The Problem of Caste
Satish Deshpande (Ed.)
158 x 240 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Caste is one of the oldest concerns of the social sciences in India that continues to be relevant even today.  This book tracks how scholars from different disciplines have responded to the caste question in independent India and highlights recent shifts in perspective.

The general perception about caste is that it is an outdated concept that was slowly but inevitably dying out until it was revived by colonial policies and promoted by vested interests and electoral politics after independence.  However, this hegemonic perception changed irrevocably in the 1990s after the controversial reservations for the Other Backward Classes recommended by the Mandal Commission. Mandal triggered a new awakening by revealing that only a privileged upper caste minority believed in the declining significance of caste—for the  vast majority of Indians caste continued to be a crucial determinant of life opportunities. 

This volume collects significant writings spanning seven decades, three generations and several disciplines.  The introduction contextualises established perspectives in relation to emergent concerns, and is followed by forty essays organised into six sections. 

The first section offers a sample of disciplinary responses ranging from sociology to law.  The second explores the relationship between caste and class, while the third highlights the interplay between caste and politics. 

The fourth section covers old and new challenges in law and policy.  Emergent research areas are represented in section five and section six showcases post-Mandal innovations in caste studies. 

This transdisciplinary volume brings together sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, historians, economists and others.  It will be essential reading for students and scholars across these disciplines.

Satish Deshpande is Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics.

List of Tables and Box  
Caste Concerns in the Contemporary Social Sciences: Six Decades of Writings in the Economic and Political Weekly, 1958–2013
Satish Deshpande
Section I
Disciplinary Perspectives
1. Caste as a Status Group
Irawati Karve
2. The Future of Indian Caste
M. N. Srinivas
3. Continuous Hierarchies and Discrete Castes
Dipankar Gupta
4. The Peculiar Tenacity of Caste
André Béteille
5. Rise of the Dalits and the Renewed Debate on Caste
Rajni Kothari
6. Kosambi and the Questions of Caste
Kumkum Roy
7. Caste and Economic Discrimination
Sukhadeo Thorat and Katherine S. Newman
8. Untouchability and the Law
Marc Galanter
9. Phenomenology of Untouchability
Sundar Sarukkai
10. How Egalitarian are the Social Sciences in India?
Gopal Guru

Section II
Caste and Class
11. Secularisation of Caste and the Making of the New Middle Class
D. L. Sheth
12. Caste and Agrarian Class
A View from Bihar
Anand Chakravarti
13. Employment, Exclusion and ‘Merit’ in the Indian IT Industry
Carol Upadhya
14. Where the Path Leads
The Role of Caste in Post-university Employment Expectations
Ashwini Deshpande and Katherine S. Newman
15. Ruptures and Reproduction in Caste/Gender/Labour
Meena Gopal
Section III
Caste and Politics
16. Religion and Caste in the Punjab
Sidhwan Bet Constituency
Baldev Raj Nayar
17. The Satyashodhak Samaj and Peasant Agitation
Gail Omvedt
18. Ramaswami Naicker and the Dravidian Movement
Mohan Ram
19. Anti-reservation Agitation and the Structure of Gujarat Society
I. P. Desai
20. This Anti-Mandal Mania
K. Balagopal
21. The Dalit Question and the Political Response
A Comparative Study of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
Sudha Pai
22. Khairlanji and Its Aftermath
Anand Teltumbde
23. Comparative Contexts of Discrimination
Caste and Untouchability in South Asia
Surinder S. Jodhka and GhanshyamShah

Section IV
Caste, State and Law
24. Who Are the Other Backward Classes?
Marc Galanter
25. Justice for Dalits among Dalits
K. Balagopal
26. Reservations and the Return to Politics
Susie Tharu, M. Madhava Prasad, Rekha Pappu and K. Satyanarayana
27. Census in Colonial India and the Birth of Caste
Padmanabh Samarendra
28. The Politics of Not Counting Caste
Satish Deshpande and Mary E. John
Section V
Caste and Gender
29. Conceptualising Brahmanical Patriarchy in Early India
Uma Chakravarti
30. Enforcing Cultural Codes Gender and Violence in Northern India
Prem Chowdhry
31. Periyar, Women and an Ethic of Citizenship
V. Geetha
32. Dalit Women Talk Differently
      A Critique of ‘Difference’ and Towards a Dalit Feminist Standpoint Position
Sharmila Rege
33. Work, Caste and Competing Masculinities
Notes from a Tamil Village
S. Anandhi, J. Jeyaranjan and Rajan Krishnan
34. Dalit Women as Political Agents
A Kerala Experience
Rekha Raj
Section VI
Contemporary Explorations
35. Reservations
Experience as Framework of Debate
Kancha Ilaiah
36. The Impossible Subject
Caste and the Gendered Body
Susie Tharu
37. Secularism, Modernity, Nation
Epistemology of the Dalit Critique
Aditya Nigam
38. One Step Outside Modernity
Caste, Identity Politics and Public Sphere
M. S. S. Pandian
39. Caste and Castelessness
Towards a Biography of the ‘General Category’
Satish Deshpande
40. Archaeology of Untouchability
Gopal Guru
List of Authors

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