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

Sonalde DesaiSubscribe to Sonalde Desai

After the Dividend

As in any other society, in India too, the economic security of the aged is based on three main sources: their own income and savings, support from the extended family, particularly children, and support from the state. As India moves rapidly towards a demographic future in which the elderly form a large part of the population, this article examines trends in each of the three supports. While doing so it identifies the policy challenges and lists suggestions to deal with them.

Beyond the Great Indian Nutrition Debate

Taking on the argument that malnutrition in India is caused by forces that respond only partially to policy interventions, this article points out that it is important to look at the role of disease conditions - shaped by inadequate water, poor sanitation, and insufficient public health measures - in poor nutrition. Moreover, the relationship between disease and food intake is multiplicative rather than additive, and omission of disease conditions from the discourse biases any arguments made about income, caloric intake and nutrition. A holistic view shows that there is room to hope that the nutritional status of children in India will improve with the right policy emphasis.

Caste in 21st Century India: Competing Narratives

Recent debates regarding inclusion of caste in 2011 Census have raised questions about whether caste still matters in modern India. Ethnographic studies of the mid-20th century identified a variety of dimensions along which caste differentiation occurs. At the same time, whether this differentiation translates into hierarchy remains a contentious issue as does the persistence of caste, given the economic changes of the past two decades. Using data from a nationally representative survey of 41,554 households conducted in 2005, this paper examines the relationship between social background and different dimensions of well-being. The results suggest continued persistence of caste disparities in education, income and social networks.

The Other Half of the Demographic Dividend

India is unlikely to realise its "demographic dividend" to the fullest extent unless significant strides can be made to increase women's labour force participation through an increase in employment opportunities and a reduction in labour market disadvantages.

Caste and Census: A Forward Looking Strategy

In modern India, vast quantities of research have documented caste-based inequalities in many dimensions of well-being. If these inequalities are not simply imagined but reflect social processes that deserve public policy attention, incorporating questions about caste in the census is imperative. However, there is a need to devise an accounting framework that has clarity of purpose since there are many complexities involved in collecting caste data.

Soldiers of Saffron, Sonal Shah and Secularism

In our haste to reject the "soldiers of saffron" who live and work outside India, there is a risk that we may be engaging in a politics of personal destruction with tremendous pain for the individuals concerned. There is a fine line between rejection of hate and exploitation of youthful ignorance and folly. If we cross that line we will become vulnerable to charges of McCarthyism.

Obama, Indian Americans and a Conversation about Race

It is heartening to find younger Indian Americans acting like other younger Americans and supporting Barack Obama. His autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Study of Race and Inheritance provides a clue as to why he has become such a beacon to people deeply conflicted about identities.
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