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The shame of itGlobal perspectives on anti-poverty policies$
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Erika K. Gubrium, Sony Pellissery, and Ivar Lødemel

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447308713

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447308713.001.0001

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date: 20 August 2017

Thick poverty, thicker society and thin state: policy spaces for human dignity in India

Thick poverty, thicker society and thin state: policy spaces for human dignity in India

Chapter:
(p.37) Three Thick poverty, thicker society and thin state: policy spaces for human dignity in India
Source:
The shame of it
Author(s):

Sony Pellissery

Leemamol Mathew

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447308713.003.0003

Poverty is a widespread everyday experience in India, where it intersects with other social differentiations, particularly, in terms of caste and tribe. Exploitation at the societal level contributes to the making of poverty. Paradoxically, social bonds are crucial for the day-to-day living of most of those living in poverty in India. This seeming contradiction is evident within the representation of poverty, its discourses on the subcontinent and the shame that is attached to being poor. At one level, the hierarchical structure of society enables poor people to accept poverty passively, while at another level, the sense of moral economy forces those better off to reach out to the poorer sections of society. This ambivalence is reflected in the frames of poverty discourse surrounding anti-poverty policies. Though India has witnessed impressive economic growth in recent times, policy responses to address poverty remain archaic due to a straight-jacketed bureaucracy and democracy, seemingly unable to catch up with identity politics. This chapter captures these issues as it charts several conflicting anti-poverty discourses concerning different social groups experiencing poverty, and explores how perceptions of these groups frame the issues that find their way into policy corridors.

Keywords:   India, social hierarchy, caste system, policy limitations, corruption

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