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

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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".

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.

An Overview

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

Social Science Research in India: Concerns and Proposals

The ICSSR is not responsible for the torpidity of social science research in India. Viewed from a perspective on research in economics, this article identifies two concerns (the inability to speak truth to power and the lack of autonomy) and makes three proposals (on apprenticeship, rank and leadership of institutions).

New Agendas for Social Science Research

The last 20 years have witnessed an extraordinary proliferation of "big questions" as the older certitudes have broken down one by one. Whether it be the nature of development, the structure of politics or the rise of new kinds of social identities, recent events are making it evident that the social sciences are as yet unable to adequately interpret contemporary history. The issue then is one that almost never gets addressed: How do we turn events and questions into a meaningful and researchable agenda?

A View from Abroad

The report of the Fourth Review Committee of the ICSSR deserves admiration because it is a unique document. In addition to providing an historical context, it offers an insightful and sympathetic analysis of the ICSSR that is as sensitive and searching as it is constructive. A perspective from a member of the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom.

Declining Simplistic Narratives

New castes and classes have entered the academy in recent years, but we have few suggestions for constructive engagement with the new groups coming into the academy. There has been the intergenerational change as well, which has had its own impact. We need to address these issues if we are to understand the state of social sciences. We need above all to cultivate a critical self-reflexivity - an awareness of who "we" are and where we stand when asking and answering such questions.

Autonomy and Ideology

The nature, quality and scope of social science research in India have fallen short of expectations. How can we have free and informed discussion in social sciences and humanities?

The Near Future of Social Science Research in India

It is important to make the ICSSR truly autonomous, but the question is whether the Review Committee's detailed plan for autonomy is desirable and feasible. One could also consider alternative plans to the committee's proposals for introducing accountability in the research institutions.

Financial Crises, Reserve Accumulation and Capital Flows

The article constructs a theory to understand a financial crisis in an open third world economy in the context of a sequence of stock equilibria, ensured by inelastic expectations. It then explores the predicament of such an economy when it "opens up" to global financial flows. In the absence of central bank intervention it has to face financial crises. But central bank intervention aimed at avoiding financial crises by stabilising the exchange rate and holding foreign exchange reserves pushes the economy to a perennial stock disequilibrium.

Thai Capital after the Asian Crisis

The 1997 east Asian crisis marks a major shift in the role and prospects of private domestic capital, part of a major adjustment to globalisation with far-reaching implications. Over the second-half of the 20th century, Thai domestic capital had played a key role in expanding the productive potential of the economy. After the crisis, it has been confined mostly to a rentier and service role in an economy dominated by multinational firms.

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