Introduction: On Background
1. The Bhagavad Gita, referred to here simply as the Gita and translated as
‘‘Song of God,’’ is regarded as the authoritative ‘‘holy book’’ of Hinduism in
popular and global parlance. This popular status belies the importance of
multiple scriptures and texts within Hinduism, of which the Gita is just one.
A record of a mythic conversation on the battlefield between two key Hindu
characters, Arjuna and Lord Krishna, the Gita offers practical everyday ad-
vice on the importance of duty and sacrifice. Many regard the text as also
outlining the fundamental principles of Hinduism.
2. All of my interviewees are identified by pseudonyms.
3. For an overview and introduction on the issues of caste and access par-
ticularly to higher education in contemporary India, see Chanana 1993.
4. In contrast to affirmative action policies in the United States, reservations
policies in India operate on the basis of numerical quotas/proportions such
that a particular underrepresented group receives an allotment of the avail-
able admission slots. This approach, while more radical than affirmative
action in some ways, also has the effect of reinforcing the status of the
underprivileged group even further. For an introduction to the arguments
for the reservations system in India, especially in comparison to affirmative
action policies in the United States, see Rai 2002.
5. For in-depth research on the exclusion of women from the fields of comput-
ing and it in the United States, see Cohoon and Aspray 2006; Margolis and
Fisher 2002.
6. Examples of these marriage dynamics and the ways in which these modified
expectations intersect with the persistence of the gendered division of labor
in the household appear in chapter 5.
7. For an extensive study on the persistence of ‘‘traditional’’ expectations of
female engineers in India, both inside and outside the workplace, see Patel
and Parmentier 2005.
8. Here, I refer to Arif Dirlik’s use of the term, especially in reference to the
notion of ‘‘multiple modernities.’’ See Dirlik 2003.
9. Although the symbolic power of Indians who have joined the ranks of the
world’s hyper-rich, such as Narayana Murthy and Lakshmi Mittal, is indeed
formidable, these capitalists make up a tiny fraction of India’s transnational
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