How History is Read

The volume under review is the seventh in a series on modern Indian history, edited by well known historian Professor Bipan Chandra and two of his illustrious former students, Mridula and Aditya Mukherjee. Between them they represent what was once the unchallenged school of nationalist historiography and have acquired the formidable reputation of crusaders on behalf of that particular way of understanding modern Indian history.

Reading the Law Within Public Discourses

Ratna Kapur’s objective to outline a postcolonial feminist framework takes seriously, the emergence and legal regulation of what she terms the new sexual subaltern and of the new images of sex in contemporary Indian society. Telling the stories of law then is to interrogate the implication of law in the contemporary reformulations of culture and sexuality. Traversing many domains of law, different state agencies and the claims made by groups speaking on behalf of women or sexual subalterns, Kapur weaves a powerful argument to critique those manoeuvres that use cultural essentialism to inscribe sexual normativity while presenting culture as static and immutable.

Forays into Profanity and Profundity

In sharp contrast is Jitendra Bhatia’s Justjoo-e-nihaan Urf Rooniyabaas Ki Antarkatha. This novel is about an ordinary journalist, Chandraprakash Chaubey, who fails in his investigative assignment but seeks to find a fresh meaning for his otherwise irrelevant ignominious life—investigating into the truth of an Ojhal Baba (Invisible Godman) living in some ruins near Rooniyabaas village and reputed to possess divine powers.

The Other Stream

Critics, like Benedeto Croe, have not taken very kindly to translation that has in fact helped bridge language gaps. During the Raj the vernacular text was translated by the colonizers to tighten the noose around the native psyche. However, in the postcolonial era translation has become instrumental in discovering the spring of the Indian soul by enabling the thought perceptions expressed in one stream leap into the others

Fragile Anchors and Small Echoes

Eight fragile human figures, an equally fragile boat, the churning sea in the background – the stark matte black cover with a blue tinted black and white photograph of everyday beach life, fisherman hauling their catch – is a telling picture of this collection of Arun Prakash’s short stories. Written over thirty years (the first story of the collection was written in 1971, the last one in 2002) they are all about bringing to the fore the daily struggle of the ignored, the overworked, the marginalized.