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

Articles by Sumanta BanerjeeSubscribe to Sumanta Banerjee

'Fahrenheit 451'

The Sambhaji Brigade's vandalism in Pune's Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in the name of protecting Shivaji's name finds an echo in the West Bengal Left Front government's ban on the Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin's autobiographical book Dwikhandito (Split in Two), on the plea of maintaining communal harmony. Both indicate the pathetic level of enlightenment and intellectual understanding among our public and politicians and raise important questions about the wisdom of arbitrary official ban on dissenting literature in general, and the validity of manipulated popular campaigns against such literature that often prompt the banning, in particular.

Better 'Nouveau' Than Never

Cases of corporate skullduggery, financial shenanigans, kickbacks and hush money collected by ministers, have escalated not only in numbers, but in size in the last 12 years. In India unlike in the west there are no built-in social security measures to protect the victims of the self-indulgence of free market and privatisation. There is neither any professional adherence to legal norms, nor any humanitarian commitment to social concerns in the judiciary.

Naxalites: Time for Introspection

During the last decade which saw the emergence and rise of the Sangh parivar, the various Naxalite outfits - ranging from the armed to the parliamentary groups - were found to be totally inert. None of these outfits came out on the streets to actively resist Advani's rath-yatra or deployed their armed squads to oppose the marauding gangs of the RSS-Bajrang Dal.

Myopia of Parochialism

The popularity which the dalit and OBC leaders enjoy among their communities - despite charges of corruption and crimes - raises several questions that impinge on the character of the country's polity.

Chamber of Imitative Horrors

At the end of it all, when we muse over the debate on the no-confidence motion - both inside and outside parliament - we are left in a chamber of mirrors. All that the Congress can do is to compete with the BJP in a race where the Sangh parivar sets the rules. Since the parivar has made leadership an issue, the Congress has to project Sonia Gandhi to counter Vajpayee. Since the parivar lays down the terms of discourse, the Congress has to debate over trivial issues which have been made explosive by the parivar, like Ram Janmabhoomi and cow worship.

Uneasy Convergence of Left and Right?

The ruling Left in West Bengal tends to converge with the ruling Right at the centre in pursuing - half-heartedly though - the amoral agenda of economic liberalisation.

Unfulfilled Dreams

Marxism and Social Revolution in India and Other Essays by P C Joshi; Manak Publications, New Delhi, 2002; pp 414, Rs 775.

Ayodhya: A Future Bound by the Past

Fearful of an adverse judicial verdict, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others of their ilk are now keen on an outof- court settlement of the Ayodhya dispute which will put an end to the court cases against them. But the rest of the country should keep in mind two considerations. First, a settlement with the 'Sangh parivar' leaders can never be relied upon. Secondly, such a settlement will be at the cost of granting immunity to those guilty of the demolition of the Babri mosque and all the ensuing hatred and bloodshed.

India and Pakistan: Deja Vu Gone Stale

The compulsions bringing New Delhi and Islamabad again to the negotiating table are both internal and external. But fits of uneasy truce in Indo-Pak relations will always end in long bouts of despair as long as both countries continue to be ruled by politicians who can survive only by cynical manipulation.

'City of Dreadful Night'

By cleansing the archival records of the cobwebs of biases and officialese which shroud their language and style, the modern historian can plumb to their depths the dark nooks and corners of the underworld of colonial Calcutta, and look at them from a fresh angle. It will raise a number of queries about colonial criminology - Who were the criminals in 19th century Calcutta? How were they made? What was the nature of their crimes? To what extent did they bring forth the colonial penal system, and in what measure did this newly organised system of detection, prosecution and punishment, in its turn, create new types of crime? This essay attempts to wrestle with these questions and suggests a few explanations while inviting responses from historians engaged in research in the field.

Reconciliation without Justice?

The Indo-South African Dialogue on Truth, Reconciliation and Human Rights which brought together academics and human rights activists from South Africa and India in an intimate encounter in Delhi recently raised issues that went beyond the South African experience and echoed the post-Iraq war global concerns about economic hegemony and military unilateralism in a unipolar world system.

Black Humour in Time of War

While there is no dearth of news of the devastation caused by the ugly war in Iraq, there has been a profusion of absurdities, in the pronouncements, claims and counter-claims of the leaders and war correspondents and the editorial output of the Indian media.


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