tribal students to identify themselves with others who belong to their own social groups. Tribal students and teachers form a dyad characterised through inequitable interactions within the school milieu, which results in socially excluding and psychosocially disabling tribal students. On the other side, the interaction between non-tribal students and teachers evolves through increased sociocultural intimacy, acceptance and understanding. Responding to these, tribal students find it increasingly safe, secure and comfortable being a part of their own community by engaging deeply with it.

Compensatory Afforestation

Compensatory afforestation is a dubious and controversial environmental “offset” that is adding to environmental damage instead of mitigating or compensating it. Compensatory afforestation may actually be accelerating the invasion of India’s forests by big corporations, in collusion with a permissive state, by legitimising the destruction of forests, greenwashing the land grabs, and encroaching on common property resources and community-held lands. This article is based on a study of the Polavaram multipurpose project in Andhra Pradesh, the Durgapur mines in Maharashtra, the Teesta hydroelectric project in Sikkim and the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh.

Towards Streamlining Panchayat Finance in India

Local governments have become the third tier of governance in Indian federal polity. For decentralisation to be successful, fiscal systems that make governments accountable to their citizens are needed. The absence of consistent data and reporting has made evaluating decentralisation difficult. In this paper, we utilise data from a well-designed sample of gram panchayats in Kerala to document fiscal management systems, extent of decentralisation of revenues, and local governments’ response to raising revenues using local capacity. Our findings suggest that the pressure to spend on welfare and development activities has outstripped development of revenue. However, there is some evidence that local governments have untapped revenue potential in their property tax. Importantly, we also find that state and federal government support vis-à-vis intergovernmental grants is not crowding out revenue mobilisation.

Labour Law, Governance Reforms, and Protests

Employers and critics of labour regulation have been arguing for the liberalisation of labour laws, and for governance and compliance systems, following the liberalisation of the product market to enable firms to respond swiftly and suitably to fast-changing market conditions. The trade unions opposed this even as the government was seemingly favourably disposed towards employers’ demands. The countrywide strikes that have taken place since 1991 have become controversial not merely due to their high frequency but also for their lack of legitimacy as reforms appear to be a foregone conclusion and the protest politics seems to be vain and economically hurting the nation. This paper explores the dynamics of the countrywide strikes and examines whether some of the demands of trade unions are justified.

We Are the River, the River Is Us

As per the recent ruling of the Uttarakhand High Court, the Ganga and Yamuna rivers have rights as a “juristic/legal person/living entity.” It raises a complex set of questions. What does it mean for a river, and its associated natural elements, to have rights? What does it mean for them to have rights as a “person?” How would such rights be implemented, given that rivers and other elements of nature would not be able to claim and defend such rights for themselves? What implications do these two decisions have for not just the rivers and those living in/on/along them, but for the relationship between humans and the rest of nature? This article addresses these questions in order to find solutions.

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