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

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Waiting and Waging

Waiting and Waging K Balagopal India Waits by Jan Myrdal; Sangam Books, distributed by Orient Longman;
JAN MYRDAL, he tells us in the Preface, came in 1958 to 'do a book on India'. It was twenty years and many visits later that he managed to accomplish the task. And though his purpose is to depict the oppression and rebellion of the Indian masses today, he is involuntarily led down the bylanes of history to ask all the questions serious historians of India have been asking, and to provide some kind of answers of his own. It is a remarkable fact about Indian society that if you embark on a serious study of its nature you are led backwards and backwards through 1857 and the East India Company, through Mughal mansabdars and Afghan adventurers, through temple-building and land-grants, through Manu dharmasastra, the Gita and Kautilya, through the Buddha, the Upanishads and the Vedas, to arrive out of breath at the mythical figure of the Aryan warrior with his hymns, his horse and his spokeless chariot. And then you start with him and follow him as he chops and burns down the Gangetic forest, and painfully reconstruct these three thousand years' history to your satisfaction, before you can understand why the poor of India are as oppressed as they are and why they are oppressed in the manner they are. Likely as not, you will feel at the end that you know no more now for all your labours than you did to begin with, but there is no way out. In India the past has eaten into the present with a comprehensiveness that leaves you with little choice.

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