A renewed discussion over the histories of the Princely States in Colonial India has brought many interesting themes to the fore for some time now. While it is difficult to ascertain whether the subject itself has arrived in the mainstream of Indian historiography, it is safe to assume that due to the sustained work of some scholars it has taken a step out of the margins.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands for all their remoteness have nevertheless been the subject of a number of books. Among the classics in ethnography is the study of the tribes of the islands by Radcliffe Brown and as ethnographical studies go it has yet to be replaced.
The killing of Mallojula Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishenji, at the hands of counterinsurgency security forces in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district may be a setback to the Maoist movement but it gives no cause to rejoice… Over and above being a threat to security, the Maoist insurgency is a political question that needs political an-swers… His killing deprives the Maoist move-ment of a leader, but not the causes that sustain it.
Let me admit that I began reading this book from a position of considerable ignorance. As a political journalist, I have only followed environment movements from a hazy distance. What I do understand is politics, and a decade spent covering the emer-gence and consolidation of the Hindu right has convinced me that electoral success (or defeat) is just a small part of the larger project of the saffron forces.
This is an excellent book, one which should be on the list of anybody interested in the question of the origins of the Mahayana. Studies of this issue have come a long way since 1907 when D.T. Suzuki, in his Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (1907) started with a set of premises about what the Mahayana should be and then tried to read back into the past from that to find its origins.
Othappu does not exactly mean ‘The Scent of the Other Side’, as readers may tend to think, looking at the subtitle! It is a word to be found in the Malayalam Catholic Bible meaning ‘to stumble’ or ‘to falter’ from the straight way of the faith and to turn to evil ways (p. xx).