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

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Kosambi and Questions of Caste

Caste assumed a centrality in D D Kosambi's relentless quest for the origins of Indian society, since for him it was a category to understand socio-economic differences. This essay first investigates how Kosambi conceptualised caste as a structure. It then examines some specific aspects of his study of caste such as how caste identities were constituted, consolidated and even contested. And, third, the essay seeks to contextualise both the issues and methodologies of Kosambi's scholarship within more recent discussions and debates on caste.

The kosambi effect: a hermeneutic turn that shook indian historiography

Kosambi was a scientist who talked about the past with the politics of intimacy with the present. This paper identifies the "Kosambi effect" and its various constituents. The most crucial constituent is the awareness that historical knowledge cannot be based on empirical givens and that a methodology guaranteeing a systematic, deductively formulated, and empirically verified concept of reality about the past is indispensable. The adaptation of historical materialism to serve the purpose, and accordingly writing a history worth designating a genre by itself in form, content and hermeneutics is another crucial constituent.

D D kosambi and the study of early indian Coins

This article sets out to explain what drove D D Kosambi to take up the study of early Indian coins. Kosambi's research in numismatics beginning in the 1940s marked a radical departure in the field from the practices and interests in the previous 100 years. There can be questions about how historians, including Kosambi, may have used coins as markers of socio-economic change. But Kosambi's use of numismatics was such that historians can no longer ignore numismatic evidence for societal history. It was inevitable that some of the major findings of Kosambi would not stand the test of time. But the need to revisit his findings only demonstrates the value of his pioneering perspectives: we need to think differently and prepare a new agenda for examining material from the past - if necessary by turning current perspectives upside down.

D D Kosambi: The Scholar and the Man

D D Kosambi enjoys a unique international identity as a brilliant, profound and original scholar who straddled many fields of knowledge where he made multiple scholarly contributions. This essay outlines the vastness of his intellectual canvas, provides a short biographical sketch and also describes some facets of a fascinating personality.

Towards a Political Philology: D D Kosambi and Sanskrit

D D Kosambi's engagement with Sanskrit was marked by an intense search for both a text-critical method and a theory for interpreting culture and power. His method was positivist but sophisticated in its positivism, and if recent work in the history of textuality (Indian and other) suggests that more attention to cultural difference is needed, his text-critical work remains foundational for further scholarship. His theory was positivist, too, in keeping with his vision of scientific Marxism, and if its strong universalism here produced a skewed interpretation that is now in all its essentials dead, he introduced a new and crucial critical dimension to Sanskrit studies. Perhaps the most remarkable (and most disturbing) realisation about Kosambi's quest for a political philology is that nearly 50 years after his death he has had not a single successor in India.

Social Sector: Continuation of Past Priorities

Has budget 2008-09 been able to fulfil its commitments to the National Common Minimum Programme? This article analyses the allocations made to the social sector, investigating spending on education, health, employment generation and the Bharat Nirman programme.

Demonstrating a 'New Political Budget Cycle'

The budgetary allocations for primary education and agriculture - the two apparent beneficiaries from budget 2008-09 - are examined in some detail in this article. In the case of primary education the funds have been directed at programmes that show a track record of underutilisation. In agriculture too, the details reveal that allocations are not on directly productive activities. These covertly disguised allocations on "desirable" components of the budget suggest that there has been "learning" on the part of politicians and we need to watch out for a New Political Budget Cycle.

Agriculture: Absence of a Big Push

What are the implications of the loan waiver announced in the budget 2008-09? How well has the budget tackled the core issues in agriculture?

Environmental Thoughts and Malaria in Colonial Bengal: A Study in Social Response

This study re-examines the notions in colonial India about the causes of malaria, specifically discussing the environmental reasons pointed to at the time. It shows how and to what extent some of the widely held ideas of the colonial era on environmental causation contributed to and, at the same time, shaped a kind of environmental awareness, which became a part of medico-social thinking in India. It also adds a new dimension to the thinking on malaria in colonial India by situating the environmental paradigm within a social and economic context. This links it to other issues of social significance, deepening our understanding of the response to the disease.

Women Physicians as Vital Intermediaries in Colonial Bombay

The pivot around which the improvement of maternal health revolved was the Indian woman doctor and her growing presence from the 1900s was to be seen at hospitals and welfare centres in the Bombay presidency, promoting knowledge of more hygienic birthing methods and safe infant care. These women physicians, graduates of the first five decades of the Bombay University were not only influential in coping with the serious public health challenge of maternal mortality, their excellent standard of professional skills was much appreciated and became a role model for the younger generation of women doctors.

Introduction

This collection of papers discusses in detail the role of disease epidemics in south Asian history. The available historiography is assessed critically as also complex ideas about the identification of the origins of diseases and their geographical spread in numerous forms.

Black Fever in Bihar: Experiences and Responses

This is an investigation into how serious the kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis) situation was in colonial Bihar, what the government's policy was to control it and how the people responded to it. Until 1903, medical men had little idea about the true nature of this disease, which spread rapidly in the wake of the opening up of communication by rail and road. British medical intervention against kala-azar succeeded only in 1919 with the introduction of the antimony treatment. Till then, and after, the powers that be failed to prevent and eradicate the disease, with a lack of qualified personnel, funds, treatment centres, sanitary measures and, above all, political will hampering whatever modest efforts were made.

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