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

Articles by Dipankar GuptaSubscribe to Dipankar Gupta

A New Sociology Awaits Us

Classes of Labour: Work and Life in a Central Indian Steel Town by Jonathan P Parry (in collaboration with Ajay T G), New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2019; pp xxx + 702 (biblio+index), 1,850.

Status Quo Anti

This article argues in favour of dismantling the Industrial Disputes Act. For several decades now, the provisions in the IDA have been the leading factor behind the irrationality and smallness of enterprises in India. The article further emphasises the issues for the “post-coronial” economic development of India.

Caste and Electoral Outcomes

Understanding the relation of caste and electoral outcomes merely in terms of arithmetic runs is fundamentally fallacious. It fails to factor in the element of mutual repulsion among castes and the multiplicity of hierarchies. Shift from caste as a system to caste as an identity makes caste-arithmetic explanations of election results all the more questionable.

Social Science and Democracy

Social sciences need democracy, not wealth, to prosper. It is only in those societies that centralise citizenship have disciplines such as economics, sociology, political science, as well as the humanities, made significant advances. This is because democracies alone robustly satisfy the foundational principles of social sciences, namely, allowing for human errors and the recognition of others in making choices for oneself.

The Importance of Being 'Rurban'

A categorical distinction is facing rough weather--that between urban and rural. If we take just agriculture, there is so much of the outside world that comes in not just as external markets but as external inputs. Further, many of our villages barely qualify as rural if we were to take occupation alone. So the earlier line that separated the farmer from the worker in towns is slowly getting erased. By now agriculturists are ready to accept that their future lies elsewhere, perhaps in cities and towns, perhaps also in household and informal industries. If they cannot make it to those places, at least their children should.

Gandhi before Habermas: The Democratic Consequences of Ahimsa

Without Gandhi India may well have become independent, perhaps even earlier, but would we have been a liberal, democratic nation state? This question should give us pause before we make little of Gandhi's legacy. Uncertain and imperfect though our democracy may be, it is still the world's largest, and it functions for the most part. All of us who value this form of governance ought to remember that we owe it to Gandhi, more than to anyone else, for giving us a start in the right direction. If Gandhi is to be measured in terms of charkhas, frugality and prayer meetings then certainly he is of little consequence today. But a sociological appreciation of Gandhi would take us beyond these emblematic acts to the unintended consequences of what he did and stood for. It is only then we realise the gravitas of Gandhi's living legacy.

When the Caste Calculus Fails: Analysing BSP's Victory in UP

The triumph of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2007 UP assembly elections has incorrectly been explained in terms of caste. The BSP did use caste but only as a metaphor to build innovative grassroot alliances, which demonstrated that the concerns of other communities mattered as much as those of the dalits. A disaggregated analysis, by assembly seats and by region, shows no simple correlations between caste and outcome. The electorates are too large and the social interests too diverse for any simplistic caste calculations to hold. Caste is an important factor, but only one of many; to explain everything in terms of caste robs voters of their secular credentials.

Whither the Indian Village

The village in India, where life was once portrayed as 'unchanging' and 'idyllic', has in recent decades seen profound changes. The twin shackles that once decided matters for India's villagers, caste and agriculture, no longer exercise their vigorous hold. While a break in caste rigidities has fostered greater fluidity in occupational choices, agricultural stagnation has ensured the constant march, in increasing numbers, of employable people in the villages towards urban areas. At the same time, vote bank politics means that parties and politicians continue to pay lip-service to the cause of villages, chiefly the poor farmer. It is in the light of these changes that the 'culture' surrounding agriculture and the village needs to be understood. While this culture is not altogether a stable one, its state of pronounced flux does hold out certain portents, whether these are understood by policy-makers and the vast majority of Indians, remains open to question.

Limits of Tolerance

A modern democracy cannot tolerate matters of faith trumping over matters of citizenship rights. There can be no question of tolerance when citizens are denied their status as equal citizens. With an intolerant secularism that insists on the inalienable rights of citizens and on the due process of the law, it is easier to mount public pressure against minority hunters and sectarian killers. Here we cannot make exemptions, or look for mitigating circumstances, on grounds of being a minority or impoverished and unemployed.

Identity Formation

Identity Formation Forming an Identity: A Social History of the Jats by Nonica Datta; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp viii+228, index and bibliography,

Survivors or Survivals

That liberal democracy is deliberating over the need to find universalitic principles for resolving particularistic cultural disputes is a demonstration of how the quest for enlarging citizenship in an activist fashion is an ongoing enterprise. This article attempts to examine the possibilities of reconciling particularistic demands within the context of a liberal democratic society arguing that liberal democracy should be more concerned with people rather than with things, with survivors and not with survivals.

Positive Discrimination and the Question of Fraternity-Contrasting Ambedkar and Mandal on Reservations

The divergences between Ambedkar and Mandal on their respective reservation policies are significant It is not just that Ambedkar's programme envisions the removal of untouchability and with it the undermining of the caste system in public life, but it is also about creating assets among those who have none. This is what brings the moral imperatives of fraternity to the forefront. The assets of the better off are put in the collective pool so that socially valuable assets may be created in sites where there were none. This measure has a moral resonance, for out of this collective pooling new assets are being created. Reservations in the Mandal scheme lack this moral quality. The targeted beneficiaries of Mandal are quite plainly not without socially valuable assets. Further, they are unwilling to merge their existing tangible assets into the collective pool as their express purpose is to convert one kind of asset into another. Caste in the case of the Mandal Commission is an important political resource to be plumbed in perpetuity. The Mandal programme, therefore, is not in the spirit of enlarging fraternity, as the Ambedkar proposals are.  


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