December 2015
Uprooted From Democracy: Rajbala v. State of Haryana

The recent verdict by the Supreme Court of India, upholding an amendment by the Haryana government to prescribe minimum educational qualifications to

Enabling Reporting of Rape in India: An Exploratory Study

This Report is an exploratory work seeking to answer the question ‘What enables reporting of rape in India?’ Under-reporting of rape is often attributed to social norms that stigmatise female sexuality, to the point that there is a guarded silence and secrecy around it even when subjected to violence. This view on under-reporting places the blame on the victim, as if she makes a choice in not reporting rape, constrained by the influence of an abstract force of patriarchy. What I found was that social stigma becomes irrelevant the moment the incident of rape becomes public knowledge and hence cannot dis-incentivise the victim for reporting. In fact, the victim is motivated to prosecute and seek justice, if only for her own vindication. What come into play then are institutional barriers arising out of the extrapolation of social norms into the State. This Report examines these institutional factors located and operating within socio-cultural constructs of rape and female sexuality to identify enabling forces that can overcome barriers to reporting of rape. The first part of the Report analyses rape statistics in India to identify regional patterns at the State and district levels. The second part was conducted through interviews of victims, police officers, advocates, women’s organisations, activists and State officials. [PDF 1.16 MB]

Youth Activism and Democratic Politics in India’s Northeast: 2014 Election in Perspective

This Report attempts to understand how the youth in the northeastern region of India look at the electoral and political processes. The region, comprising eight States, has had a turbulent political history and has since been a sensitive area for policymakers in the country. There were, since India’s independence, several volatile social and political movements spread across the eight States. In many of these movements, students and youth have been the driving force. The biggest example of such a movement and its impact on the politics of the State is the All Assam Students Union (AASU). After six years of struggle against alleged illegal immigration, it signed an accord with the Union Government in 1985, called the Assam Accord, formed a political party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), and came to power through the electoral process twice. Student-youth politics and activism has formed the backbone of most political and social movements in region. This Report looks at the critical mass of the youth voters and their attitude and perspective towards elections. Through a survey across seven university campuses spread across six States, the study attempts to discern a pattern to the youth vote and the various factors that influence their judgment or their electoral preferences. Finally, the Report makes a case for engaging the youth in community-based programmes and its impact on policy-making. In line with the National Youth Policy, which India has been drafting and implementing since 2003, the Report recommends a focus on region-specific approach to policymaking and the creation of a Youth Development Index. [PDF 1.53 MB]

Defending the Idea of Secular India

The rise of religious nationalism owes its origin to the tacit legitimacy given to groups that defined India in religious terms. Despite this, an ind

Dholera Smart City: Urban Infrastructure or Rentier Growth?

This study examines the ongoing creation of the Dholera Special Investment Region along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor in Gujarat. It analyses the agrarian political economy of the region in relation to the anticipated rentier gains from the conversion of land from agriculture to a “smart city.” Given the low level of interest by real estate developers in the project so far, the stagnant manufacturing investments in the country, and the continuing resistance by local residents, the study argues that the anticipated futures that moor the Dholera smart city are tenuous and rife with conditions of resistance and overthrow. It argues that the ‘rentier economy’ driving the project may not meet the development needs of a majority of local residents, dispossessing a large majority of peasants for whom the agrarian economy offers a choice of critical livelihood strategies. The ‘land pooling’ mechanism is ill equipped to deal with issues emerging from dissent. In contrast to official articulation of industrial infrastructure development, local opinion emphasises agrarian infrastructure, specifically the overdue Narmada canal irrigation system. This contest over what is deemed necessary infrastructure for economic growth, and who will benefit from such infrastructure, points to the necessity for policies oriented towards ‘development from below.’ [PDF 1.49 MB]

Policy Report No12resized
Communicating Caste and Gender: Understanding Narratives on Systemic Discrimination in Textbooks from CBSE, TN and UP Boards

School textbooks, which form the foundation of our education, play a vital role in shaping our understanding of the world around us. This rings truest for social sciences, which describe society and its multiple realities. In the process, social sciences tend to present a version of an issue or an event to young impressionable minds. Therefore, they have educational and sensitisation consequences. This becomes especially important in Indian society, which is rife with discriminatory practices and attempts to justify them, such as ones based on caste and gender. Both these forms of discrimination are systemic malaises and date to ancient times. Textbooks, then, have to be analysed to understand the narratives they adopt, to educate and sensitise students on such issues. This study aims to look at three social science textbooks-History, Civics and Political Science, used at upper primary and secondary levels from three different educational boards: National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), taught in Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) schools; State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Tamil Nadu (TN), taught in TN board schools; and SCERT, Uttar Pradesh (UP) in conjunction with State Institute of Education (SIE) and the UP board, taught in UP board schools. The study aims to understand, through a textual analysis, some of the pedagogic, policy, political, historical and social factors that determine the direction and shape of the narratives on gender and caste-based discrimination in these textbooks. This research report also provides examples pointing out the nature of discriminatory references from current textbooks. An attempt is also made to outline merits and demerits of the narrative adopted. The author hopes that this research report will help in recognising the need to reshape and restructure the content of textbooks, wherever necessary. Such an exercise by policy-makers in education could provide a better frame of reference for young students to enhance their understanding of the systemic discrimination in their immediate socio-political reality. [PDF 1.26 MB]

Unambiguous Commitment to Secularism Needed: Prof. B.K. Chandrashekar

It is over two decades since the historic Babri Masjid was demolished to construct of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. While the leaders and workers of the BJ

What December 6 Means for India

The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 by kar sevaks led by Hindu right-wing organisations reset India’s political discourse. In this essay, Mu

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: An Analysis of Policy Design and Implementation Gaps

This report presents the findings of a primary study conducted across four districts in Tamil Nadu about the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and its implications for achieving full financial inclusion. The need to conduct the study just prior to the one-year anniversary stemmed from the quick success that banks and the government proclaimed. Given that the programme was quite similar to previous attempts at complete financial inclusion, the stark difference in success came as a surprise and demanded a study. The study found that several of the problems that earlier attempts at financial inclusion faced, such as bankers acting as large barriers to access, exclusion of the most vulnerable and lack of awareness of programme features, continue to persist even with the PMJDY. These findings have been placed in the context of what has been observed with large government programmes with explanations drawn from theory and secondary literature, wherever relevant. The paper examines both design and implementation gaps, providing possible solutions for re-design and implementation. [PDF 9.88 MB]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassins Remissions Case: Full Text of Judgment (Dec. 02, 2015)

On December 2, 2015, a five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India rejected the proposal by the Government of Tamil Nadu "to remit the sentence of life imprisonment and to release" seven persons who were convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minster of India, Rajiv Gandhi, in Sriperambudur on May 21, 1991. The majority judgment, written by Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla, noted: "88. As far as the argument based on ray of hope is concerned, it must be stated that however much forceful, the contention may be, as was argued by Mr. Dwivedi, the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State, it must be stated that such ray of hope was much more for the victims who were done to death and whose dependents were to suffer the aftermath with no solace left. Therefore, when the dreams of such victims in whatever manner and extent it was planned, with reference to oneself, his or her dependents and everyone surrounding him was demolished in an unmindful and in some cases in a diabolic manner in total violation of the Rule of Law which is prevailing in an organized society, they cannot be heard to say only their rays of hope should prevail and kept intact. For instance, in the case relating to the murder of the former Prime Minister, in whom the people of this country reposed great faith and confidence when he was entrusted with such great responsible office in the fond hope that he will do his best to develop this country in all trusts, all the hope of the entire people of this country was shattered by a planned murder which has been mentioned in detail in the judgment of this Court which we have extracted in paragraph No.147. Therefore, we find no scope to apply the concept of ray of hope to come for the rescue of such hardened, heartless offenders, which if considered in their favour will only result in misplaced sympathy and again will be not in the interest of the society. Therefore, we reject the said argument outright." Click here for the Full text of the Judgment. PDF [949 KB]