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

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The Politics of Not Counting Caste

In the debate on whether or not to count caste in the 2011 Census, there has been too little reflection on the implicit assumptions and analogies about both the census and caste that underpin the positions that have been taken. This article attempts to identify the major models that have been tacitly at work. Questioning the view that the status quo is benign or neutral, it argues that not counting caste has defeated the desire to transcend caste, and suggests that "caste blindness" be rejected in favour of a fresh beginning.

Why We Must Count Caste

A caste census is an occasion for collective reflection on the caste question.

Dalits in Business: Self-Employed Scheduled Castes in North-West India

Academic writings have invariably tended to look at caste as a traditional system of social hierarchy and culture, which is expected to weaken and eventually disappear with the process of economic development and urbanisation/modernisation. Caste has indeed undergone many changes with development and urbanisation, but it continues to be an important fact in the public life of the country. We do not have many empirical studies that help us understand the contemporary nature of the reality of caste. What are the experiences of dalits who have ventured to set up their own businesses and enterprises? What are the ways in which dalits in the urban labour market negotiate with prejudice and discrimination? A survey of dalit businesses in two urban centres of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh tries to answer these questions.

Beyond Caste Voting: Modasa, Gujarat Revisited

The intensity and nature of caste sentiments have changed in the last four decades, and they have come to have a limited influence in voting behaviour. In the course of the political process, agglomerations of different jatis, sometimes even of unequal social status, have evolved a common political identity. But perceptions of identity, common interests and political preferences among the members are not monolithic or static. In Modasa, Gujarat, primordial sentiments of oneness and honour have transformed into "secular" economic interests. In the entrenched Hindutva setting, nourished by Narendra Modi, vikas (development) and governance were the central issues that influenced voters in the 2007 assembly elections.

Reservations within Reservations: A Solution

What is the solution to the problem of reservations for the scheduled castes where these are disproportionately cornered by a single sub-caste in every state?

Sociology of Caste and the Crooked Mirror: Recovering B R Ambedkar's Legacy

Marking a century of debate, scholarship and politics, three texts by B R Ambedkar, M N Srinivas and Kancha Ilaiah, when read in intersection, present rich possibilities both for an understanding of caste and more importantly for a re-examination of the sociology/legal ethnography of caste and its genealogy. Ambedkar offered a multilayered, counter-hegemonic reading of caste that was lost on at least three generations of sociologists and possibly accounts for several of the conservative trends we have seen in the social sciences in institutions of higher learning. What is particularly interesting is the silence in the field of sociological work for at least five decades after Ambedkar's contribution to the sociology of caste.

Discrimination in an Elite Labour Market? Job Placements at IIM-Ahmedabad

Using data on the iim -Ahmedabad's 2006 batch of mba graduates, we find that graduates belonging to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes get significantly lower wages (19 per cent lower in domestic jobs and 35 per cent lower when foreign jobs are included) than those in the general category. This difference disappears once their lower Grade Point Averages are taken into account, suggesting that the large wage difference is due to the weaker (on average) academic performance of sc/st candidates. The study suggests that in the absence of any serious attempt to equalise school-level opportunities, the current policy of reservations at elite educational institutions will be insufficient to equalise career outcomes even for the minority of sc/st candidates who can benefit from them.

After the OBC Judgment

It is now time to interrogate orthodoxies on both sides of the reservations debate.

Reservations and the Return to Politics

The history of reservations in India shows it to have been an instrument of governance, a mechanism for social and political representation, rather than a way of achieving social justice. A return to the foundational moment of the modern Indian nation state to examine the conditions of possibility of political self-constitution that prevailed then will set us on the right track to an understanding of the political role that reservations have played and continue to play in a polity that is divided.

Debating Dalit Emancipation

Dalits in Modern India: Vision and Values (second edition) edited by S M Michael;

Mayawati's Prospects

The article ‘On Judging Mayawati’ by Chittibabu Padavala (August 18) has highlighted some important problems facing Mayawati. Actually, what Mayawati is confronting is the powerful hegemony of neoliberalism. In an era of neoliberalism, what kind of power can be given to the dalits in Uttar Pradesh...

Backward Castes Census: An Outmoded Idea

While backward castes need to be profiled, the census is not the best method to do so. For, objective data is difficult to come by due to the concept of caste changing according to the context and the impossibility of enumerating small but significant changes when attempting to take a large, overall picture.

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