This analysis examines what the ubiquitous presence of political “brokers” who mediate many people’s access to state institutions reveals about the Indian state and the complex causes of corruption in Indian public life. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Bihar since 2002, it reveals the role of brokers within both village power relations and the larger political system.

The poor are not uniformly disadvantaged. Across most health indicators, the situation of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and Muslims is significantly worse than that of others. While nutritional status is closely linked with levels of income, education and public health services, the social belonging of persons also acts as an additional aggravating factor for nutritional inequity.

Why would farmers keep their own land fallow as part of a voluntary “crop holiday protest movement” in a part of Andhra Pradesh is a question that has puzzled many. A field visit to the Konaseema region reveals that the dynamics of class contradictions in the area are also responsible for the nature of the movement that goes beyond the issue of remunerative prices.

What has been the impact of reservations for women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in panchayati raj institutions? In case the reserved seat is for a woman, it is usually the wife or daughter-in-law of the old sarpanch who is made to sign papers, while the husband or the father-in-law is de facto in control. In the case of reservations for the SC/STs, it is the bonded labourer of the sarpanch who becomes a proxy for his rule.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 which is a rights-based flagship scheme of the Government of India with effect from 2 February, 2006, guarantees at least 100 days of wage employment in a given financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The MGNREGA is also intended to create durable community assets which would enhance productivity along with an increase in demand for labour. The Act mandates 33 per cent participation of women.

Examining the Marathi translation of The Communist Manifesto published in 1931 and situating it in the socio-historical context of workers’ movements in Mumbai in the 1920s and 1930s, this paper argues that the so-called subordinated classes engaged with it and created a workers’ public that was in conversation with the elite public sphere. But it holds that the vernacular version had to navigate the structures of language and a social structure in which caste was an important feature to make itself comprehensible to other intellectuals, trade union leaders and workers.

The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011 is being carried out by the Government of India to generate information on a large number of social and economic indicators relating to households across the country.

 

Two approaches are available for identifying households below the poverty line – the score-based ranking approach proposed by the N C Saxena Committee and an alternative proposed by Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera. Comparing these approaches for Udupi district in Karnataka shows that the former does a fair job of revealing how households are placed on the economic spectrum but excludes more deserving households than the latter. Also, when it comes to implementation, the latter is transparent and relatively much faster.

In a state such as Odisha in which Dalit and tribal groups comprise about 40 per cent of the total population, the issue of ‘access’ to land and resources has apparently been central to all conflicts. For traditional communities, ‘access’ is directly linked to civilizational paradigms and cultural ethos, which rather decide their ‘economics’, and not the other way round that may be true for modern, techno-centric civilizations. Most mainstream discourses of history have, however, tried to locate the crisis in the ‘absence of state interventions’.

This paper aims to understand the implications of implementing the Saxena Committee’s recommendations in respect of identifying the poor in India. Relative to the one currently in use, the application of the proposed methodology appears to be more beneficial in general to social groups such as scheduled tribes, most backward classes and mahadalits, as well as those landowning households that might suffer from specific debilitating conditions. However, in some cases it is less sensitive to Muslims, non-mahadalit scheduled castes and agricultural labourers.

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