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

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Cultivating Communal Hatred in Bengal

Blasts in Khagragarh in Bardhaman district in West Bengal on 2 October 2014 have led to growing anti-Muslim propaganda in the state. Such incidents related to political violence have their roots in the political-economic structure of central Bengal where rural surplus has led to uneven economic growth, paving the way to political domination of one class over another. This can be seen from the class structure of the rice belt of Bardhaman, Hooghly and part of Birbhum districts, where the proportion of agricultural labour is still very high, between 40% and 50%. There is an urgent need to separate such instances of criminal activities, related to the political economy, from those of the purported Islamic jihad.

In Memoriam: Jos Mooij

Jos Mooij, associate professor and deputy rector for educational affairs at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), the Hague, Holland, breathed her last on 28 February 2013 very prematurely. Her research was in the areas of policy processes and the politics of policies and most of her...

In Defence of Public Education

Drawing on the research on basic education in West Bengal, this essay argues the case for a much criticised public education system, which needs to be reconsidered as regards its potential as a provider of quality education, even while addressing its many failings. The essay follows an approach, both critical and constructive, that underlines the collective onus of the public in realising the value of the public education system, instead of giving up on it.

The Fiscal Tool for Secondary Education Reform

imparting to its readers a sense of the Indian national movement as an internally connected (however loosely), pan-Indian organic political phenomenon. Instead the volume gives the impression of a multitude of anti-imperialist struggles launched in different parts of the country in which the local grievances and spontaneity played the most important role. These struggles are seen to be connected to each other because they happened to be fought against the same enemy, the British government. That these struggles may have had an all- India apex; were fostered by a set of ideas and an ideology; that there was an organisation with a leadership which had a sense of strategy, are all ideas that seem very alien to the volume under review. It succeeds in highlighting the

Democracy in Praxis: Two Non-Left Gram Panchayats in West Bengal

Drawing upon a micro-study of two villages in two non-Left gram panchayats in West Bengal, this paper puts one issue in the foreground, namely, the idea and practice of local politics. Using two counter examples to prove a general point about contemporary West Bengal's dominant political tendencies, it argues that the elaborate organisational structure of the (Left) party system, that once proved to be the ruling Left Front's political strength, has now turned out to be a part of its problems. The LF's electoral compulsions have come in the way of its original social mobilisational impulses and programmes. Only recently some signals of mass mobilisation politics have begun looming on the political horizon of the state. It would require a thorough reconfiguring of the relationship between political parties and society - a shift from a party-society to a dynamic and reciprocal link between party and society - in order to transform the existing nature of particularistic politics and build instead an encompassing participatory politics.

Face-to-Face Taxation in West Bengal

Set within the larger debate linking taxation with representation, the paper takes a close look at "face-to-face", i e, local government taxation in two districts of West Bengal and asks who pays and why, in situations when tax amounts are nominal. Drawing on statistical analysis, citizen survey and ethnographic research, the paper claims that while people's relative prosperity, not unexpectedly, has a positive effect on their tax contributions, even poorer social groups such as the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes may pay up, driven by a complex mix of motivations ranging from compulsion to contingent compliance. The paper concludes that as gram panchayats begin to rely more on local tax incomes, greater is the probability for a "fiscal contract" to emerge between local taxpayers and an accountable local government.

Representing Identities, Interests and Ideas

to neglect altogether the influence of any Representing Identities, sense of identity with others on our political priorities and behaviour. The author is also alert to the possibility that the Interests and Ideas Representing India: Ethnic Diversity and the Governance of Public Institutions by Niraja Gopal Jayal; Palgrave MacMillan and UNRISD, UK, 2006; pp 239,

Value of Education

with much social and cultural capital re- Educational Regimes in quired to convert educational skills into Contemporary India employment opportunities. Can they and edited by Radhika Chopra and do they get by, in adult lives, with their Patricia Jeffery in collaboration with almost minimal experience of schooling, Helmut Reifeld; especially in a situation where there are many educational regimes and where Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2005; schools themselves are socio-economically pp 346, Rs 380 (paperback).

Primary Education

A recent workshop sought to identify persistent "trouble spots" in the primary education school system in states of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. As it appears, top-down assistance is only one factor among many others that distinguishes a better performing school from a non-performing one. Other vital factors that raised the â??qualityâ? of schooling related to issues of decentralisation and autonomy, the quality of teaching as well as initiatives taken to educate less privileged children.

Schooling and 'Skilling' of the Country's Youth

Focusing on variations in secondary schooling across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, this paper makes the claims that we need to deal with the challenges of universal elementary education and the expansion of secondary schooling simultaneously, rather than in a gradual sequence. Except in a few educationally forward regions of the country, secondary participation remains highly restrictive because, a majority of young people ? in particular from deprived communities ? do not have access to secondary education. Decisions regarding virtually all school related activities are concentrated at the state level, to the relative neglect of sub-state level and school level actors. Vocational secondary education and ?skilling? of adolescents have always received step-motherly policy attention. Interestingly, however, in the majority of the sample states, aided schools seem to have become reasonably accessible to disadvantaged groups, in sharp contrast to unaided schools. Hence there is a case for strengthening aided schools, as a potentially effective means of narrowing the gaps between the privileged youth and their disadvantaged peers.

From Land Reforms to Land Markets

A debate is raging on the proposed changes to the West Bengal Land Reforms Act. Can the unfinished task of land reforms and the current proposal of granting 'alienating' land rights coexist?

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