Shifts and Ambiguities
Aditya Nigam
WRITING POLITICS: LEFT DISCOURSES IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA by Devesh Vijay Popular, Bombay, 2006, 245 pp., 275
January 2006, volume 30, No 1

In many ways, the volume under review is a strange one. For one thing, it is a volume that seeks to track writings by ‘Left intellectuals’ in India over the last few decades – that is, precisely in the period when Left wing thinking has seen its most serious ever crisis worldwide and has become somewhat out of tune with the times. However, that is in itself no reason this important body of scholarly and political writing should not be taken seriously. Indeed an interpretative exercise analysing such writings could enable us to see the intellectual crisis of the Left in far greater depth than has been usual in quick journalistic jibes against what are now seen to be creatures of a bygone age. As the writer recognizes, “the preceding two decades have…been one such epoch in our history when Left conceptions of politics in particular came under acute strain and changed in a variety of ways” (p.vii). Given this, he claims, this book “makes an attempt to analyse the significant variations, shifts and ambiguities in applications of major analytical categories in Left discourse in Indian politics” (Ibid.).

Continue reading this review