India’s Strategic Leap

More has happened in taking India –US relations to higher levels in the last twelve months than in the preceding twelve years. The period has witnessed one of the most intensely argued public discourse on India’s strategic needs. The discourse involved political parties, India’s Atomic Energy Establishment, a host of experts in India and the US. Indian and US officials parleyed intensively and extensively to make it possible for a new strategic partnership to begin.

Saga of Courage

The book narrates the operational performance of Pakistan’s 6 Armoured Division in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Pakistan had inducted its Special Services Group personnel in J&K in August1965 to stir an uprising and later launched an offensive in the Chhamb Sector on 1 September 1965. India retaliated by launching an offensive across the Indo-Pak international border in the Lahore Sector on 6 September: India’s Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had warned—retaliation at a place of its choice.

Presenting a Paradox

The Indian subcontinent stepped into its independent nationhood amidst the greatest refugee crisis in the modern era, when an estimated fourteen million people migrated across the borders of India and Pakistan. And yet, a theoretical understanding of the refugee phenomenon has evolved much more recently in the1990s. This is especially true of the International Relations literature in the South Asian region that has been dominated by the neo-realist analyses.

City as a Sacrificial Site

This volume is a posthumous publication of what would have been a part of Bert van den Hoek’s magnum opus on the ritual structure of Kathmandu. His untimely death, in a road accident in Mumbai in 2001 while on his way to a conference in Pune, put an end to a project that would have covered various aspects of the Newari ritual calendar. A dense monograph that examines the way in which the city of Kathmandu is imaged as a sacrificial arena, this work reflects the best traditions of the Leiden School of Indology.

A Cultural Conglomerate

The North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan have for long been a source of fascination for outsiders. But few have ventured into the region and spent long years living the harsh lives of the local people in the way that Grima has. The author, an ethnographer who currently teaches Pashto at the University of Pennsylvania, has spent twelve years in Peshawar, the Swat valley, Quetta, Zhob and other adjoining areas. At the very outset she tells us that Pashto, the language of this region which she mastered, is not just a language but a complex conglomerate of cultural behaviour.

Neighbourly Concerns

It is encouraging that several books on Bangladesh have appeared in recent months. There have been few publications on Bangladesh in India, and perhaps fewer from abroad, to be seen on the shelves. For India, this is regrettable on two counts. Firstly, we should know more about a neighbour of nearly a hundred and fifty million people whose territory adjoins the most sensitive region of India for over four thousand kilometres, and, secondly and consequently, whose internal developments have an inescapable fall-out on India.

The Life and Death of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

This, surprisingly, is the first biography in English of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh, even though more than 30 years have passed since he was assassinated in a bloody military coup on August 15, 1975. Known to most Bangladeshis as Bangabandhu, or friend of Bengal, a title bestowed on him by acclamation in a mammoth public meeting in Dhaka on 22 February, 1969, he was truly a man of the people, someone who had made the cause of his countrymen and women his own through endless trials and tribulations

Confluence of Disciplines

Daud Ali’s introduction points out that the essays in this book represent an eventful phase in writings on South Asian history, one marked by the confluence of disciplines, especially history and anthropology. Ronald Inden in fact describes himself as an Indologist, historian and anthropologist of India, all rolled into one. The main focus of his work is medieval South Asia, but his writings range freely over and across pre-colonial and postcolonial pasts, drawing attention to the links between them. Religion, caste and kingship are among the important themes that he has explored in his influential writings.

Empire as a Global Entity

Noted historian Athar Ali died in 1998. The only time I ever met him was at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1992 where he interviewed me for a job at the Center of Historical Studies. I had just returned from Cambridge with a brand new PhD degree, which had the stamp of his bete noire Professor C.A. Bayly. I was tense on seeing him as I thought that I would now have to answer for the academic ‘follies’ of Cambridge historians! I was pretty sure that I was not getting this job.