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

ReviewsSubscribe to Reviews

The Past at Every Corner

The Past at Every Corner Delhi: Ancient History edited by Upinder Singh; Social Science Press, New Delhi, Shonaleeka Kaul Delhi: Ancient History, as its introduc- tion tells you, is a

Will the Right Monetary Aggregate for India Please Stand Up?

This paper re-examines the monetary aggregation procedure in India in the context of the new monetary aggregates proposed by the Third Working Group of the Reserve Bank of India.

New Paradigm of Development

characterisations, and it must be admitted that his writing does smack of overkill, the problem remains. How do we explain the continued existence of a depressing ground level reality that everyone is keen to attack and few are prepared to defend be it untouchability, child labour or bondage? Is this mere hypocrisy? Or is it that our academia has still to evolve the concepts and methodology to understand (and hopefully change) these seemingly intractable social arrangements? Ever so often all we encounter are the arguments of exceptionalism, of how alien values and institutions (including human rights) have been imposed in an inhospitable soil.

Human Rights Questions, but No Answers

Harsh Sethi Development, Ethnicity and Human Rights in South Asia by Ross Mallick; Sage Publications, Delhi, 1998; pp 375, Rs 425. MOST current tracts on human rights locate themselves within the Amnesty International-Asia Watch framework a preoccupation with the UN convention on Civil and Political Rights, Without for a moment downplaying the importance of the bourgeois' freedoms and rights to the inviolability of the person and his property, it must be admitted that unending statistics on illegal detention, torture in custody, disappearances, absence of 'a rule of law' (particularly procedural) and encounter deaths tell us little about the societies in question, except that they do not match up to the 'standards' set up by the west.

Victims of Development

on the part of the Bengali middle class to de-class their identity through the praxis of the stage has its thrills, even as the tragedy it triggered is deeply wounding.

The Cracked Mirror

Ashok Mitra The Mirror of Class: Essays on Bengali Theatre by Himani Bannerji; Papyrus, Calcutta, 1998; pp 240, Rs 200. IT would be an outrageous proposition to suggest that the Bengali theatre the Left version of it is as good as dead. True, it is currently in the throes of a major crisis, which cannot however be analysed in terms of any arid series of comparative statistics, or by reference to developments elsewhere in the country. The Bengali stage has to be judged in terms of its own history. The amazing transformation from a situation of dazzling sunshine to a setting sun milieu, that has come about within the space of a couple of decades, is without question mind- boggling: the briskness around Calcutta's Rabindra Sadan complex is neither here nor there, the overarching impression it still provides is of a ritual to be gone through, the ritual of asymptotic surcease. So-called Leftist influence in the sphere of culture and the arts is on a fast declining trajectory. There is little point in heaping the blame for this turn of events on the Left Front administration in the state. The international brotherhood of working class is perhaps the most global of ideologies that has emerged since civilisation's early days. The strides in class awareness and class analysis during the middle decades of the 20th century, cutting across the barrier of continents, were in fact far, far more dramatic in their sweep than the post-cold- war globalisation of capitalism. The abrupt collapse of the Soviet Union and the massive demoralisation that followed amongst the Left in country after country, particularly in the third world, is a phenomenon of epochal significance. The east European disaster was not the surcease of the framework of a political system alone. It also implied the devaluation of the magnificent social dynamics Marx and Engels, later supplemented by Lenin, built brick by brick. That lodestar they foisted on the firmament of imagination of men and women was the common source of inspiration for ideologues all over the world. Especially in countries emerging out of the colonial nightmare, young cadres who had been all agog at the prospect of their active engagement in the praxis of popular democratic revolutions. Once the Soviet State withered away for altogether wrong reasons, their experiments too with the modalities of proletcult suddenly seemed to be bereft of any meaningful context.

Good Central Banking

Central Banking in Developing Countries by Anand Chandavarkar; Macmillan Press, UK, 1996 and St Martin's Press, Inc, US, 1996; pp xiv + 289, THIS monograph is an excellent example of scholarly work embedded in thorough research, complemented by the author's experience as a central banker and an international civil servant. It genuinely deals with developing economies by continuously linking analyses and prescriptions to actual developments in various countries. Often, it is easier to deal with concepts, and then in the last couple of paragraphs of the chapter refer to country experiences. The author, com- mendably, does not take this easy route. I think the author's successful endeavour to effectively organise the subject of central banking with exceptional clarity will be enduringly important for central bankers, present and future, and students of money and banking. The governor-designate of the Reserve Bank of South Africa, who is serving a one-year apprenticeship under the present incumbent before he takes over, should keep this book at his bedside! The book's wider legacy is the singularly brilliant manner in which the author has woven together analytic economics, institutional and bureaucratic theory, public choice and political economy to present a comprehensive and coherent treatment of a subject that is inherently complicated. The list of objectives for central banking that is enunciated in the first chapter establishes the theme around which the rest of the book is organised. These include the conjunctural objectives of price stabilisation and exchange rate management; long-term objectives of establishing payments systems and financial infrastructure; and sectoral objectives including prudential supervision and deposit insurance. This list should be of considerable help to those who want to get a handle on the organising principles that underpin contemporary central banking. The monograph is successful in filling the gap in the literature between the institutional and theoretical developments pertaining to central banks in the developed economies and the challenges of achieving effective central banking in emerging or developing economies. The author provides an up to date framework for analysing most of the important issues, viz, monetary policy, exchange arrangements, regulation and supervision, developmental role, central bunk losses, organisational reform, informal finance and the holy grail of central bank independence.

Jayaprakash Narayan A Story of Failed Idealism

Failed Idealism Anirudh Deshpande J P: His Biography by Allan and Wendy Scarfe (revised edition); Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1998; pp 274 (21 Chapters, 14 Plates, References and Index), Rs 300 (hardback).

Information Order in Colonial India

to maintain some kind of balance between the town and the village. The lure of the city for many villagers was a myth that could not be taken for granted. Most villagers went to the town "so that they could ultimately remain in the village". Racine also tries to put the findings of his team of researchers in a comparative perspective taking into account some of the studies from Latin America, Africa and China. His main attempt is to show the flaws of the Harris-Todaro variety of theories that try to explain migrations almost exclusively through 'push' and "pull' factors, assuming individual choice to be an autonomous reality. On the contrary, Racine, along with his team, convincingly shows how migrations in contemporary rural India are determined by the whole gamut of relations and INCREASINGLY, a major strand in historiography has sought to examine the ways in which the British presence in the subcontinent was relevant to changing Indian conceptions of cultural and political identity. Research on colonial hegemony focusing on the study of discourses of power became of great importance in the wake of Edward Said's Orientalism, Sometimes such work questioned the possibility of autonomous agency on the part of the colonised. Subsequently, at various points in time, the ensuing debate examined 'derivative discourses', 'fragments' and 'community' bonds to probe the role they played in the formation of nationalist identities. A parallel stream of scholarly work has also attempted to locate the reasons behind the creation of the imagined communities' of the nation state through the study of texts, language, literature, printing and education. Empire and Information, an important and path- breaking work, which interrogates the relationship between colonial knowledge and the 'information order', backed up by an impressive web of empirical details, should be understood in the backdrop of the broad questions raised by such research. Empire and Information seeks to investigate 'communication and the movement of knowledge' (p I) within north Indian society between 1800 and 1857. Placing itself within the analytical framework of the information order', seen as central to social change, the book suggests conditions associated with a backward socio-economic structure with agrarian relations playing a central role.


Back to Top