Jackson School Journal
of International Studies

Posts Tagged ‘India’

Volume 3 Number 2 – Autumn 2012

Ashley Bullock

Coming Out from Nowhere

Indian Same-Sex Desire in the 1980’s

This paper dissects the politics surrounding the emergence of lesbian activists
in India in the 1980s and looks at why homosexual female activists chose to initially reject the term ‘lesbian’. With a focus on groups of women in New Delhi, the paper is limited to looking particularly at how educated, urban activists consciously chose to represent the movement. The author tries to place the emergence of the activists into a political and cultural context by giving a brief background of the political tensions in India in the 1980s as well as the current cultural understanding of terms such as ‘lesbian’. The dissection of terms and labels is rooted in feminist theory which urges us to understand not only the prejudice against homosexuality in India but also the potential prejudice against activists who identify using ‘Western’ terms, such as lesbian. India’s colonial history and the varying forms of ‘acceptable’ masculinity, femininity and sexuality that emerged from this past explain the need for lesbian communities to name themselves in a new way. This discussion allows us to better understand the semantics of emerging identity groups and how feminists and lesbians can better address the varying scope of movements now subsumed under their banners.

Our Spring 2012 issue features a policy briefing by author Heather Campbell who addresses the increasingly salient shortcomings of the microfinance institution. Campbell critiques the prevailing microcredit trope that capital alone is capable of generating meaningful social change for impoverished women. Campbell discusses the potential of the SHG model in India as a boon for social programming and structure, which she argues are both essential elements for the successful application of microcredit. In the past year international concern over the failing efficacy of the microfinance institution has heightened due to a significant rise in suicide rates among men and women who are unable to pay off their debts, often incurred by towering interests rates. BBC 4 Radio’s spot “The Bankers and the Bottom Billion” shares an intimate story about women living within the slums of India who are targets of financial services and victims of the “rapid injection of investment capital.” This program notably coincides with Muhammad Yunus’ resignation from Grameen Bank in May 2011 and the resulting criticism of the Grameen banking model. Following Yunus’ dismissal from Grameen, other microfinance CEOs have felt pressure to step down. Further, this May, nearly a year after Yunus’ resignation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced support for Grameen Bank as an independent organization where “poor women themselves are the owners.” What do you think? Is the Grameen model effective or does it do more harm than good?
- Rebekah Kennel, Editor

Related to this issue:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0112fz9 – BBC 4 Radio program on the downfall of Muhammad Yunus and resulting criticism of Grameen Bank.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15866827 – More microfinance CEOs step down under building pressure.

http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/yunus-was-right-sks-microfinance-founder-says/ – New York Times post on Indian suicides linked to microfinance debt.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17973267 – Nearly a year after Yunus’ resignation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backs Grameen Bank.

Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at NYU Wagner http://wagner.nyu.edu/morduch

His website features a short clip “Is microlending the solution for global poverty?” which discusses the evolving nature of the microcredit enterprise, specifically the combining of financial services with healthcare services. This holistic approach uses financial services as a platform for a wide range of other services.