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Nandini Gooptu's magisterial history of the Indian urban poor represents a tour-de-force. By focusing on the role of the poor in caste, religious and national politics, the author demonstrates how they emerged as a major social factor in South Asia during the interwar period. The empirical material provides compelling insights into what it meant to be poor and how the impoverished dealt with their predicament. In this way, the book contributes to some of the most crucial debates on the nature of subaltern politics and consciousness.
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