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Quantifying Socio-economic Exploitation

Nalini Rajan

By Sukhadeo Thorat , Gail Omvedt, Martin Macwan
Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, Rawat Publications, 2009, pp. 303, Rs. 725.00

By Sukhadeo Thorat and Katherine S. Newman, with a foreword by Kaushik Basu
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 377, Rs. 750.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 9 September 2010

Both the books under review have been written under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, and both agree broadly on the following theoretical principles: In Indian society, there are different forms of social exclusion. Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen has drawn our attention to two major forms of social exclusion, namely, active exclusion and passive exclusion. The first takes the form of wilful exclusion of certain groups in socio-economic or political processes by the state or by agents in civil society. The second form of exclusion takes place despite the absence of deliberate attempts on the part of state and non-state agents to exclude some people from availing themselves of certain opportunities. Sen also makes the point that even inclusion can take place on deeply unfavourable terms to marginalized groups. For instance, dalit (also known as Scheduled Castes) students are entitled to some benefits in the state school system. But these benefits are accorded to them by teachers and other school authorities in an insensitive manner which publicly stigmatizes them as (former) untouchables and hence meriting compensation. Thus both exclusion and inclusion may be unfavourable to groups like dalits, adivasis (Scheduled Tribes), and Other Backward Castes (the lower rung of the ‘touchable’ Shudra castes). It is important to note that there is a fundamental difference between the social exclusion of individuals and of groups. The exclusion of individuals—say, from employment, due to a low level of education or skills—may have little or nothing to do with their group’s social or cultural identity. The point is that even individuals from traditionally non-excluded groups, like the upper castes, may be excluded from certain processes for specific reasons. In the case of the excluded group, however, various forms of identity, like caste, religion, race, gender or colour, become profoundly relevant. Social Justice Philanthropy goes beyond the conventional wisdom on individual charity and provides an understanding of the various ways of overcoming social exclusion and of retaining sensitivity in the process of inclusion. The book is the result of studies conducted on the strategies employed by selected philanthropic state and non-state organizations, while addressing the problems of marginalized groups in society. Most of these organizations are based in Gujarat and Maharashtra, while a few are in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. They include community-based national and international organizations, corporate sector and family-based units, as well ...

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