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Ramkrishna Mukherjee

A tribute to Ramkrishna Mukherjee, the eminent sociologist, who made a significant contribution to making sociology a field of research in India in the second half of the 20th century.

Statement of Social Scientists

We, as social scientists, scholars, teachers and concerned citizens, feel extremely concerned about the lynching at Dadri, and the murders of scholars and thinkers like M M Kalaburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and others, and wish to register our strong protest. We are not just shocked by...

Sense and Sensibilities on Pakistan

Ideological, identity and policy confusions have marked Pakistan from the moment of its birth till the present. Much of the country's domestic problems and its international relations can be explained through this confusion. While Jinnah was successful in wresting a state, he never invested efforts into building the nation. Therefore, there is no consensus over what Pakistan represents. Farzana Shaikh's Making Sense of Pakistan is a brave attempt to understand these confusions and can be a resource for those who want to rescue this Partition twin from its present conditions.

Looking for Hindu Historiography

Hinduism and Its Sense of History by Arvind Sharma; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003; pp iv+134, Rs 345.

Freedom of Religion

The time is now opportune to argue forcefully that the best guardian of freedom of religion, and the most effective guarantor that unfair conversions, particularly on a collective basis, shall not take place, will be not the state but civil society, or, better still, the two in association. This is at the moment only an idea: it will need serious effort to work it out, particularly if communal dissensions are acute as they are now. Also to be kept in mind is the issue of the role of the secular state in other contexts. Secularism, understood as the attitude of mutual toleration among the religious communities comprising the nation, and of neutrality or non-discrimination on the part of the state in its dealings with the citizens, irrespective of their religious identity, apparently protects freedom of religion. Two problems must be addressed, however. First, is the secular state neutral through engagement, that is by being respectful towards all religions, or through disengagement, that is by erecting a wall, as it were, between itself and the religious life of the citizens? Secondly, what is involved in a community's conception of the profession and practice of its religion?

Pluralism vs Universalism

Religion and Personal Law in Secular India: A Call to Judgment , Gerald James Larson (ed); Social Science Press, New Delhi, 2001; pp viii+362, index, bibliography, hb, Rs 525.

Secularism and the Intellectuals

Secularism and the Intellectuals T N Madan THE last half a dozen years or so have witnessed a heightened interest among Indian intellectuals in exploring the significance of the ideas of 'secularism' and 'secularisation'. This is a welcome development for we have been since independence living on many unexamined or half-examined ideas, which have thus become the 'foundation myths' of our times. Secularism certainly is one of them. Even today it is not clear whether it stands for the rejection of religion as 'false consciousness', or whether it means that the state shall treat the followers of all religions equally, without discriminating against some or favouring others. The ambiguity of connotation is sometimes sought to be overcome by employing the phrase 'Indian secularism' to denote the combination of a multi-religious society and the non-discriminatory state. This and other aspects of secularism merit close and critical scrutiny. Andre Beteille's article 'Secularism and the Intellectuals' (EPW, March 5, 1994) is one of the more thoughtful and lucid expositions of the subject that I have read recently. I trust it will generate a useful discussion.

Understanding the Kashmir Problem

higher raw material prices are at the core or an "ecologically oriented global economic policy" (p 123). They also emphasise compensation in the form of debt cancellation, increased transfer payments and guaranteed market access at cost- covering prices, to meet the massive reduction of exports of poorer countries due to possible loss of competitive advantages that these countries may face under stricter ecological standards (pp 32-33). Although the GGE recommend a World Economic Council, it is doubtful whether such a body can adequately deal with the differential problems of such a scheme for different countries in a manner acceptable to all nations. An ecologically-oriented international trade policy may not work out with equal benefits for unequally placed countries. However, the international economic system can be best used for targeted transfer of appropriate technology and aid for environmentally sound methods of resource use in poorer countries, i e, something in the nature of Al Gore's idea of a Global Marshall Plan. Environmental issues are two-fold in nature, viz, (1) the limit to the natural resources, and (2) the pollution that results from the exploitation of these resources. Ecological control deals with both these aspects, i e, (1) by changing the mix of these resources in favour of renewable resources, and (2) by inducing an improvement in resource productivity. For these purposes, it would be necessary to deploy a combination of measures, viz, investment, research for development of environment-friendly technologies, economic incentives and disincentives. However, there needs to be a difference in the approach to the problem in the developing countries from that in the developed countries. For one thing, the developing economies are late-comers in the process of growth. In one sense, this has an advantage since they have access to newer technologies for resource conservation and efficient resource use. Even so, the phenomenally higher levels of per capita consumption of resources in advanced countries than in the developing economies mean yawning gaps between development 'requirements' of global resources even under modest assumptions of economic growth and ecologically sustainable levels of consumption. Further, the environmental standards cannot be the same for these two sets of Economies. Under the circumstances, the north would need to go in for a drastic reduction in per capita resource consumption while the south should adopt a path of resource conservation (WJ, p 7). In the context of international differences in stages of develop ment, economic structures, resource endowments and political systems, the perception and solution of environmental issues may have to emanate from the nation governments in an international co-operative framework with due deference to the problems of the south.

Modernity and Tradition

Modernity and Tradition T N Madan Tradition, Modernity and Development: A Study in Contemporary Indian Society by S N Ganguly; The Macmillan Company of India, New Delhi, 1977; ix

On Understanding Caste

On Understanding Caste T N Madan HISTORICAL and sociological works on the Indian caste system by Western scholars have made their appearance with monotonous regularity for over a hundred years. Their number has considerably increased since about 1950. The publication of yet another book on the subject, therefore, hardly calls for special celebration. But when this book happens to be "Homo Hierarchicus" by Louis Dumont, Professor of Sociology of India at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of Paris, we have in our hands a most significant contribution to Indianist studies by a scholar of international renown who is equally at home hi the domains of sociology, social anthropology and Indology,1 "Homo Hierarchicus" is an unusual book, unusual in conception, in design, and in execution. It is deserving of our most serious study.

Status and Flatus-A Comment

But now all protagonists of equality seem to have risen against a planned subsidisation of weaker sections through lower interest rates. The majority argues that the monetary system offers less scope for re-distribution than the fiscal system as there is a recurring element in the latter supposedly absent in the former. This assumes that bank loans are to be fossilised with the same borrowers. This has indeed been the case as far as large borrowers are concerned, but it only shows the inertia of bank managements. Even when companies are such prized possessions as to become the objects of proxy wars and take-overs, no banker has thought that companies which have a high market rating should be asked to raise funds on the market. Once adequate collateral is provided, these large borrowers become entitled to bank funds and remain so indefinitely.

The Two Indias

wrung logic to arrive at the obvious. It should be obvious that if the Chinese were to enter the fray in Vietnam, it would no longer remain a war of liberation. You need not, and more important, cannot fight a war of liberation with other peoples' forces. A singular advantage which the NLF has in Vietnam which the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) does not have is the fact that in an ordinary Vietnamese peasant's view, the NLF is made up of people whom he recognises to be his compatriots while the ARVN is aided by and is fighting with the Americans. This is a vital distinction which the Indo-Chinese people more than the Chinese would like to maintain. Analysts of international politics ignore, as Mozingo had done in 1965, this primary condition of success of a people's war and, therefore, have to employ long- winded logic to arrive at the obvious.


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