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Subaltern Historiography to Dalit Historiography

Existing academic scholarship on Dalit writings and politics seems to be heavily marked by a common perception that such politics almost always focuses on claiming the state corridors of power. This article contests that view and seeks to trace the genealogy of such common academic perceptions by invoking the Subaltern Studies discourse on caste and subalternity. It argues that the relationship of Dalits vis-à-vis the state and statist ideology is heavily ambivalent, and any attempt to construct a Dalit historiography cannot proceed without recognising that ambivalence, even while it must accept and use some of the methodological insights developed by the Subaltern Studies scholars.

Implications of Land Acquisition for Dalits

This paper tries to capture the externalities that arise from land acquisition and the consequent development that occurs on the acquired land. A case study of Maan village close to Pune in Maharashtra attempts to see if the externalities arising out of the development of land show a caste bias. While the economic condition of the Dalits remains inferior to the non-Dalits, there is no difference in the benefits that have accrued to the Dalits and the non-Dalits due to the externalities. There has been a positive movement in favour of the Dalits as far as issues related to dignity, discrimination and dependence are concerned. They are mainly dependent upon non-governmental jobs, which give them an escape out of the earlier feudal relations but the kind of jobs that they engage in possibly keeps them frozen in traditional caste identities.

Right to Education and Inclusion in Private Unaided Schools

Section 12(1)(c) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides for inclusion of children from disadvantaged and weaker sections in private unaided schools. Although meant to foster inclusion and achieve social justice objectives, this legal provision has been highly contested and its implications for the expanding private sector in school education are not fully understood. This article is based on an exploratory study, conducted in Bengaluru and Delhi, which examines the status of implementation of this provision with a view to delineate key issues at the level of state administration, schools and parents. Using qualitative data collected from the two sites, the study compares and comments on the extent to which the provision has been able to deliver on its purported goal of inclusion. It concludes by identifying gaps and challenges that require an urgent policy response.

Affordable Housing with Spatial Justice, For All

The paper suggests a scheme for affordable housing in peri-urban areas. It works across all income groups, and draws its inspiration from a project started 30 years ago in north-western Mumbai which can be seen today as completely successful. It calls for a mixing of income groups in the same locality and delivers spatial equity simply by the manner of its layout, with no additional effort required in that direction. Each household pays for its housing in proportion to its income. There is no need for external subsidies, provided land and infrastructure can be made available within cost limits determined by the income profile of the city or town in which it is taken up.

Caste and the Power Elite in Allahabad

This article examines the social composition of public institutions in Allahabad, and specifically, the share of different castes and communities in positions of power and influence - the Press Club, the university faculty, the Bar Association, the police, and the commanding positions in trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media houses, among other public institutions. These turn out to be heavily dominated by a small group of upper castes - Brahmins and Kayasthas in particular. Disadvantaged castes, for their part, are largely relegated to subordinate or menial positions. The findings raise troubling questions about the resilience of caste hierarchies. Aside from better enforcement of reservation norms, there is an urgent need for more voluntary attention to diversity in public life, of the sort that has significantly reduced ethnic or gender imbalances in other countries.

NREGS in Rajasthan

The performance of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Rajasthan was debated for its stupendous performance in the initial years of the scheme, but also for the relative sharp decline after 2010. Based on a large representative primary survey, this paper argues that the decline in performance of this scheme in Rajasthan is not entirely due to the lack of demand. Instead, the supply-driven top-down nature of the programme has led to a "discouraged worker" syndrome with workers showing disinterest in demanding work and passively waiting for availability of NREGS work. Strengthening the demand-based nature of the NREGS may reduce the need for rationing. Simple temporal tracking of NREGS outcomes at the village level along with proper recording of demand through the Management Information System may well help detect discrimination within panchayats.

Layers in Globalising Society and the New Middle Class in India

The means of personal transportation to which one has access constitute an important part of one's relationship with globalisation, limiting or enhancing the scope of activity and area of influence. We define economic classes in relation to different transportation assets, considering as the lower middle class those who have motorcycles or motor-scooters, and as the upper middle class, those who own automobiles. Unambiguously identifying a middle class is difficult; the term is relational, context-dependent, and inchoate. However, the lower- and upper-middle classes, defined in this manner, are robust to alternative definitions: these groups have substantially higher incomes than groups below, own disproportionately large shares of other physical assets, and do much better in terms of education, health, media exposure, and social capital. The middle class increased from 11% in 1992 to almost double this percentage in the early years of the new millennium. Subsequently, its growth has slowed down, coming almost to a halt in rural areas. Fragility and volatility are in evidence; many, formerly in the middle class, have fallen back. It cannot be blithely assumed that India's middle class will grow much larger.

Rise and Fall of Industrial Finance in India

Examining the sources of finance for Indian industry, this paper traces the transition from a state-owned and state-dictated financial sector to a regime of financial liberalisation. There are still a number of rough edges to this transition. With the initiation of financial sector reforms and the demise of development banking, there are indications that the industrial sector faces a credit crunch. While newer sources of finance could have compensated for the paucity of bank financing, the exit of development banks before establishing a successful corporate debt market has turned out to be costly for long-term financing. In this context, the experience of the Brazilian Development Bank could serve as a useful model for India.

Design of Regulatory Institutions

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was first created by promulgating an ordinance; it was also restructured using the ordinance route. Reluctance of the executive branch to establish a truly independent regulator is palpable in the statute governing the telecom regulator. While this had adverse impacts on both the substance and structure of regulation in the sector, this paper examines specifically the nature of institutional design of TRAI in Chapter II of the TRAI Act, 1997, and the inefficiencies inherent in the structural imbalance between regulator and licensor.

Forest Rights Act

This paper, based on an empirical study in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, attempts to examine the land and livelihood facets of forest dependent people following the claims made by them under the Forest Rights Act. It also touches upon factors influencing livelihoods such as source of irrigation, crop yield, forest produce collection, and livestock holdings to examine the respondents' socio-economic conditions. The findings revealed that the land received by the beneficiaries was very meagre in proportion to what they claimed. Besides, the study once again reiterates that forest cover was not disturbed as feared by those opposing this Act simply because no new land in the forest was given to the claimants. The land in fact was just recognised legally with the help of documents as proof that they have been occupants for long or at least from 2005 onwards. However, for those who got legal recognition over their land, it has boosted their confidence. They now feel the real ownership of their plots which led to investing in their lands without any fear about secure livelihoods.

India's Failed Transition to a Gold Currency in the 1860s

Recent historical research on the emergence of the classical gold standard tends to omit India's failed attempt at moving to a gold currency in the 1860s. Though this was extensively deliberated upon in contemporary studies and in the works of the late 19th and early 20th century economists and historians, it finds almost no mention in the more recent debate. Revisiting this episode from history, this paper aims to draw attention anew to the important role India played in the evolution of the world monetary system.

Forty Years After

Even as one of the most distinctive aspects of the Great Railway Strike of 1974 was the autonomy of the rank and file, the significance of the struggle had much to do with the nature of the times. The country was in the midst of a general political crisis; even sections of the peasantry were in revolt. Despite these favourable circumstances, and the expression of solidarity from the industrial working class, the National Coordination Committee for Railwaymen's Struggle was not resolute and decisive enough, as much as the situation demanded, and in this respect it failed the rank and file. In the absence of a political vanguard, the uprising was left without a determined subject.


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