Orientalist Mirrors

From about the middle of the nineteenth century in Bengal arose fierce debates about our country, our sciences, our arts, indeed our manners, customs and ceremonies. British racism had hardened during this period; to the colonizers it was evident that Indian civilization had nothing to offer, not science, not arts, indeed nothing at all. As Macaulay perhaps typifying this attitude said in his notorious Minute on education, all the learning of the East was not worth one shelf in any library in Europe. The reaction among the colonized was a sense of deep shame and anguish, filled too with nationalistic incomprehension, anger and pride.

A Micro-history of Two Campaigns

It must be admitted at the very outset that going through this book has been quite exasperating. Reviewing necessitated it be read cover to cover, and it was not a pleasant experience. Of course, it is not without its merits, but few will come away entirely satisfied, even if they are persuaded by the arguments. The primary reason for dissatisfaction is that a lot is promised and little delivered. The assertion is that: This is a cross-cultural study of the political economy of warfare in South Asia. Randolf G. S. Cooper combines an overview of Maratha military culture with a battle-by-battle analysis of the 1803 Anglo-Maratha Campaigns.

A Prisoner of Presuppositions

Allowing for a few exceptions, the dominant thesis now evident in works on Hinduism is that the term itself as well its ideological and material content were determined only under British colonial rule. Some eminent scholars, and I can immediately think of Nicholas Dirks, have even gone to the extent of arguing that caste and ‘culture’ were also, in good measure, products of this colonial encounter (Dirks, The Invention of Caste, Social Analysis, 1989; Colonialism and Culture,1992).

Basis of Good Economics

In a social party, or in the circuit of savvy politicians, celebrities, intellectual elites (not to mention what kind of), big corporates, policy makers or whizkids of the new economy, there is one statement making the rounds, when one is running out of conversation: “The Indian economy is doing very well. Consistently registering a growth rate of 7 or 7.5 is amazing and we can even do 10, is what the general feeling among these tribes is all about. Thanks to reforms and emergence of free market.”

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.