Talk with Professor S.S. Jodhka

On the 12th of February 2015, the Political Science Association organized a talk by Professor S.S. Jodhka on the topic ‘Caste in contemporary India’. Professor Jodhka teaches Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, he is also an affiliate senior fellow at the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences. He focuses on the changing nature of caste in Neo-Liberal India and some of his publications include ‘Interrogating India’s Modernity’, ‘Village Societies’, ‘Community and identities’ etc.

Professor Jodhka focused on the ideas of development and civilization (as propagated by the government) being linear and drawn from the experiences of the western world and thus many see caste as Apolitical and associated with traditional societies. Jodhka urged us to come out of such a teleological predicament and acknowledge the power politics and violence associated with caste based identities. He stressed on the fact that in modern India, caste has adapted itself to the democratic processes. Caste-democracy enters each other resulting in a change in the nature of both. Mr. Jodhka divided caste based politics into the following groups:

1960-1970: caste identities rising as a regional formation, not a pan India one. Material reality of caste relations were expressed very clearly and it was recognized that caste formation wasn’t exclusively a Hindu phenomenon.

1980s: Dalit assertions competed with Communist risings. New spaces created for Dalits for example the ability to purchase grain storage units liberated some Dalit communities from storage facility providers from the upper caste communities.

1990s: rise of the new Dalit middle class. Interaction between market-caste is examined.

-Neha Dewan

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