v. 44: No. 9-10 September-October 2016 #520-521
Book Reviews, p. 71-91
O.P. Jaiswal and Bijoy Kumar Choudhary (ed.), Archaeology and Art of Ganga, Gandak and Kosi Basin, Bihar: A Felicitation Volume in Honour of Dr. P. Gupta, Manak Publications Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 2014, 390 pages, Rs 1000. p. 77. Shreyas Sreenath's review of
Nayanika Mathur, Paper Tiger: Law, bureaucracy and the developmental state in Himalayan India, Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, Cambridge University Press, Delhi, 2016, 214 pages, Rs 795. p. 81. Mayank Kumar's review of
Ranjeeta Dutta, From Hagiographies to Biographies: Ramanuja in Tradition and History, , Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2014, xii+247 pages, Rs 895. p. 85. Manmohan Krishna's review of
Venkat Dhulipala, Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India, Cambridge University Press, Delhi, 2015, 530 pages, Rs 625 p. 88-91. Anisha Bordoloi's review of
Bikash Nath, Tea Plantation Workers of Assam and the Indian National Movement 1921-1947, Primus Books, New Delhi, 2016, 360 pages, Rs 1950.
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As the lead article of the current issue of Social Scientist we publish the text of K.N. Panikkar's Chukkapalli Pitchaiah Memorial lecture for 2016, where the author discusses the issue of nationalism. While anti-colonial nationalism in India succeeded in mobilising people against the colonial order and forging emotional links among them, it did little to overcome the contradictions that existed among them in terms of caste, class and religion; on the contrary, these contradictions got exacerbated in the period after independence, creating the conditions for an aggressive 'Hindu religious nationalism' to try to supplant the secular-liberal nationalism of our anti-colonial struggle that constitutes the foundation of our polity. Since this Hindu religious nationalism has no solutions to offer to the people's problems, it has a vested interest in keeping people in a state of cultural backwardness and to promote conformism among the literati; what is enthusing, however, is how thousands of young men and women, especially in our universities, are speaking out against this cultural-ideological retrogression.
Panikkar also decries a tendency that is observable within the resistance to such retrogression to pit Gandhi or Marx against Ambedkar and to pick one of them as being right while the other two are deemed to be wrong. He expresses himself in favour of combining the central ideas of all three and exploring the convergence between them.
Sagar Sanyal's article conceptualizing 'exploitation' provides simul-taneously a critique of the liberal tradition whose starting point is the concept of 'fairness' of distribution or 'distributive justice'; 'unfairness' is then treated within this moral discourse as a contingent phenomenon to be removed through 'reforms' in the system. Authors who have sought to push this liberal discourse in a Marxist direction by raising the question of coercion underlying wage-work, i.e. by bringing the notion of 'freedom' into the discussion, also remain confined by and large to this terrain of rather genteel argumentation; the same is also true of other authors who change the metric to which the criterion of'fairness' is applied, from income alone to 'capabilities' or other such concepts. Sanyal critiques the usual Marxist understanding of the term 'exploitation', which uses the Labour Theory of Value to look at the divergence between the value added by labour and the value of labour-power, for not being too dissimilar from this discourse. He suggests instead an alternative way of looking at 'exploitation' which links
Social Scientist, p. 2
it to the question of rule, and hence focuses in a comprehensive sense on a whole ensemble: the direction of labour-power, and the direction of social product, for the reproduction of class rule.
The fate of Syriza in Greece raises an important question: are we now seeing in the European periphery a re-enactment of the kind of scenario that has typically characterized the global south? The fact that the so-called 'European project' has reached a dead-end in its present form can scarcely be doubted; many on the European Left would want a revival of it in a new form. But is it all a matter affecting Europe alone, or is there a general phenomenon encompassing the European South and the global South that we are witnessing today, with the emergence of a new kind of politics? This is one among the many important questions discussed by Vaibhav Abnave in his paper.
Shamir Hasan provides a succinct account of Israeli encroachment on Palestinian lands through the aggressive promotion of settlements. The population in these settlements has been growing at a much faster rate than in Israel as a whole, and at present around 8 per cent of Israel's population is located in these settlements whose mushrooming has not been deterred by any of the so-called Peace Accords. The expropriation of Palestinian lands and the restrictions on water availability on them has throttled Palestine's agriculture and thrown up a 'free floating reserve army of labour' which has little prospect of any gainful employment and is often forced to migrate abroad.
Finally, the paper by Parimala Rao highlights the fact that many Scot-tish officers within the colonial administration in India had a dissenting view on colonial education policy. Having themselves come up the hard way from humble backgrounds through access to English education, they often played an active role in promoting modern education for Indian chil-dren from humble backgrounds. It is their experience of the Scottish edu-cation system rather than the influence of Scottish Enlightenment which is likely to have been the more significant factor underlying their dissent.
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