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Chuck Bearden

The first thing that strikes me about Hariss's speech is that he is arguing precisely against efforts like Karin Delgadillo's Telecentros (see her talk in the 2nd panel).

The second thing is that he does little if anything to show that his conclusion in the final paragraph is correct. Hariss attributes the relatively high level of civil society in certain Indian states as compared with others to the early political mobilization of the lower classes. However, he appears to assume that correlation (in this case between early politicization of the lower castes, and the present level of civil society) demonstrates causation, when in reality much more is needed by way of evidence and argumentation than he offers here. One could ask him why it was that in Kerala the lower castes were mobilized so much earlier than in Bihar? Might there have been some prior differences in society between Kerala and Bihar that made Kerala more amenable to political mobilization? If the difference in the quality of civil society between Kerala and Bihar is accounted for by the differences in degree of political mobilization of the two populaces, what in turn accounts for the differences in degree of political mobilization? Hariss dismisses the possibility of other variables that bear on the outcome in Kerala with a mere wave of the hand: "The state with most public action, most social capital and a more developed civil society, by far, is Kerala. *And on what are these achievements based if not on the history of popular mobilisation by the Communist Party*?" [emphasis mine].

Steve Cisler

Thanks, Chuck. In case you did not read this entry on Kerala, the writers of the report caution others that what works there may not work in other states.

http://place.typepad.com/digitalcommons/2005/03/telecenter_rese.html

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