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

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Reflections on Moving Agricultural Research from Laboratory to Farm

The experiences of researchers at the Industrial Technology Institute, and the Centre for Poverty Analysis, Colombo, Sri Lanka, are drawn on to provide reflections on moving agricultural technologies from laboratory trials to farms in the global South. The challenges and potentials for a hexanal-based Enhanced Freshness Formulation spray and a wrap made from banana fibre (using waste products) are discussed, demonstrating that in generating innovative technologies for sustainable agricultural development, agricultural researchers must think beyond laboratory viability and successful field testing to adaptability in the real world for a range of agriculture stakeholders, and be open to considering the potentials of unexpected, spin-off technologies.

Finding Balmikis

This article traces neo-Hindu politics which tried to categorise the Balmikis as Hindu, even as colonial accounts mentioned them as cult worshippers of the Muslim saints Bala Shah and Lalbeg. Looking at the political discourse of cultural–religious assertions in the lives of the Balmikis, it is evident that after 1917, the Indian National Congress lured the untouchable communities to remain as bystanders for its political objectives. As a result, the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Mahasabha, and the All India Anti-Untouchability League (later known as the Harijan Sevak Sangh) began to redefine Hindu religious traditions through the process of cultural–religious assertions among the “Chuhra Balmikis.”

Culture and Sanitation in Small Towns

In the current sanitation policy discourse, cultural norms of purity and pollution are considered major obstacles to toilet use, leading to an emphasis on behavioural change. A recent study of slums in Angul and Dhenkanal—two small towns in Odisha—shows that culture does not operate in isolation. It is determined by multiple factors such as the availability of physical space in urban areas, the resources to be invested, essential infrastructure such as water, and accessible, cost-effective technology. There are aspects of culture that people compromise on, but certain cultural norms are non-negotiable. This calls for a decoding of the cultural determinants of sanitation.

Wage Penalty in Temporary Employment in India

The extent of wage penalty between workers in permanent and temporary jobs at different locations of the wage distribution is examined by evaluating the impact of workers’ characteristics and education. The differential effects of the covariates on wage gap at different locations of the wage distribution are estimated by applying the quantile regression model. After estimating the differential effects, the relevance of the glass ceiling or sticky floor hypothesis has been tested with Indian data. The wage gap between temporary and permanent employment is decomposed into the endowment effect based on the difference in labour market characteristics and coefficient effect based on the difference in returns for the same characteristics.

Literature Festivals

A prologue to a debate on the cultural phenomenon of literature festivals in India, this essay offers ways to think about them by beginning within the event. Turning to events that are frequently either rubbished or valorised, it is shown that they point to an anxiety and a negotiation about how we think about literatures, and their production and circulation in the subcontinent.

Reconciliations of Caste and Medical Power in Rural Public Health Services

Drawing from an ethnographic study conducted in a Karnataka village, the unfavourable differential treatments against Dalit patients in rural public health services are delineated. An analysis of medical interactions shows that as compared to non-Dalits, Dalit patients experienced more apathy, denial, and avoidance behaviours from service providers. Surprisingly, most Dalits did not attribute this to their caste, but to the flaws of the public health delivery system. Caste and allopathic medical practice are embedded in the rural public health delivery system, and both camouflage and normalise discrimination in paternalistic medical interactions. This sustains the favourable environment for caste-based discrimination in rural public health services even in places where Dalit consciousness is strong.

Cleaning the Ganga

Prioritising aviral dhara (uninterrupted flow) over nirmal dhara (unpolluted flow) can deliver quick outcomes in the Namami Gange Programme. Treating human, municipal and industrial waste released into the Ganga is a long-term project requiring vast resources and political energy, besides behavioural change on a mass scale. But, Ganga’s dry season flows can be quickly improved by basin-scale conjunctive management of the surface water and groundwater. Irrigation in the Ganga basin today depends on tubewells far more than canals. A multipronged protocol is outlined to manage the old canal network and new hydropower storages in order to maximise irrigation benefits and improve dry season river flows.

Geographies of Drinking Water (In)securities in Peri-urban Hyderabad

​A political ecology framework has been employed to analyse patterns of drinking water (in)securities peculiar to peri-urban geographies. Primary field data have been used in the analysis. The many institutional arrangements that have emerged in peri-urban Hyderabad and how such arrangements have shaped the water ecology in the region and outcomes with respect to access to drinking water are described here. It argues that the water environment, both in terms of scarcity and pollution, and the social relations around water, co-produce each other, in sometimes unexpected ways. A primary finding is that the varying degrees and forms of private sector engagement in the drinking water sector produce different kinds of sub-geographies of distress in peri-urban spaces.

Strengthening Democratic Decentralisation and Participatory Democracy in Maharashtra

The ultimate objective of the decentralisation of power and participatory democracy is to build a society wherein the governed people are not just passive voters, but active decision-makers and stakeholders in local self-governance. In 2015, the Government of Maharashtra took a decision to devolve 5% of the Tribal Sub-Plan funds to gram panchayats in districts under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act. This initiative allowed communities to make informed decisions regarding various local matters pertaining to electrification, sanitation, building of roads, schools, etc, and in turn improve the responsiveness of the government in bringing accountability, efficiency and equity.

A Perspective on Growth and Distributional Outcomes in Uttarakhand

How far has Uttarakhand been successful in realising the pursuit of economic growth to improve the standard of living of the population, in general, and in mainstreaming the different social groups both within and without as a state in a federation? The measures of general standard of living and mainstreaming of the marginalised are quantified using the National Sample Survey cross-sectional estimates of household private consumption for Uttarakhand, juxtaposed with those for its parent state of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and the national context of India for 2004–05 and 2011–12. Uttarakhand seems to have done well in realising the goals in the national context, but it has a long way to go in mainstreaming the marginalised social groups in both rural and urban sectors within the state.

Tribes and Urbanisation in North East India

An analysis of urban development in post-independence India shows that the country has inherited an uneven regional distribution of city and town formations. No other region illustrates this better than the North East. This complex topic is examined with reference to the “tribal metropolis” of Shillong in Meghalaya, which is experiencing a rapidly changing urban landscape. How urban space is governed in Shillong is analysed. In doing so, contestations by various stakeholders regarding urban expansion and development along with its implications for the tribal population living in the vicinity of the city are examined.

Beyond the Eurocentrism–Indigenism Binary

Two discourses—non-indigenist critiques of Eurocentrism and Dalit–Bahujan–Adivasi narratives—that fracture “Hinduism” are put in conversation with each other here. This engagement produces a complex field of thought and practice that simultaneously rejects both Euro-normality and Brahminical patriarchy.

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