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Harbans Mukhia

Perishing Memory

The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First Person Accounts by Ishtiaq Ahmed (New Delhi: Rupa and Company), 2011; pp liv + 754, Rs 995.

Liberal Democracy and Its Slippages

In some important ways, human history has been a site for repeated assertion of egalitarian urges, manifest in religious, as well as secular ideologies. On the other hand, individual acquisitiveness in the context of socialised production has resulted in encompassing inequalities, yet this has been the driving force for change. Karl Marx envisaged an alternative in the abolition of private property and complete socialisation of production and distribution of wealth, he also visualised technology increasingly displacing human labour in the process of economic production. While his latter vision is coming true in some measure, the substitution of the denial of the self for society as motor for production has proved a disaster. Does the experience, however, terminate the search for an alternative to personal acquisition as the guide for economic and social development?

Communal Violence and Transmutation of Identities

Violence as patriarchy derives from the capitalist ideology of ' success'. Virtually any kind of political violence, besides war for the conquest of territory, is predicated upon one or another of such transmutations of identities.

Dynamics of Rural Power

Land, Power and People: Rural Elite in Transition, 1801-1970 by Rajendra Singh; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1988; pp 264, Rs 195.
IN an ambitious project undertaken by sociologist Rajendra Singh for his doctoral research, of which this book is a revised version, he attempts "to go beyond the conventionally entrenched theoretic and methodological traditions of social science in India" (Preface). Singh effects a two-fold departure from 'conventional' sociology. In constituting the category of rural elite he abandons the hitherto accepted mode of counting the holders of statutory positions of power and authority, MPs, ML As, bureaucrats, etc, and analyses others who comprise elite groups by virtue of their social, economic or, for that matter, historically evolved status. Singh repeatedly highlights this as his major achievement; for arriving at it, he effects the second departure by meandering through seventeen decades of the history of the small region of his study, Basti, in the foothills of the Himalayas in east UP The historical dimension too is usually shunned by sociologists. Through a combination of archival and field research Singh seeks to deal with "the genesis and structure of power and authority in the Indian countryside. The dynamics of power and authority are examined against the background of the historically changing relationship between land, power and people" (p 11, emphasis in original).

Seminar on New History

A recent seminar on 'New History' attempted a 'reconnaissance9 of areas of mutual interest between Indian and European historians belonging to the tradition of New History. It was part of the objective of systematising and placing on a collective footing the search for a common terrain of methodological cross-fertilisation.

Communalism and Indian Politics

Communalism and Indian Politics Harbans Mukhia COMMUNALISM, in its most commonly perceived-form, is the phenomenon of religious differences between groups often leading to tension, and even rioting, between them. In its not- so violent manifestation communulism amounts to discrimination against a religious group in matters of employment or education or whatever. By the same logic secularism seeks to negate discrimination and tension based on creed by treating all religions with equal degree of respect in private and public life and by recognising equal title of citizens belonging to all religious groups to participate in and benefit from the country's progress. It is in this sense that secularism has been adopted as the keynote of Indian state policy since independence by successive governments, It can perhaps be argued that this cornmunalism/secularism dichotomy, far from being dichotomous, in fact belongs to a range of analysis the categories of which are themselves essentially communal In this dichotomy the locus of communalism is placed at the point of tension, either in the form of discrimination or in the extreme form of a riot. But tension

Communalism and the Writing of Indian History

place of analysis, he offers authorities: the book is full of quotations on very disparate subjects