ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Rural Elites and the Limits of Scheduled Caste Assertiveness in Rural Malwa, Punjab

The decline of caste-based territorial dominance is widely reported to have given Scheduled Castes more autonomy, but also allowed them more space for political assertion. This paper, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the predominantly agrarian region of Malwa in Punjab, illustrates how SCs are often loudly pressing demands upon political leaders and bureaucrats. However, the paper also illustrates how they still do not wield meaningful power in village panchayats. A wealthy class of farmers that is increasingly involved in urban business uses a combination of party connections, cash and coercion to capture and maintain power at their expense. Such farmers frequently use their political influence to bolster their business interests and to appropriate state resources such as village common lands. The evidence presented here suggests that when SCs mobilise to demand their rights, they are still careful not to challenge dominant interests.

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