Where Lies The Burden of Moral Action?
T.C.A. Srinivasa Raghavan
ETHICAL LIFE IN SOUTH ASIA by Anand Pandian Oxford University Press, 2011, 290 pp., 695
August 2017, volume 35, No 8/9

Good books often get their timing wrong. In the current context in India, where morality and ethics are both at a discount, this book is both timely and excellent. It comprises a collection of papers, of somewhat uneven quality, presented at a workshop in 2007 in Vancouver on South Asian ethical practices. It is not likely to become a bestseller. Such books never do. There will not be any TV shows on it and the chatterati will not mumble inanities. Yet, it is likely to go down as one of the better publishing decisions of the year, not least because morality has become a subject of intense discussion and debate in South Asia. The essays look at the topic from very different directions and, at times, the reader may get the impression that there is no underlying unity amongst them. After all, the link between a medieval gym and manliness therein on the one hand and subhasitas on the other is not quite obvious. Ethics and their expression in South Asia have been dealt with from various perspectives and, for those who like such discussions, the book is a veritable feast—whether one agrees with the views or not.

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