ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Ashwini DeshpandeSubscribe to Ashwini Deshpande

Dominant or Backward?

Using data from the India Human Development Survey, this paper examines the demands of Jats (Haryana), Patels (Gujarat), and Marathas (Maharashtra) to be classified as Other Backward Classes to access reservations. Compared to the major caste groups (Brahmins, other forward castes, existing OBCs, and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) in their respective states, based on several socio-economic factors, they are closer to dominant than disadvantaged groups. Their claim to backwardness is empirically unjustified. The paper examines the material basis of their anxieties in the context of structural changes in the Indian agricultural economy. It investigates networks and political connections that explain their success in mobilising.

New Voices in Songs

Thin voices in Hindi film music are seen to be associated with "good girls" who are obedient, innocent, and pure. Lata Mangeshkar's thin voice is assumed to have suited a particular vision of femininity promoted by Hindi films at the time. It is tempting to think that as their singing voices have thickened and acquired greater texture, female characters in Hindi films have similarly acquired greater agency, rebelliousness and independence. The reality, however, is very different.

Do Not Dilute NREGA

[An Open Letter to the Prime Minister on NREGA by economists based in India and elsewhere in the world.] We are writing to express our deep concern about the future of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). The NREGA was enacted in 2005 with unanimous support from all political...

Entrepreneurship or Survival?

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. This article tries to understand the involvement of dalits and other marginalised groups, especially adivasis and women, in the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, based on an analysis of unit-level data from registered manufacturing segment of the MSME census data for 2001-02 and 2006-07. It finds clear and persistent caste and gender disparities throughout. Scheduled caste and scheduled tribe businesses are under-represented, except in the north-eastern states. However, the share of female-owned and managed enterprises is significantly greater among SC-ST owned enterprises. Also, there is evidence of homophily in Other Backward Classes and upper-caste owned firms, suggesting that the rise in dalit entrepreneurship is crucial to increasing dalit employment in the small business sector.

Scholar Extraordinaire: Ashok Ranade on Hindi Film Music

A rare scholar-performer of Hindustani art music, Ashok Da Ranade passed away recently. This tribute looks at his pioneering scholarship on Hindi film music, to which he accorded seriousness as an independent and distinct genre of Indian music. The hope is that his powerful analysis of this field will pave the way for more contextualised and musically informed research, rooted in a firm understanding of Hindi films.

A Teacher, a Colleague, and a Friend

 Away from the public domain, Suresh formed deep and enduring friendships which extended to friends

When the Data Tell a Different Story

Caste in a Different Mould: Understanding Discrimination by Rajesh Shukla, Sunil Jain and Preeti Kakkar

Surveys and Perspectives in Development Economics

Surveys and Perspectives in Development Economics Ashwini Deshpande This two volume set contains 71 original essays divided into nine broad topics. Most of these essays are survey articles on specific topics (for example, structuralism or institutions, property rights and development) that outline and elaborate on the important concepts in the area, in addition to providing a brief review of the significant literature on the subject. Thus, these volumes are not readers, in that they do not necessarily contain the seminal articles in different fields (for example, original articles by Arthur Lewis or Ragnar Nurkse). While a collection of original seminal pieces would undoubtedly be valuable, this collection serves a different and very useful purpose by providing a compilation of the major concepts in contemporary development economics. The essays are concise, yet comprehensive, and each essay contains a fairly substantial set of references, which an interested researcher or student could follow up. Breaking Disciplinary BoundariesThe wide range of topics (from ethnicity and economic development, to fiscal policy to open economy issues to gender, in addition to all the conventional topics under traditional development economics) is a testimony to the extent of broadening and deepening of the subject matter of development economics. The range of topics also reflects the fact that over time there has been a dilution of the traditional disciplinary boundaries, a tendency that should be welcomed and strengthened by future researchers. In addition to representing multidisciplinary interactions, this collection encompasses several different perspectives within development economics, so the reader can learn, for example, both about neoclassical approaches (Salim Rashid) and dependency theories (Jose Gabriel Palma) in the same volume. This makes the collection unique and all the more valuable. In terms of exposition, again, the essays span a range: some more technical than the others. While these volumes contain several essays that could be read without a formal training in economics, their utility would be maximum for those formally trained in economic theory and methodology. The mix of technical and not-so- technical essays is yet another strength of the collection, because it makes the collection sufficiently rigorous. Additionally, the formal or technical sections are not obscure; for those with the requisite training, these can be grasped without much difficulty.

A Matter of Name and Shame

A new trend is for motley groups to target the language/lyrics that are said to be "insulting" to particular groups. The so-called custodians of culture, morality and whatever else, continuously try to misdirect popular sentiment towards trivial non-issues mainly for self-promotion and quick and cheap publicity, while truly retrograde, offensive and insulting portrayals, if backed by the right amount of star power and produced with the right amount of sheen, can rake in the moolah at the box office.

Where the Path Leads

This study attempts to trace the differential pathways that dalit and non-dalit students from comparable elite educational backgrounds traverse in their journey from college to work. While the training they receive in the university world is quite comparable, dalit students lack many advantages that turn out to be crucial in shaping their employment outcomes. Dalit students support the affirmative action policy completely, which allows them to break their traditional marginality. Our findings suggest that social and cultural capital (the overlapping of caste, class, family background and networks) matter a great deal in the urban, highly skilled, formal and allegedly meritocratic private sector jobs, where hiring practices are less transparent than appear at first sight.

Unorthodox Economics

Unorthodox Economics Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual by Ha-Joon Chang and Ilene Grabel; Published in India by Books for Change, Bangalore. Distributed by Madhyam International, Delhi, 2004; pp 224, Rs 350 (paperback) .

The Eternal Debate

Caste still remains an indicator of disadvantage as distribution of both income and wealth are skewed along caste lines. Though the data on OBCs is scanty, there exists a clear disparity between these castes and others in terms of educational attainment, occupational success and standard of living. The mechanisms for perpetuating inter-caste inequality are still strong and alive in contemporary India. Quotas, however, should not be seen as the beginning and the end of affirmative action.

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