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

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How Unstable Are the Sources of Livelihood?

This paper, based on the data from the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey, reflects on the lack of sustainable sources of livelihood and the phenomenon of multiple activities pursued simultaneously. A thorough analysis of the quarterly data suggests that in the rural areas, workers largely dependent on agriculture are compelled to shift to other activities in the off season. The nature of employment also varies, particularly in the urban areas. The occupational choice model estimated based on the quarterly data is indicative of changes in the marginal effect for workers of a given caste or an individual with a certain educational attainment. Certain social categories and workers with less educational attainments are more susceptible to changing probability of joining a particular activity and adopting multiple activities.

Navigating through Democracy

Politics of the Poor: Negotiating Democracy in Contemporary India by Indrajit Roy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, New York, US, Melbourne, Australia; New Delhi and Singapore: 2018; pp xxi + 521, price not indicated.

Forking Paths

Sasheej Hegde is grateful to the authors Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai for their lively participation in a symposium on the book organised by the Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad on 3 March 2020, which also oversaw a critical input from Aseem Prakash of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad and Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan of English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. The event was, fortunately, just before the COVID-19 disruption, although the latter explains largely the delay in our rendition. This paper also celebrates the over three decades of friendship between its two authors—and, even as it bears the brunt of a writing style intrinsic to one of them, the foray marks their shared interests and concerns, at once analytical, ethical and political (of the order of “maitri” as encapsulated in Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social ).

Forking Paths

The attempt here is to think with, and systematically through, Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai’s ambitious work, Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social (2019). Addressing the two configurations of thought underlying the work—namely the focus on “sensing” as central to the conceptualisation of the social and the idea of “the everyday social”—the paper tries to capture the movement of the text and the conceptual manoeuvres underscoring it. The challenges for our attempt at theorising caste are highlighted, even as new pathways are forged for understanding the problem of caste in India.

History Matters

In enabling us to acknowledge differences, and developing skills of thinking and analysis, history matters.

March for Backwardness

Overviewing the historical trajectory of the demand for the reservations for Marathas, the background conditions for such demand are sought be explained. The nature of the agitation for reservations and the political response to the agitation are analysed.

Engaging with Isabel Wilkerson’s Idea of Race

A meditation on Isabel Wilkerson’s critique of race that proceeds through an overview of Wilkerson’s multiple agendas, observations about her arguments, with respect to race, and an analysis of the intertwining of systematised discrimination (knowledge) and legalised violence (force of law).

On the Maratha Reservations Judgment: Part II

Apart from holding the Maratha reservations unconstitutional, the Supreme Court also interpreted the 102nd amendment to take away the power of state governments to designate communities as “socially and educationally backward classes.” This particular aspect of the Court’s judgment is poorly reasoned, goes contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution and threatens to upset well-set principles and practices in relation to reservations in India.

Regurgitative Violence

The violence against marginalised students by a teacher at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is intrinsically related to the Brahminic cultural psyche of elite higher education institutions in India. It stands as testimony that post-independence India’s modern secular education has failed to replace caste as an institution to build “character” in terms of the capacity for living with others. The vitality rather than the ideology of caste is the subject of this analysis, tracing the historical and social formation of these elite institutions and caste in them.

Overcast Minds

Children from historically disadvantaged castes face systemic hurdles in education in India—ill-equipped schools, poorly trained teachers, discrimination—leading to high failure and dropout rates. Children from disadvantaged castes also face subtler psychological impediments. One such impediment is consciousness of negative stereotypes. Via an experiment, this study illustrates how caste consciousness could affect academic performance, and finds that children from disadvantaged castes perform poorly in tests when made aware of their caste and reservation status than otherwise. The study underlines the need for reform in how India implements its reservation policy to narrow some of the inter-caste differences in educational attainment.

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