For those not born to it, Hinduism is not an easy religion to understand, much less to warm up to. And it has not been well served by exegetists—both Indian and non-Indian—who been have swept off their feet by the epistemological and ontological absolutism of Adwaita Vedanta and have therefore tended to over¬emphasize the ‘other-worldliness’ of the Hindu view of life.
My tiny friends, if you remember, I had mentioned in the Nov/Dec. ’87 issue of The Book Review that a wagon full of new books written by Indian authors had arrived in our book market. I wonder if you had the time to read some of them what with examinations on your head, but I delved into the wagon and guess what I found—two exciting books published recently by CBT.
The India-culture boom of post ’84 years has almost bypassed vernacular literature, the Spic Macayian increase in the tribe of Hindustani/Carnatic music and dance lovers notwithstanding. All to the credit then of editors Iqbal Narain and Lothar Lutze to take on the com¬pilation of seven papers presented at the VIII European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies (held in Sweden in 1983).
The subject dealt with in Lethal Games is of considerable contemporary concern. It is important enough for a leisurely analysis by the academic community, policy makers and the bureaucracy who are normally pressed for time due to the hurly burly of the daily grind. The book has seven chapters and two annexures.
The first fifteen years of a nuclear rivalry can be very rocky. This is when the rules of the competition are still being written, when vulnerabilities are greatest, and when monitoring capabilities are spotty, at best. It therefore comes as no surprise that India and Pakistan are going through a dangerous passage.
The Stimson Center and Vision Books have brought out a well researched paperback on a subject which the Center has pioneered in South Asia – Confidence Building Measures and Risk Reduction. The hopes that motivated the Stimson Center, led by Michael Krepon, on leading India and Pakistan to a “progressive and cumulative set of CBMs between 1991 and 2003, have been belied, owing to ‘geopolitical realities’”.
Pakistan is a state that appears to be in rapid movement, but has in fact changed very slowly. In the last few years it has become an overt nuclear weapons state, the army seized power for the fourth time in a coup, there was an ill-fated military adventure across the Line of Control at Kargil, the leadership signed up with the American-led (but ill-named) war on terrorism, and most recently Pakistan’s revered “father of the bomb,”
C. Bhan’s ‘Farm Mechanisation and Social Change’ and Nadkarni’s ‘Farmers’ Movements in India’ are two recent studies which focus on the impact of technological development and moder¬nization of agriculture to explore the different dimensions of social and political changes engendered by, and within, a process of agricultural moder¬nization.
The Coming of the Devi is a minutely researched and sensitively written history of the transformation of an obscure small¬pox propitiation ceremony into a move¬ment for social reform and tribal self assertion. Hardiman’s empirical investi¬gations into the origins, spread and growth of the Devi movement among the tribals and peasants of South Gujarat also addresses more general issues such as the nature of peasant consciousness and the understanding of those movements for social and political change which remained independent of elite control and initia¬tives.
Those who had known Thondup Namgyal, the late Chogyal of Sikkim, would find Nari Rustomji’s portrayal of his persona¬lity extremely interesting and readable. The personal letters reproduced reflect the conflicting trends which contributed substantially to the course of events in Sikkim. Charming and sensitive, Thondup Namgyal was human to the core.
Social change is associated with realign¬ment of individual and group interests as the economy moves from one stage to another in the course of its development. It is, therefore, axiomatic that those whose position is challenged in this pro¬cess should resist and those who feel deprived of their due entitlements make a bid for fair deal. One of the legitimate functions of the State is to ensure that these changes take place without disturb¬ing the order through the processes which are generally accepted as legitimate.