Neera Chandhoke

In The Violence in Our Bones: Mapping the Deadly Fault Lines Within Indian Society, Professor Neera Chandhoke compels us to deliberate on violence in its many manifestations in India and suggests how we may extricate ourselves from this abyss by inventively imagining participatory democracy. The treatment of violence in the social sciences often diminishes the starkness of human tragedy, when reduced to mere statistics. While recognizing that violent urges might lie dormant in our psyche, Chandhoke is concerned with stalling the eruption of these violent urges onto the socio-political arena.

Reviewed by: Swaha Swetambara Das
Purushottam Agrawal. Introduction and illustrations by Devdutt Pattanaik

The title of this well-researched book, reflecting a life-time’s work, is serendipitous. Mirrored in it is a couplet written by this medieval poet, which also figures as the epigraph:I have made my mind as pure as Ganga water,Hari follows after, calling out, ‘Kabir, Kabir’The echoing repetition of Kabir’s name, even more than the plurality which is a quintessential aspect of the cultural memory of this poet, suggests the indefinite and nebulous in the striving for the mystical. In an inversion of hierarchy, it is Hari who runs after Kabir, calling out to his devotee.

Reviewed by: Rohini Mokashi-Punekar
Ravi Agarwal, Omita Goyal

Our understanding of climate change has not advanced after the recent climate negotiations, the CoP26, November 2021 in Glasgow. Climate change, being the most complex and lasting of the series of environmental challenges that humanity and the planet have faced over the past two and half centuries, has no easy solution.

Reviewed by: Rajeswari S Raina
Ghazala Jamil

The three books under review critically contribute to our understanding of Gender, Inclusion, Violence and Social Justice. They capture several evidences of gender inequality, violence and exclusion across all levels; but they also show how gender issues in India can be read through different lenses of justice; how scholars, advocates and activists addressing these issues have brought different dimensions to the table, even conflicting at times.  

Reviewed by: Juanita Kakoty
Jyotirmaya Sharma

This book is the fourth and last volume in a quartet by Professor Jyotirmaya Sharma, examining the restatement of Hinduism by some of its most influential exponents and thinkers. The first book Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism discusses the thought of Dayanand Saraswati, Sri Aurobindo, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Swami Vivekananda, all of whom sought to marshal Hindu identity in the service of nationalism. The subsequent volumes focus on the thought and writings of Golwalkar and Vivekananda. The series is an attempt to look at the question of Hindu identity and the restatement of Hinduism in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Reviewed by: Madhav Nayar
Mytheli Sreenivas

Politically correct, influential people in policy making circles in the West do not talk any more of the yellow peril, or use phrases such as population explosion, or metaphors like the population bomb. At the same time, partly due to the very reach and influence of such doomsday demographic discourses emanating from the West in the past, and the modified ones today, the elites and the middle classes in much of the Third World remain convinced that the cause of social and economic problems in their own countries stem primarily, if not only, from population growth.

Reviewed by: Mohan Rao
Wendy Doniger

Doniger’s is a work of passion. This is on display not only in the unfolding of the narrative of her Winged Stallions and Wicked Mares but graphically in the 1968 photograph of Doniger on her Anglo-Arabian mount Damien, which although frozen in stationery pose clearly shows the elegant seat of a consummate lover of the animal.

Reviewed by: Wajahat Habibullah

In the 1970s, Uma, Chandra and myself had almost identical collections of detective fiction. Common to all three of us were those by Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. We each had crammed bookshelves with our treasures and were extremely possessive about our editions.What is it about this genre of writing that inspires this loyalty to read and reread these books with pleasure every time? Today so many authors have joined my bookshelf and Kindle—PD James, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling), Caroline Graham—but classic crime fiction for me is dominated by the magic of Christie and Marsh…

Reviewed by: Chitra Narayanan
Sushant Kalra

The ‘present’ generation and its values have oft taken the blame for much that is wrong in the world. The generation keeps changing just as the wrongs keep changing. As people age, the side of this blame game that they represent also changes. Yet, seldom do people sit and think who is responsible for the changing values of the ‘present generation’ that has led to so much ‘wrong’ in the world. Parenting for most people is not a conscious choice. We grow up, build careers, and start a family, because that is what society teaches us. This is taken as a given without any conscious thought about who can be a good parent.

Reviewed by: Toolika Wadhwa
Tansen Sen and Brian Tsui

Pan-Asianism is a general term used to describe a wide range of ideas and movements that called for the solidarity of Asian peoples to counter western influences in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The concept of Pan-Asianism first emerged in Japan sometime in the late 19th century. The movement gained wider acceptance following the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905).

Reviewed by: TCA Ranganathan
Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee

Rabindranath Tagore’s androgynous imagination finds fulsome expression in the two books under review. How he extended his understanding to the mysterious secrets of women silenced by patriarchy remains a conjecture. Periodic translations open up the question in various social contexts…

Reviewed by: Malashri Lal
Veena Sharma

When I think of foods I’m likely to encounter in the Himalayan areas, I think of momos, thukpa, yak cheese. But wait. All these dishes are of Tibetan origin. With that comes the realization that I, and most of us, have little idea as to what is consumed in an Indian home located in the foothills of the grand mountains on a regulaar day. ..

Reviewed by: Anjula Ray Chaudhury
Devaki Jain

When a pioneer of the women’s movement in India opens up the window box of her memories, one can expect some startling revelations and some valuable historical perspectives. Devaki Jain delivers on both counts, making this candid and charming book an inspiration for its readers…

Reviewed by: Malashri Lal
Wandana Sonalkar

Why I am not a Hindu Woman is Wandana Sonalkar’s autobiographical reflections on Hinduism as a religion, as an upper-caste Marxist feminist, and in the context of India’s socio-political journey in the last seventy three years, particularly in the shadow of Hindutva majoritarian politics…

Reviewed by: Preeti Gulati