This book aims to explore the various forms of adapta¬tion that migrants from the sub-continent have evolved to deal with ‘the varying degrees of prejudices, constraints and dominance’ of their host society. The issues raised in the preface include the choices relating to value change, cul¬tural persistence and cultural change and the impact of these processes on second and third generation immigrants.
I do not know why Arun Shourie has not acknowledged the important fact that most of the articles collected in this volume first appeared in the Indian Express. In a very real sense, they were made possible because of his unique position in the Express chain. What¬ever may have happened later, the Express and Shourie shared a symbiotic relationship, manifest clearly in the series of advertisements put out by the chain after he had left. I hold no brief for the Express, but the interests of scholarship demand a different set of obligations.
The essays in these two volumes, their editor tells us, are united in their rejection of academic elitism and their acknowledgement of me subal¬terns as makers of their own history. Much previous work in South Asian history has been flawed by an elitist outlook, either of the colonialist or of the bourgeois nationalist variety, and failed to perceive the existence of an autonomous domain of subaltern politics, structurally differentiated from elite politics.
This is a modest book that nonetheless breaks a new path in studies of societies on the capitalist periphery. It is a collection of twenty items intended to reveal—as far as possible in their own words how the masses of labouring—people in the Third World survive, resist, protest and impose themselves on their ruling classes.
A lot of noise has been made for quite some time in various quarters on ecological imbala¬nces in general and on forest denudation in particular. But it is only lately that some attention is at last being devot¬ed to the practical questions of the inter-relationship bet¬ween forests and the people. Do people exist for the good of the forests, or the forests for the good of the people?
War has always been a fascinating anthropological problem. A culture’s attitude to war determines in a funda¬mental way its construction of the self and its relation to the other. Defeat in war, or even victory, can virtually generate a crisis in the structure of a society’s categories of percep¬tion. For instance, in recent times, two events have called into question the very basis of modern technocracy as a mode of thought.
Andrew Harvey’s book, an impossible one to classify, is a record of this experience of the stripping away of the dry foliage of the familiar—its universities and books and studies, its complex relationships and exacting demands—till those condi¬tions are created in which ‘the golden wind’ can be revealed. He had felt that these condi¬tions did not exist in the known and crowded landscape of his life—born in Coimbatore, India,
It is only very recently that the popular Hindi film has acquired academic respect¬ability as a subject for scholar¬ly attention. Today, one might call it an almost fashion¬able concern. But this mam¬moth effort mounted by Aruna Vasudev and Philippe Lenglet is to be commended as the first serious attempt, on this scale, to grapple with the phenomenon of the Hindi film —truly a supermarket, a some-thing-for-everybody one-stop-shop, that has given to the vocabulary of Indian English that new and evocative cultural adjective, ‘filmi’.
The decision by the Progress Publishing House to take up the translation of major Soviet literary critics is a very wel¬come one. Recently Viktor Shklovsky’s well-known book on L. Tolstoy appeared in the Indian market, and now we have a work by an eminent Pushkin scholar, Blagoy. This move is all the more welcome as interest in Russian and Soviet literature is on the increase.
Unlike the social sciences, the study of English Literature in India seems likely to dimi¬nish gradually into a waste¬land. While we produce an increasing number of eminent sociologists, historians and economists, our literary critics—with a few notable but little noticed exceptions—are mostly a demoralized or desic¬cated lot.
I have come to the bitter con¬clusion that if Hindi writers are treated like poor relations of English ones, they have only themselves to blame. Why on earth do distinguished Hindi novelists allow their work to be hastily translated into clownish and farcical English? Is it impossible to wait till a reasonable translator comes along? A couple of years ago, Bhisham Sahni’s brilliant novel Tamas was, so to speak, done for in the translation. It is now the turn of Mannu Bhandari’s Aapka Bunty.
Mahadevi Varma occu¬pies a unique position in the world of Hindi letters today. She is almost the solve sur¬vivor of the pre-Independence, the ‘heroic’ generation, a relic from a distant, simpler past—a past remembered with increasing nostalgia as we sink deeper into the mud of the present. The grotesque efflorescence of the national movement still lay in the womb of an ironic future; it was, it appeared to be, it appears to have been, a time of innocence and dreams of possibility.
Professor Sar Desai’s Southeast Asia: Past and Present professes to be ‘a broad survey of trends and currents in the historical panorama of the region’. Southeast Asia, with its area spread over nine modern states, its diverse ethnicity as well as its several centuries’ old history, poses a formidable challenge for a historical study of this scope.
The booklet under review comprises the fifth R.C. Dutt Lectures delivered by Professor V.M. Dandekar in Calcutta at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences. Professor Dande¬kar is well known, among other things, for his study on poverty in India and can be said to be one of the foremost proponents of the ‘poverty’ approach to an understanding of Indian social reality, as against the class approach. The booklet seeks to provide a theoretical basis for this ap¬proach.
Dr Sharma’s book holds as its major thesis that three ‘distinguished theorists and practitioners of the art of fic¬tion,’ E.M. Forster, Somerset Maugham and Joyce Cary, between the years 1927-1958, have given a direction to what he calls ‘the modern-novel theory.’ To put it in his own words, as these writers ‘are neither blindly traditional nor just too pro- or anti-modernity, they offer a rational, balanced poetics of the novel.’
The exit of Indira Gandhi’s faction from the Indian National Congress in Novem¬ber 1969 was not a common split; according to the author of this book, it was perhaps the ‘most momentous upheaval in the organization’ since the split between the Moderates and Extremists at its Surat session in 1907.
It is a sign of the maturity of the Indian people that in politics there is nothing sacred and public opinion is always willing and almost eager to take a second, third and any number of fresh looks at policies. It is also understand¬able to argue that the world situation has changed conside¬rably since 1962 and what happened then need not be taken as freezing relations between India and China.
Elisabeth Bandinter’s book (loosely translated as ‘The Myth of Motherhood’) raised a stormy controversy in France, has been denounced by psychologists, educationists and the clergy, and clearly deserves to be read. Unfor¬tunately, at present the book is available to us in India only in French, and it is to be hoped that the English trans-lation comes to this country soon.
It is evident to any observer of the Indian situation that democracy has not led to equa¬lity. So for any social scientist engaged in a study of one seg¬ment of society, this revelation should not come as a shock.
In a study of ‘untouchable politics’ and Indian social change, Barbara Joshi focusses on various aspects—social, economic and psychological—of existence among the schedul¬ed castes.
Most of us are guilty of having a somewhat idealized image of the relationship bet-ween people in the Indian States movement and those in the Indian National Congress (INC) in the critical years before Independence. The image has been created partly by Nehru’s Autobiography, by V.P. Menon’s and Lord Mountbatten’s works and out¬pourings and partly by the publications of bodies like the Janmabhoomi Trust whose founder, Amritlal Sheth, was a pillar of the States Peoples’ movement in Gujarat and Saurashtra.