With the publication of Midnight’s Children in 1981 Indian Writing in English was finally said to have come of age. Such proclamations notwithstanding, even a quarter of a century after Rushdie’s magnum opus Indian writers in English continue to be assailed with questions such as whether they are being authentic to their culture or commodifying it for the benefit of foreign publishers, markets, and readership.
Fiction written in the past affords us authentic glimpses of that era and also an insight into the social psyche of different groups of persons of that period through imagined characters. The poor plight of Indian women and lower classes was a strong theme in British colonial propaganda to legitimize its presence in India.
About five decades ago, Louis Dumont (1911-1998) a French scholar of international repute, set the tone and tenor of the academic discourse in anthropology and sociology about the nature of Indian society. Dumont was a ‘pupil’ of Marcel Mauss; and he learnt Sanskrit when he was imprisoned in Hamburg during the Second World War.
The politics of Tamil Nadu has been pioneering in many ways. The non-brahmin movement which is now more than eighty years old is often considered as the forerunner of social justice in India. The Dravidian movement’s empowerment however has left the dalits who constitute 19 percent of the population untouched.
The book under review is a comprehensive exploration of the lives of artisans in early modern Rajasthan and associated complexities. An intricate web of relationships among a highly heterogeneous community/class called ‘artisans’ in the ever-changing dynamics of early modern Period in Rajasthan has been successfully nuanced.
The authors should be commended for producing what will now be a compulsory text for all those interested in a serious academic discussion on human security, especially as it connects to debates and theories in International Relations (IR). That this book has been brought out as part of Routledge’s prestigious series on ‘Advances in International Relations and Global Politics’ is already confirmation of this status.
This is a timely book on an important issue that is centre-stage since the 2001 census, namely the disappearance of baby girls. The female male ratio (FMR) in the world —that is the number of females per thousand males—is 9901 . Western Europe has a figure of 1,064 females per thousand males and Africa, 1,015.
Once in a rare while, an academic reviewer gets to write about a book that is exciting, analytically sound, densely researched, thoroughly useful, wideranging, and yet focused. Meera Kosambi’s Crossing Thresholds: Feminist Essays in Social History is just such a book.