ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changing Hearts and Minds through Non-violent Protest?

Gandhian Non-violent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924-25 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change by Mary Elizabeth King; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp xxi, 344, Rs 995.

Tribute to Kanu Bhavsar - Activist, Researcher, Therapist

Kanu Bhavsar, one of the leaders of the Navnirman movement against the corrupt Congress regime in Gujarat in the 1970s, passed away in Delhi on 3 February 2015. Although Bhavsar did not publish a book, set up an institution or make a political name for himself, he touched the lives of many.

Remembering Pandian

M S S Pandian, who passed away in New Delhi after a cardiac arrest on 10 November 2014, at the age of 57, was among the younger members who joined the editorial collective of the Subaltern Studies in 1990. A few of us had known him from the time he was a PhD student at the University of Madras,...

New Light on Gandhi's Early Life

Gandhi Before India by Ramachandra Guha (London and New Delhi: Allen Lane), 2013; pp xiv + 673, Rs 899.

Gandhi's Adaptable Non-Violence

In his comment (“Gandhi’s Flexible Non-Violence”, EPW, 3 August 2013) on my article (“Towards a History of Non-Violent Resistance”, EPW,8 June 2013), Sumanta Banerjee states that he wants to put the record straight on Gandhian non-violence, and refers to a statement that Gandhi made in an interview...

Towards a History of Non-violent Resistance

Following on from Gandhi, peace activists have created a large body of work on the strategy of non-violent protest that brings out both its strengths and advantages over and above violent insurrection. This literature has not, however, constructed a convincing history of the non-violent method. Most have depicted it as a timeless phenomenon, found in all historical societies in one form or another. Rather, it is, as this essay suggests, a method rooted in modernity, arising out of a particular strategic reaction to the coercive and legal apparatuses of the modern state.

Practices of Healing in Tribal Gujarat

Healthcare for the tribal population of Gujarat is highly inadequate, with people being systematically exploited by both legitimate doctors and quacks. Alternative forms of treatment continue to flourish, whether by traditional healers or by Christian faith healers. Three modes of healing - the biomedical, the traditional and Christian faith healing - are examined in this paper. Each can be seen to cater for particular needs, and so long as present socio-economic conditions remain as they are in the tribal regions, and the public healthcare system exists as it does, it seems unlikely that there will be any significant change.

'Healing, Medical Power and the Poor: Contests in Tribal India'

A recent workshop in Surat on access to healing and medical intervention for tribal people brought together academics, grassroots workers and activists and revealed deteriorating traditional systems and inadequate and/or exploitative state and private interventions for these communities. Rather than exoticising and romanticising tribal communities, it is their pauperisation that needs to be addressed and remedied.

Passing Blame on Godhra Muslims

A history of 'anti-national' activity is being woven for Godhra putting together a series of incidents from the past. A clear examination of one such incident of 1928 reveals that as in February 2002, then too the hostility was rooted in pernicious but local political traditions, requiring only a spark to prompt a sudden and tragic escalation of violence.

Adivasis, on Their Own Terms

Adivasis, on Their Own Terms Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India by Ajay Skaria; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp XXIV+324, Rs 595.

Of Forests and Its Plunderers

David Hardiman Nature and the Orient: The Environmental History of South and South-east Asia, by Richard H Grove, Vinita Damodaran and Satpal Sangwan (eds); Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1998; pp 1056.

Well Irrigation in Gujarat-Systems of Use, Hierarchies of Control

THE history of well irrigation during the colonial period is a somewhat neglected one. This is in contrast to the study of canal- systems, which dominates the literature for that period-1 Wells, however, provided the chief form of irrigation in many parts of India in the pie-colonial era,2 as they do again today.3 It was only during the colonial period and early post-colonial period that they suffered a temporary, and only partial, eclipse. It was estimated at the beginning of the 20th century that whereas government-owned canals provided water for about 41 per cent of the irrigated land of British India, wells provided for about 30 percent of the whole.4 In 1949-50, figures for the irrigated area of the rather different land-mass covered by the new state of India showed government canals covering 34.01 per cent of the total, wells 27.49 per cent. Well-irrigated land exceeded government-canal irrigated land from 1971-72 onwards.5 Elizabeth Whitcombe, in her study of the effects of British canals on agriculture in Uttar Pradesh (UP), shows that once the canals were built and canal-water became available, irrigation-wells were neglected and soon collapsed,* But what of the many areas in which wells continued to provide the chief source of irrigation throughout the colonial period? One of the few historians to examine such areas in any detail is Christopher Baker, in his history of rural Tamil Nadu between 18S0 and 1955. He argues that the British, in seeking to turn agriculture into an instrument of accumulation, concentrated their resources on canal-irrigation in the deltaic regions of south India, neglecting irrigation in the uplands, which was predominantly from tanks and wells. The only area in which there was any marked expansion in well-irrigation during the 19th century was Coimbatore, where the dominant Gounder peasantry had the resources to finance their own construction. During the first half of the 20th century, the advent of new pumping technology saw considerable growth in this sector over a wider area; in 1900 wells provided water for about a Fifth of the total irrigated land of Tamil Nadu, by the second world war, a quarter. The expansion was however almost entirely financed by the farmers themselves; the government provided very little help.7 In such a perspective. the resurgence of well-irrigation during the 20th century might seem like a victory of the small-scale and local over the large-scale, monolithic and centralised forms of water-provision favoured by the colonial state. Any celebration of this would appear, however, to be premature. This is because over the past 30 years, extraction of groundwater from wells has in many areas far surpassed any natural replenishment in the sub-soil. Many wells have as a result gone dry. Each year farmers have to bore wells deeper and deeper at greater and greater expense to obtain any supply at all To recoup the investment, the well-owner needs to sell as much of this water as possible to other farmers-frequently carried over long distances in pipes so long as the well remains productive. Furthermore, in many coastal regions, the depletion of ground water has led to ingress by sea-water, so that wells become filled with salty water When used for irrigation, crop-yields decline sharply. The vicious circles thus created are having devastating environmental consequences in many prime agricultural areas of India.1 Beta Bhatia, in an excellent article on this problem as it exists in Gujarat today, has

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