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

Articles by Sumanta BanerjeeSubscribe to Sumanta Banerjee

Art in the Time of Cholera

There is no end to the variety of vulnerable sentiments that our politicians and administrators suffer from - religious, cultural, national, regional, etc, etc. At the slightest scratch on any of them, the government clamps down a ban on, or tries by other means to stifle, works of literature and art that touch upon these sacrosanct subjects.

West Bengal: Violence without Ideology

In its nature and causes the violence that is now shaking the West Bengal countryside is significantly different from the class-based Naxalite upheaval of the 1960-70 period and from the caste-based violence that can be seen in parts of north India. Underneath this difference lurks a socio-economic crisis.

Beyond the Autonomy Debate

The autonomy resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly has revived the opportunity for the much-needed debate on an issue that has both historical roots and future implications.

Serenading the Emergency

Judging by present trends, the Emergency is not something to be remembered as a distant past, but to be regarded as a spreading canker the germs of which were implanted in our society 25 years ago.

From Self-determination to Self-destruction

There is a feeling of deja vu in the political air. The unwavering sameness of the contradictory signals on Kashmir forebodes another round of official goof-ups and lies as in the past. There is the same old talk about dialogues with various groups in Kashmir, accompanied by continuing atrocities...

From Bragging to Begging

Looking back at the epidemic of Clintonmania that gripped the country during the US president's visit, one is left with the suspicion that the Indian people - both the urban elite and the rural poor - suffer from, along with other ailments, a severe spinal disease of servility to the west.

Nagbhushan Patnaik and His Political Legacy

Political Legacy Sumanta Banerjee WITH the passing away of Nagbhushan Patnaik in Chennai on October 9, the curtain falls over the turbulent life history of a Communist whose political career is reminiscent of the revolutionary humanism and moral courage that gave birth to and inspired the naxalite movement in the 1960-70 period. He was indeed one among the few surviving founders of the CPI(M-L) to remain active in the Marxist- Leninist movement till the end of his life, and stick to the principle of stressing morality over expediency a principle fast disappearing from the political scene in India today.

The Partition and Its Survivors

THIS is a book which should be thrown open to the readers, without the mediation of any reviewer. It is a slice of what has come to be known as the' worm's eye view of history'. The author has collected meticulously, reproduced verbatim and analysed theoretically the voices of those survivors of the holocaust of 1947 (mainly Sikh and Hindu refugees in India) who had till now remained invisible and unheard. The central episode is a movingly recounted story of the author's own discovery of a long lost uncle of hers across the border who had become a Muslim. His story remains the pivot around which her narrative takes its birth, develops, and attempts to reach out towards an understanding of the trauma suffered by those victims of the partition who are now living in Pakistan, But the author is honest enough to acknowledge that her work is incomplete in two respects first, she 'had no access to information, interviews or anything else from Pakistan' (which deprives the readers of what could have been an equally important narrative of reminis- cences of Muslim survivors of the 1947 holocaust who are now settled in Pakistan); and secondly, she has left out the victims of the partition in the east, in Bengal, mainly, as she states frankly, "because I do not have the language", and as "the partition of Bengal was so very different from that of Punjab".

Reviving a Debate

Sumanta Banerjee Secularism and Its Critics edited by Rajeev Bhargava; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp 550, Rs 695. FOR certain politicians and academics in India today, the most favourite whipping boy is the term 'secularism'. Although in this country it had never acquired the dimension of that other ideal that threatened Europe in the days of Marx, its detractors have turned it into a westernised spectre which supposedly haunts the pristine Indian tradition of harmony, and creates all the ills that bedevil our society today! It is necessary to demystify both the bogey of a demonical 'secularism' and the myth of a divinely tolerant society of an imagined past which is being projected by many among these critics as an alternative to secularism. The present volume brings together representatives of some of these different anti- secular schools of thought as well as their opponents, and through the debate that ensues, attempts to provide answers to some of the vexed questions of our times. Can the principles of secularism be modified to suite the Indian situation and respect some of the traditional religious norms? How far can the state intervene in religious matters? What is the best way to prevent conflicts between religious groups? What are the limits to toleration?

South Asia s Refugees

Sumanta Banerjee States, Citizens and Outsiders: The Uprooted Peoples of South Asia edited by Tapan K Bose and Rita Manchanda; South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Kathmandu, 1997; pp 380, price not mentioned.

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