S.K. Das

The past decade has seen the introduction of a series of rights-based legislations in India, which the author calls a ‘veritable rights revolution’, with the enactment of the Right to Information Act (in 2005), the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (in 2005), the Forest Rights’ Act (in 2006) and the Right to Education Act (in 2009).

Reviewed by: Atishi Marlena
Sudeep Sen

The Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen is an amazing and audacious project in more ways than one. It attempts to showcase poems of 85 post-Independence Indian poets writing in English.

Reviewed by: Rumki Basu
Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh

Seven Leaves, One Autumn: the very title is poetic, evoking the vivid shades of yellow, orange and red through which autumn leaves pass as they turn from green to brown. This collection brings together the work of seven award-winning women poets: Zohra Saed from Afghanistan, Julie Boden from Britain, Clara Janes from Spain, Kishwar Naheed from Pakistan, Ute Margaret Saine from the USA, and the two editors, Savita Singh and Sukrita Paul Kumar, both from India.

Reviewed by: Rohini Hensman
Braj B. Kachru, Yamuna Kachru and S.N. Sridhar

The jacket of a recently published book on Macaulay by Zareer Masani says cheekily, ‘If you’re an Indian reading this book in English, it’s probably because of Thomas Macaulay’.

Reviewed by: Ajay Prasad
Raghu Rai

Not very long ago, Raghu Rai found a box containing rolls of long lost black and white negatives of photographs he had taken in 1971.

Reviewed by: Deb Mukharji
Steve Raymer

Steve Raymer, a National Geographic photographer for many years who now teaches journalism at an American university, made six trips to India to, as he writes, ‘follow my dream to do a book about Calcutta.’

Reviewed by: Satyabrat Pal
Neera Adarkar

Like ‘cutting chai’, ‘chawls’ is a very Bombay/Mumbai term. Not many who live outside this megapolis will understand what it means. And if they do not, it is unlikely that they ever will because chawls are an endangered species, a built form that is disappearing even as Mumbai goes through changes that are inevitable for all big cities.

Reviewed by: Kalpana Sharma
Laurent Gayer

I read this book from cover to cover in just three sittings. It was indeed enthralling as I have virtually been part of most of the stories it unfurls. Reading about Lucknow, culture capital of India and city of my birth, Aligarh, seat of the educational Taj Mahal where I studied and taught during 1961-66—and Ghalib’s Delhi where I have lived for forty-five years, made me nostalgic.

Reviewed by: Tahir Mahmood
John Zavos, Pralay Kanungo, Deepa S. Reddy, Maya Warrier, Raymond Brady Williams

The book under review Public Hinduisms has a captivating title and an even more engaging set of questions that it seeks to explore: ‘How does Hinduism become public? What forms of translation or disciplinary processes inform the passage of ideas about what it means to be a Hindu as they are expressed in a range of different public environments? Who feels empowered by such transitions, and who feels dispossessed?’ With these evidently broad and complex set of questions for a single edited volume of 500 and odd pages, it gives an impression of being many books in one.

Reviewed by: Malvika Maheshwari
Devaki Jain

Harvesting Feminist Knowledge for Public Policy: Rebuilding Progress edited by Jain and Elson is a collection of fourteen essays by feminist thinkers across the world putting forward a critique of the current development pattern that has led to the global spate of ‘triple crisis’ of food, fuel and finance.

Reviewed by: Sona Mitra
Akhil Gupta

Social science research focused on South Asia has for a long time had a critical shortcoming: the state is almost never an object of study in its own right, but rather studied in conjunction with factors—caste and ethnicity, party competition, regionalism, social movements—in the production of social outcomes.

Reviewed by: Adnan Naseemullah
A.R. Vasavi

Why, in a period of sustained national economic growth, have Indian agriculturalists been committing suicide in such larger numbers? And what might these acts signify with respect to the challenges facing rural India at this moment? These are some of the pressing questions A.R. Vasavi’s Shadow Space seeks to answer. Through six closely related essays, each of which takes up a different aspect of this crisis, Vasavi contends that the suicides express the marginalization of vulnerable agriculturalists within a political economy that has neglected their welfare. In laying out this argument, Vasavi has produced a work that is both meticulously researched and passionately argued—one that is indispensable for understanding the momentous shifts currently underway in Indian agriculture.

Reviewed by: Hayden S. Kantor
Veerendra Mishra

Community policing has several meanings. To begin with, it refers to a process of taking policing back to citizens, for according to some scholars, that is where it began as a measure of public safety even before states and regimes appropriated this role and created a ‘police force’ for maintenance of public order and, of course, for their own protection.

Reviewed by: Ajay K. Mehra
Daniel Buckles and Rajeev Khedkar with Bansi Ghevde and Dnyaneshwar Patil

The age of liberalization, privatization and globalization has raised a number of issues, which are central to the tribal life in India. One such important issue is the land question, which is generally considered as a ‘philosophy of tribal life’.

Reviewed by: Jagannath Ambagudia
Shruti Kapila

The book under review is a very welcome addition to the growing interest in mining older Indian intellectual traditions to understand and account for many of the diverse, and often contradictory, impulses of anti-colonialism and nationalism.

Reviewed by: Nikhil Govind
Edward N. Luttwak

This is yet another book that obsesses and agonizes over China’s rise, how the logic of strategy will dictate the choices China makes and the responses its actions are likely to evoke. China’s political leaders are said to have little agency to dictate this future course though, ‘trapped’ as they are ‘by the paradoxes of the logic of strategy’.

Reviewed by: Nimmi Kurian
Nihar Nayak

The Peace of Westphalia 1648 laid out the ideals of the state, the Westphalian ideal, which was only realized three centuries later with the end of the colonial era and national self-determination as the sole principle of the political organization of the world. The world became populated by bounded national, social, economic and cultural communities.

Reviewed by: Satyabrat Sinha