Does Sayed Haider Raza’s Abstract Expressionist painting, Zamin—widely held to embody the ‘eternal land’ of India—in fact register the traumatic schisms of the Subcontinent? Questions of aesthetics and canonization, history and nation, in a reappraisal of some landmark works of Indian Modernism.
The ‘New’ India
Powerful critique of the skewed political economy of Modi’s India, where a puny state—corollary of a vast informal economy—is penetrated through and through by politically connected vested interests, while major obstacles to the country’s development—creaking infrastructure, poor healthcare and education—go unattended.
Structures of Oppression
The notion of ‘caste’ has gained currency as a descriptor of America’s racial order. Sketch for a systematic comparison of African-American and Dalit predicaments, querying the analogies, in an engagement with Sujatha Gidla and Alan Horn’s ‘Caste, Race—and Class’ in NLR 131.
India's Two Hegemonies
How to grasp what’s new in the rule of right-wing strongmen like India’s Narendra Modi? Systematic comparison of the predominance of today’s BJP with that of the Congress Party under Nehru and his descendants. Contrasts of leadership style and party organization—continuities of cow-belt base, regional chauvinism and border enforcement.
Gendered Violence and India’s Body Politic
Falling demand for female labour and rising dowry thresholds as factors behind mounting attacks on women; gang-rape as an instrument of caste-oppression; a culture of impunity in conflict zones; son-preference, girl-aversion and the missing. Manali Desai surveys the modalities of violence against women since Independence.
Who Is Delhi’s Common Man?
The Aam Aadmi Party emerged from mass anti-corruption protests to sweep the board in regional elections for India’s capital city. Can its rule in Delhi open up space for popular mobilization on the national stage, challenging the rise of communalism, or will the party be sucked into humdrum parliamentary routines?
A Footloose Scholar
The descendant of Dutch bargees, Jan Breman has been investigating workers’ lives for half a century, travelling from rural Gujarat to the Javanese uplands and now coastal China. The social relations patterning control of land and labour framed in historical perspective, from colonial plantations to the globalized informal economy.
Achin Vanaik explores the specificities of India’s social formation and its lefts, in the only country where both Stalinism and Maoism remain significant political actors. In the wake of recent electoral reverses, what are the prospects for radical renewal?
Red Bengal’s Rise and Fall
After the CPM’s ejection from office in Calcutta, how to explain the remarkable longevity of its rule and causes of its eventual downfall? Kheya Bag surveys the record of its three decades in power, and the mechanisms that sustained—and subverted—the party’s hold on the state.
Cosmopolitanism’s Alien Face
The interweaving of literary affinities and cross-cultural influences, occluded by postcolonialist discourse, that characterized a vanished cosmopolitan modernism. Amit Chaudhuri explores paradoxes of belonging and defamiliarization in Bloomsbury and Bombay.
Drawing on fieldwork in India, Kaushik Sunder Rajan analyses the mechanics of global pharmaceutical trials. The outsourcing of drug testing not as neo-colonial plunder, but part of a dual dynamic, under the aegis of ‘biocapital’: expropriation of Third World subjects, exploitation of medicated populations in the First.
East as a Career
Oriental orientalism? Amit Chaudhuri unravels assumptions in the charge, levelled at India’s anglophone writers, of exoticizing the Subcontinent for Western markets—and explores alternative strategies of estrangement that would disrupt conventional national narratives.
Forward March of Hindutva Halted?
Ambiguous reasons for the unexpected relief of the BJP’s ouster in New Delhi: less a clear-cut verdict on Hindutva or neoliberalism than vicissitudes of regional power-broking and first-past-the-post electoral lottery? Congress caught between loyalty to the stock market and pressures of the poor, as it seeks to recover its position as the mainstream reference of Indian capital.
How the Indian version of the Three Gorges Dam—the great series of barrages planned by state governments and international financial institutions in the Narmada Valley—was fought to a provisional halt by village resistance, in a popular campaign with lessons for every society in the Third World.
What Women Demand of Technology
“Looking back, my interest in technology must have begun somewhere around 1947—it started in my mother’s kitchen where, I still remember, she used to resort to ingenious fuel-saving devices in order to stretch the small sum of money that she had for feeding her six children, elderly parent-in-law . . .” read more
Reflections on Communalism and Nationalism in India
“It is widely agreed that the spectre of growing communalism is the most important issue facing India today. In the battle for the soul of Indian nationalism three positions have been staked out. Firstly, there are those who insist that Indian nationalism must rest on cultural and psychological . . .” read more
The Indian Left
“The record of the major formations of the Indian Left is contradictory in the extreme. Alone in the capitalist world, the two Communist parties (cpi and cpm) have had lengthy experience of administering semi-autonomous regions, while their respective trade union federations have played a major role . . .” read more
The Rajiv Congress in Search of Stability
“Never since the early days of independence has any government in New Delhi received the kind of acclaim that Rajiv Gandhi’s has enjoyed from bourgeois commentators at home and in the West. The eastern bloc, if not so vociferous, has certainly not sounded a dissenting note. The ‘Rajiv . . .” read more
Women’s Liberation in India
“The birth of the women’s liberation movement was the result of a unique and sharply polarized political conjuncture, between the years 1968 and 1975, which had a radicalizing effect throughout the world. Many of the women involved in the social and political struggles of that period became the . . .” read more
“Midnight’s Children has been widely acclaimed as a literary tour de force. It has won plaudits for its author, Salman Rushdie, from critics throughout the Anglo-Saxon world and has been awarded the prestigious Booker Prize. Rushdie has been compared, at different times, to Gunter Grass and Gabriel . . .” read more
The Fall of Congress in India
“The outcome of the 1977 general election represents a watershed in the history of modern Indian politics. For four whole days the Indian electors—almost 200 million men and women—flocked to the polling booths in town and countryside. Deprived by the Emergency of virtually all forms of extra-parliamentary dissent . . .” read more
Memoir of an Indian Communist
“Why do you think the CPI took such a long time to establish itself? What was its early activity and its relations with the nationalist movement: could it be that the infamous ‘Third Period’ of the Comintern also seriously disoriented Indian communists by isolating them at a critical . . .” read more
Introduction to Damodaran
“On 26 June, Indira Gandhi introduced a State of Emergency which led immediately to the arrest of several hundred opposition leaders and to the imposition of a draconian press censorship on the country’s normally vigorous bourgeois press. Emboldened by the feeble response to these measures, Indira Gandhi induced . . .” read more
Vortex in India
“A Socialist revolution in India would be an event of fundamental significance to the international class struggle. An immense population of 550 million whose rural and urban masses are plunged in abysmal misery and unemployment make India one of the great potential storm-centres within world capitalism. In the . . .” read more
“On May 1st, 1969, Kanyu Sanyal, leader of the Naxalbari peasant movement in West Bengal, announced at a rally in Calcutta the formation of the ‘Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)’. The emergence of the new party aroused torrents of criticism from all other political organizations in India. Demands . . .” read more
India and the Labour Party
“Many questions suggest themselves about the influence that India may have had on the Labour Party, a good deal stronger in all probability than the party’s influence on India; about India as one of the taproots of the peculiar British social-democratic mentality. It could be argued that the . . .” read more
“The world seems suddenly to have woken up to the fact that India is in a mess—because it has been extremely badly governed. British liberals and socialists have been among the chief perpetrators of the myths that India is a democracy and that the forces of democracy are . . .” read more
Indian Planning and Indian Realities
“A. H. Hanson’s book on India’s Five-Year-Plans is the work of a specialist in political and administrative problems. The greater part of it is therefore devoted to questions raised by the organization of the various institutions which participate in drawing up the plans and in carrying them out. . . .” read more