Parametres and Benchmarks

The book being reviewed is a collection of revised papers by well known China experts presented at an international seminar in New Delhi in November 2000. However, the issues taken up are of a long term historical interest and hence the various papers retain a freshness of insight as well as information and are well worth reading seriously. They provide important parameters and benchmarks for comparing the relations between India and China when they were both fighting in their own ways to liberate themselves from the yoke of colonial powers and in contemporary times when they are pursuing their own developmental strategies to become economically developed countries with modernized social systems. The central value of such a volume is the comparative analysis it can enable us to do of Sino-Indian relations at a time when peoples were fighting for national liberation and now when they are engaged in devising strategies to grapple with the processes of globalization in a beneficial and reciprocal manner. Madhavi Thampi endorses such a view in her Introduction.

When Theory Clouds the Eyes

Sociology has not gone to Indian movies very often, and that needs to be corrected. Consider that in India today we breathe movies as a key element of the national atmosphere, second only to oxygen, ozone, bottled mineral water, satellite TV and the internet. Bollywood, the world of Hindi moviedom, is also a big, sprawling social fact—in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and among the South Asian Diaspora in the West.

Connoisseur Activism?

Reviewing an interesting, somewhat idiosyncratic compilation of articles, poses a challenge, as it escapes the usual taxonomic classification for writings on the subject. It is clearly not a scholarly work in the formal sense. As is the case with most compilations, the various topics it encompasses form too broad a spectrum and though some footnotes and other references have been provided, they are sparse and infrequent.

City on the Plain

We Allahabadis grew up carrying our own mythology in which fact, innocence and provincial arrogance mingled in equal proportions. But let me get to the facts. The city of Allahabad, a dot on the map like a mustard seed placed exactly where the spidery, hairline-blue veins of two big rivers meet, was not just another nondescript settlement in the great Indian outback. It was a prominent administrative hub during the Raj, with a high-profile cultural identity all its own.

Journeying on the Raft of Life

I would recommend Paul Coelho’s Like a Flowing River: Thoughts and Reflections if you are looking for (a) a book to carry on a journey, (b) a gift for a student achiever or (c) a mood-elevator.

This is a compilation of 102 stories and articles published in newspapers around the world by one of the most widely read authors of recent times. Unlike some of Coelho’s earlier works (Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes,