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

Insight

Bitcoins for the first time provide a practical electronic alternative to currency. While there can be no guarantee that bitcoins will continue to have a positive value, the decentralised nature of the Bitcoin network makes it a strong competitor to established online payment systems.

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 does not give the same rights to those who manually clean drains and septic tanks in urban areas. This is also manual labour and involves the use of hands in cleaning excreta. Workers have to enter manholes to physically clean blockages. Government bodies have brazenly ignored court orders on mechanisation and bans on manual cleaning of sewage pipes. Unfortunately, the much-awaited new law also ignores the plight of sewage workers.

The upcoming Bali ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation threatens to constrain the National Food Security Act even before it is fully implemented. Outdated WTO provisions will severely limit the extent of food subsidy India can provide and the best the United States is willing to agree to is a two-year reprieve. More generally, Bali is also expected to see a very lopsided outcome with a US-led initiative succeeding in ramming an expensive trade facilitation agreement down developing countries' throats and refusing to address long-standing issues in agriculture and rules of origin.

Verbal abuse faced by women online can range from sexist comments to rape threats and is a growing issue both nationally and globally. Asking as to what extent the law can provide recourse to these forms of abuse, this article raises various questions around the ways in which the Indian legal system as a whole, and the Information Technology Act in particular, constructs and responds to women's rights.

In a number of Indian festivals, the rituals and practices alienate different sections of society and even exploit them. Such is the case with the Holi celebrations in Charthari village in Uttar Pradesh where the dalits and women bear the brunt of the hard work that goes into observing the occasion but are not permitted to participate in the "enjoyment". This raises questions about interpretations of Holi as the carnivalesque churning of social hierarchies.

Land fl ight from the fl ood-prone Sindh countryside in Pakistan is becoming increasingly widespread, driven by a feudal agrarian regime which has millions of land-poor peasants bound in debt and servitude and by rising population pressure on agrarian resources. Together these make sharecropping and rural labour extremely unviable sources of livelihood. This article looks at the agrarian crisis and the proletarianisation of the peasantry stuck halfway between the countryside and the city.

Twenty three years ago Bhagalpur district witnessed one of the worst communal riots in post-independent India. The victims - mainly Muslims - are still struggling, socially and fi nancially. This essay lays out the main fi ndings of the official commissions of inquiry set up to investigate the carnage and interweaves the context of a research study by the Centre for Equity Studies documenting the experiences of victims/survivors in Bhagalpur on justice and reparations, and makes policy recommendations on the framework for reparations for the victims.

A bauxite/aluminium project very similar to the Vedanta project in Odisha is coming up in Visakhapatnam istrict of Andhra Pradesh. AnRak Aluminium, a company of the government of Ras al-Khaimah of the United Arab Emirates and Penna Cement of AP has secured approval for both an aluminium complex and the bauxite ines, but the fi nal forest clearance for the mines is awaited. The AnRak project has replicated the Vedanta odel of fi rst building the refi nery and then setting up the mine. The mine is to be operated by the state government to circumvent the ban on non-tribal landownership. In fact, the state government has disregarded the huge environmental and social impact and popular protests against mining bauxite in the Jerrela Hills, inhabited almost exclusively by adivasi tribes who will be displaced, to safeguard private gain.

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.