Dr. Frederique-Apffel Marglin is a Pro¬fessor of Anthropology at Smith College, Massachussets and her book Wives of the God King is an important work of careful scholarship and penetrating insight into those shadowy regions of Hinduism that include the Devadasis of the temples of Orissa.
The present volume is a collection of some papers presented at the Symposia of the Tenth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences held at New Delhi in 1978. The papers in the book are organized to cover broad themes related to women with the title being reflective of the need to focus on these immediate concerns of women—‘visibility and power’.
In recent years there has been a marked shift in the terrain of discourse on India’s industrial performance. Attention has shifted from structural constraints and the underlying micro-economic relation¬ships to questions of efficiency and gov¬ernment policy. The shift is not altogether, unwarranted, provided efficiency is inter¬preted dynamically in terms of growth, since government policy is often the decisive factor governing industrial performance under all modern economic systems.
For many sensitive minds India has fallen on bad days within forty years of its independence. This crisis is the grist for Saberwal and Thapar who have put in book format a number of sub-themes they have previously written or talked about at various fora.
Shourie is the archetypal critic, cast in the mould of the 13th century Tamil savant, Seethalai Nayanar, literally “the pusshead saint”. This sobriquet he earn¬ed from his forehead being a permanently festering sore because of his habit of striking it with his stylo in exasperation over the illiterate idiocies of those around him. In his odd mixture of passion and reason, precision and prolixity, Shourie is in the robust tradition of polemicists of some centuries ago—Milton in his Latin tracts and the followers of Vedanta Desika and Appaiya Dikshitar in the South.
The Children’s Book Trust just having completed 25 years of publication has always been striving to bring out books which would appeal to children of different ages with varied interests and have succeeded to a large extent. The three books under review were Adventures on Golden Lake. Revenge and The Lure of a Zangrila. All three are fast-paced and exciting, gripping the reader’s attention and holding it.
There are very few books concerned with science or science fiction published in India that would interest children in the 12 + age group. CBT has endeavoured to and has been successful to a certain extent in this respect.
Indira Priyadarshini, Alaka Shankar’s eminently readable book, rich in bio¬graphical and historical detail, laced with ancedotes, is essentially the story of a girl by that name and how she grew from child to woman.
Shy, gawky and afraid of the dark as a little girl. Self-righteous and confident during her ‘Vanar Sena’ days. Elegant and poised as a bride. A beautiful, caring mother, full of games, puzzles and stories. A shrewd, tough politician and a doting grandmother. That was Indira Gandhi declared in 1977 according to a special gallup poll in America, as ‘the most admired person in the world’.
The Dragon Kingdom is basically a nar¬ration of the author’s impressions of Bhutan formed during his travels in 1961 as a part of the mission sent to explore the terrain and define the possible para¬meters of communications and Bhutan’s security coverage. The book briefly men¬tions the purpose of this visit.
Bharathi Shivaji’s book The Art of Mohiniyattam is a practitioner’s rich tribute to this art form. Contrary to Shanta Rao’s apprehension (as echoed in the preface) about the inadequacy of words vis-a-vis gestures and movements on stage, to delineate the technique of dance, this book represents a meeting-ground for literature and art, where articulation is wholesomely supplement¬ed by photographic and grahic illustra¬tions to enable even the lay reader apprehend the rich nuances of this dance form.
Aakaasa Veeduhal, (Homes in Heaven) is the latest novel by Vasanthi, one of the leading women writers in Tamil today. Translated into English by Dr Gomathi Narayanan, it has been selected by the UNESCO for inclusion in their collec¬tion of representative works.
Is there such a thing as a woman reader? Is it possible to say that women read differently from men? Or, for that matter, that women write differently from men? Or even that men write differently about women than they do about men? And if any, or all of these is/are the case, who is different, and how, and, as impor¬tant, why?
The Indian woman perhaps more than her sisters in other parts of the world is a fascinating creature. In spite of all the amazing odds against her, she emerges undefeated in spirit though often humbled in circumstance. Time and again we come across typical personalities—‘the eternal mother, the young urban working woman, the desperate survivor—a fraction of some we see when we look into each other’s eyes.
We have good novels and great ones. We have poetry that is good and poetry that is great. Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate is a masterpiece both as fiction and as verse, This simultaneous triumph will not come as a surprise to those who have read Seth’s engaging travelogue which appeared in 1983. From Heaven Lake marked the com-mencement of a creative journey, a journey of immense promise.
Krishna Chaitanya’s extenuation for adding yet another to the two thousand odd editions of the Gita in seventy five languages that he has himself counted is indicated in the title of the book itself. His is the Gita for the modern man. It is of some importance to note that the visualized reader is modern not in the condescending sense of someone who has little or no Sanskrit, which, alas, is only too true of most potential readers of this book
After centuries of hostility between Christendom and the Islamic world, a most heartening phenomenon has appear¬ed in the field of scholarship—the Christian missionary writing on Islam, not with a view to denigrate, but, to convey his understanding of the faith borne out of study and empathy. Wilfred Cantwell Smith is one such scholar, another is the Rev: Christian W. Troll, Professor of Islamics and Christian-Muslim Relations at Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious Studies in Delhi. He is also a regular Visiting Professor at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth in Pune.
In the ‘Summing Up’ chapter of his memoirs, Air Chief Marshal Lai perti¬nently remarks: ‘There are certain psy¬chological factors to consider … in a pilot’s job. An airman fights alone, the soldier and sailor alongside many others’. It is this circumstance that largely shapes the ethos, values and outlook of the combat cadres of the Air Force.
Eliza Fay is yet another welcome addition to Raj lore. For those familiar with the other diarists and memsahibs of note, Fanny Parks and Emily Eden who penned their journals in the 1820s and 30s, to the very latest in the genre, the diaries of April Swayne Johnson, Eliza Fay’s letters and journal come on like a breath of fresh air.
The historiography of British bureau¬cracy in India, more particularly of the Indian Civil Service, has been over-saturated by an aura of romantic mythology. This slender volume is a refreshing contrast making fun of the traditional make believe. It is admittedly a personal recollection of ‘anecdotes and descriptions’ of the author’s ‘experience as a Government officer in India during the decade before World War II…