The book under review undertakes and accomplishes the daunting task of laying bare the relationship between the capitalist class and the state in Independent India and its consequences for the specific trajectory of capital accumulation that emerged. The task is challenging as the state-capital relationship is often made invisible through laws and customs and obfuscated with the aid of faulty or irrelevant economic logic. Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations as early as in 1776: We rarely hear […] of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen.
Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protests by Zeynep Tufekci is a brilliant account of the organization, mobilization and spread of dissent in a digital age. The over 275-page description of protests in the ‘networked public sphere’(p. 19) is a riveting account of the role of the internet in movements ranging from the Zapatista uprisings in Mexico, the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement in New York.
Ambedkar’s observation made about India almost decades ago applies equally even now to modern democratic globalized India. The unfortunate part is that over the period Ambedkar himself could not stand indifferent to the practice. Today, a diverse section of people cutting across caste, class and ideological backgrounds appreciate Ambedkar for his ideas. Over the period Ambedkar followers and now joined by Ambedkar’s traditional critics consisting of Hindutva groups have raised his stature to the status of a divine figure.
For half a century (from the 1920s to the 1960s), like a colossus, Master Tara Singh straddled the region, the society, the community we call Panjab. His life had immense highs and lows and his role in the
making of modern Panjab and the history of Sikh politics elicit diverse opinions. For a long time now there has been a need for a comprehensive book that portrays his life and times. Given this background, eminent scholar, historian, J S Grewal, under the aegis of Punjabi University, Patiala, has finally offered us a study of his life: Master Tara Singh in Indian History: Colonialism, Nationalism and the Politics of Sikh Identity.
Three bearded men, between them, occupy a major part of air time on Indian television. The first gets on TV mainly because he often generates the ‘news’ of the day and also because his face is used for hard-selling government programmes —recycled or re-invented, feasible and un-achievable, successes or failures.
Last year, when PM Modi launched the by now infamous Goods and Services Tax at an expensive event in Delhi, he was invited to the podium by an over-enthusiastic compere, who welcomed him with these words: ‘GST yaani ek rashtra, ek kar, ek bazaar, (GST as in one nation, one tax, one market) yahi hai ek bharat, shreshtha bharat (this alone is one India, great India), rashtra swabhimaan ke upaasak (the worshipper of national self-respect), mananiya pradhanmantri se ham sab vinamra anunay karte hain ki [we humbly request our respected Prime Minister to’ etc., He came out waving to the crowds.
There is no doubt that Hindutva politics has established its dominance in the vast terrain of Indian politics, particularly post-2014 general elections. Its dominance is not just limited to the political victories, but the Sangh Parivar has created acceptability and respectability in different social spheres.
What counts as scientific knowledge is often a subject of popular controversies and yet science is commonly understood as being too complex for public engagement. In his book Contested Knowledge about risk controversies in Kerala, Shiju Sam Varughese contends with this particular paradox.
Tariq Thachil’s Elite Parties, Poor Voters: How Social Services Win Votes in India revolves around the empirical puzzle as to why poor people support political parties that do not promote their material interests. While this puzzle has received considerable attention in wealthy western democracies, it has been ignored in the non-western world.