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

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Epidemics and Capitalism

In the context of the spread of COVID-19, a number of left and progressive thinkers, scholars, and activists have deliberated upon the linkage between contemporary capitalism and epidemics. Many of them tend to argue that such epidemics originate due to tendencies inherent in the capitalist system of production. While these interventions present some useful critical analyses, they also tend to present a one-sided view of this relationship, founded on a deeper confusion regarding the human–nature relationship under contemporary capitalism.

Rights through Resistance

The legalist approach taken so far with respect to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement has marginalised more radical possibilities of resistance by rendering diverse identities and intersectionality invisible. In this context, the historical examination of the LGBT movement in comparison with the civil rights movement and local case studies gives the trajectories of “lost” possibilities a new context and significance. These possibilities are explored here.

Reading Ambedkar in the Time of Covid-19

What lies behind the policy blindness towards concerns of the oppressed in India? The “social distancing” induced by the COVID-19 health crisis does not address the problem of deeper levels of distancing caused by “social isolation” and “social nausea,” two concepts used by B R Ambedkar. This article is an attempt to understand the factors behind the collective sociopolitical response towards the poorest sections characterised by lack of empathy, and to develop an Ambedkarite framework to understand social policy generally and, more specifically, in India.

The Myth of ‘Collective Conscience’

India’s legal doctrine of “collective conscience” cannot be traced back to the original concept as propagated by French sociologist Emile Durkheim. The consistency with which this concept has been used by the Indian judiciary while imposing the death sentence, compels us to contemplate how it has been applied. An attempt is made in this article to present the flaws in the concept of collective conscience and in its application in India.

Interrogating the Politics of Folk

The analysis of Goalpariya folk music of Assam and its various facets helps deconstruct the conventional notion of “folk” as a neutral, static, historically continuous, and an unproblematic concept. The interconnections and linkages of folk music with the themes of identity assertion, tradition, authenticity, contexts of appropriation, and overall dynamism inherent within the concept of folk are also explored.

The Mandal System in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

The mandal system came into existence as an administrative reform, as part of reducing the size of erstwhile taluks and making them more effective and manageable. The decentralisation of taluks into mandals was done with a two-pronged strategy of modernising the revenue administration, record-keeping as well as further decentralising the panchayati raj system. It was hoped that the division of erstwhile large taluks into mandals could make them more manageable, and also that the administration of the state government, especially the revenue administration, will become modernised.

Digital Divide and the Aakash Tablet

The effectiveness of the Aakash tablet project—positioned by the Indian government as a device to “bridge the digital divide” and enable students from disadvantaged social segments to access internet-based educational resources—is examined by surveying different categories of users to find out how the tablet was used and how effective it was as a technology-based learning enabler. The hardware was reported to be unreliable and had a short life, the device was distributed without any underlying rationale, and there was hardly any substantive content development.

Unequal Access to Political Parties in India

Open access to political parties, which strengthens the democratisation process in a country, has declined in India during the last few decades. The contributing factors to this transformation are the personalisation of leadership based on family, kinship or primordial identities, lack of open membership or democratic decision-making within a party, unusually high cost of electioneering in contemporary times preventing average citizens from taking the plunge into party politics, and parties moving away from a culture of service to that of rent-seeking groups, whether in power or in opposition.

Difference, Division, Desi Breeds

A fundamental question in economics as well as in adaptive evolutionary biology is when to use difference and when to use division in cost–benefit analysis. At times, decisions taken to maximise the cost–benefit ratio can be diametrically opposite to that to maximise the cost–benefit difference. Common people intuitively know when to maximise the ratio and when to maximise the difference. The contrasting history of hybrid versus “desi” breeds in agriculture as opposed to animal husbandry illustrates this point effectively.

CAA–NRC–NPR and Its Discontents

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 is unconstitutional for its discriminatory and arbitrary provisions. The linked exercises of the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens threaten to disenfranchise crores of people, rendering them stateless and without rights. The combination ofCAA withNPR–NRC would produce consequences that are detrimental to the stable and harmonious functioning of our society and policy.

Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is the government’s flagship refinance and guarantee scheme aimed at providing access to credit for non-corporate and informal enterprises. Analysing the available data, the performance of the PMMY against its objectives is assessed, and it is observed that the PMMY has not altered secular trends in lending to the target segments. The current scheme design for its ability to create the level of impact needed is questioned, and some ideas on how to accelerate impact are also discussed.

Envisioning the India of 2047

The graduates of universities eventually fit, by and large, into social positions as solid citizens. This is in spite of the deep uneasiness some of them may continue to have with the society. Many of them continue to translate their disaffection into creative and intellectual expressions within the contours of the existing order. Even the most “radical” of our universities have, over the years, produced multiple times more teachers, researchers, professionals, civil servants, journalists and development workers than they have produced anarchists and revolutionaries.

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