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

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Towards a Theorisation of Emerging New Sociality in Western Uttar Pradesh

Badalta Gaon, Badalta Dehat: Nayi Samajikta ka Uday by Satendra Kumar, Oxford University Press, 2018; pp xxii + 156, `275 (paperback).

For Delhiites, the image of the loud-mouthed uncouth (sub)urban men showing off their posh sedan or SUV with Jat Pride stuck in the rear glass is as symbolic an image as Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is the immediate volatile social power, often imagined, with which one comes into regular and fleeting contacts in stark contrast to the domineering politicoadministrativediplomatic power that is solidly fenced away and predictably indifferent. Stung by its power, one unapologetically tends to stretch this perception over the entire National Capital Region creating an unsettling image of barbarous prosperity. And the urban middle class and upper class of Delhi had been ever ready to savour and sell this image.

The short but comprehensive account brought out by Satendra Kumar in his Badalta Gaon, Badalta Dehat (Changing Village, Changing Countryside) offers a refreshing corrective to this urban common sense by revealing the multiple struggles, deprivations that actually take place in the rural western Uttar Pradesh (UP). Summarised from a research carried for almost two decades in Khanpur village near Meerut, the monograph throws light on the evolving caste, gender, property, and communal relations in the region through multiple case studies. Using a political economy approach it shows how only a tiny majority have accrued most of the benefits of the economic growth while most have had to constantly struggle to maintain a decent life amidst growing conflicts of identity and morality. The book argues for fresh concepts and perspectives to understand the ruralurban continuum and interdependence unfolding in contemporary India. It provides a timely critical overview into the sociopolitical processes of a region that is the melting point of communal polarisation and farmers protests.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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