ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Public Social Rental Housing in India

While it is recognised that diversity in housing tenure options is a key enabler for low-income families to enter and engage with the urban economy, public housing providers and policymakers claim there are several impediments to the provision of subsidised rental housing. What is the nature of these challenges? What will it take to trigger and sustain a rental housing market in Indian cities that is both public and social? Through an analysis of current public policy recommendations and relevant cases of public provision of rental housing, this paper unbundles these challenges, focusing on the management of social rental housing, tax and governance issues, and lastly, fiscal challenges and new opportunities in rental housing.

The New 'Love' Story of the Taj Mahal

Home to a legacy from history, Agra boasts of a number of historical monuments. This paper focuses on the urban planning implications and socio-spatial consequences of heritage tourism in Agra. Tim Edensor's categorisation of tourist space as "enclavic" or "heterogeneous," Aihwa Ong's zones of exception and the concept of "elite capture" provide the key conceptual frames that inform the study. The paper argues that global heritage tourism has reconfigured everyday life and the spatial geography of Agra, often deepening urban inequalities. The most affected by these new developments are the poor communities living in and around the Taj Mahal for centuries, who find themselves alienated as their world is taken over by the juggernaut of heritage tourism.

Politics, Information Technology and Informal Infrastructures in Urban Governance

Information technology is taking on an increasingly important role in Indian urban governance, both in high-level policy announcements and localised innovations. However, the material and political landscape generated by widespread informal arrangements in urban governance is a challenging environment for these kind of reforms. Without adequately conceptualising and accounting for this, "smart" technological improvements will be limited at best. This article illustrates such a necessity by discussing urban water supply in two urban local bodies in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Reflecting on the Share Economy and Urbanising Capital

Three vectors together constitute the new urban phenomenon, the so-called, ideologically labelled, "share economy," which is actually a "sharing the scraps economy." The three vectors are: (i) the hybrid subsumption structure of the labour process, (ii) the primitive accumulation structure of recommoditisation, and (iii) the extension of the workday. These are being sold to a new generation of youth as a kind of a technologically-inspired new space that they need to occupy. But functionally, these three vectors are at the service of capital.

Urban Voting and Party Choices in Delhi

In most parts of the world there is a direct relation between economic and social well-being and political participation. India, though, is among the exceptions to this tendency. The poor in India vote more than the rich. This paper, using the case of Delhi, shows that neighbourhoods have a significant influence in voting patterns. The rich in poor neighbourhoods vote more than the rich in affluent neighbourhoods and the poor in rich neighbourhoods vote less than the poor in underprivileged neighbourhoods. This paper uses property tax and property categories to arrive at Delhi's wealth parameters and then tries to match them with voting patterns.

Explaining Village-level Development Trajectories through Schooling in Karnataka

This paper develops and explores a methodology for explaining development trajectories at the village-level. Using data from the Censuses of 2001 and 2011, and qualitative and quantitative data from three purposively selected villages in North Karnataka, it asks why literacy rates and schooling vary considerably in geographically proximate villages. In advancing an explanation, the paper attends to what has been termed the micro-macro problem in analytical sociology as well as the problem of spatial variability, neither of which has been systematically addressed in the literature on rural change in India. The data and methodology used here help identify two social mechanisms--livelihoods enhancement practices and social cooperation--which together explain why one village (Chennooru) experiences stable and higher levels of schooling relative to its neighbours where either livelihoods enhancement practices are absent (Valasooru) or there is a lack of social cooperation (Banadooru). The approach and analysis in the paper imply that attention to social mechanisms aids the crafting of more robust policies on schooling and development.

Rural Elites and the Limits of Scheduled Caste Assertiveness in Rural Malwa, Punjab

The decline of caste-based territorial dominance is widely reported to have given Scheduled Castes more autonomy, but also allowed them more space for political assertion. This paper, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the predominantly agrarian region of Malwa in Punjab, illustrates how SCs are often loudly pressing demands upon political leaders and bureaucrats. However, the paper also illustrates how they still do not wield meaningful power in village panchayats. A wealthy class of farmers that is increasingly involved in urban business uses a combination of party connections, cash and coercion to capture and maintain power at their expense. Such farmers frequently use their political influence to bolster their business interests and to appropriate state resources such as village common lands. The evidence presented here suggests that when SCs mobilise to demand their rights, they are still careful not to challenge dominant interests.

Dalit Mobilisation and Faction Politics in Rural Andhra Pradesh

This paper explores the relations between the trajectories of Dalit assertion and of faction politics in contemporary Rayalaseema in rural Andhra Pradesh. Based on a case study of a local hybrid alliance between a Dalit NGO and a Dalit agricultural labour union, it examines how Dalit organisations deal with the state and politics at village and town levels in a context of economic and political insecurities. It shows how the decline of Dalit collective forms of mobilisation in the 2000s has reinforced feelings of disempowerment among Dalit activists who look at goondaism and bossism as concrete and direct modes of assertion. The article then investigates the ambivalent relations between Dalit agenda, individual social mobility and dependence on faction leaders.

Structural Change in Bihar's Rural Economy

Bihar has been showing signs of emerging from stagnation and backwardness. For this to occur in full, an agrarian transformation is central in a state where urbanisation remains very low. This paper uses longitudinal household data from a sample of villages to explore changes in production relations, land and other assets, agricultural development and occupational diversification. There has been a significant change in class structure and a shift away from agricultural occupations for male workers (much less for female), but non-agricultural work is mainly outside the village and largely outside the state. Real wages have risen substantially, more than can be explained by rising agricultural productivity, migration being an important contributory factor. But the segmentation of the rural labour market has increased and local development is uneven.

Changing Characteristics of Villages in Tamil Nadu

Illustrating the imaginative use of the Primary Census Abstract for Tamil Nadu from the 1991 to 2011 censuses, this paper separates villages that are chronically backward from those that are more developed in terms of demographic and economic characteristics. It also makes use of the data to describe changes in spatial distributions over time.

Rape as Atrocity in Contemporary Haryana

This paper highlights the escalating incidence of sexual violence against Dalit girls by Jats in contemporary Haryana, and the extraordinary struggles unfolding in the battle for justice. Details from a few cases through fact-finding visits and interactions present pictures of suffering and courage within entrenched structures of caste, now under siege. The unique place of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in contemporary Haryana is another major facet of the struggle under way. The paper poses many questions to the women's movement, the wider democratic public, and the state. How much progress has been made in claims towards restorative justice, whereby victimhood can be transformed into meaningful survival?

Some Thoughts on Extreme Violence and the Imagination

This paper explores the relationship between torture and sexual violence. As I understand it, sexual shaming, humiliation and hurt are inalienable aspects of torture inflicted on men, women and transpersons. In this sense, torture is nothing but the utter and violent perversion of the sense of touch, of that recognition of bodily being occasioned by physical intimacy. While easy correspondences between torture and sexual violence cannot be established they are related. To this end, this paper addresses the following questions: How do victims of torture survive that experience? What affords succour to those who have endured unspeakable pain? How is one to understand the manic intensity with which the torturer inflicts violence? It draws upon a range of texts to do with torture and sexual violence--fiction, affidavits, court judgments and descriptions of legal trails.

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