Blocked by Caste
Publication Date: 2010-02-05
This volume argues that the Indian society is characterized by multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion that create profound barriers to upward mobility and freedom from structures of deprivation. The essays study widespread patterns of discrimination and underlying attitudinal orientations that contribute to inequality in various aspects of life. Based on archival research, field surveys, and interviews, the contributors explore practical aspects of economic discrimination and social exclusion in India. They also discuss some of the theoretical issues related to social exclusion in general and economic discrimination in particular, to provide conceptual backdrop and to place the empirical studies in necessary theoretical perspective. The book investigates historic patterns of discrimination with factors like reservation in private sector, globalization, caste and employment, ownership of private enterprises, labour market, poverty, health care, education, food security,and creation of Dalit identities as well as the consequences of discrimination and possible remedies.
The Untouchables of India
Publication Date: 2001-02-01
The subjugation of millions of people in a caste system that is a radical form of apartheid has long had its critics, both from within India and from outside it. Although the government has introduced equal opportunity legislation in an effort to right some of history's wrongs, untouchability is an accident of birth that continues to stigmatize and ostracize more than one hundred and forty million people. Untouchables remain on the bottom of the socioeconomic scale and are found, more often than not, in unskilled, low status occupations. They are forbidden to enter temples, often beg for their food, must leave their chests uncovered and silently endure public humiliations and insults. They remain on the fringes of society and it is even said by some that their shadows pollute passersby. This excellent book addresses the problem of untouchability by providing an overview of the subject as well as penetrating insights into its social and religious origins. The author persuasively demonstrates that untouchability is a deeply ambiguous condition: neither inside nor outside society, reviled yet indispensable, untouchables constitute an original category of social exclusion. This is reflected in the various social movements they have led over the last century and more. The situation of untouchables is crucial to the understanding of caste dynamics, especially in contemporary circumstances, but emphasis, particularly within anthropology, has been placed on the dominant aspects of the caste system rather than on those marginalized and excluded from it. This important book redresses this problem and represents a vital contribution to studies of India, Hinduism, human rights, history, sociology and anthropology.
Publication Date: 1981-01-01
Voices of Privilege and Sacrifice from Women Volunteers in India
Publication Date: 2013-03-08
This book is the outcome of a study conducted in the eastern city of Kolkata in India in the mid-2000s. It is an ethnographic study that looks closely at women from the upper and middle classes who work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help empower women from all classes of society. Through the testimonies of these women, it examines alternative processes of agency and change in order to define these challenges and motivations. Also revealed by the analysis, is useful information about the oppression and subordination of these women in contemporary gender-stratified civil society in India. In terms of their lived experiences, the women in this study reflect on the social challenges they encounter and motivations they experience as volunteers and activists, while also discussing their understanding of feminism and views on the image of a "feminist" in the postcolonial context. The results demonstrate the power of feminist standpoint theorizing and how it raises consciousness, empowers women and stimulates resistance to patriarchal oppression and injustices. Finally, this book produces new knowledge and research on the conception of feminism among women volunteers and activists in a non-western setting and how they construct the image of a feminist. It offers directions for research in transnational feminism, International Women's Movement, Womanism, and Social Inequality Studies.
The Caste Question
Publication Date: 2009-10-13
This innovative work of historical anthropology explores how India's Dalits, or ex-untouchables, transformed themselves from stigmatized subjects into citizens. Anupama Rao's account challenges standard thinking on caste as either a vestige of precolonial society or an artifact of colonial governance. Focusing on western India in the colonial and postcolonial periods, she shines a light on South Asian historiography and on ongoing caste discrimination, to show how persons without rights came to possess them and how Dalit struggles led to the transformation of such terms of colonial liberalism as rights, equality, and personhood. Extending into the present, the ethnographic analyses of The Caste Question reveal the dynamics of an Indian democracy distinguished not by overcoming caste, but by new forms of violence and new means of regulating caste.
From Stigma to Assertion
Publication Date: 2010-09-01
In this book eight South-Asianists explore the Indian phenomenon known as 'un-touchability'. Historically untouchability was a set of discriminative practices that bound the lowest castes to low-status jobs and restricted their social mobility. Formally the practice was abolished with the constitution of the independent India, and in order to compensate for the social and economic setback caused by centuries' discrimination a reservation policy that guaranteed the former untouchables access to education and jobs was introduced. These measures have changed the life conditions of the targeted groups, but they have also created tensions in a society where many other groups experience economic stress. First of all they have preserved caste itself as something that matters in the competition for economic benefits. Thereby they have created today's paradox: That caste assertiveness has become a means to counter inequalities. Four essays (Andrew Wyatt, Simon Charsley, Kathinka Froystad, and Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky), all based on field work carried out in the late 1990s, address these present issues. Three essays (Mikael Aktor, Eleanor Zelliot, and Jocelyn Clarke) explore pre- and late-colonial material, while the introduction by Robert Deliege is a critical discussion of the combination of caste rhetoric and confrontation strategy in today's Dalit movement.
Pink Sari Revolution
Publication Date: 2013-08-05
In Uttar Pradesh--known as the "badlands" of India--a woman's life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed--except that it captured the attention of Sampat Pal, leader of India's infamous Gulabi (Pink) Gang.Poor and illiterate, married off around the age of twelve, pregnant with her first child at fifteen, and prohibited from attending school, Sampat Pal has risen to become the courageous commander and chief of a women's brigade numbering in the tens of thousands. Uniformed in pink saris and carrying pink batons, they aim to intervene wherever other women are victims of abuse or injustice. Joined in her struggle by Babuji, a sensitive man whose intellectualism complements her innate sense of justice, and by a host of passionate field commanders, Sampat Pal has confronted policemen and gangsters, officiated love marriages, and empowered women to become financially independent.In a country where women's rights struggle to keep up with rapid modernization, the story of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang illuminates the thrilling possibilities of female grassroots activism.