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.

Explaining Village-level Development Trajectories through Schooling in Karnataka

This paper develops and explores a methodology for explaining development trajectories at the village-level. Using data from the Censuses of 2001 and 2011, and qualitative and quantitative data from three purposively selected villages in North Karnataka, it asks why literacy rates and schooling vary considerably in geographically proximate villages. In advancing an explanation, the paper attends to what has been termed the micro-macro problem in analytical sociology as well as the problem of spatial variability, neither of which has been systematically addressed in the literature on rural change in India. The data and methodology used here help identify two social mechanisms--livelihoods enhancement practices and social cooperation--which together explain why one village (Chennooru) experiences stable and higher levels of schooling relative to its neighbours where either livelihoods enhancement practices are absent (Valasooru) or there is a lack of social cooperation (Banadooru). The approach and analysis in the paper imply that attention to social mechanisms aids the crafting of more robust policies on schooling and development.

Structural Change in Bihar's Rural Economy

Bihar has been showing signs of emerging from stagnation and backwardness. For this to occur in full, an agrarian transformation is central in a state where urbanisation remains very low. This paper uses longitudinal household data from a sample of villages to explore changes in production relations, land and other assets, agricultural development and occupational diversification. There has been a significant change in class structure and a shift away from agricultural occupations for male workers (much less for female), but non-agricultural work is mainly outside the village and largely outside the state. Real wages have risen substantially, more than can be explained by rising agricultural productivity, migration being an important contributory factor. But the segmentation of the rural labour market has increased and local development is uneven.

Changing Characteristics of Villages in Tamil Nadu

Illustrating the imaginative use of the Primary Census Abstract for Tamil Nadu from the 1991 to 2011 censuses, this paper separates villages that are chronically backward from those that are more developed in terms of demographic and economic characteristics. It also makes use of the data to describe changes in spatial distributions over time.

Rape as Atrocity in Contemporary Haryana

This paper highlights the escalating incidence of sexual violence against Dalit girls by Jats in contemporary Haryana, and the extraordinary struggles unfolding in the battle for justice. Details from a few cases through fact-finding visits and interactions present pictures of suffering and courage within entrenched structures of caste, now under siege. The unique place of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in contemporary Haryana is another major facet of the struggle under way. The paper poses many questions to the women's movement, the wider democratic public, and the state. How much progress has been made in claims towards restorative justice, whereby victimhood can be transformed into meaningful survival?

Some Thoughts on Extreme Violence and the Imagination

This paper explores the relationship between torture and sexual violence. As I understand it, sexual shaming, humiliation and hurt are inalienable aspects of torture inflicted on men, women and transpersons. In this sense, torture is nothing but the utter and violent perversion of the sense of touch, of that recognition of bodily being occasioned by physical intimacy. While easy correspondences between torture and sexual violence cannot be established they are related. To this end, this paper addresses the following questions: How do victims of torture survive that experience? What affords succour to those who have endured unspeakable pain? How is one to understand the manic intensity with which the torturer inflicts violence? It draws upon a range of texts to do with torture and sexual violence--fiction, affidavits, court judgments and descriptions of legal trails.

Locating 'Hyderabad for Feminism' in the Present Struggle against Violence

This paper explores the voice of the urban middle-class youth in the current struggle against patriarchy, focusing on Hyderabad. Within this broad topic, it focuses on the group 'Hyderabad for Feminism', and the kinds of questions, reactions and discussions that occur on its Facebook page.

Gathering Steam

From faint beginnings in scattered solitary actions in the 1990s, the activities of men's rights activists have emerged in India as a well-organised social movement. They denounce feminists with a broad brush, portend the impending doom of the institutions of marriage and family, and particularly attack the simultaneous use of civil and criminal laws relating to marriage and domestic violence for alleged harassment of husbands. This paper uses an ethnographic account of one Delhi group to examine their political strategies and techniques of shaping community and identity. There are lessons here for feminist organisations: from understanding the varied anxieties that bring people to such groups, to identifying the conflation between specific weak cases and general castigation of wives, to studying the specific tactics of an energetic grass-roots contemporary movement.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence

After a prolonged campaign for criminal and civil laws to curb domestic violence, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force. However, lasting solutions to the problem continue to be elusive, as the grim statistics of wife murders and suicides by married women record a steady rise. This article takes a close look at the manner in which this law is being implemented on the ground, and the many shortcomings, even as women continue to be blamed--earlier for "misusing" the law and now for not wanting to approach the courts because the justice delivery system is tardy. The crux of the issue is the support network that the victim of domestic violence needs and it is here that the implementation of the domestic violence law has failed most spectacularly.

Reporting Sexual Violence in India

The Delhi gang rape of 2012 is a milestone in the way in which Indian media covers the crime of rape. This paper examines how the mainstream Hindi and English print and broadcast media has handled such coverage since then. It looks at how the media deals with rapes committed by family members and sexual violence during communal riots and in insurgency-affected areas. It finds that economics plays an important role in what the media reports and the prominence it gives to reports of rape.

Employment Outcomes along the Rural-Urban Gradation

In an economy that is transforming rapidly, both economically and spatially, the boundaries between rural and urban areas have become blurred. In practice, the rural-urban divide is more accurately characterised as a rural-urban gradation. Labour market outcomes vary along this gradation. Not integrating the gradation in our data and analysis leads to important loss of granularity and can yield misleading conclusions, a point we illustrate with the decline in female labour force participation.

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