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

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Ashis Nandy's Critics and India's Thriving Democracy

Ashis Nandy’s colleagues and well-wishers ought to have publicly questioned the caste-centered comments he made at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Instead, they have turned the issue into one of academic freedom, freedom of speech and the like. India’s self-styled progressives have to learn to treat dissenters with more respect. They may think of themselves as being champions of India’s marginalised. But if the marginalised do not agree with this assumption, they cannot be threatened that they will be “losing their friends”. This attitude that ‘the intellectual’ knows best has to be eschewed and replaced by one of greater humility. They have to stop attributing rationality and reasonableness to themselves and irrationality, emotion, passion and sentiment to the dissenting subalterns.

'New' Lists for 'Old': (Re-) constructing the Poor in the BPL Census

This paper aims to understand the implications of implementing the Saxena Committee's recommendations in respect of identifying the poor in India. Relative to the one currently in use, the application of the proposed methodology appears to be more beneficial in general to social groups such as scheduled tribes, most backward classes and mahadalits, as well as those landowning households that might suffer from specific debilitating conditions. However, in some cases it is less sensitive to Muslims, non-mahadalit scheduled castes and agricultural labourers. These observations are based on the results of a census survey covering 4,500 households in 18 rural wards of Bihar and West Bengal. By comparing the subset of households classified as poor according to the 2002 and the 2009 methodologies, the paper analyses "moving in" and "moving out" of poverty lists according to occupational categories, caste groups and landowning profile of the poor.

Representation and Development in Urban Peripheries

Pro-poor and democratic development processes demand, among other things, the integration of revenue appropriating and fund expending institutions. Experience from the metropolis of Ahmedabad, recently ravaged by inter-religious civil strife, indicates that a number of village and town councils continue to exist within urban limits, saddled with functions that they are not authorised to execute. Moreover, urban development agencies compete with these bodies to provide services to citizens. Having neither representative membership nor tax based income, these agencies implement programmes with the support of the state government, thereby consistently limiting the scope for local bodies to emerge as institutions of self-governance.

Jhajjar and Iraq

Caste and colonialism, two constructs separated in time and space, foster artificial divisions based on birth and power. What characterises and perpetuates both systems is an essential dehumanising of society, wherein the 'other' is denied all claims of 'humaneness'. The silence within sections of civil society only strengthens the systems of caste and colonialism.

Community, Organisation and Representation

Social science literature and development practice has together discovered the rural community as the 'site' for development. This presupposes the rural community as a monolithic and undifferentiated entity. Local traditions point to a different direction- and need to be better grasped so as to enrich both social science literature and development practice. This becomes even more relevant, given the increasingly critical role of membership organisations in local development initiatives and in an overall scenario when the relevance of political action has been brought back in the cause of development.
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