Memory is a palimpsest—a reusable surface. Palimpsest by its definition is a page of writing or a page from a document that has been rubbed smooth in order to be used again for writing something else on it, except, that the traces of the original writing shows through. And that is what memory becomes for us—a rewriting over the years of the same incident. The versions keep changing, a colour added at a place and removed from someplace else. When one sits down to write down his or her memories in words, on paper, there are bound to be certain omissions of certain events, omission of words spoken, feelings expressed in its entirety at that moment in an attempt to capture that fleeting moment.
Anjali Nerlekar’s study of Arun Kolatkar’s poetry in English and in English translation is a rich and multilayered evocation of the work of a poet and an artist, and of his association with bilingual literary culture in a cosmopolitan city like Bombay. It attempts to track the meaning and nuances of modernity in post-Independence India as articulated through literary expression and publishing initiatives seen in this period.
Though sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, a ring is almost never just a ring.
Mention of the ring evokes four names: Kalidasa, Wagner, Browning and Tolkien. Rings are embedded in Doniger’s psyche starting with the gimmel ring her father gave her mother inscribed, ‘REF to SHU’. Baffling! That referred to her favourite volume of the 1911 edition of the Britannica. Then there is Doniger’s own wedding ring which she retained even after divorce.
The book is the first of a new series, The Global Middle East, with the author being one of the two general editors of the series. The series seeks to broaden the horizon of the ‘Middle East’ to range from the Atlantic to the subcontinent, and to include the diaspora originating from these lands living in the West, besides introducing authors and ideas from the region to the Anglophone academy. The author, currently Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, is also holding the Chair of Iranian studies at the London Middle East Institute. He sets the bar high for the series by focusing on psycho-nationalism in Iran; with psycho-nationalism loosely defined here as the psychological roots of national identity.
Xinjiang is the ‘pivot of Asia’, where the frontiers of China, Tibet, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia approach each other. From the historical point of view, mainland China has had a tenuous relationship with its distant periphery in Xinjiang. While its Chinese connection dates back more than 2,000 years, Xinjiang remained under the effective control of imperial China only intermittently for over five centuries. However, China never lost sight of the importance of Xinjiang as a bridge for fostering its contacts with the outlying Central Asian states.
The painful transition of universities from merely an examining body to a teaching institution in history could be observed in terms of the balancing acts between diverse academic demands including research. These acts can be contextualized within the systemic realities of new public management. As a result, the optimistic vision of perceiving the universities thoroughly in terms of original research is seemingly impractical in the heightened market capitalism.
A journey through the eight States of North East India, the present book is a sequel to Sanjoy Hazarika’s earlier published and much acclaimed title Strangers of the Mist: Tales of War and Peace from India’s Northeast. Hazarika states that Strangers No More is a deeply personal book through which he intends to understand and express his concern on topical issues pertaining to politics, policy, law and disorder, violence and painful reconciliation, conservation, oppression, acts of stereotyping, thereby capturing hope and despair in the process.
Twenty-first century India grapples with a unique conundrum: how to satiate desires and aspirations of close to fifty percent of the population under the age of twenty-five. This group of millennials have a profound preoccupation with change, novelty and acceleration of time. This heightened time-consciousness condemns the youth to deal with unforeseen and unthinkable circumstances. The feeling of nothingness acts as an unlikely springboard that catapults one to harbour audacious dreams.
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Shashi Tharoor’s timely book: Why I am a Hindu. Not a scholarly work, but an eminently readable one.
Shashi demolishes the facile Right-Wing Hindutva assumption that the only criterion for ‘Hinduness’, is subscribing to their Talibanized ideology. He delves into the many centuries of Hinduism in India and talks about the tolerance, the welcoming inclusiveness and the profound metaphysics of Hindu traditions, all the way from the sublime non-dualism of Shankara to the atheism of the Charvaka.
Neyaz Farooquee’s memoir An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism:Growing up Muslim in India has raised the all-time charged question of identity Indian Muslims have been grappling with. This is basically a tale of an ordinary Muslim youth who migrated from Bihar’s Gopalganj district and settled in a ‘Muslim ghetto’ called Batla House in Jamia Nagar, a locality behind Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He has documented his stories in the backdrop of the infamous Batla House encounter (widely believed to be fake), which took place in 2008, just 200 meters away from his residence.
Caste continues to be a reality in India even as the country is moving to the third decade of the twenty-first century. Undoubtedly the most inhumane and oppressive aspect of the caste system is untouchability. Not only are caste and untouchability experienced in quotidian life across the country, come elections and they manifest in the most pronounced fashion in a variety of ways as the parties and politicians set out to garner votes. Lately, gaining political currency is eating in the homes of untouchables, or Dalits. These ‘photo-ops’ and ‘poster strategies’ do not in any way change the fact that this section of the Indian citizenry continues to live on the edge of the margins of Indian society.
The literature on feminist methods, methodologies and epistemologies which developed rapidly since the 1970s as an aftermath of the feminist movement across the world is undoubtedly rich, varied and wide ranging and evolved both in terms of its theoretical premises, as well as evidence based on real life experiences, anecdotes and other feminist writings. However, the history of Indian feminist writings date prior to the western waves of feminism and go back to pre-Independence era.