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Browsing Through 51 Years of EPW | Caste and Castelessness: Towards a Biography of the ‘General Category'

As a modern republic, India felt duty-bound to "abolish" caste, and this led the State to pursue the confl icting policies of social justice and caste-blindness. As a consequence, the privileged upper castes are enabled to think of themselves as "casteless", while the disprivileged lower castes are forced to intensify their caste identities. This asymmetrical division has truncated the effective meaning of caste to lower caste, thus leaving the upper castes free to monopolise the "general category" by posing as casteless citizens.

Higher Education

The Report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Economic Policy, as well as "Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy" brought out by the Ministry of Human Resource Development are both unaware of the ground that they stand on and hence of the true significance of their own role in shaping the future of higher education. The documents seem to have only a blurred sense of the big picture.

Academic Freedom

We the undersigned sociologists, including serving and retired teachers, and researchers from universities and institutes across India, are deeply disturbed by the ongoing events in the country and feel the urgent need to make the following public statement: The Constitution of India guarantees to...

The Public University after Rohith-Kanhaiya

The public university is on its way to becoming a truly democratic space. It is the only site in contemporary India where all major social groups come together in more or less egalitarian conditions. In every other social location, there are various forms of segregation, not to speak of explicit hierarchies. The public university is thus a unique and historically unprecedented space from the point of view of the democratisation of society. This is also the reason why existing social hierarchies and power centres are beginning to view it as a threat.

Caste and Castelessness

As a modern republic, India felt duty-bound to "abolish" caste, and this led the State to pursue the confl icting policies of social justice and caste-blindness. As a consequence, the privileged upper castes are enabled to think of themselves as "casteless", while the disprivileged lower castes are forced to intensify their caste identities. This asymmetrical division has truncated the effective meaning of caste to lower caste, thus leaving the upper castes free to monopolise the "general category" by posing as casteless citizens.

Capitalism, Exclusion, Transition: The Politics of the Present

Kalyan Sanyal's magnum opus, Rethinking Capitalist Development, can be seen as a contribution to the project of reimagining political economy in a way that would place "unsolved political problems" at its centre. It could also be described as a response to the opaqueness of economic processes today and their apparent resistance to existing categories and frameworks. Despite the irony in the fact that it is unlikely to be read by many economists, this treatise is what every author would want her book to be - generous, fertile and good to think with.

The Politics of Not Counting Caste

In the debate on whether or not to count caste in the 2011 Census, there has been too little reflection on the implicit assumptions and analogies about both the census and caste that underpin the positions that have been taken. This article attempts to identify the major models that have been tacitly at work. Questioning the view that the status quo is benign or neutral, it argues that not counting caste has defeated the desire to transcend caste, and suggests that "caste blindness" be rejected in favour of a fresh beginning.

The Practice of Social Theory and the Politics of Location

Concerned with the ways in which "globalisation" seems to be undermining "the politics of location", this essay argues that the latter is both possible and necessary. However, a contemporary politics of location must be articulated from a "postnational" standpoint that opposes the essentialisms of yesterday without being indifferent to place. Locations matter not because some places are superior or inferior to others but because places differ. These differences do not need to be celebrated, museumised or protected from contamination, but they must be allowed to survive. If social theory is partly shaped by its contexts, then "we" - no matter who we are or where we are located - are better off with a multiplicity of such contexts.

Theorising the Present: Problems and Possibilities

The usefulness or otherwise of the kind of theory that Chatterjee offers is decided by its ability to offer a symptomatic reading of significant trends and trajectories. Does the essay on democracy and economic transformation in India meet this test?

Declining Simplistic Narratives

New castes and classes have entered the academy in recent years, but we have few suggestions for constructive engagement with the new groups coming into the academy. There has been the intergenerational change as well, which has had its own impact. We need to address these issues if we are to understand the state of social sciences. We need above all to cultivate a critical self-reflexivity - an awareness of who "we" are and where we stand when asking and answering such questions.

Redesigning Affirmative Action

Arguing for better policy design in affirmative action, this paper presents an illustrative model of a feasible alternative to caste quotas. The proposed model is evidence-based, addresses multiple sources of group and individual disadvantage (caste, region, gender and rural/urban residence), as well as interaction effects and degrees of disadvantage. Such an approach allows us to demonstrate that affirmative action is not about "appeasement" but about eliminating sources of tangible disadvantage in our unequal society.

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