The Politics of Social Exclusion in India: Democracy at the Crossroads

The Politics of Social Exclusion in India: Democracy at the Crossroads

The Politics of Social Exclusion in India: Democracy at the Crossroads

The Politics of Social Exclusion in India: Democracy at the Crossroads

Synopsis

Social exclusion and inclusion remain issues of fundamental importance to democracy. Both exclusion and inclusion relate to the access to participation in the public realm, public goods and services for certain groups of people who are minorities, marginalized and deprived. Democratization has led to the inclusion of the previously excluded in the political process. While the problems of exclusion remain even in advanced Western countries in respect of the minorities of sorts, and the underprivileged, the problem of deep-rooted social and cultural exclusions is acute in post-colonial countries, including India. This book analyses social exclusions in India, which remain the most solid challenges to Indian democracy and development. Communal clashes, ethnic riots, political secessionist movements and extremist violence take place almost routinely, and are the outward manifestations of the entrenched culture of social exclusion in India. With its interdisciplinary approach, the book looks at the multidimensional problems of social exclusion and inclusion, providing a critical, comprehensive analysis of the problem and of potential solutions. The authors are experts in the fields of historical sociology, anthropology, political theory, social philosophy, economics and indigenous vernacular literature. Overall, the book offers an innovative theoretical perspective of the long-term issues facing contemporary Indian democracy.

Excerpt

Social exclusion and inclusion remain issues of fundamental importance to democracy. Social exclusion remains a persistent problem of all societies. The problem is acute in the post-colonial countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Multidimensional in nature, social exclusion manifests itself often in such ugly forms as ethnic conflicts, communalism and communal riots, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, class wars, secessionist violence and so on. Globalization has added to the problem of social exclusion by creating new forms of inequalities and deprivations.

Social exclusion has of late been receiving increasing attention from the policymakers, multilateral donor agencies, academic community and other researchers. Economists, by and large, have analysed it as a problem of poverty and capability deprivation. Sociologists have looked at the issue from the perspective of discrimination based on caste and ethnicity in India. A comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to social exclusion and its implications for democracy is singularly lacking in the existing literature on the subject. This volume of twelve essays composed by sociologists, anthropologists, political theorists, economists, social theorists and literary scholars seeks to offer an interdisciplinary, comprehensive and comparative perspective on the vexed issue of social exclusion and assesses its implications for democracy in India. The essays are original in that they are being published here for the first time, and many of them are based on vernacular sources otherwise inaccessible to the English-speaking world at large.

The origin of this volume dates back to a maiden National Seminar on ‘Politics of Social Exclusion and Empowerment: A Multidisciplinary Approach’ held on 28–29 May 2007 in Burdwan under the auspices of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) of the University of Burdwan, West Bengal (India) when Harihar Bhattacharyya was Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Commerce etc. of the University of Burdwan and the founding Director of CIS. The seminar was liberally financed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), for which we sincerely record our thanks to Professor Suranjan Das, then Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Calcutta University, now Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, and Professor S. K. Thorat, Chairman, UGC, who took particular interest in the seminar. We are deeply grateful to Professor Amit Kumar Mallik, former Vice-Chancellor of Burdwan . . .

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