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

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GoPu and the Marathi Intellectual World

Govind Purushottam Deshpande enjoyed multiple identities – literally. In the professional academic world of Delhi where he made his career, he was always known as GPD (and this is also how he is known to readers of his EPW columns); and in the Marathi world, both of theatre and ideas, he was known...

Of Radical Democracy and Anti-Partyism

The populist notions that underlie critiques of the practice of representative democracy made by groups like the Aam Aadmi Party have some worrisome aspects. Their ideas of expanding the democratic involvement of citizens are not only romantic, they also tend to undermine political equality. The question that supporters of such "more democracy" need to ask themselves is, do we want to expand democratic rights but effectively restrict their scope?

Quality in Higher Education: Complex Issues, Superficial Solutions

New rules on admissions to doctoral programmes in Indian universities will produce a new bureaucratic maze, but are unlikely to ensure production of better quality research.

In the Midst of Sub-Democratic Politics

The apparent resurgence of Marathi nativist politics in and over Mumbai has to be understood in the specific context of the city's history, as well as the larger one of how democratic politics in India has dealt with the issue of diversity inside the nation. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Shiv Sena build on practices of linguistic localism in India and it requires more than the mere legalism of constitutional rights to understand and fight it.

Corrections

There were two factual errors in the piece “Maharashtra Polls: Continuity amidst Social Volatility” (EPW, 28 November) which we wish to correct: (i) In Table 1, the figure for candidates contesting on the BVA ticket should be 4 (instead of 2 as shown), and (ii) in Table 5, the figure for NCP in the...

Maharashtra Polls: Continuity amidst Social Volatility

The outcome of the Maharashtra assembly elections of 2009 cannot be associated with any particular moment in the history of the state's politics; nor can it be attributed to the organisational prowess of the ruling alliance. The second consecutive electoral victory of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance is an outcome of four factors: the overall favourable political atmosphere created by the Congress' performance nationally in the Lok Sabha elections, the utter ineffectiveness of the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine coupled with their internal party factionalism, the rise of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in urban constituencies, and a perception that the state government had not done a bad job.

Between Fortuna and Virtu: Explaining the Congress' Ambiguous Victory in 2009

Election 2009 saw a comprehensive triumph for the United Progressive Alliance. But the initial impression of an overwhelming mandate for the Congress needs to be corrected. A close scrutiny of the outcome shows that the Congress "victory" was ambiguous and owed a lot to movements that were not of its making. Shifts in the "third electoral system" worked against the politics of identity and made the quality of government an issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party's inability to hold on to its new social bloc resulted in a depolarisation that benefited the Congress. The victory of the Congress also came about because the voters had a mildly positive image of its governance record and welfare measures. Yet in the end this verdict was more about politics than chance. A shrinking of the National Democratic Alliance, a positive image of the upa government and its leadership gave the ruling coalition a decisive lead before the campaign formally began.

Tentative Emergence of a New and Tentative Coalition?

Many myths have begun to be propagated about Verdict 2009 but in order to even begin to make sense of the outcome, we must employ the filter of state specificity, remind ourselves of the eminently "normal" nature of the election and appreciate the strength of middle-of-the-road politics. More than the recovery of the Congress, the tentative coalition of the middle classes and the poor that seems to have tentatively emerged could arrest the onward march of various politics of exclusion and bring the poor back into the policy consciousness of our polity - to the extent this is possible within a liberal democratic framework.

Principal State Level Contests and Derivative National Choices: Electoral Trends in 2004-09

Political choices in a national election increasingly derive from the competitive format, electoral cycle, political agenda, participatory pattern and social cleavages defined in state politics. In this sense, the political choices made at the state level are mostly "principal" and those made at the national level are increasingly "derivative". But state level politics shapes and filters rather than pre-determines the national outcome. Using this framework and the trends in 2004-09, this study attempts to understand the structure of contestation that will shape the final outcome in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The complex pattern of principal outcomes and timing in the political calendar shows that neither of the two major national alliances can sweep the polls nor be swept away in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In all probability, we are going to witness one more election in which no single party or pre-poll alliance is likely to get a clear majority and one where the smallest of changes in individual states is likely to have a major impact on government formation in New Delhi.

In the Shadow of Terror: Anti-politician or Anti-politics?

Neoliberal economics, globalisation of aspirations and the hype about India as a superpower have all led the Indian middle/elite classes to believe that they now constitute the backbone of the country. They expect politics to reflect their aspirations and respond to their anxieties. They want politics to represent them since they assume that they represent India. This disconnect leads to constant suspicion of and cynicism about the politician. This is what underlies the tirade against politicians after the Mumbai horrors. The new activism may be short-lived, but the danger is that the "anti-politics" sentiment will seep across social classes and strengthen a vocabulary of a worrisome kind.

Occupational Mobility: How Much Does Caste Matter?

This paper reports the findings of a study conducted in 2007 on the relationship between caste and occupation in Pune and investigates the patterns of intergenerational occupational mobility across four generations and different caste groups in the city. It finds that while caste is not strongly associated with occupational mobility in general, it is certainly important for upward mobility though the extent of mobility is different among different castes. The maratha-kunbis and dalits are the greatest beneficiaries of upward mobility though there is a difference in the mode of their journey. The Other Backward Classes lag behind these two and some castes among them even show stagnation as far as mobility is concerned.

Challenges before the Reservation Discourse

The Supreme Court judgment does not mean the end of the debate on reservations. A long-standing challenge for those who support affirmative action is to end the phenomenon of quotas being an instrument of political mobilisation rather than a mechanism to ensure social justice. The main issues that need addressing are identification of Other Backward Classes, the criteria for deciding the creamy layer and the fallout of sub-classification of the intended beneficiaries. None of these issues can be seen as having been permanently decided by the Mandal Commission or the courts nor can they be seen as not changing over time.

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