In 2002, ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ the mammoth military onslaught of the Israeli Defence Forces, heavily bombarded large parts of Palestine, hoping to crush the second Intifada. Thousands of Palestinians died and thousands more were detained. Palestine was under siege. The UN reports state that this siege not only restricted the life and mobility of citizens but also that of medical and humanitarian aid by sealing off villages, refugee camps, and cities.
The present work is a result of a thoroughly revised and updated version of a doctoral thesis submitted to the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Based primarily on the analysis of Uma Maheshvara icons that once adorned the temples in the middle Ganga Valley this monograph has been published in the Routledge Series ‘Archaeology and Religion in South Asia’.
Few books that I have read in the last few years are as good as this one. For one thing, Roy writes surprisingly well for an academic and when the subject is as dry as business history this is an invaluable asset. But it is not just the style. The content, too, is entirely satisfying because it makes one want to engage with the author, who is as erudite as he is opinionated—and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
The author, Anwesha Roy, analyses the events of a turbulent phase of Indian politics in six chapters based upon an extensive range of sources that include confidential letters and reports like that of the Report of the Dacca Riots Enquiry Committee in the Home Political Proceedings and files, Police Records, Intelligence Branch records from the West Bengal State Archives and the National Archives of India, New Delhi.
In 1976, two years after the publication of Francis Robinson’s first book, Separatism Among Indian Muslims, he was invited to meet Maulana Jamaluddin, the son of one of the book’s major protagonists, Maulana Abdul Bari, whose alliance with Mahatma Gandhi and the other leaders of the Khilafat movement just after World War I stands as a milestone in the narrative of early twentieth century Indian political history.
Daughters of the Sun chronicles the lives of Mughal women—unmarried daughters, sisters, powerful, dynamic wives, anagas or milk mothers or foster mothers—who contributed to the building of the Mughal Empire. These women often worked from within the zenana or the women quarters; several of these women, however, accompanied the Emperor to the battlefield, engaged in diplomacy, were fiery traders, patrons of arts, aesthetics and literature…
Zahir ad-Din Muhammad Babur (1483-1530) was a figure of utmost importance within the cultural and political landscape of 16th century central Asia and northern India. As the founder of the Indo-Afghan state, the basis of the later Mogul Empire, he also wrote, fortuitously, one of the most important autobiographical testimonies of his time, characterized by an impressive range of personal and political details, the Baburnama.
There are broadly two kinds of books: one, the ones which have a central argument, question or hypothesis, theoretical frameworks and methodology, and engage in debate; and another, those which provide narrative of some developments. Reviewing the first kind is easier. One can engage comfortably with any aspect dealt with in such books. Rasheed Kidwai’s book falls in the second category.
Much more than an authoritative account of how the ‘right to information’ (RTI) came to be enshrined in Indian law, The RTI Story describes the building of theory through grassroots practice. Choosing to share the lived experience of poor people, Aruna Roy and her associates encouraged them to reflect on their situation, analyse and articulate the bases of their deprivation and exploitation, and to orchestrate collective corrective action.
One of the biggest challenges facing India’s democracy is the growing role of money in elections. During the 2014 parliamentary elections politicians jointly spent an estimated 5 billion dollars. As the spending increases every election, this amount will likely be even surpassed in the upcoming 2019 elections. These extravagant campaign costs are worrisome, for a range of reasons.
In their July 2017 publication under the eloquent title Indian Income Inequality 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj? the world’s foremost economic analysts Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty remind us that while the process of divergence of income (and hence wealth accumulation) of the ultra rich commenced in India with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1984, this really took off after the ‘liberalization’ of 1991 by Narasimha Rao bringing to an end India’s experiment with ‘Socialism’.
Researching and comprehending…
Conflict affects every aspect of human life. In South Asia, the most common lenses through which we understand conflict are ethnicity, religion, caste, gender and so on. It is rather surprising that in a region where conflict remains a dominant part of the socio-political discourse, there has been little attention paid to other dimensions in understanding conflicts.
The term ‘diaspora’ is generally understood as a people belonging to one ethnic group originating from a place, but dispersed geographically. Though scattered, the diaspora groups usually tend to maintain relations with their place of origin and also with the other dispersed groups. Estimatedly, about 10 percent of human population live in diasporic situations (about 700 to 800 million).
Rizwana Shamshad’s Bangladeshi Migrants In India: Foreigners, Refugees, or Infiltrators? is a highly relevant and context-sensitive study of the ‘Indian discourse’, a collection of many discourses on one of the most politicized migrant communities in the subcontinent.
Statelessness is a situation when one has no country to call once’s own. It is dehumanizing to be denied the rights of citizens granted by the state. A stateless person faces difficulty in accessing education, health, livelihood necessary for holistic development of a human being. Every country has laws for granting citizenship. Lack of clarity in written laws and anomalies in its application might lead to statelessness.
The Valley of Kashmir arouses a peculiar interest as a land of almost mythic and mysterious beauty and, since the end of colonialism in South Asia, as a space of violence. This imagination has taken further root since 1989 following the emergence of an insurgency and a movement for independence in Kashmir and from India and the drastic militarization of life by the Indian state.
Since 2008 two developments are unfolding side by side in Kashmir. While on the one had we have witnessed recurring popular uprising, and on the other, militancy is on an upward trajectory. Periodic popular uprisings are bringing more and more youth on the streets with some ending up joining the militant ranks and bulk as their sympathizers.
Anam Zakaria’s book brings together ten essays in three parts: Conflict, State Policies and Beyond the Cease-fire. The work is an ethnography of a significant part of Jammu and Kashmir now administered by Pakistan and mostly known as ‘Azad Kashmir’ by the masses and called PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) by the Indian side. Today Jammu and Kashmir’s 65 per cent of the territory is with India and the remainder with Pakistan.
Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra makes an enquiry into how vertical aspects of the Kashmir conflict could be contained to nurture a constituency of peace in Kashmir. He utilizes the protracted social conflict framework in understanding the Kashmir conflict and makes a point that New Delhi needs to nurture a constituency of gainers for transcending the stalemate.