Accepted Paper:

Negotiating the political: the NGOisation of the Dalit movement in Uttar Pradesh  


Nicolas Jaoul (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

This case study questions the way the process of NGOisation is impacting the political manufacture of the Dalit movement in Uttar Pradesh, through a comparison with previous features of Dalit activism, like finances, caste networks, language, ideology and local repertoires of collective action.

Paper long abstract:

In the aftermath of the Durban conference, the international civil society started taking interest in the Dalit question. The availability of NGO fundings has incitated Dalit activists formerly trained in the Ambedkarite movement, to reframe their activity. This tendency has been initiated by several Dalit activists who obtained NGO trainings in the 1990s, and founded their own NGOs.

This contribution will look at the impact of this evolution of the Dalit movement, and the possibilities and constraints that the current process of NGOisation entails for it. It will focus on the Dynamic Action group, a grouping of local Dalit NGOs of Uttar Pradesh. The paper aims at comparing the methods of work with the previous way of functioning of the Dalit movement in UP. It will look at several aspects of this process of NGOisation and their consequences on the political nature of the movement, through concrete issues like:

1° finances, from community based donation system, which gave an economic basis to the Dalit movement's autonomy, to dependence from foreign funding agencies;

2° caste networks that hitherto structured the Dalit movement;

3° translation of local concerns of Dalits, into a global language of rights and commensurable "data", implying to produce reports in English and hire professional NGO writers exterior to the movement;

4° the ability to sustain a local people's movement;

5° the fate of ideology (anti-brahminism/Ambedkarism) and local repertoires of protests that have previously informed the movement's politics of emancipation.

Panel W067
The developmental turn in Dalit activism: disquieting caste and capitalism in contemporary India