It is not often, I imagine, that a subject is able to draw forth two landmark produc- tions in fairly quick succession. Happily, this indeed has been the case with ‘sati’ and particularly, modern readings thereof. In 1998, interested readers woke up to a startlingly new thesis in Lata Mani’s Contentious Traditions* that took the issue out of its standard, unproblematized ‘social reform’ framework and placed it in the arena of contestations.
In recent years the study of regions has assumed importance among social scientists in India. The process of transforming cultural regions into politico-administrative units is not over as seen from numerous demands for dividing larger states into smaller ones. There is much greater recognition that language is not the only basis on which the states can be divided.
This is a book on memory and on ques- tions. On questions that we all know but for which we have inadequate explanations, questions that compellingly address us from within contemporary social sciences in India and from within contemporary history. Talbot and Tatla provide a range of first hand contemporary accounts of Partition survivors from Amritsar, a city that became a major transit camp for refugees from Pakistan during the Partition years, and whose geography enabled a recovery of abducted women.
This latest offering from the well-known sociologist Dipankar Gupta follows up on arguments developed in his earlier work entitled Mistaken Modernity. This is essentially an argument in favour of ‘modernity’, which Gupta portrays as an ideal disposition and a form of social relations towards which contemporary societies are, or should be, evolving or striving. Gupta sets out his rather convoluted theoretical and philosophical framework in a long first chapter that is difficult to summarize.
The volume under review is part of a trilogy aimed at offering a glimpse of an extremely rich legacy of the ideas and discourses on economic development, from a whole range of heterodox perspectives, as distinct from the mainstream neoclassical tradition. The other two volumes were reviewed in an earlier issue of this journal*, and the context of the trilogy and its tremendous usefulness were highlighted in that review. The present piece focuses specifically on the main concern of the third volume.
In the Ao Naga tradition, no story-telling is complete without the singing of a ballad, a dirge or a hunting song. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the poetic element forms the core of any discourse or narration in Ao folklore”, says Temsula Ao in her book The Ao –Naga Oral Tradition (Baroda, 1999). True to this tradition, in These Hills Called Home, the author has combined in herself the poet and the story-teller, the one supplementing the other.
As our ever-growing population, and the increasing number of cases of molestations and rapes, and the shocking number of HIV positive people, and our record in trafficking and child prostitution, and our venerable Khushwant Singh testify, sex is always present in the mind and motivates many of the actions of the average Indian male of any age.
The Inheritance of Loss has a minimal plot. The narrative is set at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. It is 1986 when the story opens with a robbery by young insurgents, who force their way into a retired judge’s decrepit colonial mansion and steal his hunting rifles in the presence of the judge, his seventeen-year-old granddaughter Sai, his cook, and his purebred dog Mutt.
Some excellent writing has emerged from the Pakistani Diaspora in recent years. Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India is probably the best known. Woven around the theme of Partition it was widely acclaimed through a series of literary prizes. Deepa Mehta made it into a film called Earth. Sidhwa’s latest book, An American Brat, was published in 1993. Sara Suleri is another Pakistani-American woman writer – a fine novelist and a versatile literary critic. Meatless Days (1990),
The mere mention of the name Faiz Ahmed Faiz evokes a warm adulation, as much in the highbrow scholarly critic as in the mind of the common reader, not restricted to the Urdu world. Faiz became in fact a legendry figure in his own life time, an icon to reckon with. When Sheema Majeed, in her “Editor’s Note” in the book, Culture and Identity, refers to him as a “metaphor of his age”, she directs one’s attention to the gradual unfolding of different aspects of the spirit of the times presented in Faiz’s English writings.
The title of the book itself indicates the motivation behind it, viz. a celebration of Progressive Urdu poetry. The authors, Ali Hasan Mir and Raza Mir set out to “reclaim the legacy of the progressive poets in an age when their words, insights, and politics continue to be relevant”.
The first time I heard about Professor Lipner’s intentions of re- translating the Anandamath was at a symposium organized by The Book Review Literary Trust, New Delhi, sometime in March-April 2003. Both Professor Lipner and this reviewer had spoken on that occasion, albeit for different lengths of time and with unequal authority.
Agrowing number of studies in recent Indian historiography have paid close attention to the role played by print in shaping the contours of modern India. Earlier, the imprecise and unsatisfactory term ‘print culture’ was often invoked to stand in for a perspective in which print was employed as some kind of a wide-angle lens, whose panoptic sweep and scope often obscured—or even misrepresented—the smaller picture.
Kamlaben Patel’s Partition memoir, Mool Sotan Ukhdelan, the translator’s note tells us, is considered as a neglected classic in Gujarati. How much more creditable it is, then, to redeem it from the neglect of its original location, and make it available in English translation — Torn from the Roots! Because, given the sheer tide of Partition things in which we are drowning, after the silence of half a century, it isn’t easy for something to stand out. And yet, this modest memoir does.
There are a few things that Alok Bhalla wants to prove in this collection of dialogues with Partition authors Indian and Paki- stani. He asserts that undivided India had a vibrant composite culture where communities intermingled freely. It was destroyed by the entry of religious politics.
Although the subtitle of the book places its subject squarely within Pakistan, I should like to start with two events, separated by nearly two decades, which took place in India. In 1989, the Sangeet Natak Akademi organized a theatre festival in New Delhi to celebrate Nehru’s Birth Centenary.
The book under review is topical in that discussions on education are both neverending and never seem to go out of fashion. For example, one only needs to recall that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) just launched its 2006 ‘Global Report on Education for All (EFA) by the year 2015’,
Women experience violence in myriad forms and changing political, social and economic structures have a deep impact in the way violence against women reconstitutes itself. Such violence brings forth complex realities and permeates all categories of women though the nature of violence would differ between different groups, classes and in different times.
The place of women in development praxis has always been con- tested and troubling. This volume opens out the complex feminist debates in different geographic locations, simultaneously placing before us difference in feminist theorizing and the critical feminist engagements locally and globally with hegemonic forces of development especially over the past three decades.
C.D. Narasimhaiah is more of an institu- tion than anything else. It is not easy to come across ‘a mere village shopkeeper’s son’ (p.11) going on in the 1940s for an English Tripos at Cambridge