Trade Versus Environmental Divide

The WTO’s website states the following. “Issues relating to trade, the environment and sustainable development more generally, have been discussed in the GATT and in the WTO for many years. Environment is a horizontal issue that cuts across different rules and disciplines in WTO. The issue has been considered by Members both in terms of the impact of environmental policies on trade, and of the impact of trade on the environment.” Yes, indeed. Before the Stockholm Conference in 1972, the GATT Secretariat prepared a study in 1971 on “Industrial Pollution Control and International Trade”, flagging what today would be called green protectionism.

Population is About People

A rapidly rising population in any society can potentially exert severe pressures on the environment, on social and physical infrastructure, and on public services essential for decent living. Particularly in a context of resource constraints, very high rates of population growth can adversely affect even the carrying capacity of the planet. When India’s population crossed a billion, it caused unnecessary alarm and anxiety among many.

Putting Poverty on the Table

Two hundred years after Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, Gunnar Myrdal produced his seminal work on the Poverty of Nations. This is ironic for, in the intervening two centuries, the world shifted not from wealth to poverty but the other way round. The agriculture, industrial and scientific revolutions heralded unprecedented improvements in material well-being and social indicators. But the gains were so uneven that even as large parts of the world enjoyed remarkable prosperity, mass poverty continues to be a complex and compelling challenge in much of the Third World.

A Dialogue Between Two Dissenters

Ashis Nandy is no unfamiliar name. His contrarian positions on a range of issues – even sati, have continued to intrigue, if not irritate many of his readers. He is also, as he claims, consistently misunderstood. Take his writings following the infamous case of the Deorala sati. When most commentators were railing against the barbarous custom, arguing for the use of state force to root out a heinous practice, Ashis Nandy chose to defend the idea of sati, even while denouncing the specific instance at Deorala as murder.

For Whom Do The Bells Toll?

Religion stands on tiptoe in our land Ready to pass to the American stand. – Herbert, the Church Militant L.235

The lines quoted above were written at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but when we read them here in India today, the meaning spreads beyond the haze of the Protestant struggle in England. With hands in pocket it walks off to the lanes of Ayodhya and Godhra, still pock-marked with militant religiosity.

Inclusive Citizenship and the Calling of Transformations

Realization of creative possiblities in citizenship is an imporant part of the emancipatory politics of modernity but citizenship in itself as it is tied to the bounded logic of the nation-state in modernity is as much exclusionary as it is emancipatory. The story of citizenship in the modern world is thus a story of struggle to expand its realm to include previously excluded groups—slaves, women, and varieties of racial, religous, ethnic and colonized others. Now this project of expansion is also confronted with a challenge of foundational deepening and broadening, for example, realizing citizenship not only as a political project but also as a multidimensional project of being and social becoming—political, moral and spiritual.

Annotating Recent History

Jaswant Singh steered the country’s external relations and, for a while, defence during an eventful and turbulent period of NDA governance. It was a time of change and the BJP was in office during the transition that it partly helped to make. As a key player in office, he both shaped and reacted to developments that saw India finally emerge as a nuclear weapons state (alongside Pakistan) and a prime focus of jihadi terror and began to forge a new strategic partnership with the United States.

Well Within the Comfort Zone

A career spanning 168 tests, 325 one- day internationals, approximately 19,000 international runs, 35 centuries, and almost 300 wickets. If ever a movie were made about a career this long and successful, it would run for many hours. The prospects for it are good: the potential screenplay allows for just that. With a book of over 800 pages, Steve Waugh has paced his autobiography slowly and deliberately – almost like he paced his career.

A Shared History

“Round and round the cauldron go, In the poisoned entrails throw, ………………………….., ……………………….., Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble, ……………………………., ………………………….., Cool it with a baboon’s blood, Then the charm is firm and good”– Macbeth

An odd way to introduce a book on cricket? Perhaps.

Biography of a Music Critic

In the Preface to the book, the young author thanks “all the musicians, dancers, critics, Subbudu’s friends and enemies” for their time and inputs. During his long innings as a critic Subbudu attracted many “friends and enemies” who spiced up his unusual life. Most Delhi Tamils know that “Subbudu” and “controversy” are synonymous. His critical faculty and equally sharp tongue often caused resentment among those at the receiving end. His turn of phrase and biting sarcasm made him a critic much admired and feared. Asked how the dance “scene” was on his return from a city, his brief “obscene” left no room for further enquiry! Fidgeting through an amateurish dance recital mangling a kriti in the raga “Nagabharanam”, he fiercely muttered “What ornament is this?” A friend commented that the dancer was lucky not to be shredded to pieces in the auditorium itself.

A Contemporary Survey

Some years ago Mohan Nadkarni pub- lished The Great Masters: Profiles in Hindustani Classical Vocal Music (Harper Collins, 1999), a compendium of pen portraits of past masters that he had heard in the half century as a practising music critic in Bombay. Music to Thy Ears is a kind of companion volume which gives us a peep into the world of instrumental music. Although reams have been written about stars like Ravi Shankar and the late Vilayat Khan, a contemporary survey of instrumentalists is hard to find, and Nadkarni’s book goes a long way in filling this gap.

Setting the Norm for Research

This is a long awaited book. Finally we have a history of a musical tradition written by a historian with a cultivated ear. There have been accounts, often extremely interesting, by persons of deep musical involvement but no sense of historical method. Rangaramanuja Iyengar’s History of South Indian (Carnatic) Music comes immediately to mind. At the other extreme I can think of at least one book, C.S. Lakshmi’s The Singer and the Song which for all its attempts at bringing feminist rigour to its analysis of women singers and their situation displays a grievous ignorance of any aspect of music or musical performance.