India

Labor Migration in India

I want to thank my colleague Dr. Pronoy Rai, who joined me on my Dispatch 7 podcast to discuss labor migration in India. I enjoyed hearing about how he does fieldwork with the migrants. Towards the end he talked about COVID-19, and how it’s impacting labor migrants in India now. You can find the podcast episode here.

Shawn Smallman

Subhrajyoti07 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Book Review of Akash Kapur’s India Becoming

"Leh Ladakh City, India" by siraphat at freedigitalphotos.net
“Leh Ladakh City, India” by siraphat at freedigitalphotos.net

Akash Kapur’s new book, India Becoming, in some respects is reminiscent of Oscar Lewis’s classic work, Five Families, which used the stories of a small group of Mexican families to explore poverty in that nation. Kapur uses detailed interviews with a series of individuals to explore major transformations sweeping India: the decline of agriculture, the rise of the information economy, and urbanization. The key theme of this well-written and engaging book is the human costs that this transformation entails. Throughout the work Kapur tries to show that development destroys as it creates, so that people have to make difficult choices throughout this transformation. This is clear in multiple areas. With gender relations, women have new opportunities that they must balance against obligations, in a manner familiar to Western culture. Traditional landowners face the loss of their power, while low status Dalits (once called untouchables) embrace new opportunities, in an urban context in which wealth can matter more than birth. …

Book Review: Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe

 

"God Of Art, Supreme God Of India Culture" by Sura Nualpradid at freedigitalphotos.net
“God Of Art, Supreme God Of India Culture” by Sura Nualpradid at freedigitalphotos.net

        Last fall I assigned Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe in my “Foundations of Global Studies Theory” class. The book was very challenging for most students, and I ultimately decided that it might be more appropriate for a graduate level course. At the same time, the work is a foundational text in Postcolonial Studies, which seeks to examine the ways in which Western intellectual history continues to shape programs and expectations in less developed countries. Chakrabarty argues that Western theories are both “indispensable and inadequate.” Inherent to most Western social science theory is the concept of historicism; in other words, there is one evolutionary model that societies pass through, which also happens to be that of Europe.  For this reason, most Western social theorists do not take religion seriously, nor do they necessarily question using Western concepts such as Marxism to understand the class consciousness of Indian workers. In this sense, Chakrabarty demonstrates the Eurocentrism that runs through Western social sciences. …

India/Pakistan Standoff on Kashmir’s Siachen glacier

Picture of glacier thanks to puttsk at freedigitalphotos.net

This week there was a disastrous avalanche on the Siachen glacier, which buried perhaps 135 Pakistanis, 124 of whom were troops in the 6th Northern Light Infantry Battalion. It seems unlikely that many of these troops will ever be found, despite a concerted rescue effort, given that they may have been buried under 25 meters (75 feet of snow). The force of the avalanche -over a thousand meter line- was indescribable. This sad incident is but one tragedy in a the strange stand-off between India and Pakistan over a glacier, which must be one of the most inhospitable fortified regions on earth. …

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