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The Dreams of Reason

This paper looks at Rabindranath Tagore's relationship and interaction with two scientific legends, Patrick Geddes, the Scottish biologist, and Jagdish Chandra Bose, and also between him and Gandhi. Each is an event on its own, but each telescopes into the other to give an intriguing picture of a multifaceted man. The letters that Tagore wrote and received from the two scientist-intellectuals are also analysed. Tagore was no ordinary nationalist and went beyond the tired categories of the modern nation state. He wanted India to smell the West, taste it and understand the differences within it. He realised that imperialism is only one phase of the West, that there were other Wests that one could talk to and conspire with.

Benoy Kumar Sarkar and Japan

This article examines the tension between cosmopolitanism and ressentiment nationalism (i e, the nationalism of existential envy) in the work of Benoy Kumar Sarkar, the pre-eminent Indian social scientist of the decades before Independence. A prolific writer about India's place in the world and the nature of interstate relations, Sarkar was (and is) widely considered an "internationalist" and anti-imperialist. By focusing on Sarkar's fundamentally ambivalent outlook on the rise of a powerful Japan, this article argues that his internationalism and anti-imperialism were both compromised by a particular historical location, which had to do with the gendered concerns of the Indian nationalist elite, and his infatuation with a model of nationhood and power indebted to right-wing European ideologies and political developments.

Rural Poverty and the Public Distribution System

This article presents estimates of the impact of the public distribution system on rural poverty, using National Sample Survey data for 2009-10 and official poverty lines. At the all-India level, the PDS is estimated to reduce the poverty-gap index of rural poverty by 18% to 22%. The corresponding figures are much larger for states with a well-functioning PDS, e g, 61% to 83% in Tamil Nadu and 39% to 57% in Chhattisgarh.

In-Kind Food Transfers - I

This paper, in two parts, reports an evaluation of existing in-kind food transfers. Part I outlines the dimensions involved, in terms of reach, transfer content and physical leakages, and deals with the impact of these transfers on poverty as officially measured. Part II reports the impact of these transfers on calorie intakes and also discusses some issues regarding the financial cost of these transfers. Contrary to the view that food self-sufficiency and income growth have reduced the need for direct food interventions, the paper reports a significant increase in contribution of in-kind transfers to both poverty reduction and nutrition. Moreover, much of this increased impact is attributable to improved public distribution system efficiency. The first part, presented here, was motivated by some issues that arose in the context of the Tendulkar method of estimating poverty as regards its treatment of food prices. This method treats food prices differently from the earlier Lakdawala method and is sensitive to treatment of in-kind food transfers. The paper suggests a decomposition method that modifies the Tendulkar poverty lines and distinguishes between household out-of-pocket expenditures and transfers received from the PDS and mid-day meals. The poverty reducing impact of these food transfers is found to have increased over time and is more pronounced in the case of distribution-sensitive measures of poverty.

Delhi as Refuge

The story of Partition refugees' assimilation in Delhi is above all a record of their untiring efforts and deep-seated desire to create a space for themselves in the new place. This article, based primarily on oral sources, highlights the various strategies evolved by the refugees to grapple with the troubles they faced and how they worked out means - both fair and others less so - to recreate a new life for themselves.

What It Means To Be a Dalit or Tribal Child in Our Schools

The findings of a qualitative study commissioned by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in six states - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan - during 2011-12 to look at inclusion and exclusion in schools may not be original. But they make it possible for policymakers to officially acknowledge the prevalence of exclusionary practices in schools and the urgent need to address them. One of the overarching insights from this study is the need to view inclusion and exclusion from different vantage points: from the outside (who goes to what kind of school); from the inside (what happens inside the school); and in society (who is visible and who is not visible; for example, seasonal or new migrants are often invisible in data on out-of-school children). Equally significant is the influence of the larger society and social norms on what happens inside a school, the attitude and behaviour of teachers and the involvement or lack of involvement of parents and community leaders. Political and social assertion of the rights of dalits and adivasis also influences practices and attitudes.

Outliers of Motherhood

This paper asks if women have an authentic "choice" vis-à-vis motherhood. It probes notions of agency, autonomy and subjecthood within the narratives of childfree women or those who choose not to have children, and the fence-sitters or those who are ambivalent about having children and procrastinate inconclusively.

Inter-Caste Marriage and the Liberal Imagination

This paper discusses the depiction of inter-caste marriage in Vijay Tendulkar's controversial play Kanyadaan (1983), which has enjoyed a recent revival both in India and abroad. Responses to the play have been split largely along caste lines, with upper-caste audiences and critics regarding it as an expose of liberal reformism, and dalits either ignoring it or regarding its depiction of dalit masculinity as offensive. But few have commented on how the play pits its version of female agency against a particular vision of dalit masculinity. This paper sets the play in the context of Tendulkar's particular engagement with Dalit Panther literature, but argues that it also speaks to ongoing debates on sexual violence and on the literary representation of transgressive passion. It shows how Kanyadaan both unravels and embodies the most troubled aspects of the relationship between caste and gender in postcolonial India.

Producing the Present

Today more than ever, nostalgia permeates heritage practices in Sri Lanka. The return to heritage in myth-building and historisation is a process that was not born in the post-civil war years but received more state sanction in the ideological setting of a triumphant Sinhala-Buddhist state victorious over un-national secessionist forces. The paper focuses on the production of a hegemonic heritage discourse, mapping briefly the parties involved, and exploring heritage in practice as a site of contest.

Incidence, Forms and Determinants of Tenancy in the Agrarian Set-Up of the Assam Plains

Based on farm-level data generated through a primary survey, this paper reviews the contemporary tenancy situation across agro-economic conditions in the plains of Assam. The incidence of tenancy there has been found to be extensive, virtually all of which is informal and concealed from the law. Concealed tenancy is an unwarranted outcome of certain restrictive provisions in the tenancy law prevailing in the state as much as the shortening of the duration of tenancy contracts. Both outcomes have adverse implications for efficient, sustainable and equitable use of agricultural land under lease. Given the fact that supply of land for lease is expected to increase in the future as suggested by the present study, reforms in the tenancy law are required in order to ensure efficient and equitable utilisation of these lands. This, in turn, will involve relaxing the restrictive provisions of the law enabling separation of the user right of land from the right of ownership.

How Is Janani Suraksha Yojana Performing in Backward Districts of India?

With a view to reduce high levels of maternal and neonatal mortality, the National Rural Health Mission launched the Janani Suraksha Yojana in 2005. This is an innovative conditional cash transfer programme to provide monetary incentives to women to deliver in medical facilities. This study evaluates its functioning by using a unique data set covering eight districts spread across seven "low performing states" in the country. It shows that JSY is working reasonably well, judging by the proportion of women receiving incentives after delivering in a government facility, location of receiving incentives, mode of payments and payment of bribes. But the accredited social health activists, an important component of JSY, play a limited role in facilitating delivery in a medical facility. Importantly, even though the proportion of women delivering in a medical facility has improved considerably, a significant fraction of women continues to deliver at home. These women are more disadvantaged than those who deliver in government facilities.

Family Migration in India

In this paper an attempt has been made to provide an account of family migration which is a relatively under-researched phenomenon, in India. The analysis, while suggesting the importance of factors related to both growth theory ("pull") and Third World urbanisation ("push") versions in explaining family migration, also brings out the importance of evolving a framework that incorporates the complex interplay of social, political, environmental and development-related factors for a more comprehensive understanding of family migration in India and in other parts of the developing world.


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