This, surprisingly, is the first biography in English of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh, even though more than 30 years have passed since he was assassinated in a bloody military coup on August 15, 1975. Known to most Bangladeshis as Bangabandhu, or friend of Bengal, a title bestowed on him by acclamation in a mammoth public meeting in Dhaka on 22 February, 1969, he was truly a man of the people, someone who had made the cause of his countrymen and women his own through endless trials and tribulations
Daud Ali’s introduction points out that the essays in this book represent an eventful phase in writings on South Asian history, one marked by the confluence of disciplines, especially history and anthropology. Ronald Inden in fact describes himself as an Indologist, historian and anthropologist of India, all rolled into one. The main focus of his work is medieval South Asia, but his writings range freely over and across pre-colonial and postcolonial pasts, drawing attention to the links between them. Religion, caste and kingship are among the important themes that he has explored in his influential writings.
Noted historian Athar Ali died in 1998. The only time I ever met him was at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1992 where he interviewed me for a job at the Center of Historical Studies. I had just returned from Cambridge with a brand new PhD degree, which had the stamp of his bete noire Professor C.A. Bayly. I was tense on seeing him as I thought that I would now have to answer for the academic ‘follies’ of Cambridge historians! I was pretty sure that I was not getting this job.
This book, which is the outcome of a workshop on the same title held in Kyoto in December 1999, also contains a few articles written by other scholars and omits a few which were presented there. In its present form, it contains a few samples of the best research available on the state in India, in both its historical and socio-political aspects. The work of the editors as well as many of the contributors give an indication of the interest that Japanese scholarship has been showing on problems of India – historical, social and political.
Yet another work to add to the overflowing ranks of studies of ethnicity, of nationalism, and of how nations are made and unmade. Yet another work which wonders whether the ethnic card is instrumentally employed by self-serving leaders who are in the business of pursuing power, or whether ethnic identity is a primordial sentiment which comes along with birth. Yet another work which seeks to pattern ‘Muslim’ nationalism and ethnicity. This work is a manifesto of a rationalist, who has little time and even less patience for ‘less civilized’ [my term] forms of politics.
The focus of this book is on the prefix ‘Islamic’ as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan. It enjoins that the legal, social and economic framework of the country be brought into conformity with Islam. The author believes that in Pakistan it was Abul A’ la Maudoodi who actively participated in the constitutional developments which took place during the 1950s. He refers to this process as ‘Islamicization’. He considers this term preferable to ‘Islamization’, which is a direct derivative of the name of the religion ‘and ignores the variety of interpretations that may be pushed under its purview’ (p.x).
The book is the outcome of the proceedings of the Annual Sessions of the SLEA in mid-2004 and includes 10 Chapters, which are divided into six Parts. Each Part links Human Development to a specific area of economic progress, viz., poverty, growth, services (financial), education and health, technology and productivity, and competitiveness. In the first chapter on Human Development and Poverty the editor presents a critique of the Human Development Index (HDI) (used by UN Human Development Reports), using Sri Lankan data on HDI and poverty to show that high HDI does not necessarily mean that poverty has reduced.