India's very informal business sector

Barbara Harriss-White and her colleagues Aseem Prakash,  Elisabetta Basile, Kaushal Vidyarthee, Anita Dixit and Pinaki Joddar have authored the remarkable title, Dalits and Adivasis in India's Business EconomyThree Essays and an Atlas. This was published in 2013 by Three Essays Collective. 

India’s founding fathers and neo-liberalisers alike expected economic development to dissolve ‘archaic’ forms of exchange, but the modern Indian economy remains embedded in caste relations. At the base of the caste hierarchy are formerly untouchable and tribal workers. But a growing minority of dalits and adivasis have been incorporated into the Indian economy not as workers but as owners of firms.

The Atlas shows the striking and consistent regional and sectoral differences in the way dalits and adivasis have been incorporated into 14 occupational sectors of the business economy at both state and district levels of resolution over the period 1990 – 2005. Explaining these differences and some adverse trends during the era of globalisation is a task that the three essays accompanying the Atlas attempt to begin.

Using contemporary field research, dalit narratives and statistical data they explore the dalit experience of disadvantageous entry into markets, the state and civil society; their adverse experience of business associations regulating markets; and the surprisingly distinctive patterns of regional disadvantage that dalit and adivasi businesses suffer.

Harriss-White has been Professor of Development Studies at Queen Elizabeth House and Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University, UK. Since 1969 she has researched agrarian change in South Asia through field studies of villages, small town economies and markets. In recent years her focus has been on dalits in Indian economy, on which she has lectured and initiated workshops both in India and in England. Her well-known books are ‘India Working: Essays in Society and Economy’; Rural India Facing the 21st Century; Outcaste from Welfare: Adult Disability in Rural South India. Her other interests include environment and climate change.

The essays in the book are as follows:
  • DALIT CAPITAL IN THE NEW INDIA by Aseem Prakash and Barbara Harriss-White
  • SCHEDULED AND BACKWARD CASTES IN THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF ACCUMULATION: THE CASE OF A SMALL TOWN ECONOMY IN SOUTH INDIA by Barbara Harriss-White and Elisabetta Basile
  • REGIONS OF DALIT AND ADIVASI DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA’S BUSINESS ECONOMY by Barbara Harriss-White, Kaushal Vidyarthee and Anita Dixit
The truly unusual part of the book and one that makes it  a ‘must-read’ for everyone concerned with India’s development and social justice is 
  • AN ATLAS OF DALIT AND ADIVASI PARTICIPATION IN THE INDIAN BUSINESS ECONOMY, 1990-2005, by  Barbara Harriss-White, Kaushal Vidyarthee and Pinaki Joddar
The book, needless to say, generates an agenda for a new wave of activist- researchers. At Rs 2000 plus shipping, it is an absolutely essential addition to every social sciences library. 

In our Dalit Studies and Developmental Studies sections.   196 pages. Double Demy size, ISBN: 978-81-88789-86-3

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