Sonjoy Dutta Roy

This is Dr. Sonjoy Dutta Roy’s second volume of poems. If his earlier work The Absent Words was good, delightful poetry, the present one is more so. It is maturer, sadder, more intimate, more lyrical. The poet who teaches at the department of English, University of Allahabad, has used myth, legend and fable, weaving them into a beautiful mosaic which give his work an epic dimension.


Reviewed by: Pamela Manasi
Kalpana Swaminathan

Even at the height of the boom in Indian writing, it is strange how the detective novel or thriller has remained an unexplored genre. In the West, the detective novel attracted some of the best minds and eminent writers (T.S. Eliot and George Orwell, to name just two) to write brilliant essays on this genre to give it the academic respectability it so richly deserves.


Reviewed by: Ira Pande
M. Keith Booker

This volume on Chinua Achebe is part of a series of literary encyclopedias on a wide range of writers ranging from Emily Dickson to William Faulkner, to Toni Morrison. In his preface to the volume, Keith Booker acknowledges the life long role that the veteran Nigerian writer has played in the “rise of the African novel as a global cultural phenomenon” (xvii). Africanist Professor Simon Gikwandi further elaborates upon the ‘transformative nature’ of Achebe’s creative genius in a concise foreword.


Reviewed by: Mala Pandurang
Meena Bhargava

This book is about the history of a women’s college and about aspects of the women’s movement in the nationalist period. It is also a book about dreams, aspirations and desires, among young women who sought higher education, their fathers and elders who allowed them to do so, the stalwarts at the forefront of women’s education in India, both women and men, and about colonialism and its legacy, in the curriculum it bequeathed women’s education, in its zeal for civilizing and modernizing the submissive and passive native.


Reviewed by: Meenakshi Thapan
J. Manschot

In the Global Village, ‘India’ Today Is a Movie. The ‘core problem’ with Hindi cinema continues: it is too simplistic, too vulgar, too loud, and too popular. In a word, it is too ‘foreign’ for the denizens of academia – in Mumbai, Delhi, Amsterdam, Leiden, London, as much as Los Angeles.


Reviewed by: Narendra Panjwani
Shanta Gokhale

A veteran actress with a career that stretched over fifty years, both before and after Independence, Durga Khote (née Laud) lived and worked through some of the momentous phases in India’s artistic history—the zenith of the Marathi theatre, the coming of the talkies and of colour in the cinema among others.


Reviewed by: Latika Padgaonkar
Ashok Mitra

Not too many of us may remember the journalism of the early seventies. In part because those were tumultuous and troubling times a world apart from the current obsessions with India shining or as a superpower in the making. Even as the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was consolidating her image as a left of centre, populist and nationalist politician – via garibi hatao, bank nationalization, abolition of privy purses and, above all, inflicting a resounding defeat on Pakistan and helping the birth of Bangladesh – there were magazines that struck a critical and contrarian chord.


Reviewed by: Harsh Sethi
Lyla Mehta

In recent decades, scarcity of water has been experienced due to an increasing trend in competing demands of the different stakeholders in different countries leading to a number of conflicts within the basin, between the basins of the state and between the states and countries. It has now been aggravated manifold due to the demand from different users like agriculture and industry besides domestic water supply.


Reviewed by: Velayutham Saravanan
T.T. Ram Mohan

Privatization of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) increasingly dominated the policy canvas for the better part of a decade until the coming of the UPA coalition. The previous BJP-led government made sweeping privatization of non-core SOEs its mission, with fair number of sales, until its denouement with the HPCL/ BPCL controversy. Thereafter, Manmohan Singh’s government pulled back the privatization reins.


Reviewed by: D. Narasimha Rao
Peter S. Heller

With the Indian economy rebounding strongly, there is no doubt whatsoever that this provides a favourable conjuncture to tackle its fiscal challenges decisively. GDP growth of 8.1 per cent last fiscal and a 7 percent plus trajectory in prospect in 2006-07 and beyond does provide a context for lowering the government’s fiscal and revenue deficits and reducing public debt levels relative to output.


Reviewed by: N. Chandra Mohan
Neera Burra

The central issue addressed by this book, using six Indian case studies, is the impact of micro-credit (financial services for the poor) on poverty and women’s empowerment. The six case studies cover a range of organization forms. Micro-credit in India predominantly uses two group-lending models-the Self-Help Group [SHG] and the Grameen-and is usually focussed on women clients.


Reviewed by: R. Srinivasan
Atul Kohli

This book is to be welcomed for a number of reasons. Firstly, it brings politics back into the discussion of development issues; secondly it examines industrialization as a process that transforms society (rather than viewing it as merely a numerical growth in industrial output); thirdly, by analysing the experiences of Nigeria, India, Brazil and South Korea it addresses the problems of countries with undistinguished records, in addition to that of an East Asian Tiger.


Reviewed by: Nasir Tyabji

This book is to be welcomed for a number of reasons. Firstly, it brings politics back into the discussion of development issues; secondly it examines industrialization as a process that transforms society (rather than viewing it as merely a numerical growth in industrial output); thirdly, by analysing the experiences of Nigeria, India, Brazil and South Korea it addresses the problems of countries with undistinguished records, in addition to that of an East Asian Tiger.


Reviewed by:
Amar Farooqui

Amar Farooqui’s contention that it was early nineteenth century Bombay’s opium trade which was ‘the defining feature’ of its economic world and its business class, is a provocative statement that takes us straight into the heart of a controversy. Does Bombay really merit the title of ‘Opium City’? Was it really opium, as opposed to cotton or ‘white gold’,


Reviewed by: Mariam Dossal
Sharif D. Rangnekar

The reform processes initiated during the early years of 1990s brought about a major shift in India’s approach to economic development. The old Nehruvian model of mixed economy gave way to a market driven economy. Despite changes in the political regimes, the reform process has, more or less, continued unabated over the last 15 years or so.


Reviewed by: Surinder S. Jodhka
Saurabh Dube

There is a certain celebratory tone in writings about India today based on the perception that India is breaking through the shackles that restrain it and it will take its rightful place in the world. Increasingly we are told that we are on the path to prosperity and it is only a matter of time before we catch up with the West.


Reviewed by: Arvind N.
Gwilym Beckerlegge

I have to say that Gwilym Beckerlegge continues to astonish me by the frequency with which he produces consistently good scholarly material for the study of the Ramakrishna movement. On the notion of ‘seva’ itself, (usually translated as social service) I recall having read no less than five research papers and a monograph in about as many years.


Reviewed by: Amiya P. Sen
Amiya P. Sen

Growing up in Pennsylvania during the 1960s, my friends and I used to hang out at a drugstore (that is, a combined eating place, general store and pharmacy) in an outer suburb of Philadelphia. Bolted to the lunch-counter of this establishment was an ancient fortune-telling machine.


Reviewed by: Peter Heehs
Grace Morley

What could one expect an elderly non- Indian, a specialist in modern European and Mexican art to contribute to the creation of a museum of Indian ancient and medieval art? Not much, one would reasonably predict. But Grace Morley proved her critics wrong. Appointed the first director of the National Museum of Art in Delhi in 1960,


Reviewed by: Tulsi Vatsal
Shakti Maira

The study of Indian aesthetics came to the forefront following the publication of K.C. Pandey’s work around the mid 20th century but subsequently it suffered from neglect. Several sporadic attempts have been made to revive interest in the subject quite recently. The Journal of Arts and Art Criticism in the mid 1950s had devoted a special issue to Indian aesthetics and had contributed to facilitating a lively debate around Indian aesthetics in comparison with western aesthetics.


Reviewed by: Parul Dave Mukherji
Wendy Doniger

This book, with an unusually long title, rounds off the investigation that Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at Chicago, launched in 1998 with The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth (Columbia University Press).


Reviewed by: Pradip Bhattacharya
Karen Armstrong

In a strange coincidence, I have recently read two books that present a grand narrative across a vast span of human history. There is a similarity in the approach of Christopher Booker in his Seven Basic Plots, and Karen Armstrong in her A Short History of Myth: prose that seduces with its lucidity, persuading one to accept their elision of particularities, and an engagement with concepts of archetypes.


Reviewed by: Rishi Srinivasa Iyengar
Anna S. King

This collection of essays on the devotional element in Indic religions has an interesting history. It arises from an international conference organized by the Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Religions, University of Cambridge, which was widely attended by academics, interested lay participants and ‘devotees’.


Reviewed by: Kunal Chakrabarti
Aditya Malik

Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer passed away in 1992. His writings reveal an intensely reflective scholar, who provided us, amongst other things, with a definition of Hinduism that is remarkable for its apparent simplicity and inherent fluidity. His works were also informed by a concern with the marginal, especially pastoral peoples. Besides writing, he was a film-maker, documenting the lives of the peoples amongst whom he spent his most productive years.


Reviewed by: Kumkum Roy
G. Parthasarathy

Jawaharlal Nehru was, throughout his life, a teacher and an educator to others as well as to himself. From jail he wrote the letters to his daughter giving to Indira and the younger generation in India glimpses of world history. In the Indian National Congress he was the preacher of new ideas—of socialism, secularism and internationalism.


Reviewed by: K.R. Narayanan