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

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The Assam Question

This article attempts to consider the present situation in Assam in its historical perspective. It argues that the ruling classes in Assam have tried to exploit certain historically determined weaknesses that have hampered the emergence of a distinct and well-defined Assamese nation to create among the Assamese people a lack of confidence in their cultural destiny. The problem in Assam is not whether the linguistic, religious and ethnic minorities will swamp the Assamese, but whether the Assamese people will see clearly the strength of their numbers and the maturity of their culture to gain the confidence of these minorities so as to peacefully integrate them into the Assamese nation.

Delivering a Global India

The high volume of capital flow from India to Africa is often enclosed in the political rhetoric of a shared future shaped by shared histories of colonial exploitation and anti-colonial resistance. Scholarly discussions on the Indian networks in Africa portray them as either a re-scramble or a win–win partnership, but little is known of the ground practices surrounding them. This ethnographic study of two Indian mining corporations in South Africa testifies to cautious engagement by Indian capital negotiating corruption scandals, commodity–price fluctuations, and the conflicting expectations of state bureaucracies and mining communities. It transcends the depictions of South–South capital flows as win–win situations, re-scrambles, or enclave economies.

The Afterlife of Things in a Delhi Junkyard

The trajectory of “things” that are declared obsolete is mapped to argue that a junkyard is not merely a repository of the redundant, but also a liminal space between waste and trash, as well as use and reuse. An exploration of a junkyard in the Mayapuri neighbourhood of Delhi reveals how value is extracted from waste, bypassing the imposed norms of planned obsolescence in order to induce life into the lifeless. A complex set of relationships between the imposed rules of obsolescence and actual practices of a junkyard are observed to argue that “waste” is not merely matter out of place or matter without place, but it is essentially matter on the move.

The Grey Shades of Sugar Policies in India

India’s sugar industry is in the grips of a deep-rooted crisis. Pricing policies that had been designed to favour farmers have left them in severe distress. Sugar millers have also lost business and accumulated large amounts of debt. Consumers, however, have barely been affected due to the cap on the price of sugar. The impact of current policies on the problems plaguing India’s sugar industry is analysed here, and an attempt is made to determine whether partial decontrol was a real solution. Other policy measures—such as reviving sugar mills, addressing policy loopholes, and removing price caps—are suggested that could potentially help the sugar sector overcome the crisis.

Social and Systemic Determinants of Utilisation of Public Healthcare Services in Uttar Pradesh

Building on an earlier publication using the same data set plus case studies of three facilities, the reasons for the low utilisation of public health facilities in Uttar Pradesh despite the prohibitively high costs of care in the private sector are explored. The likelihood of choosing a public provider for hospitalisation care was 4.8 times higher in the poorest quintile and 3.4 times as high for women. Where access to public sector services is an issue, many go without any treatment and this could appear in the data to be a higher proportion of private sector utilisation. Inadequate facility density is one barrier to access. Facilities, which are by policy designed to offer very limited types of services—to collect user fees and prescribe drugs and diagnostics to be bought outside, and with no continuity of care between primary and secondary levels—lead to the diminishing of credibility of the public healthcare services. When services are available and there are incentives that facilitate access, like for childbirth, the choice shifts in favour of public services. Market-defined perceptions of what is good healthcare and an understaffed and demoralised workforce also contribute to poor utilisation.

Fandry and Sairat

Sairat (The Wild, 2016 ), and Fandry (Pig, 2014), by Nagraj Manjule have been widely celebrated for portraying narratives of caste marginalisation in rural Maharashtra. This paper argues that marginal narratives and subjectivities in Fandry and Sairat posit moments of resistance, that bring into question mainstream cinema, its tropes of romance, and the region in transition. Apart from presenting a reading of the subjective experience of being socially marginal, the paper deliberates on how the films emblematise a certain social entanglement, and are instrumental in affirming their own objectified versions.

Between ‘Baksheesh’ and ‘Bonus’

How is class experienced by domestic workers when they come together for collective action? Using ethnographic data, this paper argues that the collective action efforts by some unions of domestic workers in Bengaluru to demand “bonus” reveals the struggles over class that they engage in, struggles that make them conscious of their in-between class status as self-employed workers in a precarious informal economy. The collective action of demanding bonus in Bengaluru entails a cultural–political struggle away from a gift economy relationship and towards a more commodified economy under conditions of precarity in the informal economy.

Value Added Tax Scams and Introduction of the Goods and Services Tax

In the postcolonial era, tax reforms in many developing/emerging economies resorted to indirect taxes under the presumptions of broadening the tax base and achieving horizontal equity. But, leakage in the form of evasion had challenged the attainment of these objectives, and continues doing so even after half a century of constant churning by tax architects to arrive at an optimum solution. The ease of evasion is indicative of the gap in the “lab to land” transfer of technique. From a theoretical standpoint, the goods and services tax, based on the principles of value added tax, can potentially address much of the malaise afflicting VAT in a federal polity, and may also offer the desired bridge for an informal economy to move towards the realm of formalisation in the long run.

Anthropology of Tourism

Tourism is an important industry and provides a livelihood to many communities living in Kashmir, especially those in the areas surrounding the Dal Lake. However, tourism has seldom received attention outside the domain of business and management studies. The houseboat community, agriculturists, business persons and artisans form the core of the tourism industry thriving in the Dal Lake region. A critical understanding of the political economy of the industry is necessary to comprehend some of the challenges confronting the various groups that are the stakeholders of the tourism sector in this region.

Demographic Patterns of Voter Turnout

Municipal corporation elections in Maharashtra have been characterised by low voter turnouts. Local body administrations are interested in creating voter awareness programmes targeting the “rare” or “intermittent” voters. The article seeks to identify the social characteristics of such voters.

Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

There is a growing realisation among the scientific community that the current production-based greenhouse gas accounting framework does not capture the true essence of responsibilities towards global emissions. While production emissions of developed countries have decreased, consumption has gone up. We argue that this is due to the shifting of energy-intensive industries to developing countries. The increasing gap between consumption and production emissions not only distorts responsibility, but also affects developing countries’ ability to fulfil their nationally determined contributions. We discuss the implications and possibilities of a consumption-based methodology for GHG estimating and argue that such accounting is necessary to increase the system’s transparency.

The October Revolution and the Anti-colonial Movements in South Asia

The histories of the revolutionary anti-colonial movements in South Asia and their engagement with the October Revolution are reflected upon, in this article. Accompanying these reflections is a sensitivity to contemporary problems of Islamophobia, the manipulation of popular protests by imperial powers and the internal ethnic and cultural divisions that invariably prise open the doors for imperialist interventions. The relationship between South Asian anti-colonial movements and the October Revolution was reciprocal.

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