Accepted paper:

Hi tech state in rural India: a study of limited impact of the State's development schemes


Smita Yadav (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is on the conflicting moralities and technologies of the poor and the State in rural India. Despite sophisticated means to identify the poor, there is distrust amongst the poor against the State. The poor bypass the State to meet their basic needs despite intervention by the State.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is on the moralities of the Gonds as landless and marginal peasants who are at the receiving end of Indian State's rural development schemes. These moralities help the Gonds to bypass the modernizing State in their everyday struggle against poverty. Ethnographic fieldwork during May 2011 to May 2012 in central India revealed the various technologies by the rural State to move the Gonds out of poverty had very limited impact on the lives of the Gond. The Gonds, instead prefer to create their own forms of social protection and safety nets from unpredictable vulnerabilities and economic shocks. Gonds are categorized as the Scheduled Tribes (STs) by the Indian constitution. They are originally forest dwellers but since 1994, the forest department has restricted their access to the forests by imposing fines including imprisonment. Their livelihoods are in the form of unskilled wage labour and migration within the state of Madhya Pradesh as well to the major cities of India has intensified since 2011. Through an intra-household study of the Gonds households, I show how the State's various technologies including mobile banking, and accessing State benefits online has very little impact Gonds social lives. The State's technologies of targeting and empowering are no match for the Gonds's own technologies and moralities of social protection and sense of security through labouring and waging.

panel P06
Reflections on moral sentiments within the anthropology of development