Reading the synoptic narrative of the hundred years of the chequered political career of the Shiromani Akali Dal in the volume under review makes us aware about the uniqueness of the oldest State-level Party which emanated from a religious reformist movement and went on to qualify both as a ‘regionalist’ and an ‘ethnic’ party. As ethnic Party, Akali Dal has sought and received considerable political support from the Sikhs in India and even among the Sikh diaspora, while taking up the community’s religious, social and political causes as central to the Party agenda.
The Punjab Borderland, drawing together an array of archival sources, traces the first ‘comprehensive social history’ of the Punjab border, straddling the states of India and Pakistan (p. 2). Through an extensive study of the border mobility and materiality from 1947 to 1986, it argues that the Punjab border was far more porous and accessible than generally assumed.
What happens when a state wages a war on people? How do the people navigate a system rigged against them? Flaming Forest, Wounded Valley is a result of Freny Manecksha’s decade-long experience of travelling and documenting in the two most volatile regions in India—Bastar and Kashmir. The book documents state’s action as well as inaction in these volatile regions and examines the meaning that words like ‘home’, ‘safe-space’, ‘development’ and ‘justice’ take on in a conflict zone.
Ajay Gudavarthy has through this edited volume of essays foregrounded the argument that there are internal contradictions giving rise to new power formations which are a result of conflict within and between marginalized groups. He states, ‘today, we cannot understand social dynamics exclusively as conflicts between the dominant and dominated.
The significance of this book is that it adds to our understanding of Western India and more specifically the milieu of the small Parsi community in Bombay that provided the commercial, political and intellectual matrix out of which the political thought of Dadabhai Naoroji emerged. Visana suggests that in the development of Naoroji’s ideas, ‘Bombay had an especially important role to play since it was the “centre of the best political thought in India”.
Knowledge, at least in its a priori form, promises to be liberating. The basic thought of being able to learn, to question, to unlearn and then to relearn is deeply empowering. However, knowledge production and knowledge dissemination seldom remain under the control of one single individual. Knowledge can become liberating and empowering only if its systemic functioning is informed by the logic of equity, empathy and respect.
This volume, divided into four sections, has thirteen carefully selected essays. It attempts at investigating the rise of ‘New Hindutva’ in India. This phenomenon has been defined by the editors as a ‘governmental formulation with considerable institutional heft that converges with wider global currents and enjoys an unprecedented level of mainstream acceptance’ (p. 1).
Who is a citizen of India and on what terms? This is the momentous question that this anthology poses before us with a compelling force, in the increasingly unsettling climate of vulnerability and fear that the recently sculpted trinity of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019)-NRIC-NPR has produced in our Republic. With much care, analytical sophistication, and citizenly conscience, a number of researchers, legal scholars, social activists, journalists, and creative writers examine through the pages of this edited volume the conceptual, constitutional, socio-political and affective dimensions of citizenship, and more pertinently, its denial, and the entangled issues of rightlessness and statelessness that such disenfranchisement engenders.
Sikkim, a tiny Indian State with a population of less than a million, merged with India and became the 22nd State of the Indian Union in 1975. Ambassador Preet Mohan Singh Malik’s book, Sikkim: A History of Intrigue and Alliance, comes at a time when India’s strategic affairs are much debated notably after the Doklam, and Galwan Valley skirmishes.
In the title story of the short story collection The Adivasi Will Not Dance*, noted Santhal writer Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar sketched the character of Mangal Murmu who had accepted the opportunity to dance at a programme where the President of India would inaugurate a thermal power plant. However, upon learning that the whole project was constructed at the expense of the eleven villages whose inhabitants were evicted by an official diktat
The persistent under-representation of the Indian Muslim in the legislative arena has been a longstanding feature of Indian politics. The community comprises 14 percent of the population, and their average representation in the Lok Sabha, for instance, stands at 5 percent. This is same as their representation in the Lok Sabha after the last parliamentary elections in 2019. Therefore, it would not be wrong to argue that the Muslim under-representation in the legislative arena, and the fact that the community also lags behind on almost all socio-economic indicators, is not a recent trend but a longstanding feature in Indian politics
Citizenship Imperilled: India’s Fragile Democracy by Professor Niraja Gopal Jayal unravels the complex and contested layers of the theory and practice of citizenship in independent India. The underlying query of the book is whether the constitutional ethic of Indian citizenship as an inclusive and egalitarian civic-national norm has been imperilled and ‘irretrievably undermined’ in more recent times. In response to this question, the book argues that the expansion or erosion of Indian democracy is contingent upon its citizenry.
Books on Jawaharlal Nehru are seldom rare—Nehru, indisputably, is a perennial favourite of publishers and authors, as can be seen in the countless books on him that relentlessly keep pouring out, year after year. In the recent past, Nehru’s views, his persona and his policies, have become a matter of intense debate, and shall I say controversy, especially with the present ruling dispensation propping him up as an ideological counterfoil to polish its grand Hindutva narrative.
The phrase ‘undeclared emergency’ is not new to Indian political discourse. The features of the Emergency period (1975-77), imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government, have since then provided political actors and analysts alike with a framework of comparison to evaluate the state of Indian democracy.
The legislative initiatives of the Narendra Modi government in the cases relating to CAA/NRC, the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India and the speeches made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while raising plenty of heat and dust, also highlighted the significance and the reach of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the constitutional and political affairs of the country.
In celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the issue most debated is federalism in its various manifestations. Because of the implicit majoritarian manifestation of the Bharatiya Janata Party, questions are being raised regarding accommodation of and tolerance to opposing political parties in power in different federal units. On the basis of the evolving nature of federalism in India, nomenclatures like ‘quasi’, ‘bargaining’, ‘cooperative’, have been affixed as adjectives to the Indian version of federalism.
The books under review are actually two accompanying volumes with forty contributors, the genesis of which lies in an issue of the journal Seminar that Manas Ray had edited in October 2015. Both these volumes engage with the concept of democracy in an unconventional manner. They take the reader beyond the realm of a traditional understanding where the concept and idea of a democracy is mostly perceived and discussed as a ‘political system’ with a written Constitution.
In the new lows that we have reached in our national public lives, none has been as troubling as the self-imposed silence by many writers on the depredations of the RSS and the BJP. Of those who do write critically, about the multiple erosions of our democracy and cultures, it is to a consenting audience or as in the English academia it is in the language of liberal social sciences.
Mohammad Ishaq Khan’s book, brought out eight years after his death, is a collection of articles published/presented over the years by him. The articles have been selected in order to match the theme of the book. In a time when serious aspersions are cast on the concept of Kashmiriyat, and also when the concept has been gravely abused, the book is an attempt to save Kashmiriyat against such raging tides
Jyoti Mukul’s debut volume catalogues the ramifications of the nationwide lockdown announced on 24 March 2020; the subsequent shutting down of the Indian Railways which caused emotional turmoil to millions of migrant workers separated from their families amidst dire economic crisis and a health emergency; and the complete breakdown of the healthcare system during the second wave of the pandemic in 2021 leading to a humanitarian tragedy.