This volume edited by Uwe Skoda and Birgit Lettmann is a significant contribution to understanding the visual media. It moves away from the approach taken by Gayatri Sinha in a previous book published in 2009 called Art and Visual Culture in India, 1857-2007 which primarily located visual culture within art and art history. Skoda and Lettmann’s edited volume…
Three great sitarists blossoming in the second half of the last century—Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan and Nikhil Banerjee—enriched our instrumental music tradition decisively. Their personalities, largely shaped by their background and upbringing, were very different, as was their impact on the public psyche, at national and international levels. But for his untimely death, Nikhil Banerjee would have also had a much wider audience and perhaps been as acclaimed as the other two.
The Kashmir conflict, since the beginning, has posed many challenges to the Indian state and the narrative it propounds. Even though experts and academics have often tried to focus on the security dimension of the conflict, the failure to link governance with conflict has not received much attention. It is taken as a given that governance will take a lead once the security dimensions are resolved. Security gets prominence over governance then.
This volume is a slightly rushed attempt at collecting the findings about the lynching, hate crimes and rise of cow vigilantes that have stormed the news in India over the last few years. It details the violence that has surged against Muslims, Dalits and other lower castes. While doing so, many writers take pains to establish the even more vulnerable position of women, children and the aged belonging to these backgrounds and families.
Emergency Chronicles fills a void among the available scholarly works covering the period of what was an ‘aberration’ in Indian politics. In this riveting work of impressive archival research, Gyan Prakash lifts the curtain from the evolutionary sequencing of events leading to June 1975—the day Emergency came into force—and uncovers the everyday governing apparatus of a then proto fascist—if not a full blown fascist-government…
Party politics in India has often been characterized by observers as being patronage-based, chaotic and opportunistic, driven largely by interests of office seeking politicians rather than ideology. This in turn is assumed to have led to corruption, rent-seeking and clientelistic behaviour rather than broad-based programmatic delivery of public goods. Literature also refers to Indian politicians adopting particularistic appeals based on voters’ identity such as caste…
The historian Ramchandra Guha had once observed that two of the things that keep India together are cricket and Bollywood. If one were to think of a third unifying element it would undoubtedly be the national election. However, despite its pan-India appeal and its consistency in attracting wide public participation, it is surprising that the national election in India has not received the kind of nuanced attention that it deserves.
The book under review may appear as an ambitious project. What the authors attempt to address here is the complex puzzle of Indian democracy through their multi-modal enquiries into questions of gender and representation. True to their ambitions, these worthwhile attempts have led to a distinct contribution to the contemporary debates on gender and politics in India and elsewhere.
The suffrage movement marks a watershed in the history of women’s movements and continues to inspire feminist contestations across the world. However, all forms of delineations and depictions on the suffrage movement, whether in academia or popular culture, exclusively focus on the role and struggles of the women in the West. In her extensively researched work, Indian Suffragettes…
Way back in 1985, I got a call from an agitated lawyer friend. He wanted me to mobilize opinion against the newly passed Administrative Tribunals Act, which took away the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts over service disputes of public servants, and vested it in administrative tribunals. The power of constitutional courts was being handed over to statutory tribunals, which did not even need to have judicial members on the bench.
Rehman’s book aims to document the landmark event of the Kangla protest, as well as its political and personal aftermath, through the voices of the twelve Manipuri women who took part in it. It is true that the twelve activists, otherwise known as the twelve imas (meaning ‘mothers’ in the Manipuri language), have spoken numerous times and at length to journalists, researchers and scholars about their experiences in the years following 2004.
Ambalika Guha has produced an excellent study on the powerful interplay between colonialism, nationalism, modernity, medicine and midwifery in colonial Bengal (c. 1860-1947). Unlike the dominant scholarship in the field, Guha emphasizes the roles that both male and female doctors, and not female doctors alone, played at the pedagogic and interventionist levels respectively in the development of midwifery and obstetrics in Bengal…
Asar-us-Sanadid, variously translated as ‘The Remnant Signs of Ancient Heroes’, ‘Vestiges of the Past’ or ‘Traces of the Notables’, is a book on pre-1857 Delhi, its main buildings, monuments and people, written by Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Two versions of the book were published, one in 1847, and the second in 1854. A third version was perhaps in the works, but for the Uprising. Asar-us-Sanadid, today, is a canonical text, but even when it was published it was considered most impressive for its contribution to the knowledge of the history and archaeology of Delhi.
Empress :The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan comes after a host of other works by Ruby Lal on themes such as domesticity, women’s writing, harem, imperial household and so on in pre-colonial South Asia. Her previous book, Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World (2005) opened up new vistas of looking at the Mughal harem, domestic space, and the feminine world, through the prism of power.
Taberez Neyazi’s new book is a welcome addition to the literature on India’s rapidly changing world of media by one of its most enterprising scholars of communication. Centred around Neyazi’s PhD thesis submitted to the National University of Singapore in 2009, the book stretches well beyond the confines of a thesis to suggest how media have played a ‘catalytic role as mobilising agents in the ongoing democratic transformation of India’ (p. 4).
The collected writings of MK Gandhi stretch over a 100 volumes. Prolific even for prolific writers, but for someone so politically active, this is not just phenomenal but incredibly so. Further, there are as many and more volumes about Gandhi’s life and thought, nor does there seem to be an immediate end to the discussion, debate and appropriation that Gandhi is subject to.
Like a skilled gem cutter, Nabendu Ghosh in his short story collection That Bird Called Happiness: Stories facets and cuts that universal yet complex emotion called Love until it sparkles with brilliance, throwing a different light in each of the stories.
Wars come and wars go. Some die, some survive. The dead are supposed to be mourned and the survivors expected to move on. Wars are routine affairs in, as we habitually say, the post-1945 world. By their very banality, wars compel us to treat them as such. The force of banality is so tremendous that we are tuned and sometimes choose not to see it all.
How do you write about violence without being didactic or banal? Living as we are today in a world spiralling into deeper gyres of conflict, how do you represent the slow unravelling of the self fronted with pain and loss beyond control, beyond comprehension, beyond understanding? Bombarded with a constant battery of sound and image, of urgent words tearing across our networked minds, it is increasingly difficult to sustain interest—to say nothing of outrage.
Benares or Kashi or Varanasi is a revered place in Hindu religion. A city located on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, it is regarded as the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism. Hindus believe that death in the city brings salvation for the soul, thereby making the city a major pilgrimage centre. Of particular note in the city are its ghats, where various religious ceremonies take place.