Kevan Harris, University of California-Los Angeles
Christophe Jaffrelot et Nicolas Belorgey
In 2009, India embarked on a scheme for the biometric identification of its people. This project was conceived by IT companies based in Bengaluru. The programme’s main architect, Nandan Nilekani, was in fact the head of one of these firms. The idea behind the project was to use digital technology – and the data it enables to collect – for economic ends. But to register the entire Indian population, the State had to be persuaded to be involved in the project, later named as "Aadhaar". The rationale that secured the government’s engagement was financial: using Aadhaar would help disburse aid to the poor while minimising the "leakages" caused by corruption and duplicates among beneficiaries. Yet, possessing an Aadhaar number gradually became necessary for a number of other things, too, including tax payment. When approached to rule on this matter, the Supreme Court dragged its feet and did not seek to decisively protect people’s privacy. As for the avowed aim of the scheme itself, Aadhaar did not improve the quality of the services rendered to the poor – far from it – and its economic impact, too, remains to be proven, even if operators who believe that "data is the new oil" consider benefits in a long term perspective.
François Vergniolle de Chantal
The US Congres is the most powerful legislative in the world. Its independence and its powers make it impossible for the presidency to be truly imperial. The Senate is especially influential since it allows its members to use a series of minority procedures, such as the filibuster, that exert a constant a priori pressure on the Executive. This institutional configuration is made extremely costly by the current partisan polarization. It is also, however, a functional equivalent to the theoretical parliamentary right of life and death on Executive powers.
Multiculturalism is, among other things, a normative framework for addressing claims made by ethnic political actors in liberal democratic states. It offers principles for deciding which of these claims are acceptable, which unacceptable, and which imperative on grounds of justice. The practical application of such principles to particular cases is what is called here adjudication, whether or not it has a judicial character. The argument of the paper is that a tendency to frame adjudication solely in normative terms, with reference to idealised eth-nic claims and idealised political processes, has led many contributors to multicultural literature, including some of the most influential, to misstate the problems, and therefore to offer solutions of dubious re-le-vance. The reason for the normative focus is, understandably enough, to avoid conflating justice with a balance of interests in pluralist bargaining. What is lost by such an approach, however, is the thickness of the political so-ci-o-logy of ethnic claims, which goes hand in hand with the institutional thickness of their adjudication. A crucial aspect of this is the sociologically inadequate conception of culture characteristic of normative multiculturalism, as a result of which it is often difficult to apply empirically to the very con-texts multicultural theorists are mainly concerned with. The at-tempt to find substantive principles for the adjudication of ethnic claims that might be independent from prac-tical politics, in-clu-ding empirical power relations, is ultimately unsuccessful.
Hostile, sometimes even xenophobic discourse towards migrants remains generally the norm in Russia. However, the Russian Federation’s migration policy appears relatively flexible, particularly in regards to the member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), whose nationals benefit from simplified procedures when it comes to entering Russian territory and obtaining a work permit. Russian authorities, reticent after the Western Europe experience, intend therefore to promote labor immigration and limit family immigration. At the same time, in order to encourage the cohesion of the Russian nation as a whole, the Russian Federation intends to undertake an ambitious policy to promote cultural diversity, including both the many different constituent groups among Russians and the immigrant communities in Russia. This multiculturalism “à la russe” recalls the “folklorization” during the Soviet period involving the cultures and traditions of the Soviet Union’s different populations. In the absence of a real political directive a the federal level, local authorities have been more active on the matter, notably in Moscow.
The post-interventionist development adopted by Indian governments from the mid-1980s onwards has enabled companies to further participate in the economic growth. Still, growth benefits are very unevenly distributed while social and environmental externalities weigh more and more on Indian society. In such a context, while public regulation tends to reduce social and environmental judicial constraints in order to encourage rapid growth of investments, civil society groups are intensifying their regulatory actions on private companies, and advocate for a balance of public policies in favor of a better protection of the social groups most affected by economic activity, and for a better protection of the environment. As a response, big companies are revising their strategies and practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR), to preserve their social legitimacy and the conciliatory attitude of the State. This study explores the recomposition of relationships and balances of power between economic actors, the State and the civil society, in a context of national modernization. It provides a detailed analysis of stakes and dynamics within public and civil society regulation, as well as companies’ self-regulations.
Hukou is a system for registering and controlling the population set up under Mao to promote the socialist development program. It has created a lasting division between urban and rural areas and has given rise to differences in status that violate the Chinese constitution, which stipulates that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. Maintaining the hukou system and cleverly adapting this communist institution in answer to the country’s social and economic changes largely explains how the CCP remains in power. Hukou helps manage development by controlling urban expansion and favoring rapid industrialization at a lesser cost to the state. Despite accelerated reforms to the system in recent years, it has perpetuated inequality among citizens. Hukou thus remains a tool of the party’s divide-and-rule strategy. The reforms, which promote greater social mobility and help ensure that elites remain behind the central power, also curb social unrest, although in a context in which hukou has never been so criticized. The system thus remains the bedrock of an authoritarian regime, serving its two priorities: maintaining social stability and high growth rate.
José Allouche, Jean-Luc Domenach, Chloé Froissart, Patrick Gilbert, Martine Le Boulaire
When the USSR collapsed, about 25 million Russians suddenly found themselves outside the Federation borders. This Russian diaspora has since then been defended by various lobbies based in Moscow. Some have simply the status of an association; others enjoy considerable institutional recognition in Parliament, various ministries or the executive in Moscow. The diaspora theme has undergone a profound evolution in the Russian political space: during the early 1990s it was first considered as a nationalist demand initiated within marginal circles, and since then has progressively been taken up by the state as a “politically correct” stance. In the space of 15 years, organizations defending the Russian diaspora’s rights have managed to become totally institutionalized and have gained influence on legislation regarding federal aid to the diaspora. The wide variety of terminology used to name this phenomenon, the use of the word ‘compatriot’ (judicially improper), the ethnicisation of the discourse, as well as the administrative efforts made to develop new and depoliticized conceptions of the Russian diaspora all show the underlying identity issues behind the diaspora question.
Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.
With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.
Since the 1980s – and, more symbolically, since the 6th Communist party Congress – Vietnam has been engaged in reform, which is referred to as “dôi moi”, i.e. renewal. While their aim is, first and foremost, to change the rules governing economic activity, these reforms have, since the 1990s, also been associated with political, institutional and legal change. Influenced, on the one hand, by endogenous constraints arising out of the necessary adaptation of the politico-legal environment and of the evolution of the power-legitimation processes and, on the other hand, by exogenous constraints born of the desire for integration into the international community and economy, the discourse of the Vietnamese authorities and the country’s fundamental political texts have both been modified. It seems undeniable that, despite its weightiness and areas of permanence, the Vietnamese politico-legal system is, de facto, slowly evolving and becoming “normalised”. The intention here is not to suggest that Vietnam is undergoing a “democratic transition” bringing it closer to a western model of reference. The aim of the regime may be defined thus: “to consolidate the single-party system while satisfying the demands for modernisation”. By means of an analysis of the system of people’s assemblies elected by the population and of the legal – i.e. juridical and judicial – system, this study attempts to provide an insight into the regime’s capacity for politico-legal innovation and, notably, into its capacity to structure new arenas for debate. It examines the complex evolutions which have affected the rules and players of this too-often-neglected aspect of a changing Vietnam.
Barter was a prominent issue in public debate during the 1990s in Russia: it prompted a more overall reflection on the nature of the Russian economy and the aim pursued by economic reforms. These major issues shaped a number of divisions: the government opposition portrayed barter as one of the pernicious effects of economic policies that gave priority to finance to the detriment of the national productive sphere. For others, it was to be interpreted as the legacy of the Soviet industrial sector and its lack of competitiveness. The ruble crisis in 1998 paved the way for a reverse trend leading to the sudden decline of barter. Unlike the initial growth phase, the decrease in barter gave rise to little comment. Yet these two colliding changes provide an opportunity to review the relevance of the various interpretations offered. Furthermore, the effort to recontextualizing barter in an historic perspective provides keys to understanding the immense changes that occurred in Russia in the 1990s. The statistical indicator of barter will serve as a basis to formulate a central question: how should this swift decline of barter, offer a long, sustained increase, be interpreted: is it an adaptation in trade behavior to the new economic conditions or the effect of more restrictive legal standards? In the latter case, does this official decrease mask economic practices that are moving toward the informal sector? To understand the barter trade requires looking beyond stylized facts. By nature, statistics tend to objectify multifaceted phenomena. Our analysis fits within the anthropology of economic exchanges, striving to reconstitute the dynamic and subjective dimension that the actors’ practices and discourses give to barter. From this standpoint, we show that barter is the product of constant interactions between legal processes, economic context and socio-cultural context. The statistical decline of the barter indicator in that case seems to be one of the visible effects of deep-seated changes that have marked the new working environment for Russian business.