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

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Analysing Socio-economic Backwardness among Muslims

Backward and Dalit Muslims: Education, Employment and Poverty by Surinder Kumar, Fahimuddin, Prashant K Trivedi and Srinivas Goli, Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 2020; pp 220, ₹995.

Caste and Race: Discrimination Based on Descent

In 2001, Dalit non-governmental organisations pushed for the inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the United Nations conference on racism and other forms of descent-based discriminations. How did the Government of India respond to the internationalisation of casteism? Why did Dalits want casteism to be treated on par with racism in the first place? Did they succeed? And above all, is caste the same as race?

Concrete Labour and Corporeal Aesthetic

The art of lavani as an aesthetic labour involves a contradictory sense of the self. At one level, self-realisation of an artists assigns them a complete autonomy on aesthetic production, while at another level, it also generates a sense of self-exploitation which is social and structural.

Untouchability in India: A Reading List

Although constitutionally banned, untouchability is still practised in both rural and urban India, by upper castes and lower castes. But how was the untouchability question answered in colonial India? Did attitudes change during the fight for independence? And despite the ban, why is the practice still prevalent in India today?

Delhi’s Mohalla Clinics Hold the Potential to Significantly Improve Access to Quality Healthcare

In 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government introduced “Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics” to provide affordable basic healthcare to marginalised sections of society at their “doorsteps.” This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the programme based on a survey of 493 respondents. We found that while AAMCs partially meet their stated objectives, several areas need urgent attention including lack of information about clinics, casteism by doctors and property owners, and availability of services.

Research Radio Ep 8: Do Indians Still Practice Untouchability?

In this episode, we speak to Amit Thorat and Omkar Joshi about the prevalence of untouchability in India today.

From Balmikis to Bengalis

The reorganisation of informal household garbage collection work in Delhi is analysed, as migrants from eastern states like West Bengal have begun doing manual waste work, even as their Balmikis deal only with monthly cash payments. Drawing on fieldwork, the effect on the Balmiki jamadars is noted, and the Bengali Muslims, who newly contend with the practices of untouchability in their neighbourhoods of work, are focused on. These newer migrants come to justify the shame they experience by focusing on the equivalence of scrap with money, which has redemptive potential. This reveals a dynamic process through which caste differences are being remade—”casteification”—in relation to economic life.

Touch, Untouch, and the Depositions of Ucchishta

Complex sensory and linguistic underpinnings of caste come into play when touchables, with all their senses, touch objects made by untouchables. Here, ethnographic insights have been used about the devotional percussion instrument, khol , which is made by untouchables, but touched, heard, relished, and understood, by all castes.

Socio-spatial Stigma and Segregation

Caste-based spatial segregation, largely assumed to be a characteristic of rural societies, is reproduced in urban spaces as well, and a large population of Dalits continue to inhabit segregated settlements in the metropolitan cities of the country. Fieldwork conducted in one such segregated neighbourhood of Balmikis in central Delhi is drawn upon to explore how they perceive the urban space and how they think they are perceived by others.

Religious Identity at the Crossroads

​ The religious identity of the Hindu fisherfolk of Kerala—the Dheevaras—has been a site of multiple and contradictory interpretations by agents and institutions with varied interests. While their caste association—the Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha—is urging them towards Sanskritisation and allegiance to Hindutva, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is engaging them in their communal propaganda. At stake is a host of religious practices and philosophies evolved by the Dheevaras through their occupation of fishing, and the contribution of early Dheevara reformers in critiquing the Brahminic domination of Hinduism and the caste system.

Ethics in Ambedkar’s Critique of Gandhi

Among the political thinkers of modern India, Gandhi and Ambedkar have elicited an intellectual enthusiasm among scholars who remain arrested in debates on the pre-eminence of one thinker over the other. The Ambedkarite critique of Gandhi is centred on the latter’s fast unto death in opposition to the MacDonald Award of separate electorates for Dalits. Formalistic readings of Gandhi are not in the interest of the robust, associative and inclusive intellectual tradition at the core of Ambedkar’s emancipatory project. Ambedkar was a pathfinder who chose critique as a method of ethical persuasion to gently pull in and retain members of caste society in the interlocutory framework of conversation.

Social Stratification among Muslims

The article "Does Untouchability Exist among Muslims? Evidence from Uttar Pradesh" (EPW, 9 April 2016) fails at both the methodological and policy levels.

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