The other side of otherness – Reflections on fieldwork in Sainsbury’s

A supermarket store in the posh London Borough of Islington might come across as an unlikely choice for a research project in anthropology – a discipline whose historical association with the study of the exotic and the esoteric by (mostly) White, European men in remote places is well-known. But here was I, an Indian student finding my wayContinue reading “The other side of otherness – Reflections on fieldwork in Sainsbury’s”

Between Gandhi and Hitler

The dust raised by the “Indian spring” is yet to settle and Mukul Sharma’s book ‘Green and Saffron’, recently published by Permanent Black, has arrived to raise another storm. An entire chapter in this book has been devoted to a careful exposition of the politics behind the Gandhian leading India’s much-watched anti-corruption movement – AnnaContinue reading “Between Gandhi and Hitler”

Weapons of the Weak? RTI and the story of Mangla Ram

Mangla Ram being carried on a stretcher by volunteers of the Dalit Atyachar Nivaran Samiti in Barmer, Rajasthan. (First published in Governance Now, issue dated September 1, 2011) Three magic wands–Right to Information, social audits and the Lokpal–have been offered as the means to fight corruption in the largely urban middle-class discourse. However, the questionContinue reading “Weapons of the Weak? RTI and the story of Mangla Ram”

The Fast and the Furious – Starring Baba Ramdev

The easiest way to capture the imagination of a nation glued on to its television sets is to don a saffron attire, embrace a cause and sit on a “fast unto death”. The strategy of ‘satyagraha’ that Mahatma Gandhi so effectively deployed to raise the consciousness of a nation during the British rule, has inContinue reading “The Fast and the Furious – Starring Baba Ramdev”

A timely treatise

[First published in Biblio – A Review of Books, issued dated July-August 2010] This is the book that Home Secretary G.K.Pillai is said to be reading nowadays to better understand tribal alienation in mining areas. It is said that if things are not what they often seem to be, then it is the job of the anthropologist to unravel what lies beneath. Felix Padel and Samarendra DasContinue reading “A timely treatise”