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

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'Provincialising' Vegetarianism

Large-scale survey data are used to question the most public claims about food habits in India. It is found that the extent of overall vegetarianism is much less—and the extent of overall beef-eating much more—than suggested by common claims and stereotypes. The generalised characterisations of “India” are deepened by showing the immense variation of food habits across scale, space, group, class, and gender. Additionally, it is argued that the existence of considerable intra-group variation in almost every social group (caste, religious) makes essentialised group identities based on food practices deeply problematic. Finally, in a social climate where claims about food practices rationalise violence, cultural–political pressures shape reported and actual food habits. Indian food habits do not fit into neatly identifiable boxes.

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.

Punctuated Solidarities

There is now a lot of debate about the possibility of political solidarities across the dalit/non-dalit divide. This debate has layered on to the earlier one about the possibility of solidarities between the dalit and Left movements and the reasons for their failure. This article, using Anand Patwardhan's fi lm, Jai Bhim Comrade, as a point of entry into this debate, is an attempt to fi nd spaces for a political praxis which may allow for such solidarities to emerge and succeed, where others have failed.

Place and Pathology in Caste

Two comments on the essays by Sundar Sarukkai and Gopal Guru on the sense of touch underlying "untouchability" (EPW, 12 September 2009).

Indian Electoral Democracy: The Only Game in Town

The all pervasive importance given to the electoral aspect of formal democracy in India hides the inefficacy of institutions of democracy and governance as they exist today. In some sense, elections are used as tools of legitimation by the ruling classes of policies that are inimical to the interests of the majority who vote. Why is it then that voters vote?
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