Elisabeth Bandinter’s book (loosely translated as ‘The Myth of Motherhood’) raised a stormy controversy in France, has been denounced by psychologists, educationists and the clergy, and clearly deserves to be read. Unfor¬tunately, at present the book is available to us in India only in French, and it is to be hoped that the English trans-lation comes to this country soon.
It is evident to any observer of the Indian situation that democracy has not led to equa¬lity. So for any social scientist engaged in a study of one seg¬ment of society, this revelation should not come as a shock.
In a study of ‘untouchable politics’ and Indian social change, Barbara Joshi focusses on various aspects—social, economic and psychological—of existence among the schedul¬ed castes.
Most of us are guilty of having a somewhat idealized image of the relationship bet-ween people in the Indian States movement and those in the Indian National Congress (INC) in the critical years before Independence. The image has been created partly by Nehru’s Autobiography, by V.P. Menon’s and Lord Mountbatten’s works and out¬pourings and partly by the publications of bodies like the Janmabhoomi Trust whose founder, Amritlal Sheth, was a pillar of the States Peoples’ movement in Gujarat and Saurashtra.
Yujiro Hayami is a dist¬inguished agricultural econo¬mist whose pioneering work on the specificities of Asian agriculture and the paths of its trans-formation is known all over the world. Professor Hayami, along with Masao Kikuchi, has recently comp¬leted an authoritative book, Asian Village Economy at the Cross-Roads, which will be published by the University of Tokyo. The present book¬let forms a part of that larger work.
In a discussion of Indian feudalism, there are two approaches that are equally misleading and therefore equally to be shunned. One approach is that which argues that India developed in a unique, peculiar and exclusive way of its own; consequently, any concept coined to explain the historical evolution of western Europe can have no relevance for a study of Indian history.
In the early years of the 16th century, the Portuguese des¬cended on the Indian Ocean like wolves on the fold to scatter and destroy the littoral societies of Asia and Africa. To a man they belonged to a breed of hardened criminals. They had no scruples. They spared nobody. Thus, during his second voyage to India, Vasco da Gama intercepted and destroyed any vessel he came across without warning.
Irfan Habib is the closest we get to Marc Bloch among Indian historians. True, the focus is much narrower but there is the same magic with the documents, and a similar talent to piece together the material living of a people.
Alluding to the nervous petty-minded censorship exer¬cised by the military rulers of her country, Fahmida Riaz writes in a burst of revolu¬tionary opti-mism:
the rising sun
cannot be hidden
when the day
breaks the world will see
Ajneya is one of the biggest names in Hindi letters today. His impact, both on Hindi fiction and poetry, has been considerable, and is a part of a growing legend. Even the way Vatsyayan acquired his pen name ‘Ajneya’ (the un-knowable) has a story to it. A freedom fighter, he had to smuggle his early writings out of prison.
Indian readers could have been spared the solemn Fore¬word, intended presumably for an audience in Australia, where this English version was first published. It is quite out of tune with the irreverent and incisive style of the novel, its alternating moods of comedy and despair, its bawdiness and violence, its rejec¬tion of all pretension and solemnity.
For Mahashveta Devi, writ¬ing is a mission, a cause and a crusade. This is what we are told about the writer in the blurb of her latest novel to appear in a Hindi transla¬tion. After ‘1084 Ki Maori’, ‘Jangal Ka Davedar’ and ‘Agnigarbh’, Mahashveta Devi has attempted a novel about the Adivasis of Bihar.
This volume is a revised ver¬sion of the author’s doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of London in 1975. The study covers the period 1950-77 and is based on secondary published sources.
As a religion Islam is under¬stood by few and misunder¬stood by many. It is indeed tragic that the intellectual con¬tent of Islamic ideology is being ignored, although Islam expects its followers to be well-informed and knowledgeable. The followers of Islam appear to be ensnared by the ritualis¬tic part of their faith rather than the ideals so beautifully expressed in the Quranic text.
Man is ultimately alone—and defeated. Through a dense particularity of circumstance this novel breathes a loneliness that imperceptibly takes the shape of universal human ex¬perience. The narrator is a Russian, exiled in India. He is without family, having lost his first wife and child in an acci¬dent and his second, an Indian, through divorce; without friends, having deliberately warded off friendship in an at-tempt to preserve his identity from being swallowed up by the land of exile.
The name of Trilochan and the sonnet form are synony¬mous in contemporary Hindi poetry. He has few peers in this realm, partly because not many have ventured there. In other Indian languages, too, there have been protagonists of the sonnet, but none of them seem to have staked their poetic career upon it.
Seventeen years ago David Werner was a 30 year old biology teacher in the United States interested in the birds and plants of mountain areas. His travels took him to the mountains of Western Mexico where he came to know and love the mountain people.
For someone sympathetic to hedonism, the cultural pro¬ducts of a society where hedone is an honoured goddess are endlessly fascinating. To me, the United States of America since the early sixties is one such society. Here the impact of hedonism has been greater than that of most other ‘isms’ which propel human lives.
Very seldom do intellectuals run ahead of political actors, particularly in the sphere of international cooperation. Problems of regional cooper¬ation among countries located in the Indian Ocean littoral have received scant scholarly attention so far, largely be¬cause the political leaders of these countries have not pro¬ceeded beyond rhetorics to put together an infrastructure of regional cooperation.
Gordon Winter is a self-confessed criminal and spy. He was a BOSS agent par excellence, a journalist by trade and a spy by profession. In May 1979, Winter defected and left South Africa with his wife and two children. The revelations of Winter regarding BOSS (Bureau of State Security) confirm and underline the fact that South Africa is a police State and in a state of siege. In response to its growing international isolation and the ever increas¬ing militancy of its oppressed black majority, the Apartheid State embarked upon a clan¬destine and aggressive propa¬ganda campaign on all fronts.
Two central features mark the nature of socio-political life in India today, in relation to which everything else pales into insignificance: the over¬whelming poverty of the majority of the population, and the increasing hostility between central and state governments on the one side and the same dispossessed majority on the other.