An experienced bureaucrat and field administrator with impeccable academic qualifications and scholarly inclinations, B.P. Singh, a Nehru Fellow and an IAS officer, has produced a book which ought to be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the North East—be he an administrator, a historian, a journa¬list, or just the disinterested administrator. Not for him any of the contemptible bon¬homie that the burra sahib of yore used to write of so affectionately in his memoirs.
The volume under review is neither a police manual on handling communal violence nor a mere policeman’s percep¬tion of the problem. Shri Rajagopal is a sensitive liberal who in his long and varied career never lost his sense of values, perspective and integrity when he donned the uniform of a police officer. While he was proud of his uniform and service, he never wavered in his belief that the means adopted by the police should stand the most rigorous scrutiny whatever be the ends.
Judging by the aplomb with which he goes about his ministerial tasks, Mr K.R. Narayanan appears to be at home in the troubled and troublesome world of pre¬sent-day Indian politics. But a closer ex¬amination is bound to show that essenti¬ally he remains something of an ‘out¬sider’, indeed considerably more so than the other two former members of the Indian Foreign Service who too have moved to political pastures. Interestingly, even as a diplomat he was a rather unusual member of the pin-striped tribe. Many considered him to be an academic strayed into the foreign service. And he surely preferred scholarly pursuits to the embassy cocktail circuit.
This presentation in the Sage series in Neo-Corporatism is a product of the Fifth Summer School on Comparative European politics, of the European University in Florence held in June-July 1983. The subject was ‘Class Interests, Neo-Corporatism and Democracy’. This volume contains contributions by several scholars belonging to different disciplines like politics and political science, manage¬ment, industrial relations and sociology.
That the partition of the Punjab was a catastrophe for a vast multitude of the people is a familiar story. What is, how¬ever new in this well-researched work is the poignancy with which the trauma suffered by a physically broken and emo¬tionally shattered humanity has been brought out.
This book is a good example of the growing strengths and persistent weak¬nesses of South Asian thoughts on South Asia.
To take the strengths first, the book adds one more to the growing list of titles of books about South Asia as a region. This list and its growth have been quite a remarkable phenomenon of the South Asian intellectual scene since the start of the 1980s. One can be certain that more—many more—books have been pub¬lished, more papers have been written, and more seminars held in the 80’s with the phrase South Asia incorporated in them in one’ way or another than had been produced in all the preceding years.
‘Angaliyat’ in Gujarati means the child of the former husband, or more precisely, the child of the former husband who follows the mother, holding her finger (‘Angali’), when she weds another man. The title of the novel is suggestive of the love that unites the two main characters of the novel—Tiho, a weaver of a small village, Ratnapur, and Methi, a woman-of the same community from another village, Shilapur. Though Tiho and Methi never marry, Gokal, Methi’s son, is known as an ‘angaliyat’. Gokal not only uses Tiho’s name as his father but also begins to acquire, towards the end of the novel, the strength of Tiho’s character and thus becomes in a way his true heir. But what is more important perhaps is the social and political backdrop against which the story of Tiho and Methi unfolds.
The politics of the newly independent African nations is typical of the post-colonial hangover worldwide. Having served as the milch cow of their colonial overlords, the impoverished countries are inextricably tangled in a web of inter¬national debt, both financial and moral. In many cases, self assertion was suppres¬sed and a neo-colonial legacy still con¬tinues.
This is an engaging book, and it only narrowly misses being an important one. By widening the scope of traditional ‘lit. crit’. concerns to include analyses of non-Western, non-literary, and even oral narrative forms, the contributors demonstrate how academic critics may engage in cultural politics through a process that the editors have described, simply thus: ‘(A) paper starts with theory, and spills over into life….’
My earliest political education was from the poet Subrahmanya Bharati. A line of his that was for ever on my lips as a boy runs, in inadequate translation, thus:
‘You sure have heard, Oh: You wind, The stifled sobs of men and women, weary of limb and of spirit In the tea gardens of Sri Lanka.’
This subcontinent with its precious and magnificent heritage of natural wealth is fast being deprived of its security blanket of green vegetation. Progress unfortu¬nately still means the exploitation of nature and the Himalayas with its foot¬hills are denuded day by day.