Empire as a Global Entity

Noted historian Athar Ali died in 1998. The only time I ever met him was at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1992 where he interviewed me for a job at the Center of Historical Studies. I had just returned from Cambridge with a brand new PhD degree, which had the stamp of his bete noire Professor C.A. Bayly. I was tense on seeing him as I thought that I would now have to answer for the academic ‘follies’ of Cambridge historians! I was pretty sure that I was not getting this job.

State of the Art in the Art of the State

This book, which is the outcome of a workshop on the same title held in Kyoto in December 1999, also contains a few articles written by other scholars and omits a few which were presented there. In its present form, it contains a few samples of the best research available on the state in India, in both its historical and socio-political aspects. The work of the editors as well as many of the contributors give an indication of the interest that Japanese scholarship has been showing on problems of India – historical, social and political.

Manifesto of a Rationalist

Yet another work to add to the overflowing ranks of studies of ethnicity, of nationalism, and of how nations are made and unmade. Yet another work which wonders whether the ethnic card is instrumentally employed by self-serving leaders who are in the business of pursuing power, or whether ethnic identity is a primordial sentiment which comes along with birth. Yet another work which seeks to pattern ‘Muslim’ nationalism and ethnicity. This work is a manifesto of a rationalist, who has little time and even less patience for ‘less civilized’ [my term] forms of politics.

The Process of Islamization

The focus of this book is on the prefix ‘Islamic’ as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan. It enjoins that the legal, social and economic framework of the country be brought into conformity with Islam. The author believes that in Pakistan it was Abul A’ la Maudoodi who actively participated in the constitutional developments which took place during the 1950s. He refers to this process as ‘Islamicization’. He considers this term preferable to ‘Islamization’, which is a direct derivative of the name of the religion ‘and ignores the variety of interpretations that may be pushed under its purview’ (p.x).

Challenges of a Global Economy

The book is the outcome of the proceedings of the Annual Sessions of the SLEA in mid-2004 and includes 10 Chapters, which are divided into six Parts. Each Part links Human Development to a specific area of economic progress, viz., poverty, growth, services (financial), education and health, technology and productivity, and competitiveness. In the first chapter on Human Development and Poverty the editor presents a critique of the Human Development Index (HDI) (used by UN Human Development Reports), using Sri Lankan data on HDI and poverty to show that high HDI does not necessarily mean that poverty has reduced.

Mirroring Social Realities

Some of the questions that Omar Khalidi has raised in his latest book relate to the economic condition of Muslims in India in the beginning of the new millennium. He compares their present condition with the not so distant past. He then goes on to document the record of colonial and post colonial policies vis-à-vis Muslims and their economic profile as compared with the majority community and other minority communities. He provides statistical evidence obtained from archival and contemporary records, interviews with policy makers, politicians and journalists to arrive at conclusions.

Nature, Politics and Conservation

This is an interesting and valuable book, though the choice of the word nationalism seems a little loose. I suspect the word “national- isms” for a decade and more, has had such currency, that people are unwilling to let go of it, even though globalization has undercut the view on nationalism more severely than one had imagined. Kathleen Morrison analyses the relationship between the tribals as foragers and the spice trade for the Western Ghats. This becomes an enquiry into the relationship of entrepot cities as centers of consumption and export. Historical records show the increase in the consumption of pepper in the 16th century as doubling.

Problems and Prospects

Successful management of irrigation goes well beyond the manage- ment of the infrastructure, by encompassing management of human relations, institutional and organizational dimensions and irrigation policies. The recent three decades have also seen sweeping socio-economic and environmental challenges that have significant impact on irrigated agriculture and the management of irrigation systems in Asia. The new challenges relate to at least three aspects—competing needs for water, ensuring accountability and the partnership between the public, community and private sectors and reforms.