Research Projects

Major Research Projects

Directed an Indian Council of Social Science Research sponsored research project on a Comparative Study of the Hindu and Christian Vankars of Central Gujarat, at the Centre for Social Studies, Surat. Vankars belong to a Scheduled Caste and entitled for protective and ameliorative discrimination to those Vankars converted the regime has withdrawn protective and ameliorative discrimination to those Vankars converted to Christianity –A regime discrimination on the basis of religion. This study investigates the sociological implications of religious conversions among Scheduled Castes and the structural and cultural changes among them. Duration: March 1987 – December 1991.

Indo-Dutch Programme on Alternatives in Development (IDPAD) sponsored project “Slum as a Habitat: How Do People Cope and the Role of Voluntary Organizations’, at the Centre for Social Studies. In the context of debate on development and urban-rural conditions of sub-marginality of large masses of people one must understand how the masses of people live and cope with life. The main question to be investigated is the strategy of survival of the people living in the slum, working in the urban informal sector, with low income and attendant features? We hope to uncover the coping mechanisms of the slum dwellers especially in the context of non-material resources at their disposal. Duration: 1991-1993.

Ethnography of Malaria in Surat District.
This five year long study sponsored by DIFID (UK) intends to highlight social and cultural factors, beliefs and perceptions in relation to malaria in Surat district. The immediate goals of the malaria control project are: (i) to find out which method of malaria prevention and control would be most acceptable and appropriate to the general population of the district, given their geographical and socio-cultural variations, current attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, and behavior; (ii) to advise in the design and implementation of health promotion programmes for health practitioners and for the population at large who hopefully will adopt preventive as well as curative measures; and (iii) to identity community associations and personnel which may particularly be receptive and influential in dissemination of health messages in general and malaria prevention in particular. This study was conducted in trial areas as well as in non-trial area. Duration: 1996-2000.

Impact Assessment of Developmental Projects by Missionaries in South Gujarat.
Catholic Missionaries have been initiating developmental activities for tribals of South Gujarat for the last forty years. These interventions have been in the fields of education, health, social action, legal aid, faith formation and deal with women, children, youth and migrants in six districts. This project had four stages: (1) self-evaluation by the missionary personnel themselves through an elaborate questionnaire; (2) eliciting the perceptions of beneficiaries through Focus Group Discussions; (3) these were reported in a composite document; and (4) workshops were held for the missionary personnel to produce a policy document. Lancy Lobo and Amit Mitra undertook this project.

Anatomy and Geography of Riots: Gujarat 2002.
This study sought to map the changing patterns of communal riots in Gujarat, especially within the larger context of the rise of Hindutva and other communal forces. The study aimed at (1) plotting the locations of communal riots over the state, in its urban and rural areas, at two points of time, 1992 and 2002; (2) mapping the changing patterns of the riots and their intensity in terms of damages; (3) working out the causatives of the varying patterns; and (4) suggested some trends of communal conflicts apprehended in the future.

The study indicates the following set of definite patterns and trajectories that the political processes in Gujarat experienced, especially during the last one and a half decades. The identities based on primordial relations and the corresponding divisions in Gujarat society, while deep-rooted, could still accommodate articulation of an apparent unity under a broad umbrella of ‘Hindutva’, mainly due to the pronounced absence of any radical or progressive cultural or political front.

The rising aspirations of the middle classes, the failure of the Congress party to effectively respond to them, and the changing political equations of the upper and middle castes vis-à-vis other groups –especially after the anti-reservation riots of 1985 - facilitated the growth of ‘Hindutva’ and associated organisations in the state. As a result, the combined strength of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar could penetrate the social base of the OBCs, the middle classes, and the marginally placed social groups like the tribes, through different forms and modalities.

The consolidation of a regional political discourse, mediated through social mobilisation on ‘Hindutva’ lines, facilitated – especially since the early nineties – erosion of whatever secular forces the state might have had. Such a process and the associated factors continued to nurture and sustain a communally divisive environment, particularly over the last ten years. This study was carried out by Lancy Lobo with close support from Biswaroop Das. Most of the findings have been published in the book edited by both of them entitled as Communal Violence and Minorities: Gujarat Society in Ferment, Jaipur: Rawat, 2006.

Malaria in the Social Context: Study in Western India
Sponsored by the Department for International Development, UK in 1996- 2000, Lancy Lobo while at CSS, Surat, undertook a project, Ethnography of Malaria in Surat District. The study addressed the role of social and cultural factors in health and disease in urban and rural areas of Surat district. It focussed on malaria in a culturally and socio-economically stratified population in a few ecologically differing rural settings in the district. It inquired into the economic factors affecting people’s behaviour in the various settings. However, the bulk of the work is concerned with folk beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions affecting various aspects of the incidence and treatment of malaria. It has provided detailed description and classification of people’s perceptions of a number of diseases, of fevers (including malarial fevers), of mosquitoes, and of herbs used to treat these diseases. These data are likely to be useful to social and medical scientists, to health practitioners and policy makers, in the field of malaria eradication, and more broadly to those working in public health and medicine.

To explore variations in the district, the study was focused on three rural sites: (1) A tribal village (Khogalgam) in the eastern hilly zone, (2) A mixed tribal and non-tribal village (Sathvav) in the central plains, and (3) A non-tribal village (Karanj) in the western zone. The output of the intensive study was validated in a larger number of villages of these three zones of the district for reliability, range, and relevance of data. Multiple techniques were employed in gathering data: Participant observation, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Participatory Research Appraisal (PRA), Case studies, and survey method.

Perceptions were gathered on (i) The link between farming and malaria, (ii) population movement and malaria transmission, and (iii) respondents of better economic status considered malaria as opposed to those of low economic status.

The major findings were as follows:

  • No single strategy can resolve the malaria problem. It has to be tackled with a combination of control measures tailored to the local setting.
  • For the success of community-based programmes of malaria control, it is necessary to know as a first step the community’s sociocultural background, based on perceptions about mosquitoes, disease transmission, breeding conditions of mosquitoes, and how best the communities can participate in the control efforts.
  • Economic development programmes such as dam construction, irrigation, or ‘green revolution’ technologies favour malaria. Any development project that alters pre-existing relationships between humans and their environment should be evaluated within an ecological framework.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo assisted mainly by Purendra Prasad and Babasaheb Kazi at CSS, Surat and resulted in the book, Malaria in the Social Context: A Study in Western India, Delhi: Routledge, 2010.

Development Induced Displacement in Gujarat from 1947-2004
There has been much displacement of people in Gujarat as a result of the developmental efforts of the State, and it will increase under Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Special Investment Regions (SIR). This study aimed at creating a data base of the quantity of land acquired by the state during sixty years, the number of families displaced or otherwise affected, and their socio-economic status before and after displacement. To that end, the study does sub-regional as well as decadal analysis. It was carried out in three phases:

Phase 1 involved scanning 80,000 Gazette notifications under the various land acquisition laws during 1947-2004, to find out the quantum of land acquired during this period.

Phase 2 involved perusal of official documents from the district collectors’ record rooms; project sites; various ministries; studies by research and government organisations; and materials preserved in documentation centres in the Legislative Assembly, the State Secretariat, and the university and research libraries.

Phase 3 looked at a representative sample of persons displaced (DPs) or otherwise affected by the projects (PAPs) in 139 sites in order to analyse the resettlement and compensation, and the social and economic costs of displacement and rehabilitation, by the projects.

The study showed that nearly 2.5 million persons – 5 per cent of the total population of the state – had lost their land and/or habitat, and fell in the category of DPs in post-independence Gujarat. The majority of them belonged to the powerless lower strata of society. Sixty per cent of them were from tribal communities. Irrigation, transport, communication, and industries were the main development projects which had caused a large number of displacements.

The narrative in most of the 139 displaced project sites across time, space and projects showed that the DPs were subjected to landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalisation, food insecurity, increased morbidity and mortality, loss of access to common property, and social disintegration.

The study suggested that (1) development induced displacement should adhere to the principle of the ‘larger good’, which should not be decided arbitrarily by the state authority; (2) the affected community needs to be involved in the process, and its members have a decisive say in the ‘development’ project; and (3) the project should aim at reducing inequality, and enhancing freedom, economic opportunities, and the basis of self-respect.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar, and resulted in the book, Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement in Gujarat, 1947-2004, Delhi: Sage, 2009. This project was funded by ALBOAN.

Changing Character of Forest and Tribal Livelihood in Eastern Gujarat (1947-2006).
The forest map and tribal map overlap in the eastern hilly region of Gujarat. The objectives of this project were: to identify the changes in the forest areas since 1947; to study the impact of forestry and deforestation on the livelihood of the tribal population in the area; to study the impact of the Forest Department, Joint Forest Management, Forest Co-operatives and related policies on the forests and the tribals in the area; to investigate the nature and historical background of the tribal struggles in the area; and to present the findings and policy recommendations for sustainable tribe forest relationship in the area.

Covering eighteen districts of mainland Gujarat (i.e., Gujarat excluding Saurashtra and Kachchh), the study area was divided into five regions. Secondary data were obtained from various sources: (i) processed satellite imagery for 1972, 1990, 2000 and 2007, (ii) Census of 1971 and 2001 for the forest areas and tribal population, (iii) Working Plans of the Forest Department, Government of Gujarat, and (iv) data received from various offices of Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Government of Gujarat, within the study area. Primary data were collected from 180 villages.

The following significant results were achieved.

  • There is a belief that forests are only degrading and not regenerating. However, our study shows that nearly 22% of the forests have witnessed regeneration, almost 41% show degradation or destruction of forests, and the remaining 37% stand unchanged, i.e., neither degraded and nor regenerated.
  • The forest areas have shown an increasing tendency of regeneration since 1990. Comparison of satellite imagery between 1990 and 2007 yields encouraging results. However, such regeneration is often monocultural for commercial exploitation, thereby denying any benefit to a larger section of tribals.
  • Prima facie, the links between changes in the forests and among the tribals are not strong even with increase in the forest area due to regeneration. The migration of tribals for livelihood is found all across the study area. This observation becomes clearer when we relate the increase and decrease in the forest area to the migratory pattern of the tribal communities. Their migration does not appear to be much dependent on forests and their coverage any more. Even where there is no change in the forest area, the migration has been observed to be more than double. It appears that in recent times the tribals are not dependent for their livelihood entirely on the forests or forest products but on alternative sources of livelihood such as dairy farming, horticulture, and agriculture applying modern techniques like drip irrigation and better seeds. This observation has to be seen in the light of continued alienation of tribals from the forests, who had no way out except migrating seasonally, temporarily or permanently in search of livelihood. Many live in the periphery of urban spaces and engaged with jobs in the informal sector such as construction and power looms.
  • A section of the tribal youth over time has reduced their dependence on the forest for livelihood. Most of the tribal youth, after getting educated, are not ready to work in their native villages. They want to leave the village and get jobs in towns and cities.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo and Jayesh Shah and has resulted in the book, Forests and Tribal’s Livelihood: Their Changing Character (in press). This project was funded by ALBOAN.

Booth Level Voting Pattern in Vadodara Rural and Urban Sites in the Elections of 2010
Elections in Gujarat state provide an interesting case study of the relative strength of individual and group behaviour and modern orientations in Gujarat politics which may have long-lasting impact on regional politics. More specifically, it can throw light on the nature, extent and limits of different caste and community voting as well as individual voting patterns as an effective factor in electoral behaviour. Do primordial ties still influence voting behaviour of the individual voter? To what extent do individuals vote as individuals transcending caste and creed? To what extent has Indian democracy matured as far as electoral behaviour goes? These are some of the questions which we would like to investigate in this study by analysing booth level voting.

The following sites were studied in detail:

  • Five election wards (Nos. 5, 6, 7, 17 and 19) comprising part of Vadodara (East) of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) out of the total 25 election wards in VMC.
  • All twelve election wards of Dabhoi Municipality
  • All election booths of Jabugam Village (Taluka Jetpur Pavi)
  • All election booths of Vadu Village (Taluka Padra)

In the local elections of 2010, no community voted en bloc for any one party. The votes of every community were split. The extent to which votes were split varied from one community to another and from one ward to another. The Muslim votes were split between BJP and INC. Nearly 25 per cent Muslim voters voted for BJP, which is a new phenomenon in this election.

In the areas where ‘moderate’ Muslim voters are in a majority among total Muslim voters, most of them voted for BJP, while areas where ‘less moderate’ Muslims are in a majority among the Muslim voters, most had voted for INC. The relationship between the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and INC has generally been considered very close. In this election, it seems to have fallen asunder.

By and large there is no evidence of a clearcut identity along communal lines among or between voters on the one hand and voters and the candidate on the other. The relation is far more complex and varies in different parts of the study area. The influence of politics and political parties on caste varies from one community to another, depending upon the assimilation of various sections of society into the political community. The political process provides choices to individuals and groups, thus contributing to the process of individualisation going on in developing social processes in Gujarat.

The study of the 2010 local elections was carried out by Jayesh Shah and Lancy Lobo. It is planned that a similar study will be done for every election to be held in these study areas.

Changing Character of Religiosity and Communal Consciousness in Gujarat (1980- 2010)
There has been an upsurge in religion, religiosity, and fundamentalism, leading to fanaticism, manifesting in marked increase in the number of shrines, temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras, religious activities and programmes, and in festivals. A notable increase is seen in religiosity, one-upmanship, nationalism and assertion of ethnic identity in Gujarat. Frequent communal clashes and riots erupt for real or fictitious reasons. This study focuses on social organization of religion, based on an empirical study of shrines in rural and urban sites in Vadodara district.

A structured schedule was canvassed around each religious shrine at four sites in Vadodara District:

  • A multi-caste, multi-religious village – Jabugam (Taluka – Jetpur Pavi)
  • A multi-tribal, multi-religious village – Vadu (Taluka – Padra)
  • A small town – Areas under Dabhoi Municipality
  • Two areas of Vadodara Municipal Corporation – part of Vadodara (East) and part of Vadodara (West)

Photography of each religious shrine, videography of religious celebrations and events, and interviews of religious leaders form part of data collection.

This study was conducted by Lancy Lobo and Jayesh Shah and has been guided by Prof. A. M. Shah and Prof. Biswaroop Das. This project was funded ICSSR, Delhi. It will be published in the form of a mimeograph. Also being developed to accompany it is an Atlas of Shrines and documentaries on different religious events.

Minor Projects

  • A Six-Nation International research project, viz., Social and Cultural Supports for the Aging, of the United Nations University, Tokyo, whose Indian case studies were conducted by Tulsi Patel of Jamia Milia University and Lancy Lobo of Centre for Social Studies, under the Project Director Prof. A.M. Shah, Dept. of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. Duration: October 1986-August 1988.
  •    Directed and wrote a research report (No.5) on Monitoring and Evaluation of the Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada, As a Member of the Research Team at the Centre for Social Studies, Surat.  Duration:  April1987.
  •    Directed a research project on Sectarianism among the Tribals of South Gujarat: A Case Study of Gamits of Songadh Taluka of Surat District. This is a study about the role, structure function of sects in the changing Tribal society in south Gujarat. Duration: 1988-1991.
  • Directed an Intensive Evaluation of Tribal Family Beneficiary Oriented Economic Programmes in the Tribal Block of Jamkhadi, Surat. This study has been sponsored by the Ministry of Welfare (Tribal Development Wing), Government of India.  Four hundred beneficiaries from 55 Village who received assistance under Sixth and Seventh Five Year Plans under various schemes.
  • Floods in Mehsana: A Study of a Disaster. The study deals with the flood disaster that struck parts of Mehsana district in north Gujarat.  Such a study involves systematic analysis and observation of disasters to improve measures relating to prevention, preparedness, emergency responses and recovery and the impact of the event on human life.  Twelve flood-affected villages in the region were selected and data relating to the nature of the village communities, resultant losses, and the intervention by government and non-government agencies, hardships and problems faced by the people and their coping strategies have been collected.
  • Majiranas of North Gujarat.  Majiranas were originally tribals (Bhils) of Southern Rajasthan.  On account of their continued interaction with the Rajputs they become Rajputised and became a caste. Due to repeated droughts many of them migrated to Sindh to work as labourers in the canal construction.  But during partition most of them returned to India as refugees.  The main objectives of this study is to produce an ethnographic monograph on Majiranas, refugees as well as non-refugees, living mainly in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat.  This monograph explores their health, economic, political, religious and kinship dimensions. It also enquires their agricultural cycle.
  •  Ethnography of Leptospirosis in Surat District.  Leptospirosis – a new disease – struck Surat and Valsad district of south Gujarat in august 1997 (monsoon).  It claimed many lives and a special ward was opened in civil hospital to handle the suspected cases.  This disease prevailed mostly in irrigated plains.  The objectives of the study are: (1) to elicit people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviour during this crisis; (2) average economic loss and cost per episode of loptospirosis; (3) to view role played by the state and also private practitioners; (4) to critique the nature of economic development with particular reference to health politics in south Gujarat.
  • Need Assessment of Six villages in Modasa Taluka of Sabarkantha District for Sangath NGO

Three irrigated and three dry villages on either side of the highway passing through Modasa taluka were identified for socioeconomic analysis and need assessment for Sangath, an NGO in Modasa. The scope of the study was (a) to assess the villages for the level of poverty; (b) to understand the perception of the villagers on living; (c) to identify local development issues; and (d) to suggest programme intervention. This study helped draw attention to some vital issues for detailed discussion for planning interventions in these villages. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar worked on this project.

  • Impact Assessment of Gundhi Developmental Project in Songadh Taluka of Surat District

This Project in Songadh Taluka of Surat District covered people of seven villages displaced by the Ukai dam 36 years ago. An NGO named Navjeevan Seva Mandal, Vyara, had been working there through multiple interventions for the last five years. CCD did an assessment of the impact of these interventions, mainly on women’s Self Help Groups, agricultural development, and migration. The study scanned benchmark surveys, annual and interim reports, and other secondary sources. It conducted a sample household survey, Focus Group Discussions, individual interviews with beneficiaries as well as non-beneficiaries, in target villages, and discussions in non-target villages. The study was done with the knowledge that there were also government interventions in the target villages. The report was presented to Navjeevan Seva Mandal in 2005. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar undertook this project.

  • Need Assessment of Ten Rapar Taluka villages in Kutchch District

Rapar is the most backward taluka in Kachchh district in Gujarat. After the earthquake of 2001 a number of NGOs did relief work there, many of which have gone away. However, one agency named Prem Niwas wanted to carry on the developmental work by identifying ten target villages around the town of Rapar. CCD undertook a systematic need assessment for Prem Niwas and prepared a proposal for relevant interventions. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar carried out this exercise.

  • Impact Assessment of Watershed Project at Katkuva

Katkuva is a tribal village nestling amidst the hills of Mandvi Taluka in Surat district. The Lok Seva Sangh has made considerable interventions in the village over the years. Among them was the watershed project during the last five years. Its evaluation highlighted the strengths and concerns of the watershed intervention in Katkuva village. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar conducted this evaluation.

  • Dehzado Records of Baroda State

The census reports of the erstwhile Baroda State (Dehzado) are unique in having classified the population of every village and town by sex, religion, caste and tribe. These records provide a unique opportunity to study the horizontal dimension of caste and tribe with their actual geographical spread. They also help in studying in a regional context the relations between caste/tribe and village, and caste/tribe and urban centres. Dehzado records enabled us to test various hypotheses such as the jajmani system, self-sufficiency of the village, rural-urban network, dominant caste, concentrations of religious minorities and their co-existence with Hindu castes and tribes, etc. An examination of the above threw light on many theoretical issues of an all-India nature and helped correct notions about caste, tribe, village, city, religion and region. Baroda state had four exclaves in different parts of Gujarat. This enabled us to generalise conclusions for the whole of Gujarat. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar carried out this exercise with guidance by Professor A. M. Shah. This project was funded by ICSSR, Delhi.