Professor Amartya Sen interrogates a large number of ideas in currency in the contemporary world including the tendency to categorize individuals and communities based on one overarching identity, clash of civilizations, multiculturalism, the presumed superiority of the West, terrorism emanating from religious fundamentalism and the like. As a review is constrained by limitations of space I shall rest content by discussing some of them.
The anarchist Prodhoun once famously denounced the state in the following terms: “To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished.
James Hunt’s explorations on Gandhi in this inspiring series of essays are set in a postmodern context and an attempt has been made to recover the real Gandhi from the various influences and events that surrounded him through his journey of life. The author moves between an open admiration, to an objective analysis of the man, and the Mahatma.
It is always useful and insightful to review past events in tranquillity after the dust of fevered controversy has settled. Hindsight helps fill in missing details and information that might have influenced contemporary judgement and could lend perspective to what was until then a confused and unfolding narrative. However, far from shedding any new light, Kamran Shahid’s “new perspective” further clouds the great issues of the day that he seeks to discuss with a perverse thesis.
Gandhi continues to fascinate and frustrate those who read him. He refuses to retire peacefully into the archives and asks to be made contemporary. His admirers address the question of his relevance by mining his voluminous writings for meanings they are partial to, as if asking for his grace to be bestowed on their eloquence.
There are signposts and imprints in the text and even the subtext that evoked instant recognition having traversed them myself—as a feminist, as a woman and as one involved in the inception of a grassroot organization: the intersecting themes of the book lured me on. The agonized comments of the feminist founders in their endeavour to confirm to a collectivist form to ensure egalitarianism…
The deleterious impact that the repetitious ‘drip feed of media material’ has on the human mind and behaviour has been fairly substantially assessed over the years. In the book under review, Sharda J. Schaffter, a communication analyst, has attempted to study how advertising in India has privileged the privileged and, consequently, disprivileged women, the traditionally disprivileged.
The Saga of Female Foeticide In India by Ashok Jain attempts to highlight some of the issues of and considers preventive strategies regarding female foeticide in India. It consists of six chapters over which it traces the historical context of female foeticide in India, examines some of the data on sex ratio in the country, and scrutinizes some policies and debates on abortion, as well as the new reproductive technologies available to those desiring sex selection.
Women in the subcontinent have been under a paradoxical purview; on the one hand, major issues pertaining to them are peripheral in the body politic; on the other, they have been the repositories of religious mores and the cultural custodians of their habitat. Even so, their public façade mirrors the whims of the political and socio-religious strictures outlined by the major opinion building agency…
This book is a useful ‘how to’ guide to mainstreaming gender in the management of natural disasters. For anybody in the field, this is likely to be a handy tool. The writers demystify links between gender and disaster management, within a sustainable development framework. It is a reader-friendly book, with exceptionally evocative sketches, although the cover is inexplicably ugly.
Pakistani scholar, Tayyab Mahmud, speaking of the “spectre of the migrant” that haunts the modern world, says that immigration in public debate and political rhetoric is presented as a “problem to be solved, a flaw to be corrected, a war to be fought, and a flow to be stopped.” The immigrant, he says, hovers at the edges of her adopted society:
Migrant Women and Work includes a collection of papers that were presented at an international conference on Women and Migration in Delhi in 2003. This work challenges the popular misconception that migration is a male activity. This volume adds to a growing body of literature that demonstrates the contribution that a gendered analysis can make to understanding the complex phenomenon of migration and the feminization of labour migration in particular.
This volume comprises eleven contributions by scholars from Bangladesh, Canada, India, Nepal, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, U.K. and USA on diverse aspects of gender studies, the focus being on women who have adopted migration as a survival strategy. The message of this book is clear : poor women migrants are assets not only to their families but to their home country.
In his Foreword Professor Amartya Sen has rightly celebrated Devaki Jain’s refusal to take up the theme of her book in a minimalist framework of a tedious chronological regurgitation of what Charles Dickens would call ‘facts, facts and facts’. Instead, we have been offered a rich narrative of development, a history of women’s movement worldwide, its dreams, challenges and fissures, bringing alive a distant policy-making body like the United Nations, jiving with development refracted through the world’s women.
The book examines critically Sen’s contribution to some fundamental issues of human welfare from a gender perspective. Sen, has displayed feminist sensibilities, rare among economists. His ideas on notions such as justice, freedom, social choice, agency, ‘functionings’, and capability as a set of philosophical categories have not only enriched our understanding but has given us a whole new vocabulary and evaluative tools for judging human development, values that should underpin our goals.
The recent publication of Aziz Kurtha’s Francis Newton Souza: Bridging Western and Indian Modern Art is perhaps unsurprising in a context where prices of modern Indian art generally are constantly reaching ever more spectacular levels both nationally and elsewhere. Certainly, one of the key objectives of the book is to offer an art market perspective to the art collector, the many asides with reference to ownership, signature and prices are a clue to these concerns.
Alternate Lyricism is a confused mélange of essays written for Jehangir Jani’s different shows and some composed specifically for this publication. Contributors include Shivaji Panikkar, Ranjit Hoskote, Nancy Adjania, Mortimer Chatterjee, Girish Shahane, Anupa Mehta and Deeptha Achar. The essays have been gathered by Ratnottama Sengupta, whose own contribution is an interview with Jani.
A lavishly produced book on Indian art, Dictionary of Indian Art & Artists fills up a lacuna within the study of Indian art. Although the entries for contemporary Indian art are informative and exhaustive this book aims to reach back to the past as much as possible within the constraint of a dictionary format and also offers elucidation of technical terms concerning art practice.
Amrita Sher-Gil is probably the most significant 20th century painter who heralded the changing direction of modern Indian art1 . Of Indo-Hungarian origin, Sher-Gil’s short life (she died at the age of 28) was intense, exotic and amazingly productive. Her best known works were painted within a short span of just over a decade – a period in which her style evolved as a result of changing influences and experimentation.