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Urbanization Seminar

Narendar Pani, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India

Chair: Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor in Urban Planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

The challenge of combating caste discrimination in India has generated two quite different approaches. There has been a radical view that the caste system can be made to disappear through, to use Ambedkar’s terminology, its annihilation. In contrast, there were approaches such as that of Gandhi as well as the first attempts at affirmative action in the princely state of Mysore in 1921, which allowed for the possible resilience of the institution and hence focused on ensuring greater equality between castes. This talk will begin by arguing that political reality has lent its weight, for better or for worse, to the idea of the resilience of caste. If we look at three important dimensions of caste – identity, power and discrimination – there is evidence of change but not necessarily a decline in importance. It will then explore the nature of this resilience in the face of global influences, using evidence from one of the Indian cities most impacted by globalization, Bangalore.