Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991) is easily one of the most well-known Urdu writers from India in the twentieth century. Mostly renowned for a few of her short stories such as ‘Lihaaf,’ it goes without saying that she was a writer who was much, much more than that.

Reviewed by: Asma Rasheed
Arjun Ghosh

In 1942, artists who had been inspired by the freedom movement, by the anti-fascist struggle and by the sweep of Communism formed the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA). Among their serried ranks were Prithviraj Kapoor, Ravi Shankar, Utpal Dutt, Ritwik Ghatak and so many more familiar and unfamiliar names, whose talents built up the various culture industries of Independent India. They wanted to make art that was socially relevant and that was in some way an adjutant to the freedom movement. The Bengal Famine of 1943 provided them with the spur.

Reviewed by: Vijay Prashad
Andrew Nicholson

Andrew Nicholson’s Unifying Hinduism:Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History is an ambitious work, closely and densely argued, from which, as a scholar working on North Indian bhakti traditions and on Indian Modernity, I have learnt much.

Reviewed by: Vasudha Dalmia
Kalayani Shankar

Kamala Devi Chattopdhyaya, a pioneer of ‘cultural revival’ and a life-long devotee for cause of traditional arts and crafts in India remarked in 1983 that ‘dance is today married to public performances just as education is to jobs.

Reviewed by: Malvika Maheshwari
Aseem Srivastava

What does one say about a book that got a rave review from Amitav Ghosh even before it hit the stands? A book that Ashish Nandy describes as ‘a majestic work on society’s future?’ A book that Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze, Amit Bhaduri, Justice Krishna Iyer and many other stars of the jholawala pantheon have praised in words that go well beyond the call of comradely duty?

Reviewed by: Kalyani Menon-Sen
Raminder Kaur

The importance of this book lies in its unpacking the word ‘censorship’, which is commonly understood as the suppression of information, images or any other content, usually by the State or a State institution, on grounds ranging from obscenity to threat to national security.

Reviewed by: Pamela Philipose
Christophe Jaffrelot

India’s robust sense of accomplishment at being a functioning democracy amid much political chaos has tended in recent times to waver ever so slightly.

Reviewed by: Sukumar Muraleedharan
Mushirul Hasan

Representations of people and of the past have emerged out of diverse contexts and been put to varied uses and served various ends. Much time has passed since the colonial ethnographers constructed their understanding of people, customs, law, language, religious and caste beliefs for purposes of governance and control.

Reviewed by: Ranjana Sheel
Barbara D Metcalf

Barbara Metcalf’s work on Husain Ahmad Madani is part of a series called ‘Makers of the Muslim World’ published by Oneworld Publications and edited by Patricia Crone.

Reviewed by: Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed
Mushirul Hasan

Having worked on the themes of Indian Nationalism, South Asian Islam, Muslim Communities, Partition, and related subjects for about three decades the historian Mushirul Hasan thought of bringing out a series of anthologies on Islam in South Asia which could put most of the shades of analysis pertaining to such explorations together in one place.

Reviewed by: Mohammad Sajjad
Julie F. Codell

The late anthropologist Bernard Cohn famously referred to the Delhi Coronation Durbar as colonialism’s ‘hyperbolic historical fantasy’. There were actually three such Durbars in Delhi organized by respective colonial Viceroys, each expanding in scope and spectacle. The first was held in 1877 by Lytton, the second in 1903 by the widely unpopular Curzon.

Reviewed by: Ravi Sundaram
Patrick Olivelle

One of the most heard-about figures in history is Asoka, the Mauryan king who ruled in the third century BCE. Ever since he was discovered in the nineteenth century by British scholars —or was it a case of invention?—he presented himself to different people in different ways.

Reviewed by: Kesavan Veluthat
Pentagon Press

The book is a compilation of the defence capabilities and defence economics of 165 countries across the world. Each of these countries has been profiled alphabetically in a manner that is both visually appealing and easy to comprehend and understand.

Reviewed by: Dhruv C. Katoch
Krishna V. Rajan

The attempt in The Ambassadors’ Club by Krishna Rajan to put down varied narratives from former Indian diplomats not just as memoires but a grassroots view of Indian foreign policy is most commendable and long overdue. I hope it is followed up.

Reviewed by: Rajendra Abhyankar
Kishan S. Rana

Kishan Rana’s book 21st Century Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Guide is essential reading for all who are diplomats, who may wish to become diplomats, and even for those who have been diplomats.

Reviewed by: Eric Gonsalves
Sebastiano Maffettone

Global Justice: Critical Perspectives contains eight articles—four of them published previously and reproduced here and four of them written specifically for this volume. Peter Singer and John Rawls’s contribution to the global justice debate roughly around 1970s and onwards remains an overlapping theme through the book.

Reviewed by: Anubhav Sengupta
Brendan Simms

The debate over humanitarian intervention started soon after the death of the Cold War and slowly faded, like rigor mortis. This book is a collection of essays by West European historians outraged that both its advocates and opponents either deny or are unaware that, both as concept and practice, humanitarian intervention has a long and living history.

Reviewed by: Satyabrat Pal
Sebastian von Einsiedel

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006 ended the decade long conflict which had pitted the Maoists against the State in Nepal and claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Reviewed by: Padam Nepal
Lok Raj Baral

Nepal is in a state of turbulent peace. Peace prevails, albeit negatively, with an overall decrease in the level of violent outpourings post the 2006 movement.

Reviewed by: Pradeepa Viswanathan
Irfan Husain

Fatal Faultlines is a lucid account delving into many difficult questions which lie at the heart of interactions between Islam, the West and Pakistan. These range from historical confrontation between Muslim and western civilizations and their impact on the current ‘dialogue’ between Muslim countries and the West.

Reviewed by: Arun Vishwanathan
David Lewis

As Bangladesh approached, and successfully crossed the 40-year milestone of its existence as an independent country, several non-Bangladeshi and expatriate-Bangladeshi authors have written comprehensively about this nation.

Reviewed by: Veena Sikri
Sujeet Sarkar

Among the many metaphors for Afghanistan, cross roads in the most commonly used. Now it can additionally be described as the junction point of intellectual and academic endeavour: on war and terrorism; on religion and fundamentalism; on conflict zones and instability; on institution building and State construction.

Reviewed by: I.P. Khosla
David Omand

The security discourse of the first decade of the 21st century will be remembered for the enormity ofSeptember 11, 2001 manifest in the catastrophic and unexpected terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York—now enshrined in the US lexicon as 9/11.

Reviewed by: C. Uday Bhaskar
Neera Chandhoke

The concept of self-determination generally implies that communities—ethnic, linguistic, regional or otherwise—should be left to themselves to choose the form of self-government that suits them best. But the ‘themselves’ are often politically, economically and socially too fragmented to come to a consensus on the best choice.

Reviewed by: Sumanta Banerji
Arvind Gupta

Nuclear weapons are here to stay in spite of the ‘global Zero’ initiative, enthusiastic support given to the ‘zero’ movement by US President Barack Obama, and the ever-increasing amount of international efforts that are under way to disarm nuclear weapons.

Reviewed by: Happymon Jacob
George J. Gilboy

As the material power of India and China is being enhanced due to their economic growth rates in the last two decades, the established global power, the United States has been undertaking several studies and policy options to cope with the emerging actors in the international system.

Reviewed by: Srikanth Kondapalli
William H. Avery

The author is a strategic consultant to companies doing international business. He was in the US Foreign Service for some years and has worked in US missions in India and Sri Lanka.

Reviewed by: K.P. Fabian
Andrew Bingham Kennedy

This is the 50th year of the war that China imposed on India in 1962. Was the war itself and the resulting consequences—the effects of which are still with us, not least, in the form of a ‘trust deficit’ in our relations with China—because of Mao’s ‘martial efficacy’ beliefs in contrast to Nehru’s ‘moral efficacy’ beliefs?

Reviewed by: T.C.A. Rangachari