After Silent Revolution: Most Marginalized Dalits and Local Democracy in Uttar Pradesh, North India

Date01 June 2017
Publication Date01 June 2017
DOI10.1177/2321023017698256
AuthorSatendra Kumar
SubjectArticles
After Silent Revolution: Most
Marginalized Dalits and Local
Democracy in Uttar Pradesh,
North India
Satendra Kumar1
Abstract
There exists a widely held view that a ‘silent revolution’ is occurring in North India. However, a scanty
literature deals with how this revolution has changed the distribution of political opportunities on
the ground. Drawing on longitudinal and long-term ethnographic research conducted between 2005
and 2015 in a village and its region, western Uttar Pradesh (UP), this article uncovers the complex
and contradictory processes of change taking place in the nature of caste and its politicization in
contemporary India. By focusing on different caste groups, this article examines the ways in which
these groups are responding to recent political changes, particularly in the wake of the extension
of reservations in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and the political rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party
(BSP) in the state of UP. This article shows that there has been a marked change in the relations of
domination and subordination between upper castes and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and the
Dalits in the region. However, I argue that despite radical changes in the rural power structure of UP,
many Dalit groups remain marginal in local politics and social life. The emerging caste groups such as
Jatavs within the Dalits refuse to give space to the aspirations of the most marginalized groups.
Keywords
SCs, Dalit, untouchability, local democracy, Uttar Pradesh, BSP
Introduction
This article explores how the introduction of the new Panchayati Raj has changed the lives of Scheduled
Castes (SCs) in rural western Uttar Pradesh (UP) over the last two decades.2 The new Panchayati Raj,
1 G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad University, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.
2 This article is based on field research conducted between September 2004 and August 2005, and revisits made between September
2014 and March 2015 to the Khanpur village and its neighbouring villages in western UP. It involved living in the village and
collecting data through participant observation, interviews, semi-structured questionnaires and a household survey. Besides, I have
also conducted fieldwork during the 2010 and 2015 village panchayat elections. In order to protect the identity of the village and
its people, I use pseudonyms throughout this article.
Article
Studies in Indian Politics
5(1) 18–31
© 2017 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/2321023017698256
http://inp.sagepub.com
Corresponding author:
Satendra Kumar, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad University, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.
E-mail: satendrakumar1@gmail.com

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