‘To enter the phase of post-colonialism the tribes will first have to become state powers…. If so, then 8.08 per cent share in the total population of India is not a negligible number’ (p. 379). Dhagamwar’s concluding lines in the book under review deflate an otherwise compassionate and edifying work on certain tribes and their tribulations since the colonial era: the Pahadiyas of the Rajmahal Hills, the Santals of the Santal Parganas, both originally in Bihar and now in Jharkhand, and the Bhils of north-western Maharashtra.
The book, an empirical account of popular culture and religion in medieval Andhradesa attempts theoretical analysis but does not offer much. The Introduction in the book is rather confusing. In barely four pages the author mentions the importance of studying and applying the methodology of Marxism, Annales, Subaltern, Focault, folk songs and folk tales.
The volume under review is an unusual one. It covers a vast sweep of issues and topics – from culture to politics, from patterns of social transformation to contested identities and from myths creation to poetic sensibilities – all related to Northeast India. The purpose of the volume is not to further the boundaries of research on Northeast India but to provide a showcase of the variety of patterns in the socio-economic, cultural and political life of a much ignored region of the country.
With the book being dedicated to all those who love Indian Railways, the reviewer, who dreamt of being a railway man from childhood, was indeed excited. One cannot thus be faulted for looking forward to a series of articles that would take you through the evolution of railways in India breezily and positively. In the event one may be disappointed. Admittedly the editors could have a different opinion in this regard. They may argue that their effort is to address the serious reader/researcher/historian!
This edited volume of ten chapters is an output of a national seminar ‘Colonial and Post-Colonial Experience’ organized by the Department of History, Kolkata University and the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata with support from the Indian Council of Social Science Research. The contributors are scholars of eminence in the fields of public health and history and this linkage is relevant for the understanding of public health issues and plan for appropriate action.
From about the middle of the nineteenth century in Bengal arose fierce debates about our country, our sciences, our arts, indeed our manners, customs and ceremonies. British racism had hardened during this period; to the colonizers it was evident that Indian civilization had nothing to offer, not science, not arts, indeed nothing at all.
It must be admitted at the very outset that going through this book has been quite exasperating. Reviewing necessitated it be read cover to cover, and it was not a pleasant experience. Of course, it is not without its merits, but few will come away entirely satisfied, even if they are persuaded by the arguments.
Allowing for a few exceptions, the dominant thesis now evident in works on Hinduism is that the term itself as well its ideological and material content were determined only under British colonial rule. Some eminent scholars, and I can immediately think of Nicholas Dirks, have even gone to the extent of arguing that caste and ‘culture’ were also, in good measure, products of this colonial encounter (Dirks, The Invention of Caste, Social Analysis, 1989; Colonialism and Culture,1992).
In a social party, or in the circuit of savvy politicians, celebrities, intellectual elites (not to mention what kind of), big corporates, policy makers or whizkids of the new economy, there is one statement making the rounds, when one is running out of conversation: “The Indian economy is doing very well. Consistently registering a growth rate of 7 or 7.5 is amazing and we can even do 10, is what the general feeling among these tribes is all about. Thanks to reforms and emergence of free market.”
A rapidly rising population in any society can potentially exert severe pressures on the environment, on social and physical infrastructure, and on public services essential for decent living. Particularly in a context of resource constraints, very high rates of population growth can adversely affect even the carrying capacity of the planet. When India’s population crossed a billion, it caused unnecessary alarm and anxiety among many.
Two hundred years after Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, Gunnar Myrdal produced his seminal work on the Poverty of Nations. This is ironic for, in the intervening two centuries, the world shifted not from wealth to poverty but the other way round. The agriculture, industrial and scientific revolutions heralded unprecedented improvements in material well-being and social indicators. But the gains were so uneven that even as large parts of the world enjoyed remarkable prosperity, mass poverty continues to be a complex and compelling challenge in much of the Third World.
Ashis Nandy is no unfamiliar name. His contrarian positions on a range of issues – even sati, have continued to intrigue, if not irritate many of his readers. He is also, as he claims, consistently misunderstood. Take his writings following the infamous case of the Deorala sati. When most commentators were railing against the barbarous custom, arguing for the use of state force to root out a heinous practice, Ashis Nandy chose to defend the idea of sati, even while denouncing the specific instance at Deorala as murder.
Religion stands on tiptoe in our land Ready to pass to the American stand. – Herbert, the Church Militant L.235
The lines quoted above were written at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but when we read them here in India today, the meaning spreads beyond the haze of the Protestant struggle in England. With hands in pocket it walks off to the lanes of Ayodhya and Godhra, still pock-marked with militant religiosity.
Realization of creative possiblities in citizenship is an imporant part of the emancipatory politics of modernity but citizenship in itself as it is tied to the bounded logic of the nation-state in modernity is as much exclusionary as it is emancipatory. The story of citizenship in the modern world is thus a story of struggle to expand its realm to include previously excluded groups—slaves, women, and varieties of racial, religous, ethnic and colonized others.
Jaswant Singh steered the country’s external relations and, for a while, defence during an eventful and turbulent period of NDA governance. It was a time of change and the BJP was in office during the transition that it partly helped to make. As a key player in office, he both shaped and reacted to developments that saw India finally emerge as a nuclear weapons state (alongside Pakistan) and a prime focus of jihadi terror and began to forge a new strategic partnership with the United States.
A career spanning 168 tests, 325 one- day internationals, approximately 19,000 international runs, 35 centuries, and almost 300 wickets. If ever a movie were made about a career this long and successful, it would run for many hours. The prospects for it are good: the potential screenplay allows for just that. With a book of over 800 pages, Steve Waugh has paced his autobiography slowly and deliberately – almost like he paced his career.
In the Preface to the book, the young author thanks “all the musicians, dancers, critics, Subbudu’s friends and enemies” for their time and inputs. During his long innings as a critic Subbudu attracted many “friends and enemies” who spiced up his unusual life. Most Delhi Tamils know that “Subbudu” and “controversy” are synonymous.
Some years ago Mohan Nadkarni pub- lished The Great Masters: Profiles in Hindustani Classical Vocal Music (Harper Collins, 1999), a compendium of pen portraits of past masters that he had heard in the half century as a practising music critic in Bombay. Music to Thy Ears is a kind of companion volume which gives us a peep into the world of instrumental music.