Rural India is in flux. While the changing consumption patterns of rural people, increasing tele-density and the corresponding exposure to media and the closer connections of the rural youth with aspirations of the urban dwellers are routinely highlighted to argue that the dichotomous rural-urban distinctions may be inadequate to understand the changing face of rural India. The stories of rural distress and widening rural-urban disparities have also emerged as persistent features of the economic transformation. The prolonged agrarian crisis, the decline in the share and number of cultivators in the rural population, and the out-migration of labour from rural areas to the urban informal economy—are all diverse manifestations of the crisis of survival of a large section of small and marginal farmers. The neoliberal economic policies in a globalising economy, far from creating opportunities, have created a crisis of survival for a large section of the peasantry (Das 2013).
On the one hand, following the withdrawal of subsidies and state support to agriculture, the prices of inputs have gone up manifold while on the other, the increasing instability of output prices has made agriculture a risky enterprise, particularly for the small and marginal peasants. The inadequate credit support to farmers through banks and the formal sources has also led to dependence on the high-interest loans from the informal sector. The agrarian crisis is not merely limited to the crisis of productivity and profitability in certain crops; more importantly, it is a structural crisis in the countryside. However, the crisis does not affect all regions, classes and social groups in a similar manner. Marginalised sections of the rural society are likely to be disproportionately affected by the crisis of livelihoods than others. It is in this sense that the agrarian crisis needs to be understood from the standpoint of its impacts on marginalised social groups such as Dalits, adivasis, women, and children. It is important to note that the crisis also creates new opportunities for some classes and groups. From those involved in speculative investment in land to those who have tied farmers in buy-back arrangements involving interlinked transactions in seeds, pesticides, and output markets—some classes have been able to accumulate and expand their operations in specific regions. A differentiated understanding of the unfolding opportunities and constraints for different categories of households also opens up the ways through which identities in rural India is being reconfigured under neoliberal globalisation.
Identities and the Rural Economy
In the dominant theorisation of the economy in general and that of agrarian markets in particular, identities of the individuals are usually ignored or, at best, are treated as exogenous. Research on labour markets in diverse contexts, however, points to the way identities of individuals influence the market outcomes (Harriss-White 2010). Identities of individuals based on gender, race, colour, religion, language and ethnicity are considered to be essential aspects of the way markets work, both in the developing and the developed world. Usually, the influence of identities is considered to be significant in the traditional, rural societies. Modernisation processes were expected to reduce, if not completely obliterate, the stranglehold of traditions, customs, and the primordial identities of the people. In the case of India, caste, along with other markers of identities is considered to be an important determinant of social status and despite claims that the rigidities of caste structure is gradually dissolving, there is increasing evidence that point to the continuation of caste-based discrimination (Attewell and Madheswaran 2007; Thorat and Newman 2012).
Caste and the Agrarian Economy
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WILD MEAT AND WET MARKETS: A GLOBAL DIALOGUE
Wet markets operate in most Asian countries including India. China reported its wet markets as the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan and also more recently in Beijing. These wet markets, a traditional part of popular local culture in Asian countries, are increasingly becoming a cause of concern for the international community and health practitioners across the globe. This article attempts to understand how global authorities and their Asian partners are looking to regulate these infamous wet markets to significantly lower the risk of viral and other pathogenic load from these unhygienic wet markets.
SEA WALL IN THE MALDIVES AND ITS SUSTAINABILITY
The Small Island developing states are particularly vulnerable to the peril of climate change. Sea level rise, increase in sea surface temperature, high incidences of drought and flood are some of the vulnerabilities that loom large over such island states.The republic of Maldives is one such example, which has been publicly advocating for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Despite being one of the least contributors to such emissions, the Maldives faces the highest impact of global warming. Being one of the lowest-lying island nations, it has been undertaking various steps to curb the egregious impacts of environmental catastrophes.One of the response measures taken by the Maldives is the construction of seawalls. This article discusses this, while accenting the drawbacks and benefits associated with the approach.
TO PLUCK AT WILL: FRUIT TREES IN COMMON PROPERTY
Despite many governmental initiatives, malnutrition in India remains a major health challenge. There is a marked deficit of fruits in the diet of most Indians, consuming much lower than what is recommended by the World health organisation (Who). One of the reasons behind this is the high price of fruits and thus its inequitable access. As we prepare ourselves to live in a world marred by COVID-19 and a shrinking Indian economy, we must think of new ideas to manage access to food, especially micro nutrient rich fruits. This paper explores the possibility of planting endemic fruit trees in public spaces like roadsides and parks, that can help in increasing the consumption of fruits amongst the poor. It also attempts to analyse whether this can serve as a long term solution to bridge the gap between fruit production and consumption in India.
RESPONSIVE URBAN PLANNING: COVID-19 A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE IN INDIAN CITIES
The global challenge of COVID-19 is still unfurling. States are grappling to control its remorseless spread with varied success and its impact both on long and short-term scales are still being understood. However, a distinct urban bias in its spread across the globe and universal response of lockdown and social distancing for its control has brought pertinent questions to the fore. Urban planning and the future of our cities in terms of urban life and city form therefore needs to be revisited. In India, the exodus of migrant workers from its large cities has added yet another dimension to this challenge.
PAUSE AND REBOOT
REFLECTIONS ON ECONOMY, SOCIETY AND POLITY DURING COVID-19 GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND LESSONS FOR INDIA
Migrants & borders: My wishlist in a post-Covid-19 world
Former Professor of Economics and Education, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Covid-19: Politics Of Knowledge, Public Health And The World Order
In the present era of a knowledge society, the world order will be shaped more than ever before by the politics of knowledge. In the post-CoVId world, public health knowledge is likely to be a significant contributor. This article briefly discusses the various contemporary public health approaches evident within the discipline: global health, community medicine and critical public health. Then it goes on to analyse country level policy approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic, delineating a tentative four-category typology, based on available information. Finally, it sets out the possible outcome indicators that should be used to assess the national responses.
Inequalities in Access to Academic Spaces
Experiences of students from the socially excluded groups in higher education in India
Understanding Caste and Class - Categories and Measurement
The caste has been a unique social institution in India. It has also emerged in a new form after the mandalisation of caste in the early 1990s resulting in the extension of reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and also in admissions to colleges and universities. The relative size of population of various caste groups particularly of the OBCs is also a matter of debate. Census does not provide population data on OBCs, however, it is possible to assess it from nationally representative sample surveys. Further, the correspondence between caste categories and class has been a matter of debate. This paper presents an assessment of class within caste categories based on data from nationally representative sample surveys.
The Middle Class - As the Class of No Class
An attempt to understand some of the ambiguities around what it means to be middle class in India has been made in this paper. It also discusses the influence that the middle class supposedly has on Indian politics despite these uncertainties.
YOGA & PEACE
DEEPAK CHOPRA speaks with DAAJI about the role Yoga has to play in bringing about world peace. This is an excerpt from their conversation broadcast on International Day of Peace, September 21, 2020. That documentary is available at https://heartfulness.org/en/international-day-of-peace/.
Create the habit of meditation
CHIRAG KULKARNI, Co-Founder and CMO of Medly Pharmacies in the USA, speaks with RISHIKA SHARMA about creating a regular meditation practice, so as to make it a habit. He also shares how meditation has benefited both his personal and professional life.
SHIA'S PRIVATE TEMPLE OF DOOM!
Indiana Jones gig derailed by abuse scandal
"Food Raconteur” Ashok Nageshwaran wants to tell you a story.
THE MAKING OF A MODEL MINORITY
Indian Americans rarely stop to ask why our entrance into American society has been so rapid—or to consider what we have in common with other nonwhite Americans.
In 2017, DR. VANDANA SHIVA spoke with KIM HUGHES about the sacredness of the Earth, the work she has been doing to bring awareness and change in the field of sustainable agriculture, and the importance of understanding our interconnectedness with Nature, and how we can change the way we eat.
DIAMONDS - A Luxury Gem Steeped in Fact & Fable
The diamond is one fabled gemstone! For example, google “Hope Diamond” to see all the legends associated with just this one stone said to bring misfortune to its owners.
Brown Sugaa and Medusa
Brown Sugaa and Medusa
CHINA DEMANDS INDIA RESCIND APP BAN AMID BORDER TENSION
China on Wednesday demanded India rescind a ban on more Chinese mobile phone apps amid tension between Beijing and other governments over technology and security.