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

M VijayabaskarSubscribe to RSS - M Vijayabaskar

Agricultural Revival and Reaping the Youth Dividend

In recent years, “youth” has emerged as a distinct category of population to be governed in India. Policy efforts to realise the “demographic dividend” amidst an agrarian crisis have however not met with success as suggested by reports of jobless growth on the one hand and poor quality of employment generated outside agriculture on the other. What are the prospects of improving youth livelihoods within agriculture? Can the youth revive the prospects of agriculture? Improving incomes within agriculture while also paying sufficient attention to caste and gender relations that shape labour hierarchies, access to land, youth preferences and mobility aspirations is critical to imagining a future that sustains agriculture and youth livelihoods.

The Agrarian Question amidst Populist Welfare

Tamil Nadu’s emergence as a developmental model rests on its ability to combine economic growth with poverty reduction and high levels of human development. Scholars attribute such outcomes to a set of social policies implemented in response to a long history of “democratic action.” It is, however, not clear whether such intervention through social policies can also enable a more inclusive trajectory of economic development. This paper uses the analytical lens of the “agrarian question” to examine this aspect of the state’s development. In doing so, the paper argues that while social welfare nets are crucial to negotiate the vulnerabilities of a market-driven growth process and open up new political and economic spaces, they are inadequate in a context where the secondary sector has not been able to absorb labour to the extent anticipated.

The Politics of Urban Mega-projects in India

Mega infrastructure projects such as industrial parks and special economic zones are increasingly seen as a means to jump-start urban economies in India. This paper contributes to understanding the politics of urban mega-projects by examining the quality of local economic linkages of an information technology park, located in what is popularly referred to as the "IT corridor" in Chennai. Based on a survey of employees in software firms and support services for IT parks along the corridor, the paper maps patterns of employment creation, new consumption and mobility patterns of those employed in the IT parks and implications for the quality of urban development.

On the Charts, Off the Tracks

This paper on Ambur town of Tamil Nadu, an important hub for leather goods production, catering primarily to an international market, explores how the town's proximity to a metropolis can be a source of underdevelopment rather than a spur to steady and rapid urbanisation. It puts the spotlight back on a class of small industrial towns, where the dirty work of production, particularly of recycling industrial cast-offs, assembling secondary products and catering to low-end domestic markets is not moved out of urban spaces. Instead it is kept hemmed into unplanned and unserviced town spaces, while large formal manufacturing firms colonise rural hinterlands. It also highlights how disconnects among sectors, space and place can keep a town at low levels of dynamism and social welfare.

Caste as Social Capital

There are suggestions that caste networks can be used as a means to reduce transaction costs and promote economic development. Based on critiques of the "social capital for development" literature and the experience of the knitwear cluster in Tiruppur, this article contends that caste-based economic networks reinforce socio-economic hierarchies and generate new forms of exclusion.

Economic Change, Politics and Caste

An exploration of the interaction between economic factors and caste mobilisation, through a study of the Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam in western Tamil Nadu, enables an understanding of caste politics through a political economy approach. It is argued that economic factors decisively shape the mobilising agenda of caste-based parties such as the KNMK. It is also seen that social identities which feature so prominently in the politics of caste pride also often have an economic basis.

Not by Patronage Alone: Understanding Tamil Nadu's Vote for Change

A combination of solid alliance building and deep resentment with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led government and the party itself helped the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led coalition come to power in Tamil Nadu. The institution of a bevy of welfarist measures and promises of many more were not enough to assuage a discontented electorate upset with corruption and nepotism in the ruling party, blatant rent-seeking by DMK legislators, and so on.

Global Crises, Welfare Provision and Coping Strategies of Labour in Tiruppur

Even as state governments invest in social welfare measures, they are forced into constant competition with one another to attract private investments, offering a good "investment climate" that includes access to a low cost workforce and a physical infrastructure geared towards capital accumulation. The need to provision welfare within an accumulation regime premised on global competition, fiscal austerity and marketisation, and a simultaneous need to reduce labour costs and to ensure social security, to exclude and include labour appears paradoxical. Does this emphasis on social welfare by the local state imply resistance to or accommodation of the current growth paradigm? How does such welfare provisioning influence livelihood strategies of labour embedded in global production networks and subject to flexibilisation? What are the new spaces of mobilisations that the regulatory imperatives open up? This paper addresses these questions through a microlevel study of worker livelihoods and state regulation in Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu that has been integrated into global networks of commodity production through garment exports.

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