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

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Democracy and Identity Politics in India: Is It a Snake or a Rope?

The politics of recognition has dual effects while empowering marginal communities during democratic participation in India. On the one hand, identity politics provides democratic empowerment to a few communities or specific sections of communities, while, on the other, it disempowers people of the same communities who are not yet able to understand the language of democratic state and lag behind in creating group visibility. Thus, identity politics in democracy includes a few and excludes some others, while it is fuelled by tendencies of inclusive exclusion. Through a case study of Chamars in Uttar Pradesh, a low Dalit caste that has now been politically empowered, this paper shows how identity politics alone cannot handle horizontal inequalities among marginal groups.

Communal Riots in Uttar Pradesh

After the 1990s, communal incidents in India have spread to rural areas, and they occur on a smaller scale, but with much larger frequency. In this strategy, the making of a communal consciousness requires a string of communal moments that produce and reproduce communal polarisation directly and indirectly. The Bharatiya Janata Party, backed by the cadres of the Sangh Parivar, holds an advantage in this communal game in Uttar Pradesh, while the other parties are forced to play it for fear of further losing their voter base. Post-election communal clashes in UP have occurred around constituencies going for assembly by-polls soon. This trend is only going to harden by the time the assembly elections take place in 2017.

Modi's Modus Operandi in the 2014 Elections

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has taken on itself the primary role of running Narendra Modi's personalised campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Adopting a centralised model of monitoring and using feedback from local volunteers, the RSS has also taken the help of qualifi ed professionals with management, information technology and communications backgrounds to run this campaign.

The Politics of Reservation Categories in Uttar Pradesh

Some of the Other Backward Classes in Uttar Pradesh want to be classified as scheduled castes, while some of the latter want to be reclassified as scheduled tribes. Despite the politics behind these demands, most of the castes demanding reclassification have good reason to feel that the benefits of reservation have passed them by. It is the invisibility of the numerically small castes with little education and no voice that has to be ended before the fruits of development can reach them.

Charan Singh and the Congress

An Indian Political Life: Charan Singh and Congress Politics, 1957 to 1967 by Paul R Brass; (New Delhi: Sage India), 2012, pp 508, Rs 895.

Democracy and Violence

At the grass-roots level of democracy, many gram pradhans are becoming powerful by grabbing land and resources meant for the welfare of the people they represent. Fear of these musclemen has led to the shrinking of the space for dissent and discourse in democracy. The murders of Superintendent of Police Narendra Kumar in Morena, Madhya Pradesh and more recently, Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haq in Kunda in Uttar Pradesh by the mafi a are indicative of how far these goons, many of them patronised by political parties, are able to go.

Uttar Pradesh's Renouncer King

While Rahul Gandhi's attempt to reach out to the masses in Uttar Pradesh through a series of well-planned visits, dine-ins and stay-overs in its villages has often been derided, a visit to some of these villages indicates that the politics of an image makeover may be yielding some results for the Congress. Will this be enough to make a difference to the upcoming elections in the state?

History Produces Politics: The Nara-Maveshi Movement in Uttar Pradesh

The Nara-Maveshi Movement was one of the precipitating factors of the new dalit politics that emerged in Uttar Pradesh. Carried out by the Chamars (shoemaker caste) in Uttar Pradesh and adjoining regions to end their caste-based work and the indignities involved with it, the NMM started in the 1950s and continued till the 1980s. But it has hardly been noticed, whether in academic works, literature or even in the media. This article uses methods of oral history, along with police and court documents at village and district levels, to unearth this history. It tries to bring out the multiple layers of discriminations, exclusions and violence in hierarchically caste-divided Indian society, even within dalit castes.

What It Is To Be a 'Chamar'

Retro-Modern India: Forging the Low-Caste Self by Manuela Ciotti (New Delhi: Routledge), 2010; pp 292, Rs 695.
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