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

Special IssuesSubscribe to Special Issues

Kosambi's Archaeology

D D Kosambi offered remarkable insights into the history of ancient India. Does his archaeology measure up to his history? The approach in this paper is to view the internal logic of his hypotheses in archaeology, and to ask if Kosambi did justice to the data available in his time. Did he present a sound data analysis that could be emulated, enlarged, or reworked? The answer has to be "no". Kosambi's site locations were not precise; he was not interested in the typology of stone tools; and his correlations of tool occurrences with sacred sites, of the tribe with an absence of plough agriculture, and of iron technology with agricultural surpluses, were flawed. Perhaps Kosambi's archaeology does not measure up to his history because for him archaeology was only an extension of history. But in order to work with the entities of archaeology, typology and classification are indispensable: as indispensable as is the knowledge of an ancient language for the historian. Failure to engage in the grammar of these entities and an ignorance of site formation processes give rise to faulty generalisation.

Kosambi, marxism and indian history

D D Kosambi profoundly redefined the message that Marxism had for historians. What set him apart from others who "applied" Marxism to Indian history was his determination to maintain, indeed increase the standard of rigour in his factual and textual research, for Marxism dealt with a far more extensive area than the one over which research had conventionally been conducted. Guided by the basic thesis about how social evolution occurs, he rejected the view that India had ever passed through a phase of slavery; rather it was the construction of caste society that happened here. The reasons for his acceptance of a stage of feudalism spanning the period from that of the Guptas to the Mughals are most interesting.

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?

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.

Mapping of Fevers and Colonising the Body in British Ceylon

This paper identifies paradigmatic shifts in the conceptualisation of fevers in British Ceylon, from agues and fevers in the early 1800s and fevers of particular regions in the mid-1800s to a powerful notion of malaria in the early 1900s. In the early colonial records, agues and fevers were seen primarily as a threat to European visitors to the tropics, including the colonisers. In contrast, the fevers of specific regions were identified as localised ailments endemic among the local population and somehow connected to the specifics of local ecology and the indolent nature of the natives. With the triumph of tropical medicine between 1880 and 1905, localised fevers rapidly gave way to malaria and the identification of malaria parasites and vectors between 1880 and 1905, which came to be seen as embodying the characteristic disorders of the tropics, reinforcing certain hegemonic views about the colonial subject and the potential benefits of western medicine.

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.

'An Awful, Unseen Visitant': The Return of Burdwan Fever

This essay does not probe why there was a malarial epidemic in Bengal in the 19th century, instead it explores how a series of dispersed and dissimilar debilities came to be represented as a single, continuous epidemic of malaria in Bengal and beyond for over most of the 19th century. The making of the Burdwan fever epidemic can hardly be ascribed to conveniently traceable intentions or a straightforward series of causes. The history of the unfolding of the epidemic hints at a "game of relationships".

An Overview

An overview of the main recommendations of the Fourth Review Committee of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Pages

Back to Top