CSLG is organising a seminar by Wendy Singer

Event From Date: 
Friday, 15 September 2017
Event End Date: 
Friday, 15 September 2017
Event Title: 
CSLG is organising a seminar by Wendy Singer
Event Details: 


Jawaharlal Nehru University



Roy T. Wortman Professor of History and South Asian Studies, Kenyon College, US




Reservations and the Rights of Citizenship: Democratic Practice, Equal Access, and Social Reform


Abstract : Since India’s policy of Reservations, not only applies to jobs and education, but also provides members of relevant communities with seats in legislatures, it guarantees the continuing voice of interested parties in decision-making—both that concerns them specifically and the nation as a whole. This makes Reservations different from policies of social reform in other democratic states and has influenced its historical trajectory.  As a consequence Reservations are imbedded in the functioning of Indian democratic practice and in the enactment of the rights of citizenship.  Indeed the idea of reservations taps into longstanding trends in political organising (one early incarnation in the 1920s was in the Madras Municipal Corporation). Therefore, to understand the changing demands for reservations, one has to begin with the composition of governing bodies—what it means to participate in elections, administration, and decision-making. This paper argues that the narratives that people construct to make claims for Reservations reflect this long process of political organising and reveal different modes of access to power, changing notions of grievance and redress, and evolving group identities that are ultimately interpreted through rights as citizens. Reservations, then, are better seen as democratic process than social policy.


3.00 PM, Friday, 15 September 2017
Conference Room, CSLG, JNU


ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Wendy Singer is an historian of India, whose research focuses on the culture and politics of the post-independence period.  Her most recent book Independent India, published by Routledge, is a thematic history that includes documents and images of the period from 1947-2000. Her studies of elections have appeared in a variety of journals and edited volumes, recently in the Election Law Journal.  Her earlier books include A Constituency Suitable for Ladies and other Social Histories of India Elections—a study of changes in election law and practice, especially for women, before and after independence—and Creating Histories: a book about oral narratives of peasant politics in the 1930s.