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

Surinder S JodhkaSubscribe to Surinder S Jodhka

Comparative Contexts of Discrimination: Caste and Untouchability in South Asia

Based on empirical studies carried out in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during 2007-08, this paper offers a brief introduction to the prevailing dalit situation in the four countries and identifies specific problems of social inequality, discrimination and deprivation of the groups in these countries. The four studies clearly bring out the fact that even when the meaning of untouchability and its sources (religion or tradition) varies across south Asia, as also its forms (from physical touch and residential segregation to taboos and restrictions on inter-dining), physical movement and pursuing occupations of one's choice, its effects on those placed at the bottom are quite similar, i e, economic deprivation, social exclusion and a life of humiliation.

Dalits in Business: Self-Employed Scheduled Castes in North-West India

Academic writings have invariably tended to look at caste as a traditional system of social hierarchy and culture, which is expected to weaken and eventually disappear with the process of economic development and urbanisation/modernisation. Caste has indeed undergone many changes with development and urbanisation, but it continues to be an important fact in the public life of the country. We do not have many empirical studies that help us understand the contemporary nature of the reality of caste. What are the experiences of dalits who have ventured to set up their own businesses and enterprises? What are the ways in which dalits in the urban labour market negotiate with prejudice and discrimination? A survey of dalit businesses in two urban centres of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh tries to answer these questions.

The Ravi Dasis of Punjab: Global Contours of Caste and Religious Strife

The attack in May on two visiting religious leaders of Ravi Dasis in Vienna, presumably by a group of local militant Sikhs, sparked off widespread violence in Punjab. Though most of the violence by Ravi Dasi dalits was directed against public property and reflected their general anger at the Vienna incident, the mainstream media was quick to interpret it as yet another instance of caste conflict within Sikhism, viz, between dalit Sikhs and upper caste Sikhs. Such misrepresentations of caste and religious realities of Punjab today could lead to a communal divide between dalits and mainstream Sikhism. Based on an empirical study of the Punjabi Ravi Dasis, the paper tries to provide a historical perspective on caste and religion in Punjab today.

Internal Classification of Scheduled Castes: The Punjab Story

Much before the question of quotas within quotas in jobs reserved for the scheduled castes acquired prominence in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab had introduced a twofold classification of its SC population. When the Andhra case went to court, Punjab had to rework its policy. It is useful to closely examine the Punjab case to see if the internal classification of SCs for quotas in jobs has served a purpose.

In the Name of Globalisation

This paper draws on interview data to analyse the attitudes of employers/hiring managers in India's organised private sector towards the caste and community attributes of their potential employees. We focus on the role ascriptive qualities play in employer perceptions of job candidates, arguing that they persist despite a formal adherence to the importance of merit. Antagonism toward reservations, as a mechanism for promoting employment for scheduled castes, is articulated as a principled commitment to the modern virtues of competition and productivity.

The Other Side of Development

1)From Past to Present by Jan Breman; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007; 2)The Poverty Regime in Village India by Jan Breman; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007;

Perceptions and Receptions: Sachar Committee and the Secular Left

It is in the larger context of the changing nature of the political process in India that we need to locate the real significance of the Sachar Committee report and the kind of response it has received from different political formations, including the secular left. Perhaps more important than the data that it has been able to marshal in support of its formulations on the development deficit among the Indian Muslims is the manner in which it has dealt with the subject.

Interrogating Caste and Religion in India's Emerging Middle Class

The paper is based on a questionnaire study of caste and religion among university students in three of India's leading universities - in short, representatives of India's new middle class. Using an extensive battery of agree-disagree items, two major scales concerning ideological attitudes towards caste, on the one hand, and personal involvement with caste, on the other, are generated. After demonstrating that it is commonplace for these students to be opposed in principle but involved in practice, the paper relates the scales to independent measures of caste, class and religious background. The pattern of ambivalence and uncertainty revealed among these student respondents appear to reflect a pattern similar to what is perhaps emerging in the society at large.

Beyond 'Crises'

Though a large proportion of Punjab's population continues to live in rural areas, the so-called traditional structure of the village has seen many fundamental shifts during the period following the green revolution. The internal differentiation along caste and class lines that the farming sector has experienced during the green/post-green revolution periods has weakened the latter's position in regional and national politics. The weakening of farmers' movements and the marginalisation of the agrarian agenda need to be understood in the context of this fragmentation of the agrarian communities.

Debates on Reservations

a position in favour of extending the pro- Debates on Reservations Reservations and Private Sector: Quest for Equal Opportunity and Growth by Sukhadeo Thorat, Aryama and Prashant Negi (editors); Indian Institute of Dalit Studies and Rawat Publications, New Delhi, 2005; pp xvi+424, Rs 775.

Return of the Region: Identities and Electoral Politics in Punjab

During the 1980s religion had virtually become the sole axis of politics in Punjab. Revival of 'normal politics' and the electoral process during the 1990s has brought the issues of regional identity and economic interests of different social classes back to the fore. This paper attempts to locate the political context of the one-sided decision of Punjab government to annul its agreement of 1981 with the states of Haryana and Rajasthan on distribution of river waters. Without going into the immediate questions of 'legality' and its implications for the digging of the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal (SYL), the article looks at the issue in the broader context of changing political alignments in the state's politics.

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