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

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Caste and the Bar Dancer

While Maya Pandit identifi es the State's wrath against lower-caste female sexuality as the root cause of the ban on dancing, this comment on dance bar debate argues that the very reason for the legal ban can be found in the caste and gender politics in globalising India and "caste governance" by the Maharashtra state government.

Maya Pandit’s article “Gendered Subaltern Sexuality and the State” (EPW, 10 August 2013) offers a perspective on the Maharashtra ban on bar dancing that weaves legal prohibition, lower-caste female sexuality and processes of globalisation in India within which the state’s role in cultural identity creation has become crucial. Pandit identifies the State’s wrath against lower-caste female sexuality as the root cause of the ban on dancing. She asks for the reasons for fear of the sexuality of the lower-caste girls, why their sexuality becomes a threat.

The answers are sought in “good governance” where the Indian state is pushed to take action against trafficking. While the state in globalising India withdraws from welfare commitments, it seems to play an enhanced role in cultural politics. Further, the climate of globalisation demands a solid and distinct national cultural identity, which gets carved out of upper-caste/upper-class Hindu familial ideology. Pure, unblemished Indian womanhood is central to this theme and bar girls – the antithesis – threaten the very notion of India.

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