Risk has come to dominate individual and collective consciousness in the twenty-first century. Although global insecurity has been created by terrorism, pollution, global epidemics, and famine risks involved in aspects of everyday life such as food, sunlight and travel have become major preoccupations.
The Ugliness of the Indian Male is an uneven collection of assorted essays—journalistic and academic—written by Mukul Kesavan from time to time. A trained historian, an avid reader, cinema and cricket connoisseur and political commentator, Mukul Kesavan’s essays bear an imprint of his varied interest.
Roughly 2500 years ago, there lived a man called Socrates, who maintained that a life not examined was a life not worth living. Tragically, for that very reason, he was put to death by being forced by the Athenian state to drink hemlock. Closer home, in the first seventy-odd years of the twentieth century, lived a Socratic figure, called Periyar E.V. Ramaswami, who suffered a fate worse than state-sponsored murder.
Martin Macwan’s Mari Katha is the tale of not just one individual, the author, as the title, “My Story”, would lead one to believe, but that of an entire community—the dalits of rural Gujarat. The book is based on Macwan’s personal experiences with the dalit community. A number of dalit people contributed to this work by reading its drafts and offering suggestions, which were incorporated by Macwan, who gratefully acknowledges their efforts.
Gujarat has become a byword used casually for the way the historical state has slowly been turning into History. The Kandala tornado, the droughts, the earthquake, the Godhra carnage and the subsequent riots, have made ‘Gujarat’ into a political headline that drowns other voices.
The issue of disability as a field of academic study as well as a ground for activism is gaining prominence not only the world over but in India too. The recognition of disability as a rights issue in India emerged as significant when the Persons With Disabilities Act was passed in 1995. Another instance was when the disabled demanded that they be included in the Census 2001.
This is a tensely argued book, which was submitted perhaps a decade ago in Cambridge, as a doctoral thesis. I have heard interesting snippets of it at seminars, at Teen Murti Library (NMML) and the Institute of Economic Growth since 1995 or so, and have been waiting for it to be in print for many years.