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

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Safai Karmis of Uttar Pradesh

A study of the operation of the Safai Karmi Scheme of the Uttar Pradesh government reveals the apparent weakening of the age-old link between caste and occupation, with Other Backward Classes and even upper castes competing with Scheduled Castes to secure the job of a sanitation worker in villages. Another significant fact which comes to the fore, is the struggle for power in the safai karmi unions between OBC and the numerically superior SC workers, with the former trying to establish their dominance, reflecting the nature of caste politics at play in the state.

Caste and the Power Elite in Allahabad

This article examines the social composition of public institutions in Allahabad, and specifically, the share of different castes and communities in positions of power and influence - the Press Club, the university faculty, the Bar Association, the police, and the commanding positions in trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media houses, among other public institutions. These turn out to be heavily dominated by a small group of upper castes - Brahmins and Kayasthas in particular. Disadvantaged castes, for their part, are largely relegated to subordinate or menial positions. The findings raise troubling questions about the resilience of caste hierarchies. Aside from better enforcement of reservation norms, there is an urgent need for more voluntary attention to diversity in public life, of the sort that has significantly reduced ethnic or gender imbalances in other countries.

Practice of Caste in Higher Education

Beyond Inclusion: The Practice of Equal Access in Indian Higher Education edited by Satish Deshpande and Usha Zacharias (New Delhi: Routledge), 2013; pp 356, Rs 415 (hardback).

I, a Manual Scavenger, Not Your Vote Bank

The world of manual scavenging is informed by caste, patriarchy, filth and humiliation. Their only source of "power" comes from politicians considering them a vote bank; yet, without truly understanding their lives, aspirations, and living conditions, how can governments promise them policies that could empower and change their lives?

Annihilation by Caste

Budaun is not an isolated story. It illustrates the vulnerability and disentitlement of dalit-bahujan groups everywhere.

Casteist Pheromone in Elementary Schools of Tamil Nadu

It has been brought to our notice that this article, which was published in the 28 June 2014 edition of EPW, reproduced, without providing a citation, two paragraphs in the section “Casteism in Schools,” from an article by Jean Drèze (“Patterns of Literacy and their Social Context,” in Veena Das et al (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Sociology and Social Anthropology, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003). The paragraphs in question begin with “According to Dreze and Kingdon (1999), this bias has several possible reasons….” —Ed. Despite its "modern" education system with its progressive values, caste-based values dominate India's educational institutions. The brahminical way of understanding educational achievements is prevalent and the state has become increasingly docile in the arena of social justice in this neo-liberal political economy.

'Representation' of OBCs in Higher Education

This article is a response to Jaya Goyal and D P Singh's "Academic Performance of OBC Students in Universities: Findings from Three States" (EPW, 1 February 2014). It challenges the claim that the Other Backward Classes are not under-represented in education and also the attempt to redefine representation as understood within the context of reservation policies. The author was also a part of the study on which Goyal and Singh based their article.

Punishing Dalit Assertiveness

Maharashtra's shamefullist of atrocities against dalits is growing.

Caste in West Bengal Politics

It is difficult to agree with Praskanva Sinharay’s argument (“West Bengal’s Election Story: The Caste Question”,EPW, 26 April 2014) that “caste” is emerging as a “determinant” factor in West Bengal’s political scene. The association of some “Matua” leaders with dominant parties like the Trinamool...

Caste Publications

Modern political culture has given viable incentive for various castes to develop their respective subcultures to consolidate their power in a competitive social world. Print media becomes the basis of these subcultures as it provides a viable option both for the consolidation of a shared identity as well as its communication. This article tries to illustrate the role played by print culture in materialising upper caste subcultures and their respective organisational politics through an empirical study of various registered upper caste publications in Uttar Pradesh.

The Politics of Reservation Categories in Uttar Pradesh

Some of the Other Backward Classes in Uttar Pradesh want to be classified as scheduled castes, while some of the latter want to be reclassified as scheduled tribes. Despite the politics behind these demands, most of the castes demanding reclassification have good reason to feel that the benefits of reservation have passed them by. It is the invisibility of the numerically small castes with little education and no voice that has to be ended before the fruits of development can reach them.

Humiliation: Class Matters Too

All the dalits actively protesting against the humiliation of Devyani Khobragade through email and social media campaigns would not have even heard of Soni Sori, let alone what the Chhattisgarh police did to her. But isn't Sori a member of their class, the class of the exploited?

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