V.29: No.7-8 July-August 2001 #338-339

Editorial Note, p. 1-2.

"Imperialism and the Diffusion of Development," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 3

"Brahmanical Ideology, Regional Identities and the Construction of Early India," Bhairabi Prasad Sahu, p. 3

"The Politics of Translation: Manto's Partition Stories and Khalid Hasan's English Version," Alok Bhalla, p. 19

"1930: Turning Point in the Participation of Women in the Freedom Struggle," Manini Chatterjee, p. 39

"The Political Economy of Communalism: Some Observations on the Contemporary Political Discourse in India," V. Krishna Ananth, p. 48

"Anthropology in the Aesthetics of the Young Lukacs," Margit Koves, p 68

BOOK REVIEW, p.82-87. Biswamoy Pati's book review titled "Under the Magic Spell of the Hindu Middle Class... of Gyan Prakash, Another Reason: Science and the Imaginatin of Modern India, Princeton University Press, 2000, 304 pages, $17.95

TRIBUTE: "Remembering Arun Ghosh," Ashok Mitra, Arun Kumar, 88 338-339

Editoial Note

     At least twenty persons belonging to the tribal population of Rayagada district of Orissa have died from eating mango kernels. The Orissa administration, from the Chief Minister downwards, insists that these are not starvation deaths, since mango kernels are habitually consumed by the tribals anyway. They may be right. What constitutes starvation death being a matter of definition, these deaths may not fall under that rubric. But, the fact that more than half a century after independence a significant part of the population of this country has to survive on mango kernels is a matter of national shame. The fact that this happens even in a situation where over fifty million tonnes of foodgrains are rotting in government godowns is not just shameful; it is criminal.

     The so-called "economic liberalization", which has entailed drastic cuts in government expenditure in rural areas, and hence curtailed even the limited purchasing power that used to come into the hands of the rural poor, is of course the immediate reason behind this state of acute misery. But there is something more. The baleful effects of "liberalization" are superimposed on a base which is quite intolerable anyway.

     Why should such intolerable living conditions, greatly aggravated no doubt by "liberalization", exist at all? Paradoxically, India's record in this respect is abysmal even compared to countries of East and South East Asia, despite the fact that in many of those countries the poor scarcely had any political rights for long stretches of time, while India has continuously had universal adult franchise for the last fifty years. To say that this is because average growth rates in those countries were higher than in India is nonsense. Growth rates as such have little bearing on poverty: the state of the rural poor in India for instance has become worse if anything during the nineties when the country's growth rate has allegedly accelerated.

     The conclusion is perhaps inescapable that India's uniquely oppressive, caste-ridden, social structure prevents a distribution of the means of consumption with anything like the degree of equality achievable in other Asian countries. And the reaction of the Orissa administration to the allegations of starvation deaths reveals unwittingly the nauseating contempt in which the tribal population


is held by the establishment: it is almost suggested that the tribals are stupid enough to prefer mango kernels to rice; so, if they die in the process then what can anyone do? "Liberalization" which has vastly increased inequalities over the last decade gets nourishment precisely from this soil.

     The lead article by Bhairabi Prasad Sahu in the current number of Social Scientist, while arguing for a change of perspective in the writing of Indian history, makes, in passing, a point similar to the one above. He sees the Brahmanical ideology as supporting the "caste land-power pyramid" which denied property rights in land to "the untouchables": they remained landless labourers despite land abundance in the country.

     Paradoxically they continue to remain landless labourers (predominantly), even half a century after independence. Radical land reforms which could have dealt a blow to this uniquely oppressive system were eschewed. The bourgeoisie's compromise with landlordism contained within itself the prospects not only of a cul de-sac for the path of development being pursued, but also, as Krishna Ananth argues in his piece, of a fascist threat, such as what we are witnessing today.

     Saadat Hasan Manto's partition stories are moving, powerful, and stunningly evocative of the frenzy of the times. They constitute some of the finest examples of creative writing in the subcontinent in modern times. Alok Bhalla in his piece shows why Khalid Hasan's English translation of these stories, which has been much praised, is in fact "too weak and sentimental, partisan and censorious" to do justice to Manto, to reveal his true significance to us.

     Margit Koves discusses the anthropology in the aesthetics of the young Lukacs, taking four of his works: Diary, The History and Development of Modern Drama, Soul and Form, and Theory of the Novel. She also discusses how Lukacs' philosophy developed from being subject-centred to acquiring a being-centred character.

     Finally, we publish the text of Manim Chatterjee's Pritilata Wadedar memorial lecture, delivered earlier this year at Jadavpur University, Calcutta, where she argues that 1930 marked a watershed in the participation of women in the freedom struggle, in both its Gandhian and revolutionary forms.

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