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

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A Committed Scholar

C P Bhambri believed that the task of social science, like all other sciences, was to arrive at the truth on the basis of well-established facts. It was for his students and listeners to present an alternative argument and the facts to back it.

Doctoral Journeys

The ways in which three doctoral scholars engaged in ethnographic research in differing social worlds are explored here. Accounting for the ethical–political dilemmas engendered by “fieldwork” and the ways in which we grappled with them, this paper reflects upon methodology and questions of power pertaining to disciplinary boundaries, social identities, and researcher–practitioner binaries that have marked key debates within scholarship on the Indian social. This reflection draws from our vantage point as doctoral students, particularly addressing our preparedness for the messiness of field participation and converting field notes into authorial accounts. The arguments in the paper feed into larger conversations around representation in the social sciences. By foregrounding our ethical–moral positions and the institutional spaces (or the lack thereof) to act upon such imperatives, the paper raises important questions about the dilemmas of authoring social worlds.

Trump’s Policies and Billionaire Indian Dreams

Passage from India to America: Billionaire Engineers, Extremist Politics & Advantage to Canada & China by Ignatius Chithelen, Bryant Park Publishers LLC, New York, 2018; pp 212, $40.95 (hardcover).

Where Is the Data to Study the Internet in India?

Social science researchers who want to study the internet in India using data mining and analytic techniques are challenged by constraints in access, and the availability of big data. Even when such data is available, it is often behind a paywall or organised in a manner that makes it difficult to interpret.

Why India Needs JNU

A lifelong associate of Jawaharlal Nehru University reflects on what JNU means to higher education, research, and indeed what it means to the people of India.

Making Good Citizens : Teaching Fundamental Duties in Schools

A committee headed by Justice J S Verma constituted to examine the teaching of fundamental duties in institutions of learning submitted a comprehensive report in 1999. This essay examines the recommendations in the broad context of the ongoing debate on social science curriculum in schools, focusing on the manner in which some of the contested issues within citizenship theory have been explored.

Making Social Science Matter - II

Part I of this paper, which appeared last week, described the patterns of participation of the rural poor in state-sponsored schemes and the characteristics of political society in each of the blocks and districts studied. It also provided evidence on the scale and significane of rent-seeking behaviour, and a preliminary mapping of what has been called 'the anthropology of the everyday state'. We turn now to a discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from our 'academic' research. This project involved the research team in a prolonged dialogue with different groups of actors in Malda and Bhojpur districts that we had identified as 'failing' districts from the point of view of effective pro-poor governance. We comment briefly on the background to this research and describe how we organised the action research process before proceeding to present the main findings of the workshops that we held in these two districts. These findings speak of the ways in which different groups of stakeholders, and members of the rural poor most especially, see the state in Bhojpur and Malda and how they would like to see certain practices of the state abolished, extended or reformed.

SARS: Public Health and Social Science Perspectives

SARS is unprecedented in many ways. For one, we may well be the first real epidemic of a globalised Asia. Second, it has prompted new measures put in place rapidly and with wide scope to counter the spread of the disease. How has SARS been perceived by the public and what are the social consequences of the outbreak and the responses? What can we learn about governance from the SARS outbreak? How will it impact on the planning of public health systems, much neglected in this region in the race for economic development in the era of globalisation?

Making Social Science Matter - I

The state in its efforts to meet the needs of the poor has four major functions of governance - developmental, empowermental, protective and disciplinary. This paper, based on fieldwork across the rural areas in three states, probes the Employment Assurance Scheme to understand the state's performance on these parameters as well as aspects of participation, governance and political society. What is revealed is the complexity and divergence of state action - conflicts within and between different agencies of the state, as also the challenges posed to these agencies by civil and political society groups. Also clear is that the participation of the poor in development programmes cannot easily be stepped up in the absence of supporting actors in political society. Part I of the paper presents the initial findings as they relate to the development and empowerment functions of the state. Part II, to be published next week, will develop the argument further through discussion of an 'action research' project that followed on from the authors' 'academic' research.
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