If, as Salman Rushdie once said, to conquer English is to make ourselves free, then in Shame he has certainly shed all awkwardness, archaism and colonial constraint, and deser¬ves to inhabit the airy realm of freedom. Though it is witty, satirical, innovative, eminently readable, the novel is shackled by an inadequate political vision and brittle, insufficient fabulation that scarcely lives up to his own aspirations. For it would not be fair to ask it of Rushdie (how could we, in this age of dreary Indo-Anglian fiction) unless he seemed to be asking it of himself.
When the title of a book sounds so obviously limiting as the volume under review, one approaches it with hesi¬tation. What monsters of esotericism will one find here? And so it is a relief to discover that this book not only has a comprehensive introduction but also brief notes introdu¬cing each author which imme¬diately sets things in perspective.
George Steiner’s des¬cription of Granta as ‘a maga¬zine absolutely charged with life and risk’ —quoted on the inside cover—certainly fits this special issue. Devoted to recent fiction, this volume brings together twenty young British writers (all below forty), some of whom are already quite well known (Martin Amis, Shiva Naipaul, Salman Rushdie), and quite a few others who ought to be. Six of these twenty writers are women, five are born outside Britain (Ghana, Nigeria, Japan, India, Trinidad), and almost all are products of British universities.
The very title of Coetzee’s new book establishes it as an allegory within a certain tra¬dition and therefore raises certain expectations which are, however, quickly belied: Life and Times of Michael K has the strength of its own moral convictions and does not need to rely on Kafka for autho¬rity. The reference to K is therefore entirely gratuitous and one that Coetzee could have done without.
If for the moment we eschew the larger questions, Jonathan Culler’s critical biography of Barthes ought to be exemplary. Culler moves through the awk¬ward restrictions on style and length imposed by the Modern Masters Series with an ease all the more remarkable given a subject as mobile, contempo¬raneous, still warm as it were, from the fires of several con-troversies as Roland Barthes. Piquant summaries of the major projects provide a clearly signposted route for a quick journey through Barthesian country.
Authors are usually care¬fully revived from collective forgetfulness for ritual anniver¬saries. In that sense it is ironi¬cal to commemorate Marx, for he has never been forgotten in the first place. It is exactly a hundred years since Marx died—as good a time as any to see how his doctrine has done in the face of history.
The book under review is an extremely important one, cap¬able of being read and res¬ponded to at many levels. It can be seen as a professional psychological/ psychoanalytical treatise on how two civiliza¬tions reacted and responded to modern colonialism and im¬perialism. It is simultaneously a major attack on the dichoto¬mizing nature of the current forms of analysis. To put it simply, Ashis Nandy challenges the naive notion of colonialism as an unmitigated victory for the West and by the same token a defeat of the East.
The study by Professor Kade¬kodi fills an important gap in the existing literature on Indian planning. While there are a large number of studies on the industrial and agricul-tural sectors, extractive indus¬tries like iron ore, coal, man¬ganese, bauxite, etc have receiv-ed but scant attention from economists. Given the import¬ance of these industries as primary resources for the domestic industry and as ex¬port-earners in their own right, rigorous quantitative studies of the type undertaken here are essential inputs for plan¬ning and policy making.
The standard economic text¬book is based on the concept that every man is a ‘rational economic being’. The ‘rational economic being’ is defined as one who assiduously pursues his self-interest. These atoms (individuals) constituting society, together influence the economic variables at the macro level. Based on this assumption, the free market mechanism leads to a socially desirable situation (including the corresponding price struc-ture).
The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea which concluded its eleventh and final session in April last year, ranks in the history of the United Nations as the longest and most widely represented conference. The ‘III UNCLOS’ adopted the new convention on the Law of the Sea, which was formally opened for signature at Montego Bay, Jamaica in December 1982.
This collection of papers re¬presents an attempt by Marxist groups to understand the signi¬ficance of the nationalist up¬surges which are taking place in different parts of the coun¬try, as well as to evolve a strategy towards them. The seminar at which they were presented in Madras in 1981 was attended by a large number of political activists and radical youth groups from different states, and their ex¬perience and concern is reflect¬ed in the articles. This adds considerably to the interest of the book and also accounts for a degree of oversimplification which is present in some of the papers.
Most historians are agreed that the British Raj in India terminated in 1947. However, many publishers in England as well as in India are aware that an Indian Raj rules in Britain these days. It began in the early 1970s, probably with the BBC Radio 4 series entitled Plain Tales from the Raj, and the published evi¬dence of this post-occupation shows no sign of abating.
From what I am able to gather, American scholarship on India, which blossomed in a big way in the enthusias¬tic 1950s, has gone through an interesting change during the 1970s. The earlier concern with the sociology and politics of contemporary India has declined somewhat, and more and more scholars are turning to religion, literature, folklore, the performing arts, tradi¬tional cognitive systems, etc.
An English MP of the last century is once supposed to have sneered at ‘the noble Lord opposite, who has spent his life in writing books about books’, while he himself, hav¬ing been a district officer in India, had ‘played upon that harp whose strings are the hearts of men’. What would our MP have said about those of us who have added one more link to the chain, and are occupied in writing articles about books about books.
Ideas have a role in ordering cognition of our experiences. While studying a literate soci-ety as opposed to a primitive one (where one does not expect to encounter a great deal of reflective tradition and the superimposition of ideas of further reflection over the tradition), it is a challenging task to sort out a coherent and at the same time accept¬able grammar of both persis¬tent and syntagmatic struc¬tures. In the sphere of religion there is often a gap between the ideas of higher philo¬sophies and the religious prin¬ciples which guide the laity.
Six wise men of Hindoostan set out to examine the ele¬phant. Professor Alfred de Souza has gone one better, for he has produced the six men and one wiser woman to examine urban India and its problems. The result is the little book under review.
Industrialization is be¬lieved to be an agent of econo¬mic development and modern¬ization and to bring in pat¬terns of universalistic values. Sociologists like Kerr and his associates who believe in this thesis consider industrial¬ism as ‘a leveller of cultural and ideological differences bet¬ween societies’. Some other sociologists like Moore, Bendix, Feldman and Hoselitz are also somewhat in agreement with this logic, although they have ‘disagreements over the con¬vergence of societies towards a common structural form’ at the final stage.
Mamkoottam’s study (1982) of the Tata Workers Union (TWU) in Jamshedpur is a work of considerable value. It should be made widely-known both within the country and internationally. The TWU, based on the giant Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) works, presents the image of a model trade union within a model company in a model city.
From July 8, 1979, the day when Raj Narain initiated defections from the Janata Party, till August 22, 1979, when President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy dissolved the Lok Sabha by Presidential order, the Indian constitu¬tional democracy was continu¬ally betrayed in a variety of ways by tae very persons who had desecrated Rajghat with the promise of bringing the people of India a new constitutional dawn. Some of these people, now refurnished by the very democratic processes which they wantonly debased, are again preparing to lead the nation.
This book is an important contribution to the existing literature on the social and intellectual history of Indian Muslims in the nineteenth cent¬ury. It is a sympathetic account of the temporal and spiritual concerns of the Ulama, and attempts to show how these concerns were integrated into a unified world-view.