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

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Everyday Life of the Subaltern

Rewriting the Language of Politics: Kisans in Colonial Bihar by Arun Kumar; Manohar, 2001; pp 234, Rs 475.

Work, Caste and Competing Masculinities

Notions and practices of masculinity are often reconfigured in the wake of rapid economic and socio-political transformation. This paper explores this aspect in a south Indian village across two dimensions. Changes in local economy have seen challenges posed to the long dominant position of the upper caste mudaliars based on their control on land, over the dalits. On the other hand, the entry of large numbers of women into the industrial work-force has played its part in modifying the relationship between caste, class and gender.

Perception and Prejudice

This paper presents a theoretical framework to analyse the impact of information and the epistemic reliability attached to this information, on the investment choices made by households when allocating scarce resources within the family. Excess female mortality in India has been attributed to the poor economic returns women generate in the labour market, as well as certain inherent cultural and religious beliefs, which prejudice female survival chances greater than those of males. The authors argue that it is this cultural and religious fabric in India that influences the way in which uncertainty about the outcome of investing in boys or girls is perceived. The result may be an over-reaction - in terms of investment - to positive information about male prospects, and vice versa, an under-reaction to positive information about female prospects, thereby exacerbating the survival differential between males and females. Policy-makers should not only increase the opportunities for females to contribute economically, but they should ensure that these policies are long-term in nature - and not politically motivated - and are well communicated.

Haryana's 'Setting Daughters'

In the flurry of celebrations observed to mark the 35th anniversary of Haryana's formation, what passed largely unnoticed was the state's abysmal performance in seeking to improve the quality of lives of its women, discrimination against whom continues unabated as seen in a widening sex ratio and widening gender gap in literacy.

From Gin Girls to Scavengers

In the beginning, the coal mining industry employed women from the adivasi and lower caste communities in various stages of production. Their role continued to be significant as long as technology remained labour-intensive and collieries were small and surface-bound. The expansion of the industry and increasing mechanisation saw a decline in women's participation. This paper based on research in the Raniganj coalbelt in eastern India describes how the work of resource extraction becomes gendered, the growing marginalisation of women, and their increasing alienation from access to environmental resources and their transformation into illegitimate and invisible beings.

Women in Psychological Distress

Issues related to women's mental health in our country have not received much attention either from academia or from the women's movement. Viewing mental illness from the biomedical perspective, mainstream academic approaches have, by and large, ignored the impact of sociocultural factors. In an area such as women's mental health, it is necessary to consider the socio-cultural context of their health since it is being increasingly recognised that the stresses that differentially affect women because of their unequal social status have led to pervasive mental health problems. The present paper focuses on the gender-specific distribution of psychological disorders and construction of a socio-demographic profile of women affected by mental illness. Data from hospital case records of patients in two major psychiatric facilities in the city of Visakhapatnam formed the empirical basis for the study.

Crimes against Women in India

Data on crime in India are published annually by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). These are compiled from records of police stations all over the country and refer to reported and registered crime. For recent years the data cover crimes against women in some detail, disaggregated to the district level. Reporting of crime tends to be incomplete; so the data are prima facie suspect. Nevertheless, they may be useful in studying regional variations, considering that underreporting is a universal feature. Social scientists have neglected the study of crime despite its increasing presence in our daily lives. This paper is an attempt to see what official, published data reveal, whether there are clear-cut regional patterns and if so whether they can lead to meaningful hypotheses for future work.

Gender Bias in South Asia

Human Development in South Asia 2000: The Gender Question by Mahbub ul Haq; Human Development Centre, Oxford University Press; pp 219.

The Budget: A Quick Look through a 'Gender Lens'

This paper examines the union budget 2001-2002 with a focus on its implications for women's empowerment. Changes in patterns of allocations to various women-specific schemes as well as to schemes of indirect benefit to women have been analysed. This preliminary analysis suggests that the standard perception of women's roles continues to be as mothers and caregivers, and has undergone little change. Investment priorities seem to reinforce this image, and do not reflect a commitment to women's empowerment.

Sustainable Food Production and Consumption

Current methods of food production and consumption are imposing a severe burden on the environment and the constituent natural resources. New production and processing methods driven by biotechnology (genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones and other growth promoters) affect food safety. Are alternative more sustainable patterns of food production and consumption feasible? The paper examines some consumer initiatives in Asia and in the UK to examine how the consumer as a 'market force' can proactively influence the food industry, thereby making sustainable practices the norm rather than the exception. It also looks at the significance of empowering women, as consumers, with awareness and education on food safety, nutrition and its dependence on sustainable practices to exert a 'pull' on the market. Finally the paper discusses a multi-pronged approach involving, besides consumer pressure, policy changes, regulatory efforts and economic instruments to steer food production and consumption in a more sustainable direction.

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