Ever since the collapse of socialism in East Europe and the Soviet Union the political project of Marxism has been seriously questioned. A spate of philosophies and social movements has arisen casting doubt about the relevance of Marxist theories for understanding contemporary problems.
This volume, the jacket flap tells us, is the latest in a series devoted to ‘book history in India’, the subtitle of this edited work. One expects a chronological account of the history of book production and then one realizes that this is not a history of the book in India but book history in India—a capacious category.
In the Western intellectual tradition, virtue is a commonly used euphemism for political inequality. In a different age, writing against the practices of democratic Athens, Plato argued that only the philosophers, with their monopoly of intellectual virtue and concomitant to that, their moral virtue, were entitled to rule.
Of only a very few books can it be said that they are truly path-breaking. The Myth of 1648 is one of them and is a deserved co-recipient of the prestigious Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize for 2003. The 1648 Westphalian Settlement of the Thirty Years War in Europe between the major Absolutist states is conventionally viewed in the disciplines of macro-history and International Relations (IR) as the inaugurating moment of the modern geopolitical order of sovereign, competing states.
Here is a man who seems to be sure what memoirs are about. Memoirs are to preserve some memories—and to erase some. It is all about presenting the narrator to history. That is one of the reasons this work is of absorbing interest and also why one should read it with caution.
Looking at ‘India’ from the long-drawn historical point of view, it is a country (and an idea as well) that has primarily grown by accretion. The inclusion and subsequent exclusion of Burma both were peripheral colonial acts. The Partition of India in 1947 was significantly different inasmuch as it was made by the peoples of India as much as by the colonial power. Before the country was divided, the peoples of India had become divided through their own numerous acts of commission and omission.
Visalakshi Menon has given us a fascinating story of a political party at the crossroads. Having spearheaded an anti-imperialist movement and had its cadres languish in colonial jails, it debates whether to assume office and eventually forms governments in eight provinces of British India.
This collection of lectures organized by the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, two years ago to reassess the relevance of Jawaharlal Nehru of the modern world makes pleasant reading. The writers are all well-known experts on politics, foreign policy, national security and modern Indian history.