This collection of lectures organized by the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, two years ago to reassess the relevance of Jawaharlal Nehru of the modern world makes pleasant reading. The writers are all well-known experts on politics, foreign policy, national security and modern Indian history.
Krishnan Srinivasan has worked at high levels in the Foreign Service and the Commonwealth Secretariat. He has spent several years in Africa where he seems to have acquired an insider’s perspective into the shuffle and elbowing that go by the name of diplomacy in most countries. This is Srinivasan’s second book, which he describes as his prequel to The Eccentric Effect, published in 2001.
Azhagia Periavan (Aravindhan) is one of the young Dalit writers in Tamil who claim attention for their authentic and honest portrayal of the life of the oppressed classes. The portrayal is, on occasions, too real and raw to be art, and a conscious process of transformation of the raw material into finished product might have made the stories richer and given the writer also a kind of training in critical intelligence.
Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi (1855- 1907) wrote and published four parts of his novel Sarasvatichandra between 1887 and 1901. For over a century it has remained a canonical text of Gujarati literature, unmatched in popularity and influence. Govardhanram chose the novel form not for its aesthetic possibilities but because it allowed shaping the minds of his people.
Martin Macwan’s Mari Katha is the tale of not just one individual, the author, as the title, “My Story”, would lead one to believe, but that of an entire community—the dalits of rural Gujarat. The book is based on Macwan’s personal experiences with the dalit community. A number of dalit people contributed to this work by reading its drafts and offering suggestions, which were incorporated by Macwan, who gratefully acknowledges their efforts.
Gujarat has become a byword used casually for the way the historical state has slowly been turning into History. The Kandala tornado, the droughts, the earthquake, the Godhra carnage and the subsequent riots, have made ‘Gujarat’ into a political headline that drowns other voices.
The issue of disability as a field of academic study as well as a ground for activism is gaining prominence not only the world over but in India too. The recognition of disability as a rights issue in India emerged as significant when the Persons With Disabilities Act was passed in 1995. Another instance was when the disabled demanded that they be included in the Census 2001.
This is a tensely argued book, which was submitted perhaps a decade ago in Cambridge, as a doctoral thesis. I have heard interesting snippets of it at seminars, at Teen Murti Library (NMML) and the Institute of Economic Growth since 1995 or so, and have been waiting for it to be in print for many years.
Gender & Caste is a significant contribution to the ongoing efforts at understanding the imbrications of caste related issues with other political concerns. It represents the first attempt at bringing together essays that are exploring the critical interconnections between caste and gender. And precisely for that reason it is striking that this anthology on caste is the first in the series “Issues in Contemporary Indian Feminism” edited by Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and published by Kali for Women in association with the Book Review Literary Trust, New Delhi.
Dedicated to Dharma Kumar, this book by Beteille is a collection of 12 papers published elsewhere between 1978 and 1999. These are reflective pieces on Indian society’s uneven experiences in the course of transition from a traditional to a modernizing one. Antinomies are not the same as binary opposites, though they are a sort of contradiction in norms and values (rather than the socioeconomic features of the roles and relationships) deployed by the society as it regulates itself.
The vital importance of this timely and extremely well-written book cannot be stressed enough. In the surcharged atmosphere characterizing the contemporary discourse on conversion in India, where emotions run high, and where perceptions and prejudices clash with the deafening sound of incomprehensibility, where well-disposed and sensitive-minded people are often overwhelmed by the unfortunate directions which the debate on conversion often takes, Sebastian Kim offers us a sober, carefully researched and painstakingly documented book on the emergence of the conversion issue during the last one hundred and fifty years in pre- and post-independent India.
The Madhva Matha of Udupi, founded by Madhvacharya, the proponent of the dvaita, is a fascinating institution. It is an octagonal arrangement where eight Mathas (or Matthas, as pronounced in Kannada) taking their names from villages near the temple town of Udupi have the right of conducting worship in the Krishna Temple by rotation.