V.30: No. 3-4 March-April 2002 #346-347

Editorial note, p. 1

"A Narrative of Restoration: Gandhi's Last Years and Nehruvian Secularism," Kumkum Sangari, p. 3

"Excluding the Needy: The Public Provisioning of Food in India," Madhura Swaminathan, p. 34

"Notes on Marx's Critique of Classical Political Economy," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 59

"Globalization and Literature in Hungary," Margit Koves, p. 68

"Religion and State in India and Search for Rationality," Satish Chandra, p. 78

p. 85. Lata Singh's review titled "Studying the Language of Protest" of Arun Kumar, Rewriting the Language of Politics: Kisans in Colonial Bihar, New Delhi, 2001, Manohar, 234 pages, Rs. 475.
p. 88. Jayati Srivastava's review titled "Unequal Partners" of G.K. Lieten and Ravi Srivastava, Unequal Partners: Power Relations, Devolution and Development in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi:Sage, 1999, pp. 297, Rs. 395 (HB)

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Editorial Note

What is happening in India. today is an attempt to replace the liberal bourgeois State by a fascist State, which its proponents call Hindu Rashtra. What is worrisome about this attempt is that the fascists who wish to effect this change are also occupying the leading position within the liberal bourgeois State itself. As a result the "dual power" that characterises all such transitional periods shows itself in our context not as a conflict between the existing State and the State-in-the-process-of-becoming, but the latter together with powerful elements of the existing State on'one side against the residual elements of the existing State on the other. This makes the situation extremely precarious: important battles are decided almost on the toss of a coin, such as for instance the Supreme Court decision in mid-March not to allow shilanyas on the disputed site in Ayodhya. (The decision could, quite conceivably, have gone the other way and given a big boost to the fascists). To be sure, the fascists are as yet far from acquiring the strategic strength to effect a change: their support among the masses, quite inadequate to start with, has been dwindling fast. But any complacency on account of this in the face of their offensive can be dangerous.

An important weapon in this offensive is the denigration of the basic principles of the existing State, such as secularism. And in this denigration the fascists have the benefit of making use of the intellectual contribution of a host of other, non-fascist, tendencies. The view that secularism, in the sense of a separation of religion from politics, is a "Western import", "alien to the Indian soil", does not emanate from the fascists. It has, unfortunately, more respectable intellectual pedigree. And in this context Gandhi's name is often dragged in as a believer in an alternative paradigm of "secularism" (if one can call it that), different from the "Western version". We feel particularly glad therefore to publish in the current number of Social Scientist an article by Kumkum Sangari which explores Gandhi's ideas on the subject, and their evolution, and in the process dispels many of the myths that have been built up around it.

We are also witnessing in India today the absurd phenomenon of enormous,foodgrain stocks coexisting with mass hunger. This


phenomenon is used by the Bretton Woods institutions and economists under their hegemony to push for the adoption of a neo-liberal agenda in India's food economy. Some of the arguments advanced by them are the following: a point of saturation has been reached in the matter of meeting the food demand of the Indian people, so that now there should be diversification of land away from foodgrains to export crops; the high stocks are the result of high procurement prices which reflect the danger of having large-scale State intervention in the foodgrain market and call for a withdrawal of the State from this sphere; the Food Corporation of India is an unwieldy and inefficient body and the management of the food economy should be removed from its hands and left to the state governments; and so on. Madhura Swaminathan's Daniel Thorner Memorial lecture discusses all these issues. It presents a powerful and cogent critique of the neo-liberal prescriptions for India's food economy, and outlines an alternative vision.

Margit Koves's paper is concerned with an apparent paradox central to the globalization process, namely globalization of the economic realm is associated simultaneously with the growth of narrow identity politics. The paper discusses the exploration of this dialectic in contemporary Hungarian literature, focussing on the work of two authors, Kertesz and Esterhazy. We also publish in this number a short paper by Prabhat Patnaik which was presented at a seminar at the CIEFL, Hydeabad, and which takes a fresh look at Marx's critique of Classical Political Economy.

Finally, Professor Satish Chandra's paper which constitutes the text of his Haksar Memorial Lecture was supposed to have appeared in the last number of Social Scientist, and the editorial note of that number had even introduced the paper. By an oversight however it did not get included in that issue. We apologize for the mistake and are including it in the current number.

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Webber Philip McEldowney
Last Update - Friday, 16 October 2009