Critical Issues

The book under review here is a selection of columns contributed by the author, between December 2006 to December 2008, to the Business Standard and Outlook. As one may expect from such a volume, a large number of questions of contemporary relevance are touched upon in these short essays although the major concerns of the book happens to be the recent global economic crisis and its implication for India, as well as reflections on critical issues facing the Indian economy.

Contextualizing Waste and Recycling

In a refreshing departure from existing studies and understandings of urban informal economy in general, and, scavenging, waste and recycling economy in particular, the above book provides a contextualized picture of a waste and recycling chain, which study necessitated that the author supplement field economics with anthropology and sociology, quantitative with qualitative methodology, and traverse different levels—micro, meso and macro.

Understanding Transitions

R.S. Sharma’s work is marked by a particular and long-term commitment to both his politics and history. The essays in this volume address many themes: from colonial historiography to nationalist utopias; from issues of methodology to the mode of production; from marking transitions to a detailed study of social relations. Taken together, they provide both a starting point to discuss his work and an indication of the range of his interests.

Of Separations, Squalor and Self-expression

Sikeena Karmali’s ‘Chahar Bagh: The Mulberry Courtesan’ is the longest in this collection of twenty-two stories. Like Tabish Khair’s
‘Night of 16th January, 1955,’ Uzma Aslam Khan’s ‘From Trespassing’ and Mohsin Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist,’ it is an extract out of a novel, although this one was awaiting publication when this book appeared in print. Its length would justify the present compilation being called Chahar Bagh and Other Stories.