About Obsessions

As our ever-growing population, and the increasing number of cases of molestations and rapes, and the shocking number of HIV positive people, and our record in trafficking and child prostitution, and our venerable Khushwant Singh testify, sex is always present in the mind and motivates many of the actions of the average Indian male of any age. Yet, sex is taboo in this land of the Kamasutra, the moral police is everywhere and is made up of the very men who will do anything for a piece of the ‘evil’ and ‘sick’ action,

Loss and Longing

The Inheritance of Loss has a minimal plot. The narrative is set at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas. It is 1986 when the story opens with a robbery by young insurgents, who force their way into a retired judge’s decrepit colonial mansion and steal his hunting rifles in the presence of the judge, his seventeen-year-old granddaughter Sai, his cook, and his purebred dog Mutt.

Looking for Lost Horizons

Some excellent writing has emerged from the Pakistani Diaspora in recent years. Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India is probably the best known. Woven around the theme of Partition it was widely acclaimed through a series of literary prizes. Deepa Mehta made it into a film called Earth. Sidhwa’s latest book, An American Brat, was published in 1993. Sara Suleri is another Pakistani-American woman writer – a fine novelist and a versatile literary critic. Meatless Days (1990),

Faiz in English Original

The mere mention of the name Faiz Ahmed Faiz evokes a warm adulation, as much in the highbrow scholarly critic as in the mind of the common reader, not restricted to the Urdu world. Faiz became in fact a legendry figure in his own life time, an icon to reckon with. When Sheema Majeed, in her “Editor’s Note” in the book, Culture and Identity, refers to him as a “metaphor of his age”, she directs one’s attention to the gradual unfolding of different aspects of the spirit of the times presented in Faiz’s English writings.

Meaningful Verse

The title of the book itself indicates the motivation behind it, viz. a celebration of Progressive Urdu poetry. The authors, Ali Hasan Mir and Raza Mir set out to “reclaim the legacy of the progressive poets in an age when their words, insights, and politics continue to be relevant”. They discuss the work of poets like Josh, Kaifi Azmi and Ali Sardar Jaffri who had written about exploitation, oppression, resistance and revolution in general and in particular about the struggle first against colonialism and imperialism and then against the Indian nation state, which they deemed to be hand in glove with the imperialists.

An Enigmatic Work

The first time I heard about Professor Lipner’s intentions of re- translating the Anandamath was at a symposium organized by The Book Review Literary Trust, New Delhi, sometime in March-April 2003. Both Professor Lipner and this reviewer had spoken on that occasion, albeit for different lengths of time and with unequal authority. Now whereas Lipner appears to have no memories of that occasion (he does not mention it in his Preface), some of us present at the time still vividly recall the eagerness and enthusiasm with which he approached the project.

Print Culture

Agrowing number of studies in recent Indian historiography have paid close attention to the role played by print in shaping the contours of modern India. Earlier, the imprecise and unsatisfactory term ‘print culture’ was often invoked to stand in for a perspective in which print was employed as some kind of a wide-angle lens, whose panoptic sweep and scope often obscured—or even misrepresented—the smaller picture.

Lived and Living Agonies

Kamlaben Patel’s Partition memoir, Mool Sotan Ukhdelan, the translator’s note tells us, is considered as a neglected classic in Gujarati. How much more creditable it is, then, to redeem it from the neglect of its original location, and make it available in English translation — Torn from the Roots! Because, given the sheer tide of Partition things in which we are drowning, after the silence of half a century, it isn’t easy for something to stand out. And yet, this modest memoir does.

Reliving Moments that Mattered

There are a few things that Alok Bhalla wants to prove in this collection of dialogues with Partition authors Indian and Paki- stani. He asserts that undivided India had a vibrant composite culture where communities intermingled freely. It was destroyed by the entry of religious politics. Though tensions did exist, no one could dream that violence would reach the level of genocide. Zamindars and the Muslim bureaucrats were the main supporters of Partition, the ordinary man mostly a victim of events that spun out of control.

Resistance and Rasa in Pakistan

Although the subtitle of the book places its subject squarely within Pakistan, I should like to start with two events, separated by nearly two decades, which took place in India. In 1989, the Sangeet Natak Akademi organized a theatre festival in New Delhi to celebrate Nehru’s Birth Centenary. The uniqueness of the event lay in the fact that it was designed as a ‘Retrospective’ of Post-Independence theatre: personalities whom the Akademi had identified as builders of modern Indian theatre –most of whom were alive at that time—were invited to revive (where necessary) and present their most favourite or influential creation. The participants ranged from Utpal Dutt and Habib Tanveer to the young Ratan Thiyam.

Myriad Forms of Aggression

Women experience violence in myriad forms and changing political, social and economic structures have a deep impact in the way violence against women reconstitutes itself. Such violence brings forth complex realities and permeates all categories of women though the nature of violence would differ between different groups, classes and in different times. In the post-emergency period the focus of the discourse on violence against women was on concerns such as custodial rape and marital violence that was primarily linked to dowry. This gave rise to a series of legislations in this area.