Schools of thought
- IPL spot-fixing case: Net widens, police watching 3 more players, other bookies
- IPL 2013: Imperious Brad Hodge powers Rajasthan Royals to qualifier
- Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh slam BJP for disrupting Parliament, stalling bills
- IPL spot-fixing: 'Bookie' Vindoo was close to BCCI chief's son-in-law, say cops
- Jessica Lall case: Shayan Munshi to face perjury trial
With its Gini coefficient (rate of national income inequality) accelerating alongside its growth rate, it is time India took stock of its unequal society. However, for affirmative action to redress inequalities and reach disadvantaged targets, cold hard facts need to come before cold hard cash — which groups are discriminated against? Why? By how much? Caste in a Different Mould: Understanding the Discrimination by Rajesh Shukla, Sunil Jain and Preeti Kakkar (BS Books, Rs 895) attempts to fill that "data vacuum" with statistics on the way different caste groups spend, save and consume.
Inequality is the arbiter of urban housing, public space and transport projects from Bombay to Bangladesh, according to Accumulation by Dispossession edited by Swapna Banerjee-Guha (Sage, Rs 695). It's a grim title, but that's perhaps fitting for this account of the urban dystopias we inhabit, in thrall to those insatiable monsters so beloved of Public Works Departments: "Singaporisation" and "Beautification".
Our treatment of Africans and African Americans, on the other hand, could desperately do with some beautifying. Only last month, in South Delhi, a rioting mob beat up a group of Nigerians who, they were convinced, abducted and ate children. Happier instances of Indian-African American solidarity can be found in our pre-Independence past, as recounted in The End of Empires: African Americans and India by Gerald Horne (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, Rs 795). This bond, forged through a common history of exploitation, was then as strong as chains.
Chains — expensive, "enchanted" ones — abound in a study of Hindu televangelists and their Christian counterparts in McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics: Televangelism in Contemporary India by Jonathan D. James (Sage, Rs 595). The study analyses "glocal" Christian channels such as MiracleNet which are popular for their "prophetic preaching" style but solicit payments for prayers. It also examines "New Age Hinduism" — swirling planets, magic stones, mystic chants, and yoga — on channels such as Aastha and Sanskar, launched in 1993, to counter MTV and other proponents of depraved "Westernness". The fare ranges from benign and bemusing — such as close-ups of sadhus rapidly inflating and deflating stomach and chest to demonstrate correct ways of breathing — to politically fraught, such as televised reconversions. Most important of all, points out James, both sorts of channels present a faith fashioned for individualised, not community, worship.
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