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

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This Chāy Is Bitter

The global structure of "rewards" in the tea industry is so severely skewed in favour of the multinational retailers and blenders that, after the plantations, processing units and the buying agents get their shares, the tea-picking workers' lot is one of pittance. This article speaks of across-the-board violations of the rights of workers, mostly women tea-pickers, in the tea gardens in India in the age of globalisation.

Nude Worship in Karnataka

The article revisits the debate around bettaleseve or nude worship at Chandragutti, central Karnataka that occurred in the mid-1980s. Bettaleseve is a form of worship rendered to goddess Renukamba at Chandragutti. It ran into major controversy in 1986 when the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, some women's groups and non-governmental organisations protested against the "nudity" of dalit-bahujan women who comprise the majority of worshippers. The article examines the subject produced in the protest discourse and proposes another reading of the subject through a return to the Renukamba myth that underpins and is played out during bettaleseve. It explores whether the myth can be read as a body of knowledge-practice that provides an alternate basis to articulate the dalit woman's standpoint.

Abduction of the District Collector of Sukma, Chhattisgarh

The kidnapping of the Sukma district collector in April 2012 and the issues that came up in the CPI (Maoist) party's statements had much to do with a model of development that is surrendering rich natural resources to corporates and multinationals for a pittance in the name of growth. This article, written by one of the two mediators who negotiated with both the Chhattisgarh government's nominees and CPI (Maoist) representatives to secure the collector's release, describes the twists and turns the talks took and points to a few salutary lessons that Indian democracy would do well to pay heed to.

Corporate Boards in India

An examination of the caste diversity of Indian corporate boards of a thousand top Indian companies - accounting for four-fi fths of market capitalisation of all companies listed in the major stock indices in India - measured by the Blau index shows that their median score for 2010 is zero, indicating that there is no diversity at all. Indian corporate boards continue to remain "old boys clubs" based on caste affi liation rather than on other considerations (like merit or experience).

Notes on the Military Presence in Sri Lanka's Northern Province

The Sri Lankan government may have won the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the north-east of the country, but another protracted struggle is looming on the horizon, that of winning democracy and development back from the clutches of militarisation. In the meantime, for those in the north (and the east) struggling to recover socially, economically and psychologically from the war, the message for the moment at least is clear: reconcile, by keeping your head down, give way to the army, be patient and hope for the best. In other words – “do pretty much what you did to survive the reign of the LTTE ”.

Financing of Indian Microfinance

The pattern of funds fl ow during 2006-10 to self-help groups and microfi nance institutions - the two competing institutional arrangements of microfi nance delivery in India - reveals that the commercial banking system had steadily shifted its patronage to large MFIs from the mid-2000s. Increased access to equity capital helped these MFIs improve their capital adequacy, which, in turn, helped them leverage the domestic debt market. They also resorted to newer ways of raising capital through product structuring and introduction of innovative debt instruments. MFIs thus played a signifi cant role in linking the processes of neo-liberal restructuring and fi nancialisation with the daily lives of local communities.

TRAI Recommendations

Commotion and confusion prevails over the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations on spectrum pricing and refarming. The industry is split over the suggestions relating to valuation and allocation of electro-magnetic spectrum which follow the 2 February order of the Supreme Court cancelling the 122 licences that were issued in an illegal manner from 2007-08 onwards. The government is under pressure from lobbies to dilute TRAI's recommendations and the regulatory body too has complicated matters. In the end, will the consumer end up as the biggest loser?

In the Jungle of Law

This article examines the implementation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006 in the historical context of Wayanad's adivasi land struggles. The left-wing Government of Kerala (2006-11) aimed to interpret the FRA as a legal opportunity to obtain forest (department) land and to fulfi l decade-old promises to redistribute land to landless adivasis. However, the provisions of the Act were not the right means to bring them redistributive justice. The well-intentioned FRA failed to make an impact in the specifi c historical and legal environment of the region.

Delhi Water Supply Reforms: Public-Private Partnerships or Privatisation?

The manner of implementation of water supply reforms in three areas of Delhi based on the public-private partnership model has been a quiet and secret affair without proactive consultations with the people of the project areas. This account of the Delhi reforms examines the documents of one of the three PPPs and asks questions about the manner in which the projects are unfolding, the roles of the Delhi Jal Board and private entities as envisaged in the PPPs, as well as the overall implications for the right to water.

Rise and Fall of Calcutta's Group Theatre

There is good reason to believe that there were telltale signs in West Bengal even in the late 1970s, at the moment of the left's greatest triumph, that there was something intrinsically wrong in the process through which the left had come to power and retained it. This article attempts to establish this through a brief examination of Calcutta's Group Theatre movement, which since its inception was largely driven by left-democratic ideals. A strong movement in the 1960s, by the 1980s it had begun to fade away. It is possible to see the crisis in the Group Theatre movement as a fallout of the much bigger crisis in the constitutional left movement of the country.

Redefining Development and Quality of Life

For those who believe that we are not necessarily condemned to the gloomy status quo and that societies can do things differently, what is happening in Ecuador provides inspiration and even guidance. Ecuador could be one of the most exciting places on earth at present, in terms of new thinking about and actively working towards an alternative development paradigm based on new relationships between economy, society and nature. This article gives an account of Ecuador which is particularly important because it shows how much can be achieved if there is sufficient political will and popular support, even by a small country operating under numerous constraints in uncertain economic times.

Land Acquisition and Dispossession

This article presents an investigation into strategies employed by privately-owned companies to gain access to land for resource extraction in Jharkhand where much of the land being put under the shovel is inalienable adivasi or tribal land and deedless commons. It concludes that although policy reforms are welcome, cosmetic changes in mineral governance laws are inadequate to protect the interests of the poor. It suggests an alternative vision, a complete overhaul of mineral ownership to allow the poor to share the revenue benefits.

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