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

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Reading Spatial Inequality in Urban India

Where one lives matters because patterns of spatial inequality shape the horizons of urban lives. They also critically affect urban policies, especially in large metropolitan cities where intra-urban differences can be of very large magnitudes. Gaining insights from recently released ward-level census data for urban settlements, this paper uses a set of constructed indices and geospatial maps to focus on spatial inequality within cities and across scales of settlements. Arguing that the slum is not a proxy for urban poverty and inadequate housing patterns, it underscores the need for newer methods to spatially trace multidimensional urban poverty and vulnerability.

Big Data to Improve Urban Planning

Data analytics is a frontier field where the tools and techniques are still being developed. Expertise, a critical input, is in short supply, the other being access to data. Even so, Colombo-based LIRNEasia has demonstrated the value of mobile network big data for urban planning in Sri Lanka's capital city. Pseudonymised, historical call detail records from multiple mobile operators have been analysed to understand and monitor land use, congregations of people, peak and off-peak travel patterns, communities, and traffic.

Data, Urbanisation and the City

By using the enormous processing capacity of computing that is now available, we can, it is claimed, improve how cities are governed--make them smart! This review attempts to illuminate how data reveals relationships between citizens and the state and thus facilitates an informed debate on whether data can be deployed to build a more inclusive and constructive relationship between citizens and their government. As urbanisation deepens, we see struggles around who gets to decide what is to be governed and how the data is to be collected and deployed and what technologies and skills are to be deployed for implementation. The papers in this collection can be viewed in three groups, respectively, dealing with three issues: data collection processes, intra-urban spatial inequities and use of new sensing technologies.

The Selfie and the Slut

The selfie, which has become a default aesthetic of self-representation, is either mocked at as a fad, or considered as a digital photograph. This paper looks at the phenomenon of "selfie-shaming" to see how either of these approaches of dismissal or trying to regulate the selfie through the same regulatory frameworks as the photograph fail to capture the complex practices of body, technology, control, and regulation that are implicated in this phenomenon. In looking at selfie-shaming and the subsequent processes of "slut shaming", it argues that we need to think of selfies not only as cultural artefacts but also as born digital objects to show how it produces new regimes of control and visibility of women's bodies online. Drawing from software studies, cyber-feminism and digital cultures, it constructs the case of #GamerGate to show how we need to expand the scope of women's problems of consent and agency online beyond the instances of revenge and non-consensual pornography.

Risking Feminism?

This paper is a classroom ethnography that engages with urban, middle-class narratives on feminism by young women. For them, their feminism is often precarious because it places possible heterosexual romance at risk by marking them as apparently anti-men. Further, it tends to place them in antagonistic relationships with their families, compelling them to engage in various strategies of negotiation, subversion and rebellion. This paper examines their understanding of both possible heterosexual relationships and the complex negotiations with families. Reflecting on these narratives, it argues that young women feminists today are taking risks, asking difficult questions, critically evaluating their own location and subject positions in their engagement with a feminist politics and practice.

On Fire in Weibo

The year 2012 witnessed a new wave of feminism in mainland China with feminist performance art in the street and feminist online activism. Through examining three significant online activities in China since 2012, this paper explores how feminists have made the social media, especially Weibo, their new stage for feminist activities that are different from the traditional ones and that are able to provoke heated discussions among both the public and the mainstream media. Through Weibo and the other social media, grass-roots feminists have opened up a new bottom-up mode of activism different from the dominant top-down paradigm prevalent since the 1980s.

Navigating a Field of Opposition

This paper attempts to think through an impasse in the field of feminist scholarship and activism in India, one that has been perceived and analysed by many feminist scholars in the last few years. This seeming impasse pertains to the "caste and gender" relationship, which has produced a field of opposition on questions related to sexual labour and sexualised representation. The focus of the study is on the figure of the bar dancer and the devadasi, and the continuing debates on their practice or the systems they are located in, to argue that this false field of opposition is created by a growing separation between legal and social reform and the consequent erasure of social histories of caste in moments that are overdetermined by the law. This paper, therefore, advocates a return to thinking through questions of consent, agency and freedom through the realm of social practice and history.

In the Eye of International Feminism

This paper proposes that sex work and feminism have been knotted and kept apart in much of Anglophone feminism in part due to historical and historiographic reasons. This conundrum casts a long shadow on former cold war territories like Taiwan, and has a bearing on the shape taken by feminist politics therein, notably in the "sex wars" of the 1990s.

From the Streets to the Web

Does social media enable forming networks of solidarity between different marginalised groups? Is there a space for non-normative discourses such as the discourse on pleasure? Does digital technology aid in the construction of feminist counter-publics? These are some of the questions explored in this paper. Power relations that operate through social media, including forms of gendered and sexualised violence, are also discussed.

Groundwater Irrigation-Electricity-Crop Diversification Nexus in Punjab

The present wheat-rice cropping pattern, groundwater irrigation, procurement policy, and electricity policy have bound farmers in Punjab into a convenient yet vicious relationship that is economically and ecologically unsustainable. The state government provides free electricity for agriculture and a high minimum support price and yet recommends a shift away from rice to curb groundwater depletion. This paper analyses the trends and turning points in irrigation development in the state, its shifts in cropping pattern, and trends in electricity consumption. It further examines the real-world feasibility of the long-pending recommendation to shift the cropping pattern from water-intensive rice and wheat to less water-intensive maize and wheat.

Agricultural Productivity Growth

This study examines the question of convergence in land and labour productivity in Indian agriculture between 1991 and 2011. The tendency of low-productivity states to catch up with high-productivity states is studied through the unconditional β-convergence approach, and the operation of Galton's fallacy through growthterminal productivity-level regressions. The diminution of variance in productivity levels is tested using the σ-convergence approach and the robustness of the results is tested using alternative test statistics. The results reveal that states are converging in terms of land productivity, but not in terms of labour productivity.

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