Girdhar Rathi is an important Hindi critic, editor, translator, poet and litterateur. He has been the editor of the Sahitya Akademi’s journal Samkaleen Bharatiya Sahitya since 1991, which he has edited with zest and flair. Antastha, the book being reviewed, comprises essays and occasional pieces that he wrote variously between 1977 and 2001.
Every successive gender-ratio study reveals the depressing fact that the Indian girl child is well on the way to becoming an extinct variant of the species. So it is heartening to hear her voice through this set of tales edited by Monica Das, who in her introduction sets out the chilling figures which form the painful backdrop to these stories:
Mrinal covered five states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. And often we feel that we are walking alongside. Her introduction begins thus: “Imagine a spectrum, at one end of which is a mud and straw hut in Rajasthan, where an under-nourished, anaemic nineteen year old mother of three is expecting her fourth child.
Constitutionalism and gender justice in South Asia is underwritten by the colonial legacy of each of the countries in this region, that put in place plural legal systems ensuring the troubled coexistence of religious with secular/public laws, each with its own institutional apparatuses.
Published in 2005, the book under review is an eclectic collection of papers with contributions by prominent law teachers and sociologists covering broad areas including ‘Functioning of the Legal System’, ‘Legal Profession’, ‘Law and Religious Identity’, ‘Law and the Disadvantaged Groups’, ‘Societal Role of Judiciary’ and ‘Law and Social Change’.
Spirituality, unlike religion with its collective proscriptions, connotes an essentially free, solitary state, immaculate in being beyond belief, expression and morality. Neither of the two books under review entirely avoid the trap of endorsing the popular belief that the Himalaya and Ganga are suitable symbols of the spiritual state because of their majestic and aloof grandeur.
Zindapir, so called because he was still alive when he was respected as a Sufi master, makes an unusual case study for anthropologist Pnina Werbner. Since so much is written about the Talibanization of the ranks of the Pakistan army, it should not be so surprising that other Islamic trends grew from there too.
The first impression of this book – the title, the cover, colored plates, diagrams and illustrations – is fascinating. It is a description of the private lives of the Mughal emperors but only of a few i.e. Akbar to Shahjahan, with a line or two on Aurangzeb. Although Nath promises to tell us a story for the period 1526-1803, there are rarely any references to the period subsequent to the reign of Shahjahan.