There is a common belief that books published by government departments are not worthy of serious evaluation because of the lackadaisical treatment they generally receive from their publishers. But exceptions are there and this book under review happens to be one.
In 1980 two outstanding books have appeared on South Indian History or more specifically Cola history. One is of course by Burton Stein, the veteran Indologist (‘Peasant State and Society in Medieval South India’, Oxford University Press, 1980). The other is the book under review.
An understanding of the period from 1830 when Raja Rammohan Roy took first faltering steps on the road to what later came to be known as the Indian Renaissance, to 1947, the year which became the culmination point for various socio-political processes, is essential for a correct appraisal of our present predicament.
This book won considerable acclaim when it was first published (by Virago) in 1978 for its exposure of the terrible condition of Asian Women workers in Britain. This book is more a political document than a sociological monograph—while it is based on a series of interviews with Asian Women it is not so much a survey of conditions as demonstration of their nascent political unity.
Nobody may dispute that Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly called JP, has been an important factor in Indian polity for about half a century. Starting as a Marxist (while a student in the United States of America!), he became a votary of non-violence under Gandhi’s influence and took part in the various satyagraha movements launched by the Mahatma for the country’s freedom.