Chapter 4, on page 99 of Zitzewitz’s book The Art of Secularism begins with a quote by painter Gulammohammed Sheikh where he says, ‘in one sense it is the communal situation that opened doors to understand the role of religion in life.
History always offers rich pickings and an edited volume of rigorous historical research seldom disappoints. Shifting Ground: People, Animals and Mobility in India’s Environmental History is an excellent example and one thing can certainly be said about it—that even though a little unevenly, it shifts ground very effectively.
This is a collection of forty-nine articles, transcripts of speeches and lectures by a former diplomat divided into seven sections of seven pieces each; seven to represent the sapta-chiranjeevi or seven immortal beings in the Hindu pantheon; each section carries a helpful subtitle, Hanuman as the first Indian diplomat to be sent abroad, Vibheeshana who stands for righteousness and so on.
The Indo-US relationship assumes importance in a multipolar world with shifting alliances—new partnerships are being formed, some are being renewed and others are breaking up. The US and India have never been as aligned as they are today.
Given the plethora of debates that have come up in the last few years on the stability of Pakistan, Pakistan: Making The Economy Move Forward, makes an attempt to address this key stability-instability paradox, by critically examining the strengths and faultlines of Pakistan’s economy.
Kaushik Roy takes a long view of the processes that have shaped the geo¬politics of Afghanistan, unlike most of its recently published military histories. In his words, this publication consists of a political and military narrative of Afghanistan’s conventional and unconven¬tional warfare spanning five centuries.
This book is based on the karkhanajat papers comprising roznama or roznamcha (daily ledgers), arhsatta (provide details on income and expenditure), siyah (lists details on the raw material in a karkhana), taujih jama kharch (gives details on raw material, the process of manufacturing and finished items, remarks on the wages and the operational techniques of the craftsmen) and rare documents available in the Town Hall Museum at Jaipur and the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner.
Amidst the resurgence of regional and local forces, the poets, performers, merchants and scribes found new and diverse sources of patronage, and as they travelled around in search of patrons and opportunities, they came in touch with, and interacted with new ideas and worldviews, creating in the process a hybrid and multilingual space.
This book’s review has been unduly delayed but it is fortuitous in a way as the main theme that the author dwells upon has become more relevant over the past year than in its year of publication.
In a lecture titled ‘What is a Nation?’, delivered in the late 19th century, the ideologue of the French Empire Ernest Renan laid out a survey of the bonds that weld a people together.
Travancore’s princely family governed this Siva temple and the four roads around it, which until the satyagraha’s substantial if partial success were open to caste Hindus, non-Hindus and animals, but not to Ezhavas and their ilk.
In 2002, when I took up a posting in London with the Indian High Commission, Ziauddin Sardar, already established as one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals, was one of the most interesting voices in the argument that overshadowed all others, on whether the West, led by the US with the UK in tow, should invade Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Peter Pannke, the author, a German from Cologne, stumbled across an L.P. re cording of dhrupad maestros Nasiruddin and Aminuddin Dagar made by the legendary Alain Danielou in the 1960s for UNESCO. Something about the music struck a chord, he was reminded of free-flowing blues and jazz vocalists.
n the Preface to his book, A Gathering of Friends, Ruskin Bond mentions his critics, the ones who have sometimes felt that his stories are less stories, more character sketches, for want of a plot. In his inimitable style, with gentle humour, he points out, that life doesn’t come with a plot. One can imagine him, glint in his eyes from the witticism, continuing tell the everyday tales of life, from the observable and plausible, to the fantastical. Bond has been an intrepid chronicler of life in the slow lane.
Land and its acquisition being a hot topic in the media today, this book comes as another reminder of the rights of those who originally owned the lands. As the author says, ‘For thousands of years the black people thrived in the jungles, walking barefoot, wearing a loincloth and eating fruits and leaves.
Ethnography can be defined as the systematic study of people and cultures—an exploration of cultural phenomena from the point of view of the subject of the study. By this definition, a large amount of literature that we read is indeed ethnographic and diverse, even though it may only be a documentation instead of a faithful and authentic representation.
The book appears at first glance to be undecided about its genre or raison d’être: is it a novel or an essay? Does it wish to tell a story or discuss/debate women’s issues? Being an award-winning book notwithstanding, this disconnect stays with the reader throughout the book.
Galpaguchha means a ‘Bunch of Stories’. And that’s the offering we have in hand here—a varied bouquet of short stories selected from Rabindranath Tagore’s distinguished collection, translated by Dipavali. Some of the flowers of this bunch are fragrant with an all-pervasive sweetness, while others border on the wild and even macabre. But all are thought-provoking portraits of life, tinged with the wisdom of human observation.
If Bhai (as Damodar Mauzo the Konkani writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner is fondly known in Goa) isn’t already in the canon of the great contemporary Indian short story writers, his nomination to the long list of the 25,000 Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize, one of the richest Short Story Collection prizes in the world, for Teresa’s Man and Other Stories from Goa, 2014 issued by Rupa, indicates that he’ll be arriving there quite soon.
Joothan: A Dalit’s Life has been reprinted in 2014 with an addition, ‘Remember ing Omprakash Valmiki’. This is the third reprint. The English translation of this originally Hindi book was first published by Columbia University Press at New York, as also by Samya at Kolkata in 2003. Omprakash Valmiki passed away in 2013, after fighting a two year battle with cancer.