National art’ elicits a very different response today than in the 1990s when two leading art historians, Partha Mitter and Tapati Guha Thakurta wrote about it. While both setup a wider frame with a focus on Bengal, Maholay-Jaradi narrows her interest on a specific royal art collection and art institutions associated with Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda in Gujarat. As a result, she brings into view an under-studied and under-researched geography of art, making it an important site not only for the region but also of national and ‘global’ cultural politics at the height of the colonial era.
The four essays in this book are arranged around questions concerning Islam, both past and present, posed by Perry Anderson, a prominent historian and sociologist who has worked on Indian and western social formations. These questions are responded to in a conversational tone by Suleiman Mourad, a noted scholar of Islam, well-versed in both American and Islamicate pedagogy.
Reba Som’s biography of Sister Nivedita comes with a glossy packaging, made more attractive by the ‘Advanced Praise’ by three eminent intellectuals that has been quite conspicuously inscribed at two prominent places in the book. Though never short of public attention in her own time, Nivedita would have been happy to know that her life and work has endured and caused some excitement even after all these years.
This very impressive volume (with brilliant illustrations and maps) may be regarded as a landmark publication in Indian archaeology. The statement made in the Preface has been adhered to in its near perfection—‘a holistic exercise combining the expertise of many disciplines to understand the past material record of settlements as well as their interaction with a changing landscape.’
In what is uncharacteristic in the world of scholarship, uncharacteristic since scholars rarely gesture to the gaps in their own work, Upinder Singh points out that her book Political Violence in Ancient India is the end product of what she perceived as a big absence in the formidable repertoire of research that carries her name. After completing A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India (2008), itself the culmination of decades of research and teaching, she felt she had completely missed ‘a fundamental element that was implied in Ancient India’s entire political narrative—violence’.
In what is uncharacteristic in the world of scholarship, uncharacteristic since scholars rarely gesture to the gaps in their own work, Upinder Singh points out that her book Political Violence in Ancient India is the end product of what she perceived as a big absence in the formidable repertoire of research that carries her name.
Ramin Jahanbegloo has had an enviably productive year, and seen another new title out since the release of Talking History. It comes as no surprise then, to open this book and discover it is the eighth in a series, each one a collection of interviews conducted by him. Figures as diverse as Raj Rewal and Vandana Shiva, Richard Sorabji and Sudhir Kakar, get a volume each to report on the state of play in their respective fields:
It is difficult to review a collection of essays in a book. One may not be fair in giving equal space to each eminent author. All the authors here adhere to a Marxist framework, difference being only in what aspects are highlighted. The book is a festschrift for Prabhat Patnaik, to acknowledge his contribution to the intellectual tradition, his wide-ranging interest and his efforts to find answers to questions he considered relevant. He was more open in his views on the relevance of Marx, as Ashok Mitra says in his praise of Patnaik—that he was more liberal among the liberals, despite being a strong adherent to Marx as the torch bearer of the classical political economy.
Acasual flip through this book can initially intrigue as graphs, tables and allied statistical devices normally associated with books on ‘finance’ are missing and instead entirely replaced by discussions involving names such as James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy and Jane Austin and many others. The title can also intrigue as it is not often that the word ‘wisdom’ is used while talking about the practitioners or the issues associated with ‘Finance’.
Margins of Citizenship is an interestingly written account of the everydayness of life in Kolkata’s predominantly Muslim area of Park Circus. It is a sympathetically written ethnography by one who is an outsider in two senses, the first being that she is not a resident of the area and second that she is not a Muslim.
Over the last decade, the country has witnessed one after another resistance movements bursting on to the political map. These movements, largely located in rural India have unsettled the comfortable dream of ‘shining’ India. In issues involved in studying such movements are certain connections which must be delinked only to link; certain qualifications must be made with respect to categories such as ‘rural’ or ‘resistance movements’.
Dalit politics in contemporary India is going through a reflective phase. From the demand at sub-categorizing in reservations to the critical questioning of some Dalits caste groups and individuals who dominate and usurp all the resources meant for Dalits in general. There is now in the academia a significant number of Dalits who are challenging the old Brahmanical hegemony that has entrenched itself into various ideological guises.
N Ram clarifies at the outset that if corruption in India ‘in its pervasiveness, its omnipresence and its multifariousness’ is to be properly understood, it needs to be conceptualized as a problem not just of politics but as an ‘integral part of an unjust and exploitative system of political economy’; and, hence, the most suitable approach to make sense of corruption in India is provided by the theoretical perspectives and lived experience that Marxism brings to the subject.
Manjari Katju’s second treatise on the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), is a sort of sequel to her previous publication entitled The Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics (2003), a pioneering and comprehensive study on the ideology and politics of the VHP. While the first volume traced VHP’s rise to power through the Ramjanmabhoomi Movement (RJM)
Psephologists and political analysts have attempted to elaborate the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of the BJP winning more than half of the State elections held subsequent to the 2014 Lok Sabha win. There have been many attempts to uncover the mystery during each election, but the actual answer has remained beyond the terms of ‘anti-incumbency’, ‘promise of development’, ‘promises of achhe din’ etc.
This 19-chapter volume is another offering, and a part of a continuing exercise, from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies-Lokniti research network on elections in India. Analysing the 2014 general election, the CSDS-Lokniti team figures out resurgence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Indian politics, a phenomenon that has been slowly but surely taking shape. For twenty-five years, before this election, no political party had an ascendant position in Indian politics, a return of the post-Rajiv Gandhi Congress to power in 1991 notwithstanding.
The book is a compilation of conference papers related to Turkish people and their contribution to Islamic world from Spain to India. The conference was held in May 2010 on the occasion of the nineteenth Giorgio Lei Della Vida Award to recognize the late Professor Gustave Von Grunebaum, and his contribution to the Semitic languages and history of Middle East and the United States.
Professor Gulshan Dietl, who effortlessly combines lucidity, rigour of logic, and diligent research, was till recently Professor at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University heading the Gulf Studies Programme. She was also Chairperson of the Centre for West Asian and African Studies. She has taught also at universities outside India, in New York, Paris, Copenhagen, and elsewhere.
The title says it all. India’s approach to Afghanistan has little to do with Afghanistan. It has everything to do with Pakistan. This tells us something about India, about how we see ourselves, which is essentially in relation to our Siamese twin, Pakistan. This is not quite how we project ourselves—as a regional power and emerging great power, measuring up against China and a strategic partner of the US.
Historians, political commentators, journalists have all, almost uniformly, depicted an objectified Afghanistan: it is played upon by external powers, not a player. A ‘great game’ has, since at least the nineteenth century, been played out by these powers, but Afghanistan itself is not supposed to have agency. That phrase was first used by a British intelligence officer, Arthur Conolly, in 1840, in a letter to a colleague.