V. 32: No. 5-6, May-June 2004 #372-373
Introduction, p. 1
"Hierarchical Projections of Women in the Household," by Jaya S. Tyagi, p. 3
"Colonialism and competing Addictions," by Amar Farooqui, p. 21
"Spaces for Races," by Neema Cherian, p. 32
"Khadi and its Agency," by Rahul Ramgundam, p. 51
"Partition aof India and women's Experiences," by Anjali Bhardwaj, p. 69
" Book Review," by Projit Bihari Mukharji, p. 89-93
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Introduction by Biswamoy Pati
This issue hopes to bring to our readers some of the diversities related to the discipline of history. Jaya Sinha Tyagi's contribution explores the way brahminical texts confined women to the household and expected them to be controlled by males within it. Simultaneously, women were hierarchised within the household, with the incoming bride being privileged over the daughters. Sinha Tyagi delineates how the compilers of these texts saw the vital role played by the household to maintain social order. As argued, these patriarchal texts hoped to confine women to the household, incorporate and hierarchise them. Consequently, while aiming to harness the specialised function of women related to reproduction, brahminical patriarchy marginalized women. The fact that some of these perceptions have survived up to the present times makes this contribution particularly relevant.
Amar Farooqui takes up the serious linkages between colonialism and opium production for scrutiny. As discussed, the East India Company extended monopoly over opium production. It bought opium directly from the producers and processed it in its own establishments. In fact, the Company brands assumed distinct identities as 'Benaras opium' and `Patna opium'. This opium was then auctioned to private dealers who took the risk of smuggling it to China. Explaining the trade rivalries, Farooqui refers to the Malwa opium-produced mostly in the Indian states-and how the Company intervened to establish monopoly over it. As argued, the higher content of morphine in the Malwa opium not only created a large market for it, but also contributed towards making people addicted to it. What is rather remarkable is the way the neo-colonial order of the US is involved in the production and marketing of narcotics today, which perhaps demonstrates the lessons learnt from Britain's experience in colonial India.
The next three contributions are by young researchers. Neema Cherian focuses on the social history of `camp followers' in the colonial army. She delineates the `amorphous' term used to define a range of the labouring caste groups of the poor, which was recruited to serve the army in the cantonments. Examining the prostitutes and wine distillers/vendors, who were labelled as `racial pollutants', she
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mentions the rhetoric of exclusion that aimed to restrict them in the `pure' zones of the white army. Cherian shows how this `ordering' of the cantonments invoked race and class. As argued, the policy did not work - a feature that is borne out by an increase in alcoholism, and venereal diseases among the white soldiers of the colonial army, as well as the number of orphan children in the military orphan schools.
Rahul Ramagudam's contribution takes up the khadi movement for scrutiny. Situated against the destruction of the traditional industries in India, the charkha and the khadi produced by it emerged as major weapons in the hands of the early nationalists and Gandhi. Ramgudam elaborates some of the features associated with the khadi movement, which acquired 'an identity of being a commodity of exceptional times'. Simultaneously, he refers to some of the inner contradictions generated by the actual functioning of the All India Spinner's Association. As argued, even `while it professed to be a philanthropic enterprise it was run like any other commercial firm'.
The last contributor, Anjali Bhardwaj, takes up the theme of the partition of the sub-continent. She weaves in her contribution through the life stories of those women who had crossed over to India. Her article explores the way their life has been re-shaped by an event that many of them had not understood at that time. Bhardwaj examines how these women have survived and sustained their families over these years. Her contribution illustrates the possibilities of oral history, besides reiterating the importance of gender history.
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