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

Articles by Rohini SahniSubscribe to Rohini Sahni

Sex Work, Sex Trafficking, and Myopia of the State

Why does the state fail to notice that a girl/woman entering prostitution, either through coercion or choice, is the same one who got married early, never went to school, or struggled in informal labour markets from an early age? From being consistently invisible in the pre-sex work phase of her life, what makes a sex worker so visible in the eyes of the state? What does this reveal of the state rather than the sex worker? The answers to these questions could help us think of sex workers’ lives beyond the narrow debates of trafficking versus sex work, making them part of more mainstream development concerns.

'All I Want is One Job': The Fine Print of Education–Employment Linkages

What recourse do students have when jobs remain elusive even with a postgraduate degree in hand? This article draws on preliminary results of a survey conducted by the authors among postgraduate students of both the natural and social sciences in a top-ranked state university.

Waste Pickers and the ‘Right to Waste’ in an Indian City

Waste belongs to households and then to the municipality once it enters the public collection/disposal system. What does this mean for informal waste pickers? Despite their numbers and importance, they lack a “right to waste” and are vulnerable to processes of accumulation. This paper presents the counter-narrative of Solid Waste Collection and Handling, India’s first wholly self-owned cooperative of waste pickers, which has been contracted by the Pune Municipal Corporation for door-to-door waste collection. The initiative legitimises a “right to waste” for waste pickers by allowing them direct access to waste from households, and has reconceptualised waste and work for waste pickers, while altering their engagement with other stakeholders.

How Demonetisation Affected Informal Labour

​ The impact of demonetisation on the informal economy in India went far beyond cash shortages. This article examines the informal waste chains in the Pune Metropolitan Region, and outlines the tussles that emerged between informal labour and informal capital in the days following demonetisation. The resulting loss of trust in transactions continued to linger long after the cash shortages had eased. It diverted some of the backlash of the informal, urban poor from the government towards the more immediate nemesis—informal capital—which saw an opportunity of accumulation in the mayhem of demonetisation

What Does an MA Know?

The annual Pratham surveys point to deficits of learning endemic to Indian schools. But what if these deficits are being carried forward and sustained in higher education? This paper shows that the results of a survey conducted among postgraduate students of economics in an Indian university were very Pratham-like. The objective was to assess their understanding of basic arithmetic operations and some primary economic principles/indicators. Is it the case, particularly in the social sciences, that we are receiving and, in turn, churning out generations of students who lack an understanding of basic principles? If so, what are the institutional mechanisms in place to sustain this long continuum of ignorance?

Legalise Sex Work, But How?

The editorial on sex work, “The World’s Oldest Debate” (EPW, 22 November 2014), mentions that “in countries like India, it is impossible to determine whether the sex worker is in it out of ‘choice’ or has been trafficked and forced into it”. A survey of sex workers (Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan...

'Match-fixing in Hyderabad'

In matchmaking, the traditional conditionalities such as caste, sub-caste and horoscope compatibility continue with the same fervour. However, newer, equally stringent conditions are getting superimposed such as educational preferences and of living or working in the US. This paper shows how the educational and migratory aspirations of a young, mobile generation have given rise to newer behavioural patterns that pulsate in matrimonial alliances. By examining the profiles of Telugu brahmin brides and grooms, we explore the meanings of a new, coded vocabulary that has come into vogue to communicate partner preferences and the nuances therein. Through this we try to decipher the changes taking place in the matrimonial space of present-day India.

Can Services Succeed Where Goods Have Tottered?

Integrating Services in South Asia - Trade, Investment and Mobility by Rupa Chanda (Oxford University Press), 2011; pp 348, Rs 895.

Is There a Twist in the Tale? Reinterpreting Economic Ascendancies through a Geographic Lens

Should the study of economic ascendancies be restricted to a sequencing of the rise of nations over time? Such a chronological emphasis sidelines the geographies involved, and the spaces integral to a nation during its ascent. This paper argues that the geographic dimension is the key to understanding the "individual" and "collective" rise of nations; a differentiation that gets blurred when spaces are assumed constant. It seeks to establish how geographies create the very paradigms in which ascendancies have emerged. For this purpose, the paper creates an alternative framework that factors in the impact of global spatial rearrangements on ascendancies. The temporal-historical sequence of the rise of nations remains the same. But using geography as a tool, it tries to deduce the logic behind such a sequence. In other words, why did it happen the way it happened?

What Has Economics Got to Do With It? Cultures of Consumption in Global Markets

Within the aegis of cultures going global, this paper explores two interrelated questions. How does economics matter to the global spread of culture? How does the culture of a particular commodity shape the economics of it? This paper probes the channels for the global spread of material culture and argues that the underlying forces are as much economic as they are cultural. It is about the role that economists have in cultural studies, considering that economic frameworks can either bar or facilitate the movement of consumption cultures.

Romancing Material Culture in Urban Public Spaces

India, since the 1990s, has witnessed a strong urban-centric pattern of high growth. Urban India is, however, not just about economic change. The social and cultural aspects of economic growth, though subtle and difficult to capture, are an integral part of this process. This paper attempts to explore the changing dynamics of an urban Indian environment in conjunction with material culture as observed in public spaces. It focuses on the complexities of economic and socio-cultural processes that indicate or lead to a culture centred on consumption. The paper discusses the results of a survey conducted in 2003 on Valentine-s Day in Pune, providing evidence of the emergence of material culture. It explores the issues of acceptance and incorporation of an imported celebration like Valentineâ??s Day, and discusses the evolving consumption patterns.


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