Disengagement Milestones

The Stimson Center and Vision Books have brought out a well researched paperback on a subject which the Center has pioneered in South Asia – Confidence Building Measures and Risk Reduction. The hopes that motivated the Stimson Center, led by Michael Krepon, on leading India and Pakistan to a “progressive and cumulative set of CBMs between 1991 and 2003, have been belied, owing to ‘geopolitical realities’”.

Key Issues Debated

Pakistan is a state that appears to be in rapid movement, but has in fact changed very slowly. In the last few years it has become an overt nuclear weapons state, the army seized power for the fourth time in a coup, there was an ill-fated military adventure across the Line of Control at Kargil, the leadership signed up with the American-led (but ill-named) war on terrorism, and most recently Pakistan’s revered “father of the bomb,”

Varied Dimensions

The Coming of the Devi is a minutely researched and sensitively written history of the transformation of an obscure small¬pox propitiation ceremony into a move¬ment for social reform and tribal self assertion. Hardiman’s empirical investi¬gations into the origins, spread and growth of the Devi movement among the tribals and peasants of South Gujarat also addresses more general issues such as the nature of peasant consciousness and the understanding of those movements for social and political change which remained independent of elite control and initia¬tives.

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Those who had known Thondup Namgyal, the late Chogyal of Sikkim, would find Nari Rustomji’s portrayal of his persona¬lity extremely interesting and readable. The personal letters reproduced reflect the conflicting trends which contributed substantially to the course of events in Sikkim. Charming and sensitive, Thondup Namgyal was human to the core.

A Vicious Circle

Social change is associated with realign¬ment of individual and group interests as the economy moves from one stage to another in the course of its development. It is, therefore, axiomatic that those whose position is challenged in this pro¬cess should resist and those who feel deprived of their due entitlements make a bid for fair deal. One of the legitimate functions of the State is to ensure that these changes take place without disturb¬ing the order through the processes which are generally accepted as legitimate.

In The Wake Of Partition

This is the full story of the military operations in Jammu & Kashmir during 9147-48 undertaken to save that princely state, which had acceded to the Union of India, from a brutal invasion by Pakistan. The year-long campaign saw many triumphs and tragedies which are narrated objectively in detail. The Indian Army and Air Force, just emerging from the throes of partition and still in the process of reorganization, emerged from the or¬deal stronger.

A Tangled Web

As though to make up for the past neglect of Sri Lanka, there has been lately a spate of writing on the island and the complexities of its politics, particularly in relation to the Sinhalese-Tamil ethnic conflict. As is only to be expected in a highly sensitized situation, much of this writing specially in newspapers, tends to be either consciously or unconsciously tendentious or simplistic in its perception, whether it be of the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict or its implications for India’s Sri Lankan policy.