Nilima Sinha

This book belongs to the genre of Hajar Churashir Maa by Mahashweta Devi and Uttaradhikar-Kalabela-Kalapurush—trilogy by Samaresh Majumdar, treating the difficult theme of the Naxalite movement. But while those relate to the movement among educated and urban youth (sparked off in 1967 at the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal), Nilima Sinha’s novel refers to the more recent insurgence in Jharkhand as seen by a local girl.

Reviewed by: Dipavali Sen
Sabeena Gadihoke

When, almost fifty years after the first daguerreotype arrived in Europe, George Eastman invented the small ‘brownie’ camera, he brought photography into homes worldwide. Indian photographic aficionados were not far behind their western counterparts, though initially photography was an elite preoccupation. Soon, Kodak advertisements that used women as models were validating a slowly growing tradition of the woman with a camera.

Reviewed by: Malavika Karlekar
Shilpi Goswami and Deepak Bharathan

The three books reviewed largely deal with the representation of history—partly (as in the first book) or exclusively (as in the other two books) through the medium of historical architecture.
The first book is essentially a catalogue of an exhibition centred around an album of photographs of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry, taken in 1950 by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Reviewed by: Anisha Shekhar Mukherji
Qazi Abdul Ghaffar

Laila ke khutoot, literally meaning ‘Let- ters of Laila’, is the story of a prostitute, her perspectives on men and the idea of conjugal love revealed through the letters she wrote to one of her lovers. In the latter part of the book ‘Majnun ki diary’ Qazi Abdul Ghaffar, the author tries to portray the confusion, cynicism and alienation of so called educated young men who had gone astray in pursuit of their unbridled sensuality.

Reviewed by: Shah Nadeem
Nida Kirmani

Questioning the Muslim Woman by Nida Kirmani is a remarkable piece of work in which she tries to deconstruct the category ‘Muslim women’ through the narrative approach. The study was conducted in a Muslim majority urban locality (Zakir Nagar) of the capital city of India. Though the category of Muslim women or issue of Muslim women has always been a debated subject…

Reviewed by: Sabiha Hussain
Behnam Sadeghi

In many general and not particularly well- informed opinions on Islam there is an instinctive tendency to view it as hopelessly out of date and fossilized. Such opinions are often the product of hastily formulated media reportage. It is here that scholarship of the kind contained in Behnam Sadeghi’s book the Logic of Law Making in Islam: Women and Prayer in the Legal Tradition…

Reviewed by: Amir Ali
Ruth Vanita

This book draws one into the world of rekhti (Urdu) poetry in the late 18th and 19th centuries and brings to attention the ground issues of gender and sexuality in those times. The colonial dismissal of diverse sexuality present in the societyhad led to the creation of a homogenized ‘mainstream’ that pushed many other realities into the margins.

Reviewed by: Sukrita Paul Kumar
Nirmala Lakshman

There is a reason why this book is called Degree Coffee by the Yard. With an interesting word play on ‘yard’, it automatically evokes one of the many sensibilities that create and sustain Chennai: the action of cooling a ‘tumbler’ of coffee by pouring it from a height into another tumbler, seamlessly measuring out a yard of distance with the hot, flowing liquid between the two containers.

Reviewed by: Anusha Hariharan
Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia

Lhasa,Tashkent, Gobi, Xian, Samarkand, Syr-Darya, Kashgar, Heaven Lake, Taklaman, Bukhara. Names that instantly evoke visions of adventure, mystery, antiquity, remoteness, bygone civilizations and trail blazing rulers and travellers. Tracing Marco Polo’s Journey : The Silk Route, is a record of the historic expedition undertaken by Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia and his team in the summer of 1994.

Reviewed by: Stuti Kuthiala
Mohammad Monir Alam and Willayat Ali

Ferdinand von Richthofen’s catchy meta- phor for an ancient trade route crisscrossing Asia and Europe symbolizing mystery and exotic splendour, the Silk Route seems to have returned to political consciousness today. Historically, this trade route facilitated not only movement of goods, but also linked various civilizations: transmitting cultures, traditions, beliefs, religions, languages and technologies.

Reviewed by: Khush-Hal Lagdhyan
Jasjit Singh

A powerful voice on national security fell silent on 4 Aug 2013 when Air Cmde. (Retd.) Jasjit Singh, recipient of Padma Bhushan for a lifetime’s contribution to national security passed away. Many have mourned his loss at a time when India stares at an unpredictable world fraught with new faultlines and challenges. But, Singh was used to having the ‘last word’.

Reviewed by: Manpreet Sethi
Rajendra Abhyankar

A diplomat writes more than anyone in any other profession, apart from journalists, novelists and the like whose very calling is to write. It is not, as far as a diplomat is concerned; his calling is to represent his country abroad, persuading, negotiating, and, as Ernest Satow put it in his Guide to Diplomatic Practice, the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of relations between nations.

Reviewed by: I.P. Khosla
Talmiz Ahmad

The rise of political Islam has been the prominent development in the aftermath of the popular protest movements against long-entrenched regimes in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). The book under review captures the complexities of these fast-paced events admirably. It places in context the historical and ideological roots of political Islam and helps the reader understand the challenges that its rise has encumbered.

Reviewed by: S. Samuel C. Rajiv
Nirode Mohanty

Nirode Mohanty’s book forms part of many current writings on the American-Pakistani relationship, a relationship which is under critical scrutiny as the United States begins to draw down from Afghanistan, calling in question its post-withdrawal relationship. It needs to be underscored that the entire contour of the relationship over the last six decades has been highly transactional in nature marked by divergent strategic interests.

Reviewed by: Arun Sahgal
Syed Badrul Ahsan

This book is a biography of Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, his early life as a politician and the events post Partition that shaped his outlook and approach to politics. Written by Badrul Ahsan, current Executive Editor of the Daily Star newspaper this book depicts the life of Mujib and his brutal assassination that closed an important chapter of Bangladesh’s political history.

Reviewed by: Smruti S. Pattanaik
C.V. Ranganathan and Sanjeev Kumar

The 18th National Congress of the Com- munist Party of China (CPC), which took place on 8 to 14 November 2012, drew the attention of China scholars and foreign governments for multiple reasons. During the 18th Congress, CPC’s model of peaceful leadership transition was under test as the very first generation of leaders who came to power positions through a predetermined regulated script was set to retire after handing over the torch to the new leadership.

Reviewed by: Parimal Maya Sudhakar
D. Suba Chandran

The later 2012 and early 2013 marked a major milestone in China when high level leadership changes took place in both the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government. The changes have enormous implications for China’s internal developments as well as foreign policy and regional security.

Reviewed by: Sanjeev Kumar
Kaushik Roy

Scholars studying India’s tradition of stra- tegic planning have generally focused on Kautilya’s Arthasastra (3rd century BCE) as the root text. However, another stream of research has debated whether India possesses a strategic culture at all. This perspective was propagated by George Tanham, an American defence analyst, who argues that India has always suffered, and continues to suffer, from a lack of a tradition of strategic thinking.

Reviewed by: Sameer Patil
Aparna Basu

The last century continuing into the present one has seen the bloodiest and most destructive violence in recorded history carried into homes, habitats and whole communities, almost the wiping out of civilizations like the Mesopatamian in Iraq as chronicled in William Engdahl’s Century of War: Imperial Wars for Resources and Markets under the aegis of the Colonization and Recolonization Project.

Reviewed by: Vishnu Bhagwat
Sanjay Kumar

The book under review is an import- ant contribution to political research in India for two reasons. The first is about the structuring of the discipline of political science in Indian universities. To a large extent, the discipline of political science in India is what Yogendra Yadav mentions in his foreword to the book, ‘methodologically illiterate’ and as a result has not been able to develop a robust body of evidence based research.

Reviewed by: Rajeshwari Deshpande
Sudha Pai

The last three decades have witnessed the onset of the processes that have resulted in a significant shift in the nature of India’s politics and economy. Among these processes, the most significant one has been the assertion of identity politics. Increasingly democratizing India has experienced a sharp rise in the conflicting claims of different ethnic categories…

Reviewed by: Ashutosh Kumar
Uddipana Goswami

As a theatre of ethnic conflicts, India’s North East has generated a corpus of studies and policy prescriptions. Yet many of these, informed as they are by brief field visit/administrative posting in different parts of North East India, fail to capture the multilayered nature of conflicts among indeterminate ethnic groups in the region.

Reviewed by: H. Kham Khan Suan
Nalini Natarajan

Surely the nature of the subject shapes the researcher? More so, if the subject is one of the most important individuals of the twentieth century, renowned for his contemplative philosophy? However, neither quiet contemplation nor honest soul-searching marks these two recent works on Gandhi, which are united, seemingly, in their hurried thoughts and haste to publish a work.

Reviewed by: Priya Naik
Harihar Bhattacharyya, Anja Kluge, and Lion Konig

Book reviews make a commentary on the argument of the book they seek to review. This task however becomes difficult with an edited book (in this case two) consisting of several chapters, that address themes of varying contexts. While the common theme of citizenship does unite them, citizenship studies in themselves have become vast enough to have journals, institutes, centres and courses dedicated to it.

Reviewed by: Ankita Pandey
Emmanuel Teitelbaum

In the 1980s and 1990s, a series of academic studies were released that tried to explain the East Asian growth miracle in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea (Amsden, 1989, Haggard and Cheng, 1987, Haggard and Moon, 1990). The central puzzle that political economists explained through these case studies of East Asian Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs)…

Reviewed by: Vasundhara Sirnate