ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultivating Communal Hatred in Bengal

Blasts in Khagragarh in Bardhaman district in West Bengal on 2 October 2014 have led to growing anti-Muslim propaganda in the state. Such incidents related to political violence have their roots in the political-economic structure of central Bengal where rural surplus has led to uneven economic growth, paving the way to political domination of one class over another. This can be seen from the class structure of the rice belt of Bardhaman, Hooghly and part of Birbhum districts, where the proportion of agricultural labour is still very high, between 40% and 50%. There is an urgent need to separate such instances of criminal activities, related to the political economy, from those of the purported Islamic jihad.

West Bengal Panchayat Elections

The Trinamool Congress has not displaced the Left Front, "rigging" was not "unprecedented" and the Left Front has not lost its base amongst the poor in West Bengal. A close analysis of the recent panchayat elections provides insights into the various dimensions that influence the electorate and also helps us cut through some of the propaganda from both sides regarding the results.

2013 Panchayat Elections in West Bengal - A Role Reversal?

The Panchayat elections being held, currently, in West Bengal are witnessing a more virulent form of ruling class absolutism than that was prevalent during Left Front rule. If the Left Front used to disallow any electoral opposition in order to consolidate their power, the present day ruling Trinamul does the same to an even greater extent – as it seeks to reverse gains of social justice and redistribution in rural Bengal. 

In Defence of Public Education

Drawing on the research on basic education in West Bengal, this essay argues the case for a much criticised public education system, which needs to be reconsidered as regards its potential as a provider of quality education, even while addressing its many failings. The essay follows an approach, both critical and constructive, that underlines the collective onus of the public in realising the value of the public education system, instead of giving up on it.

Politics of PDS Anger in West Bengal

A combination of factors have been responsible for the incidents in late 2007 involving the public distribution system in West Bengal. While the central policy of Targeted Public Distribution System and decreased allocations to the state have been primary contributory factors, local level dynamics that have affected the panchayati raj system are also of significance. This article tries to combine a field study in rural West Bengal with macro-level analysis to analyse the problem.

Public-Private Interface in Primary Education

It would be imprudent to consider private schooling as the alternative to public schools, since a vast majority of parents cannot bear the cost of private school education. Even if a voucher system is introduced (where the government may issue education vouchers to the parents which would enable them to enrol children in schools of their choice). The feasibility of such a system is remote mainly for two reasons: (1) private schooling would involve a far larger amount of parental expenditure than vouchers could offer, and (2) the possibility of establishing private schools in the rural and underprivileged areas of the country is nothing more than a delusion.

Primary Education in Jharkhand

This paper details the results of a survey conducted in selected areas of Jharkhand's Dumka district. While inadequate infrastructure and the lack of teachers affect the quality of teaching, poverty is responsible for the alarming rates of non-enrolment, dropouts and poor attendance of pupils. Scheduled tribe children are particularly at a disadvantage as education is not imparted in their mother tongue. The state of primary education, as this paper suggests, needs a multi-pronged effort to ensure its greater effectiveness. While the government can step in with incentives such as midday meal schemes, community participation in the governance of the primary schooling system has to be ensured.

State of Primary Education in West Bengal

Successive efforts initiated by the Left Front government have played a positive role in the expansion of primary education in West Bengal. However, as the findings of this study establish, certain problems still prevail. Poor attendance, perceived class differences, poverty and gender discrimination prevent socially underprivileged groups from accessing education opportunities. On the other hand, the success of the government's experiment in providing cost-effective primary education, particularly to the most underprivileged sections of society must be recognised.

Hot-Tempered `Cold Fever'

To the people of Dumka district of West Bengal malaria or the `cold fever' as it is locally known is of greater concern and costs them much more than does tuberculosis and other more serious diseases. Health care spending almost always leads to borrowing or distress sale of whatever meagre household assets are available. While pauperisation is grounded in the political economy of the area, illness sharply hastens the process.

Seasonal Migration, Social Change and Migrants' Rights

People who migrate temporarily for manual work are not usually unionised and are often unprotected by effective legislation against travel and workplace risks. All this is true of West Bengal, where migrant workers employed in rice cultivation have made crucial contributions to the agricultural successes of the last two decades. West Bengal's gangs of mobile rice workers are recruited directly by individual employers at busy labour market places or in migrants' home villages. This paper summarises the findings of recent empirical research on the scale and pattern of seasonal migration for rice work in West Bengal. It analyses the causes and consequences of the migration, including its relation to ongoing social change in four source areas.

Women s Labour and Migration-The Case of the Santhals

With erosion of traditional livelihood and few local options available, Santhals have been forced to enter the labour market as migrants. Faced with a negative impact on schooling and health care, poor living and working conditions, and constant fear of sexual abuse, the entry into the labour market of Santhal women in particular is nothing but a survival strategy since staying at home could mean starvation.


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