privacy policy

Politics of Jaankaari: Mediation and Marginalisation in Digital Delhi


· Aasim Khan IIIT-Delhi (Delhi, India)
· Martin Webb Goldsmiths, University of London (London, United Kingdom)
· Ratan Suri IIIT-Delhi (Delhi, India)
· Farhat Salim Jnu (Delhi, India)


07/28 | 17:50-18:10 UTC+2/CEST


Working in collaboration with community-based advocates aiming to help people file social protection claims online, we investigate how marginalization is experienced in a rapidly digitalising urban India. In rethinking the politics of digitalisation, this paper investigates how marginality is produced and resisted in processes that mediate between digital infrastructure and socio-economic realities. Our focus is on the welfare schemes aimed at the ‘economically weaker sections’ that require citizens to make welfare claims online. Drawing on fieldwork and survey conducted in the East-Delhi neighbourhood of Trilokpuri, we find that a majority of those seeking support for accessing digital services online belonged to the Dalit and ‘backward classes’ among minority communities, with women’s participation crucial in the process of accessing social protection online. Although caste and gender are rarely accounted for in the discourse of digitalization, we also found these to be significant factors in how marginalization is experienced and contested on ground. Further, we draw a contrast from private provision for information and documentation (cyber-cafés and pay-per-use internet), and voluntary digital advocacy, to show potential for leadership roles emerging within these communities. In evaluating these effects and processes of mediation, we show that while digitalization can be a site for exploitation, lending themselves to governmentalities that can deepen social divides, mediation effects can also reduce marginalization, build communal solidarities and limit commercial exploitation.