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

Articles by Rowena RobinsonSubscribe to Rowena Robinson

Adivasi Mahasabhas

Adivasi mahasabhas are organised across Assam to politically mobilise the Adivasi communities. The paper argues that in contemporary Assam, Adivasi struggles are not limited to the issues of identity but through the mahasabhas, the student associations are claiming citizenship, economic and constitutional rights. While resisting the larger “Assamese” identity on the one hand, the Adivasi student associations also reproduce prevailing gender inequalities within the movement. The present study analyses the All Adivasi Women’s Association of Assam, which seeks to bring together the issues of women and labour to counter the patriarchy of both trade unions and student movements.

Isolated Complaints Committees

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has been translated into policies against sexual harassment in corporations and organisations and in many higher education institutions. This article draws on our joint experiences working on Internal Complaints Committees in HEIs to examine current practices and show the new issues and concerns that have emerged, and how accumulating case law impacts the implementation of the act. We point out some best practices of HEIs to show that despite continuing challenges, ICCs have tried to not only secure justice for survivors of sexual harassment but also created broader support systems for them.

An Academic’s Response

The acceptance of the draft National Education Policy in its current form may prove disastrous for many of the gains made in education so far, at different levels. It will also mean an increased political control over educational institutions, undermining its stated goal of providing autonomy to them.

Charting Contemporary Sociology

Towards a New Sociology in India edited by Mahuya Bandyopadhyay and Ritambhara Hebbar, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2016; pp x + 266, 850.

Inhabiting or Interrogating Faith

Against the growing literature on Muslim piety movements, this paper analyses the practices of faith among a young generation of educated middle-class Muslim women in Mumbai in the context of a liberalising economy, which offers them greater employment opportunities and draws them out of the ghettos to work and interact with people of different social and religious backgrounds. The paper shows that these women question and reason with their faith, while the earlier generation abides by a quieter piety. The findings are grounded in Mumbai’s specific history in which the riots of 1992–93 were a defining moment for Muslims. While focusing on everyday religiosity, it also connects with a larger canvas by arguing that piety movements, though located in society, are not unattached from the ways in which states may constitute secularity or define religious freedoms.

Academic Freedom

We the undersigned sociologists, including serving and retired teachers, and researchers from universities and institutes across India, are deeply disturbed by the ongoing events in the country and feel the urgent need to make the following public statement:

Sociology of Education and Indian Higher Education Systems

What is critically missing in higher education in India is the continuously maintained, institution-level data, which is an invaluable database for research as well as for honing policies and monitoring their outcomes. This paper chronicles one administrative and scholarly experiment recently launched in Cotton College State University in Guwahati, Assam. The first year's results of the ongoing experiment are revealed and the future potential of this kind of research to engage with questions, such as the fairness and effectiveness of examination and evaluation systems, and the correlation of a student's academic performance with prior education and social background, is recorded. The capacity for comparative research and of using research results to meet student needs better, improve the performance of "at risk" students, or enhance the quality of education and of institutions for production of human capital is noted.

In Search of Fraternity

The paper begins by acknowledging that scholarship in India has neglected the concept of fraternity for a long time, though today research in other parts of the world seeks to locate it either on the side of "horizontal solidarity" or in congruity with the value of "justice." In India, fraternity has been mentioned recently in law but has not yet been given much attention by the social sciences. This paper argues that in the Constituent Assembly, members sought to give specific content to the term fraternity, appropriate to the Indian context. The Supreme Court has subsequently made use of the concept in particular cases. The paper goes on to argue that there are possibilities for giving fraternity purchase in the context of an area, currently very controversial-- that of religion-based housing discrimination--though the Supreme Court held back from applying fundamental rights and constitutional principles in a relevant case in 2005. For such an argument to be made, however, a careful understanding of the way in which law and constitutional jurisprudence work is necessary.

Minority Rights versus Caste Claims

Dalit Christians have been agitating for scheduled caste status that will bring them on par with Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist dalits. Why was this claim not made when the Constitution was being framed? An exploration of the Constituent Assembly debates attempts to understand whether Christian castes were discussed and how fundamental religious liberties, which included crucial educational rights, were given importance over caste claims by the elite Christian representatives in the assembly. It draws a distinction between community rights and claims on the state. The implications of the cluster of rights known as "minority rights" are disentangled and the paper argues that the discriminatory clause in the Scheduled Castes Order of 1950 is part of the problem faced by dalit Christians. There is also a clash between the different kinds of entitlements at issue, which must be acknowledged to harmonise the justice of the state with fairness within the community.

Revisiting Communalism and Fundamentalism in India

This comprehensive review of the literature on communalism - and its virulent offshoot, fundamentalism - in India considers the various perspectives from which the issue has sought to be understood, from precolonial and colonial times to the post-Independence period. The writings indicate that communalism is an outcome of the competitive aspirations of domination and counter-domination that began in colonial times. Cynical distortions of the democratic process and the politicisation of religion in the early decades of Independence intensified it. In recent years, economic liberalisation, the growth of opportunities and a multiplying middle class have further aggravated it. More alarmingly, since the 1980s, Hindu communalism has morphed into fundamentalism, with the Sangh parivar and its cultural politics of Hindutva playing ominous roles.

Hindu Nationalism and Bahujan Castes

Religion, Caste and Politics in India by Christophe Jaffrelot (Delhi: Primus Books), 2010; pp 802, Rs 2,250 (hb).

Indian Muslims: The Varied Dimensions of Marginality

The Sachar Committee Report brings together a wealth of data of immense value with respect to the development and marginalisation of different socio-religious groups, the Muslims in particular, in the country. This article examines the social, political and economic profile of Indian Muslims emerging from the SCR; its regional, gendered and other variations; and the implications thereof.


Back to Top