The Bengali word ‘Adda’ when translated as ‘gossip’ slips from a middle class ‘baithak khaana’ and enters into a parlour, club or salon. In the ‘baithak khaana’, ‘adda’ comprises passionate exchanges (the topics may include anything from political, cultural, linguistic to gastronomical), and is, first and foremost, a social speech-act that requires a performance of words-orally. ‘Adda’ relies on a communal appreciation of arguments as spoken words, often deploys sarcasm and laughter, and is solely dependent on the ‘delivery’ of an orator.
If we are to see and analyse the agency of an untouchable in its struggles against British imperialism and against Brahmanism, a lot more needs to be done towards documenting the same and in exposing this ‘twin enemy’ of the people in general and of Dalits in particular. Over the years, there has been spate of some very serious scholarly work that documents Dalit struggles against Brahmanism and the political assertion of their movement as a whole.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge…. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance…. Tryst With Destiny, J. Nehru.
The Meaning of Civilization: Essays on Culture, Religion and Politics is a compilation of opinion pieces by Naguib Mahfouz, first published between 1974 and 1981. Written originally as a concise commentary on current affairs for the daily Al Ahram, bearing the title wijhat or ‘point of view’, they cover a range of subjects contiguous to the nature, culture and politics of religion, education, nationalism, popular culture and the bureaucracy in Egypt.
Victor Mallet is the latest in a string of visitors over the centuries who have evocatively recorded their fascination for the Ganges: from Xuanzang, in the 7th century, who was in raptures of its waters, ‘dark blue in colour with great waves rising’; J.A. Hodgson, the first outsider to reach the Gaumukh glacier, who saluted with a bugle march the first appearance of the great river…
“Scores of studies exist on caste groups,” Mushirul Hasan wrote recently, “but not on the Muslims.” For reasons beyond this review, over the past half century, social sciences in India have sported a blind spot that may be called the Case of the Missing Muslim.
A serious enquiry into the psychology of communal violence, this anthology brings together essays, editorials, surveys, articles, opinions, documents and reports. The book transcends its stated goal of providing the future generations with a great deal of information and its usefulness to policy makers to question the contentious issues of ‘secularism’, ‘nation’, ‘identity,’ and ‘community’ through a polyphony of voices.
Religion is not about love and compassion only. It is also about exclusion, hatred and violence. Being a total narrative, religion gives meaning to existential and societal concerns of the believers.
Paul Brass stands next only to the late Myron Weiner and the Rudolphs (Lloyd and Susan) in the pantheon of American political scientists who have made it their lifelong business to understand Indian democracy.
Those of us who regularly pursue the contents of Religion may recall the sparkling essay that appeared roughly two years back from the author of this monograph on broadly the same theme.
The history of the book, or book history, as it is beginning to be called now, has for long been the preserve of bibliographers and antiquarians. This has been especially so in India. Looking at books from a narrow and often bibliophilic, if not bibliomaniac, perspective they were more often than not most concerned with debates no more exciting than who printed the first book, which press came first, the role of Christian missionaries, who contributed more to such-and-such language printing, etc.
The British established their Indian Raj by various means including the sword but undoubtedly they secured it with modern means of communication. Ruling India from distant London was a difficult and complex affair in which the press came to play a critical role specially from the mid-nineteenth century.
Himanshu Prabha Ray’s The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia makes a convincing case for the need to abandon an insular view of ancient India. Viewing the subcontinent within the larger world of the Indian Ocean, it replaces the usual episodic view of trade by a nuanced long-term narrative that stretches from the third millennium BC to the fifth century AD.
Thank God for Michael Gottlob, who has put together a book we have felt the lack of for many years, and done nothing about. Here is two hundred years (1786-1993) of ‘the development of historical consciousness in South Asia’—from William Jones to Ramachandra Guha. This is the translation of what was part of an 8-volume series, in German, on “historical thinking in intercultural comparison”.
For the best part of the decades after World War II, the social sciences and the humanities have been marked by debates that can be best described as mediations on the ‘encounter’ between the West and the non-West, the First and Third Worlds, of which Franz Fanon’s 1960’s writings were but the beginning. Since then the writings of Edward Said, and the refractions through poststructuralism and postcolonialism have produced a large body of writing in the academia. There are scholars from the West who have complicated this discourse.
As the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhis prepares to test his (and the family’s) popularity in the marketplace of the great Indian elections, attention will turn, once again, to the legacy of the dynasty and, more specifically, its most famous representative, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sayeed and Janet seem to be an unlikely couple to write a cook book. Sayeed is a thinking administrator and Janet is a genuine intellectual who has written seminal books on Ladakh. At the same time Sayeed is a gourmet and Janet is the type of cook whom gourmets dream of and the lucky ones marry. On second thought, therefore, this book is no surprise.
Old soldiers like Monty Palit do not fade away. They become prolific writers and lead active lives, both physically and mentally, after retirement. Several of Palit’s books like Essentials of Military Knowledge have sold well, and I believe that his War in High Himalaya: The Indian Army in Crisis, 1962 is probably the best book written about the Sino-Indian border conflict.
Autobiography and memoir—are they the same? In the subtitle the book is an autobiography, in the author’s preface it is “a memoir”. If you go by the COD, an autobiography is the story writing of one’s own life. But a memoir is just a record of events or history written from personal knowledge or special sources of information. It is only memoirs that become synonymous with (auto) biography.
These two well illustrated slim books on the living cultural heritage of India are easy to handle and priced modestly. Asha Rani Mathur writes with felicity. In her book on the Indian Shawls she covers some of the major shawl making areas.