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

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Modernity and Democracy in India

Unresolved agrarian question, slow pace of industrial development and distorted economic growth of the service sector, have all led to the nature of economic development that is not symmetrical or equally poised with political democracy and rights. As long as capitalism in India remains backward to a large extent, in agriculture and industry, and as long as the distorted development continues, we will be stuck with the impasse of backward-looking nationalism and authoritarian populism. Current impasse is a product of achieving political modernity and a superstructure without its accompanying economic basis.

The Mandal System in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

The mandal system came into existence as an administrative reform, as part of reducing the size of erstwhile taluks and making them more effective and manageable. The decentralisation of taluks into mandals was done with a two-pronged strategy of modernising the revenue administration, record-keeping as well as further decentralising the panchayati raj system. It was hoped that the division of erstwhile large taluks into mandals could make them more manageable, and also that the administration of the state government, especially the revenue administration, will become modernised.

A Manifesto in Disguise

Subjects of Modernity: Time-space, Disciplines, Margins by Saurabh Dube, Manchester University Press, 2017; pp 248, £75 (hard cover).

The Idea of India: 'Derivative, Desi and Beyond'

The dalit discourse in India presents a sharp contrast to the "derivative" and the "desi" discourses governing nationalist thought and the "idea of India". The dalit discourse goes "beyond" the two in offering an imagination that is based on a "negative" language which however transcends into a normative form of thinking. The dalit goes beyond both the derivative and desi inasmuch as it foregrounds itself in the local configuration of power, which is constitutive of the hegemonic orders of capitalism and brahminism.

Left-liberalism and Caste Politics

Whether it is dalit politics or feminist struggles, more and more analysts are focusing on the realm of embodied experience involving groups rather than on abstract rationalist theory involving individuals. The obvious question is: can communities, like caste groups, be viewed as legitimate categories within the framework of liberal modernity? This essay explores the idea that group-centred 'embodied experience' may be no more than a phantom category. The emergence of this third category in order to bypass the tradition-modernity or communalism-secularism dyad, may turn out to be without much substance.

State and Society in India: Porous Boundary

The Everyday State and Society in Modern India edited by C J Fuller and Veronique Benei, Social Science Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp xi + 220, Rs 465.

Historical Identity and Cultural Difference

Questions of identity and difference have often been articulated within two broad strands of scholarship. One that stresses transnational processes and overlapping histories and the other that looks to the fragmentary and everyday processes in the past and the present, emphasising critical difference over historical identity. This paper explores two critical events of current history; two seemingly disparate cases that show persistent affinities - the opening ceremony of the Sydney Games in 2000 and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas early this year - as a starting point in thinking through discrete academic orientations toward identity and difference.

Figure of the 'Tapori'

Cinema in late 20th century India has also engaged with cities to represent the new experience of modernity, and to produce new and complex representations, that often reflect the fluidity and fragmentary character of urban life in India. This essay is about recent appropriations of the city 'street' through the construction of a subculture of masculine performance, strongly rooted in the urban cultures of Mumbai. It is this subculture that gave rise and constructed the popular figure of the 'tapori' a male persona who was part small time streethood, and part the social conscience of the neighbourhood.

A City and Its People

Fractured Modernity Making of a Middle Class in Colonial North India by Sanjay Joshi; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2001; pp 209, Rs 493.

Colonial Modernity

Lessons from Schools by Nita Kumar; Sage, New Delhi, 2000; pp 232, Rs 200. Constructing Post-Colonial India by Sanjay Srivastava; Routledge, London, 1998; pp 257.

Who Is the Third that Walks Behind You?

I read Aditya Nigam’s observations on an epistemology of the dalit critique of modernity with great interest. His formulations are both fascinating and suggestive, therefore, I would like to complicate them. Firstly, while I accept that dalit politics and ideologies represent the “problematic ‘third term’ that continuously challenges the common sense of the secular modern”, I am not sure that these exist as an ‘absent presence’; or that they advance a notion of citizenship that is premised on the notion of the community as a rights-bearing subject. It seems to me that the non-brahmin, lower caste engagement with the ‘secular modern’ does two things: it contends with the contradictions of modernity, as Nigam so ably demonstrates, but it also dips beyond and across the wide arc of the secular-modern to articulate an expressive ideology and world view that is still recognisably modern. I would like to illustrate this with reference to the thought of Periyar Ramasamy.
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