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

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Revisiting Agrarian Bihar

Social Power and Everyday Class Relations: Agrarian Transformation in North Bihar by Anand Chakravarti; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2001; pp 311, Rs 525.

Do It Dignity, Man!

It was the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the RJD of Laloo Prasad Yadav that were responsible for the tragic denouement of the Women's Representation Bill. It is difficult to see why the left and democratic forces let these two Yadavas get away with downright feudal attitudes.

Everyday Life of the Subaltern

Rewriting the Language of Politics: Kisans in Colonial Bihar by Arun Kumar; Manohar, 2001; pp 234, Rs 475.

Comparative Panchayat Systems

State Politics and Panchayats in India by Buddhadeb Ghosh and Girish Kumar; Manohar Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2003; pp 243, Rs 475

Poverty in India in the 1990s

The authors examine the poverty situation in 15 major states across four distinct dimensions of headcount ratio, size of the poor population, depth and severity for the rural, the urban and the total population. The poverty situation, they find, worsened over the six-year period 1993-94 to 1999-2000 in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the remaining 12 states there was a distinct improvement in terms of the most visible indicator, namely, the absolute size of the poor population. Overall, despite diversity across poverty indicators and across states, the overwhelming impression is one of greater improvement in the poverty situation in the 1990s than in the previous 10�½-year period.

Ranveer Sena and 'Massacre Widows'

The ongoing conflict between the landlord-backed Ranveer Sena and the Naxalites in Bihar acquired a new dimension during the 1999 Lok Sabha election season with the Sena fielding a candidate and parading 'massacre widows' before the electorate. Given the background of massacres in the state widowing many more dalit women than upper caste ones, the campaign ploy has provoked a debate centered of class, caste and gender.

Heroes, Histories and Booklets

The new emergence of the educated and politically conscious middle class of dalit-bahujan origin in UP and Bihar active in writing, propagating and publishing literature, with a view to creating awareness among the backward classes coincides with the rise of bahujan politics through the early 1980s. The emergence of new heroes in literature and hitherto neglected and ignored traditions is related to the need to acquire self-respect and social acceptance. But in its search for identity, dalit-bahujan literature, by propping itself up as counter-literature, also seeks realisation by a negation of brahminic literature.

Food and Power in Bihar and Jharkhand

Public distribution of foodgrains in India is a national policy, which exists in all states. In some states, however, the public distribution system (PDS) works much better than in other states. The undivided state of Bihar (now the new Bihar and Jharkhand) is one of the states in which the policy works poorly. It is important to understand why this is the case. Generally, policy changes and recommendations do not take the specificities of particular states into account. Yet, for the PDS performance to improve in Bihar and Jharkhand, it is absolutely necessary to understand why it works as it does, what the main bottlenecks are and where there are possibilities for improvement, if any. This paper makes such an attempt: it describes the PDS in Bihar and Jharkhand, not only in terms of how it fails and what it does not accomplish, but also in terms of what it is and what it does. It is shown that while many people do benefit from the present set-up, there are also people within almost all categories of stakeholders who are dissatisfied with the large-scale misappropriation of foodgrains. It is argued that there is scope for change, but change requires strategic political manoeuvring and initially a low-key approach in order not to awaken and antagonise strong vested interests.

Calcutta Diary

After a hundred years of being subjected to a vacuous, remorseless neocolonialism, the Bihari psyche began to assert itself in a most forceful manner in the second half of the 20th century. And two individuals in particular articulated the fusion of legacy with the ethos nurtured by contemporary notions, concepts and ideas, Pradhan Prasad and Arvind Das, and both, by a cruel coincidence, have disappeared from the landscape in the space of the past few months.

Bihar : New Panchayats and Subaltern Resurgence

The panchayat elections have seen the decisive emergence of the lower backward castes. Their presence in the power structure as 'mukhias' and zilla parishad chairmen indicates that new social and political equations are emerging at the local level.

Bihar

The panchayat elections, held after 20 years and a long court battle, may not immediately make a difference to the quality or nature of governance in the rural areas of the state. But in the interim there has been a change in the way people perceive developmental issues and most importantly, for the first time, people will be able to directly confront those who hold power. This will pave the way for effective people-friendly governance.

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