Intercultural Comparison

Thank God for Michael Gottlob, who has put together a book we have felt the lack of for many years, and done nothing about. Here is two hundred years (1786-1993) of ‘the development of historical consciousness in South Asia’—from William Jones to Ramachandra Guha. This is the translation of what was part of an 8-volume series, in German, on “historical thinking in intercultural comparison”.

West Non-West Encounter

For the best part of the decades after World War II, the social sciences and the humanities have been marked by debates that can be best described as mediations on the ‘encounter’ between the West and the non-West, the First and Third Worlds, of which Franz Fanon’s 1960’s writings were but the beginning. Since then the writings of Edward Said, and the refractions through poststructuralism and postcolonialism have produced a large body of writing in the academia. There are scholars from the West who have complicated this discourse.

Reminiscences of a Soldier Turned Writer

Old soldiers like Monty Palit do not fade away. They become prolific writers and lead active lives, both physically and mentally, after retirement. Several of Palit’s books like Essentials of Military Knowledge have sold well, and I believe that his War in High Himalaya: The Indian Army in Crisis, 1962 is probably the best book written about the Sino-Indian border conflict.

Writing a Good Life

Autobiography and memoir—are they the same? In the subtitle the book is an autobiography, in the author’s preface it is “a memoir”. If you go by the COD, an autobiography is the story writing of one’s own life. But a memoir is just a record of events or history written from personal knowledge or special sources of information. It is only memoirs that become synonymous with (auto) biography.

Redressing an Imbalance

This scholarly and imaginative study of the Upanishads makes a significant point: It argues that the Upanishadic texts have been traditionally viewed as consisting of two distinct and separable parts—“metaphysics” and “story”. This has resulted in “abstraction” and over-valuation of the metaphysical message and, more importantly, neglect and consequent “under-reading” of the stories.

It’s one of those unsettling questions endlessly asked: what makes immigrants stay on in their land of adoption (generally western) if they end up unhappy, can’t strike roots, feel alien, homesick or abused; if the culture shock is hard, if memories of the motherland wring the soul, if the sunshine and yellow mustard fields of Punjab that put a song in your heart are so swiftly removed by England’s grey skies and fickle rain? If, as writer Gurnam Gill says in his short story ‘Trees in Kew Gardens’: “We are all trees of Kew Gardens.