There are numerous castes in India. G S Ghurye mentions that in “…each linguistic area there was about two hundred groups called castes with distinct names, birth in one of which, usually, determined the status in society of a given individual, which were divided into about two thousand smaller units—generally known as sub-castes fixing the limits of marriage and effective social life and making for specific cultural tradition” (Ghurye 1992). Caste is thus an endogamous group where status of an individual related to the group is determined by his or her birth. The fourfold classification of varna namely Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras provided the traditional way of grouping the castes in terms of hierarchy with Brahmins at the top and Shudras at the bottom. One may also note that a large number of distinct castes may not be neatly accommodated in the four-fold varna scheme. Further, in the event of the mobility of the castes having acquired economic and political power makes the varna system irrelevant in the contemporary times (Srinivas 1992). K L Sharma also believes that there is no unilinear hierarchy of caste; in fact, today, multiple hierarchies characterise the Indian society (Sharma 2001). Castes are ‘discrete categories’, because they are no more related to each other organically, nor are they segmented entities. Although caste system may have lost its relevance in the contemporary times caste as an ethnic and identity group continues to persist even today.
In this sense, developing a classificatory scheme for castes is extremely problematic in the present times. However, if we combine the ritual and functional status, not in hierarchical sense, a scheme of classification, as presented in figure 1, could lend some meaningful insights.
The above classification of caste categories is neither followed for political and economic purposes nor is data available for these categories. In the past, various castes have been regrouped and classified by the Indian state more or less based on the traditional varna system. For example, in 1881 census, the Census Commissioner, W C Plowden decided to group the various castes into the five categories namely—Brahmans, Rajputs, Castes of Good Social Position, Inferior Castes and Non-Hindus or Aboriginal Castes (Cohn 1987). The 1921 census attempted to identify the depressed classes. However, the term of depressed classes did not find favour in 1931 census, and was replaced by a category called the exterior castes (Hutton 1933). In any case, it is important to note that such categorisations in the census was followed by the Scheduled Caste Order of 1936 that officially recognised the listing of castes in every province of India (Bandyopadhyay 1997). After Independence, with reference to the provisions of the Constitution two categories of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes were created followed by the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in order to extend the state benefits to them. Most of the OBCs are believed to be located in the middle and lower hierarchy of the caste system. Thus, we have the following categories of castes created through constitutional means
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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. email@example.com.
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.
Reincarnation And Realpolitik
China, India, and the U.S. are vying to influence the selection of the next Dalai Lama
An Exclusive Interview With Nandakumar Narasimhan
The Little Red Train
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THE DANGAL IN THE JUNGLE, PART 1
YOU KNOW YOU’RE SOMEBODY WHEN YOU’VE APPEARED ON AN INDIAN DANGAL POSTER — IN OTHER WORDS, IN A WRESTLING ADVERTISEMENT.
WOUNDS AND THE WOMB
JULIE PETERS explores how to heal a relationship with the sacred womb, a place of death, life, and possibilities.
Giant squirrels, giant lessons? Animal chaplain SARAH BOWEN explores what squirrels can show us about mindfulness.
E8 Caste and the Indian Tech Ivies
IIT grads are highly sought after in Silicon Valley. Are they bringing deep-rooted prejudices with them?
I was happily married, happily employed, just plain happy. Until the accident
IN SEASON Chickpeas (GARBANZO BEANS)
Chickpeas appear in early recordings in Turkey well over 5000 years ago. India produces the most chickpeas worldwide but they are grown in more than 50 countries. An excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals, they are a nutritious staple of many diets. The name chickpea comes from the Latin word cancer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. It is also known by its popular Spanish-derived name, the garbanzo bean. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts are other familiar foods found in this legume family.
When the Signal Goes Out
Government-ordered internet shutdowns are becoming more frequent