Defining a region, particularly South Asia, is a difficult academic exercise. South Asia shares a common geographical space, though given that regional trade constitutes just about 5 per cent of the total trade flows the intensity of interaction can be questioned.
Despite the significant achievements in poverty reduction made by the South Asian countries, the region remains home to over 40 per cent of the developing world’s total poor. More than 570 million people survive on less than US$1.25 a day and over 60 per cent live without adequate sanitation. To compound the challenges of population growth and poverty, environmental degradation and climate change, South Asia has also been exposed to increased frequency of natural disasters, which is undermining the sub-region’s economic performance. With a rising interest in the role of public policy and the role of the state in the developmental process, Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia is a welcome addition to the development studies literature.
British Army General J.F.C. Fuller, architect of the great tank battle at Cambrai, described the cities as impregnable in conventional wars. Tanks could never enter the narrow streets of the built up areas and should they succeed and move deep, it was easy to cut their supply line by the defending forces.
Unresolved territorial disputes with neighbours have been a major part of India’s life since Independence. Nearly seventy years after the great Partition and many wars, India is struggling to find a solution to the Kashmir question with Pakistan. Although Delhi took a big step towards cleaning up the boundary with Bangladesh in 2011 it is finding it hard to get it approved in the Parliament.
The ‘Eelam War IV’ that came to an end in May 2009, claimed thousands of lives: over 20,000 civilians perished, and about 6500 troops and 15,000 Tigers killed. This does not include thousands of injured in all the three categories.
As clearly expressed in the introduction, Tibet: An Unfinished Story attempts to present the ‘story of two Tibets: one the Tibet of discovery and aspiration; and the other, a Tibet buffeted by powerful Cold War currents and treachery denied the independence gained by others’ (p. 3). Undoubtedly, the authors, Lezlee Brown Halper and Stefan Halper have done an excellent job as far as the presentation of the two stories are concerned.
Reviews of books about an adversary army can sometimes be misleading and biased. Strongly resisting that temptation I read Christine Fair’s 347 page long book with increasing fascination and also discussed it once in a session at CLAWS with Christine Fair herself in the panel of speakers.
Emerging China: Prospects for Partnership in Asia analyses and assesses the rise of China and its impact on Asia’s politics and economy, from the perspective of scholars from various countries—especially India. The book is, accordingly, divided into three sections—Asian Multilateralism, Engaging China, and China-India Equations.
Shishir Gupta says clearly at the beginning that the ‘book is not about China but its policies and mindset towards India as perceived by the top Indian leadership, political parties and the public’ (p. xi). Within this framework he tries to give an organized picture of the ebb and flow of Sino-Indian relations during the UPA regime.
Here is a public figure who was the subject of unbridled encomiums and equally intemperate condemnation, who was at the epicenter of the intensely convoluted politics of the space and time she inhabited, around whom a country’s full-fledged intelligence apparatus claimed to have a ‘rock-solid’ case implicating her and a large network of associated political personalities in a foreign-sponsored conspiracy to foment a coup.
These lines perfectly sum up the lives of two people that played an important role in the improvement of the status of women—Rashid Jahan and her father Shaikh Abdullah or Papa Miyan as he was fondly remembered, by generations of women.
A call by the police on Valentine’s Day in 1989 alerts the British-Indian author that his life is in danger due to a fatwa declared on him by the dying Ayatollah Khomeini over his ‘blasphemous’ novel The Satanic Verses. He takes on the alias Joseph Anton (after Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov), goes into hiding under protection of the British Secret Service…
Like its subject, this is a book that will stir strong feelings. It is not a dry, objective examination of its subject. It is a polemic, deeply felt and passionately argued, a diatribe against the assumptions which underpinned the war on terror in the UK and US and a denunciation of the tactics with which it was fought.
Mirabehn herself was deeply implicated in Quit India. Early in the summer of 1942, she had taken Gandhi’s draft for a Quit India resolution to the Congress Working Committee, which was meeting in Allahabad. At Gandhi’s instance, Mirabehn had also informed Sir Gilbert Laithwaite, the Viceroy’s secretary, of his intentions.
At first glance, the book resembles those old classics retold, with its dark green cover and title in a narrow black box. But the dimensions and the picture on the cover make it different. The tagline suggests it is part of a series. This bodes well because we don’t have too many good series for young readers.
Duckbill Books’ Not Our War (NOW) series is just what Indian young adults need. The series, in the publisher’s words, ‘deals with children growing up in times of conflict—powerless, vulnerable, and yet, against all odds, brave and hopeful of a better future’.
‘My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’ A usual middle school life has fights, punches, suspensions, bullying, name-calling, dating, pranks—but when August Pullman a boy who loves ice cream and plays Xbox like any other kid goes to school, we see the true colours of children.
Writing about the future can be fraught. It is deceptively simple to conjure up futuristic fantasies, simply linear progressions of events today. But there is a very real danger of over-reaching—of creating scenarios that just become unbelievable. Ruchi Banerjee seems to have reined in her imagination at just the right time in her novel Infinitude.
Why do crocodiles have stones in their bellies? Do you know how long they have been around on earth? Here’s a hint—an ancestor of the crocodile was so large that it ate dinosaurs! A gross but effective method of self-defence—a turkey vulture defends itself by bringing forth foul smelling vomit of a semi-digested meal.
Bad Influence is one of those books that you don’t have much faith in, when you pick it up—but once you’ve gotten past the first five pages, suddenly you’re invested in the characters and the story to such a point that you desperately need to find out what happens next, even if you have a fair idea. And that, in truth, is the book’s real success.