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

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Water Harvesting Traditions and the Social Milieu in India: A Second Look

India has a variety of local community traditions of water harvesting. There are a number of scholars and activists who tend to valorise premodern wisdoms without critically evaluating their sociocultural context and realising how deeply they were embedded in the social hierarchy of their times. There has been, of course, a great deal of stress lately on a kind of "eco-golden age". This is clearly a case of an "anachronistic projection of modern phenomenon on to the screen of tradition". Seen from such a perspective, all pre-industrial societies would exhibit a kind of harmony with nature. However, most of the times, it was the demographic and technological factors that made these societies less harmful to the environment. It was not that they wished to protect the whole canopy of nature. This reappraisal demonstrates how precepts and rites, culture and customary practices and state policy interact to lay the bases of water harvesting traditions. Social customs are the necessary conditions for sustaining these traditions, while local autonomy in resource management is the critical sufficient condition but it never results in equitable access for all.

An Experiment in Nationalist Education: Satyavadi School in Orissa (1909-26)

Education as a social phenomenon does not take place in a vacuum or isolation. A case in point is the Satyavadi School set up in Sakhigopal village, near Puri, in Orissa in 1909. It proposed an alternative and unconventional system of education autonomous of the colonial state that would train students in nationalism and in questioning orthodoxies. However, it was also dependent on the conservative sasani brahmins for resources and students and despite an excellent track record closed down in 1926.
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