3/2 Shruti Vaidya Disability and the Indian Nation-State: Questions of Care and Recognition

Shruti Vaidya, PhD Student in Comparative Human Development

Disability and the Indian Nation-State:
Questions of Care and Recognition

Rosenwald Hall 329

March 2nd, 12:00-1:30

Light lunch will be provided

This paper attempts to trace specific instantiations of care made by the Indian state with respect to its disabled citizens. I’ll first be drawing attention to a state-authorized decision to perform hysterectomies on 11 mentally disabled women between the ages of 13 to 35 in a Government Certified school in Shirur, Maharashtra, India in February 1994. The reasons provided by the state, school, and medical authorities were to maintain “menstrual hygiene” and prevent “unwanted pregnancies”(Stree Kruti et al. 2).  The second example I will focus on is more contemporary and engages with the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, expressing his wish to shift the terminology used for disabled people, from Viklang, (disabled) to Divyang (divine) in 2016. I will juxtapose these instances of state action and articulation with demands emerging from the disability rights movement. Both the examples analyzed in the paper reveal that the Indian state through its acts of care patronize its disabled citizens, thereby reducing them to a position of non-citizenship. This is in sharp contrast to the disability rights movement which constructs the category “disabled” as political and advocates for their right to live a life of dignity, free of stigma and at par with other people(Mehrotra 70). The larger questions this paper will grapple concern themes of state, recognition, and the disabled identity and attempt to situate the analytic of care within these intricate and structural relationships in the context of India.

The article, to be read before the meeting can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing

Stay tuned for our Spring quarter schedule!  If you are a UChicago grad student interested in presenting in the Spring, we want to hear from you!  Emailmgborus@uchicago.edu or sharons@uchicago.edu.

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