Welfare and Well-being in Modern South Asia (Workshop at Aarhus University)

01/03/2011 Off By Administrator


ciscaCall for papers


Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA) invites papers for a workshop on


Welfare and Well-being in Modern South Asia (Aarhus University, 29. – 30. June 2011)


‘Welfare’ has been a key concept in South Asia since decolonization. One of the major sources of legitimacy of the new states in the region was the promise to establish ‘welfare-states’, which would extend social services to the entire population. This promise has been redeemed to varying degrees. Sri Lanka is, for instance commonly credited as being one of the earliest ‘well-fare states’ to develop outside Europe and North America, establishing universal education and health care within the first decade of independence. The challenge was considerably bigger in India, where the Constitution committed the Indian Union “to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life” (art. 38) and made provision for special benefits to the group identified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Although substantial regional variation persists, independent India can claim to have reduced poverty ratios, extended life expectancy and trebled the literacy rate. Nepal, on the other hand, has lacked considerably behind other countries in the region when it comes to the extension of state provided social services and unlike India there are no special provisions for Scheduled Castes and Tribes.


Although important, states are not the only provider of welfare services. The delivery of, among other things, nationwide education, nutritious diet, and health care continues to be a challenge throughout South Asia – even if reasons for this vary considerably across the region – and this has turned civil society (NGOs, religious institutions, local communities etc.) into important providers of fundamental social services. It is also important to distinguish between ‘welfare’ and ‘well-being’. While the notion of welfare is often associated with the provision of social services and draws attention to the role of institutions, ‘well-being’ refers to subjective experiences of creating and sustaining a ‘good life’.


The purpose of this workshop is to illuminate and compare attempts by state and non-state agents across South Asia to provide welfare and secure individual and collective experiences of well-being from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Any contribution related to the development of welfare and well-being in South Asia is welcome, but as one of the core areas of CISCA is ‘children, aging and health’, we are particularly interested in contributions dealing with aspects of childhood, aging and health care.



Professor V. R. Muraleedharan, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras.

Professor Deepak Behera, Department of Anthropology, Sambalpur University

Dr. Karen Valentin, The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University

Dr. Niels Brimnes, Department of History and Area Studies, Aarhus University


Please send your abstract (max. two pages) and a short CV to CISCA@hum.au.dk. Deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 April, 2011.