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

C J FullerSubscribe to C J Fuller

Engineering Colleges, 'Exposure' and Information Technology

The Supreme Court's recent judgment on reservations in private colleges has caused controversy in Tamil Nadu, especially in relation to engineering colleges. The number of engineering colleges has risen rapidly, particularly because of the growth of the IT industry, but the majority of their graduates cannot secure jobs in the top software companies, which dominate the industry in Chennai, mainly because they lack "communication skills". These skills are a form of social and cultural capital mostly possessed by the urban middle class, whose members believe that a key ingredient for success in a competitive economy and society is enhancing personal skills and knowledge through "exposure". Although abolishing castebased reservations in private engineering colleges would have some effect on social mobility, it would not diminish middle class advantage. The reservations are only one factor in the equation, and are only marginally relevant to the real issues about social class mobility and the promotion of equality raised by the rapid growth of the IT industry in contemporary Tamil Nadu.

Of Religious Traditions

Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent edited by Vasudha Dalmia, Angelika Malinar and Martin Christof; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2001; pp x + 461; Rs 650.

The 'Vinayaka Chaturthi' Festival and Hindutva in Tamil Nadu

The increasing popularity of the Vinayaka festival in Tamil Nadu under the auspices of the Hindu Munnani is another example of the Sangh parivar's successful appropriation of localised, traditional Hindu rituals to create a wider 'Hindu unity'. Though internal divisions of caste and class remain, as does factionalism among different Hindu organisations in the state, the primary goal for the parivar in the utilisation of such rituals is to persuade all Hindus to become conscious of belonging to a single, majority 'community', rather than to initiate a campaign of social engineering to overcome caste divisions.
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