Any serious student of Indian federalism must be aware that if Indian federa-lism has been the key to holding this very complex and culturally diverse country together in conditions of democracy over the last half a century-a remarkable record of nation and state building in sharp contrast to the former USSR and many countries in the non-western world-the method that has informed the process of federation building (and re-building) in India has remained what is known as ‘reorganisation of States’.
Whatever generalization you make about India, the reverse of it is equally true.
Ashok Mitra’s collection of sixty essays, published as column pieces in The Telegraph between 2009 and 2011, are self-confessedly quite disparate. The essay ‘A Country, Not a Nation’, however, gives an overall picture of the message that this book attempts to convey.
The Battle for Employment Guarantee is a collection of seminal articles that trace the genesis of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA), evaluate its implemen-tation, and provide a commentary on the extent to which the Act has been successful in fulfilling the entitlements that it was required to guarantee and uphold.
Divided into three parts, the twelve essays in this volume collectively emerge as a critique to the linear and often instrumentalist ‘developmental’ as well as ‘methodological’ perspective(s) of western modernity and its overwhelming hegemony across the Third World countries.
People are raising their voice against in-justice and inequity in every corner of the world. They occupy Wall Street in the US, they collect in Tahrir Square in Egypt and they also protest in several small villages in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.
The problem of scientists functioning in a non-rational culture, with consequences to their own personalities and to their work, is not a new one. Newton studied trigonometry and geometry to help him solve riddles of alchemy and astrology and Halley, the first secretary of the Royal Society, admiring a calico shirt imported from India.
This is a work that is as interesting as it is informative. It is interesting on account of the several nuances that it is able to reveal pertaining to the Hindu ascetic tradition. Some of the information available here, as the author rightly claims, may be little known to the world outside maths and akhadas; on the other hand, there are also disclosures that might take the unsuspecting reader by surprise.