Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Society & Culture

Electoral Quotas as a Tool for Fighting Exclusion and Discrimination

Francesca R. Jensenius
Monday, April 11, 2016

The use of electoral quotas, such as reserved seats in parliaments or candidate quotas, has become increasingly common, and is usually defended on the basis of various assumed positive long-term effects. However, in most countries, it has been hard to identify such effects, partly because the policies have not been in place long enough.

Middle Class on Steroids: Digital Media Politics in Urban India

Sahana Udupa
Monday, March 14, 2016

Across the world, and most certainly in India, the expansion of Internet-enabled media has sparked new hopes of political participation, and new arenas for public debate and political action. Recent estimates reveal as many as 350 million Internet users in India, alongside only China and the US in reach and volume.

Mobilizing for the Right to Work: Ten Years of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

Rob Jenkins
Monday, February 29, 2016

February 2016 marks a decade since India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA) came into force. NREGA is both revolutionary and modest; it promises every rural household one hundred days of employment annually on public-works projects, but the labor is taxing and pays minimum wage, at best.

Rethinking Reservations: The Unintended Consequences of Rotating Quotas in Panchayati Raj

Ramya Parthasarathy
Monday, February 15, 2016

Last week, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan, commented on the need to reconsider India’s extensive system of caste-based reservations. Citing Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the noted Dalit jurist and social reformer, she said, “Ambedkarji had said, ‘Give reservations for ten years and after ten years, do a rethink. Bring them to that stage.’ We have done nothing.” She went on to note that, despite over fifty years of affirmative action for India’s most marginalized communities, caste-based inequality and discrimination persist in India.

Rethinking Commercial vs. Altruistic Surrogacy in India

Nishtha Lamba
Monday, January 18, 2016

In mid-October, the Supreme Court of India raised questions against the practice of commercial surrogacy. Later that month, the Central government responded with a ban on allowing foreign couples from hiring surrogates in India, permitting only altruistic surrogacy for infertile Indian couples. Although these changes are not surprising given the recent ban on commercial surrogacy in neighboring countries such as Thailand and Nepal, the justification of such a move needs greater scrutiny.

Do Local Leaders Prioritize the Poor? Distributive Preferences in India

Mark Schneider
Monday, December 14, 2015

In an assessment of the quality of India’s implementation of anti-poverty programs in 1985, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi famously said: “For every rupee spent by the government for the welfare of the common man, only seventeen paise reached him.” That state of affairs was one of the motivations for the 1993 passage of the 73rd amendment, which decentralized the implementation of government anti-poverty programs to local governments.

Biodiversity Management with Public Participation: Can India Do Better?

Ghazala Shahabuddin
Monday, November 2, 2015

In India, legally established Protected Areas have historically been the most important means adopted for biodiversity conservation. Protected Areas (PAs) primarily include National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, and more recently, Community Reserves and Conservation Reserves. Today, there are as many as 703 PAs all across India, covering almost 5 percent of its land area. With burgeoning demands on land and water, and a high population density of 382 people/square km, the area commitment to PAs shows the national importance placed on biodiversity.

The Civil Sector and Drones in India

Shashank Srinivasan
Monday, October 19, 2015

Unmanned aerial vehicles are flying robots that provide some of the benefits of manned flight without its attendant risks and inconveniences. Commonly known as drones, they’ve entered the limelight in the past two decades due to advances in electronics engineering and computer science. Having proved their worth on the battlefield during both the 1973 Yom Kippur and the 1982 Lebanon wars, numerous military forces began implementation of their surveillance and weaponized drone programs.

Social Hierarchy, Maternal Health, and Development

Diane Coffey
Monday, October 5, 2015

Healthy mothers give birth to healthy children who grow up to be productive adults. By contrast, women who begin pregnancy too thin and do not gain enough weight during pregnancy are far more likely to have low birth weight babies. In India, low birth weight is the leading cause of neonatal mortality, or death in the first month of life. Indeed, neonatal mortality accounts for about 70 percent of infant deaths in India—and is far higher than would be predicted by India’s GDP. India’s high neonatal mortality rates is a symptom of widespread maternal malnutrition. 

The Indian Novel as an Agent of History

Chandrahas Choudhury
Monday, September 7, 2015

It is a universally-acknowledged truth that human beings experience their lives as embedded not just in time, but in history. To interpret history, they employ a variety of instruments: personal experience and cultural memory, political ideology and historiography, even (and sometimes especially) myths and stories. Among these instruments, a somewhat late-arriving one in India – only 150 years old – is the novel.