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

A+| A| A-

Jholawalla Redux

Even if it is now a bit anachronistic, the figure of the jholawalla is an abiding myth always at hand, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

There was a brief timeback in the 1970s and 1980swhen the figure of the jholawalla actually corresponded to some tangible reality. The kurta and jeans, the shoulder bag, signalled a brisk functionalism, as well as a rejection of the glossy fashion aesthetic that was already slinking in, in the wake of liberalisation. The jholawalla, the JNU metonym, named a certain correspondent anxiety, a subliminal guilt about the costs of globalisationDunkel, etc, so to speak. Soon, however, particularly after the fall of the wall, the euphoric chorus got louder as the road ahead seemed imminently to be leadingalways a-leadingto the paradise where history ended.

And the figure of the jholawalla began to seem anachronistic and then, even faintly nostalgica touching reminder of our youthful naivete, before we entered the brave new world. The jholawalla passed into the imagination, occasionally resurrected by pop sociologists, and became a figure of myth, a polysemic cultural resource that had become, temporarily, superfluous. As part of the same social process, I suppose, JNU gradually supplanted Delhi Universityas Delhi had earlier supplanted Allahabadas a nursery for aspiring civil servants and baby bureaucrats.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.