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

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Frontiers, State and Banditry in the Thar Desert in the 19th Century

Through the instances of banditry in the Thur–Parkar region of the Thar Desert in the mid-19th century, this article explores the intersections between the categories of bandit, rebel and state. In the context of the phrases like “pacification” and “tranquilisation” of frontiers used as mentioned in the British reports, which suggest a state of constant turmoil, this study finds answers to the questions such as: (i) Could banditry in the arid Thar merely be understood through a criminal context, or was it located in a political context of power? (ii) Were the native rulers incapable of suppressing banditry or were their negotiations with bandits a part of historical system of exchange? (iii) Did banditry and the rebelliousness that it was inextricably located in, challenge the ideas about Rajputhood and warriorhood, as they had emerged in the Rajput courts? (iv) Did banditry constitute dissidence, as a number of bandits were outlaws?

The Dark History of Cotton

Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism by Sven Beckert, Penguin Random House UK, 2014; pp 615, £30.

From Feudalism to State Developmentalism

Himachal Pradesh is often held out to be a model case of development, moving from the bottom of economic and human development indices to the top of the tables in the course of its post-independence existence. This article traces the nature of its pre-independence political economy and the social structures that sustained it and then describes the manner in which changes occurred in the post-independence phase. It marks out the successes as well as flags the continuing areas of concern.

Vernacular Nations

Postcolonial Asia offers at least seven types of states and nations. In their somewhat uncritical pursuit of total nationalism, territorial Asian states compete with their archipelagic cousins. The sea gypsy nations--spread across the South China Sea and other East Asian states--reject the monopoly of land as the only inhabitable space, discounting territory as an essential constituent of a nation. Ironically, while history kept them outside the fold of the territorial states, the present attempts to co-opt them. Only by challenging, as the Asian sea gypsies do, land's claim to being the sole inhabitable territory within law, and rethinking the sea as a place of danger can we truly vernacularise our statist imaginations.

Studying Childhood in India

A look at the various ideas of childhood that have been dominant in India over the past century or so, and what they mean for parenting, pedagogy and politics in the new century.

A short publication history of Bhagat Singh's Jail Notebook

A biographer of Bhagat Singh and a chronicler of his works, writes about the publication history of Bhagat Singh’s “Jail Notebook”. This article is being published, when reports have talked about the possible release of the Notebook “for the first time” by the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Understanding Capitalism through Lohia

Extending Lohia to our times, we can infer an important truth about capitalism. Capitalist development cannot take place without colonial or neocolonial exploitation. In the absence of external colonies or neocolonies, capitalism tries to create internal colonies, but they are not enough for full-fledged modern industrial development, which requires both exploitation of labour and the plunder and destruction of natural resources on a global scale. If internal colonial exploitation is fundamental to capitalism and unequal exchange in various forms is one of its important mechanisms, the Third World can be liberated only when it breaks away from the present system of international trade, exchange and finance and looks at ways of building an alternative society in all senses.

Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and What the Historians Say

Ever since the death sentence for Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in the Lahore conspiracy case-II was pronounced on 7 October 1930 by a controversial three-member special tribunal established by British colonial government, the imperative to save their lives became a national issue. The general perception was that Mahatma Gandhi, who was thought to be the tallest national leader of India at that time, could have achieved this imperative. But it was not to be.

Japan, the United States and Yasukuni Nationalism

This paper considers the Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese war memory and representation in relationship to contemporary nationalism and its implications for the future of the Asia-Pacific. It emphasises three aspects about the "Yasukuni Problem" and contemporary nationalism that are absent in much of the discussion in Japan, the Asia-Pacific and internationally. The first is the need to transcend an exclusively Japanese perspective by locating the issues within the framework of the Japan-US relationship. The second locates war nationalism in general, and Yasukuni in particular, within the broader purview of competing nationalism in the Asia-Pacific. The third recognises deep fissures among the Japanese people with respect to Yasukuni, nationalism and the emperor in whose name Japan fought, and memories of colonialism and war.

Revolutionary Legacy of Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh's life (September 28, 1907-March 23, 1931), work and thought were marked by an uncompromising struggle against colonialism and imperialism, together with radical opposition to capitalism, communalism and the caste system. This article is a spirited account of his life, his revolutionary activity, his ideals, his opinions and his legacy. It was on April 8, 1929 that Bhagat Singh and B K Dutt threw non-lethal bombs in the Central Assembly with a view "to make the deaf hear", and raised the slogans "Inquilab Zindabad" and "Down with Imperialism", which caught the imagination of the Indian people. Perhaps at no other point in the life of India since 1947 has the reference to these two slogans become more important than today, as the country marks the hundredth birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh.

Mapping the Enemy

The images of Islam which inform the RSS and its carefully nurtured and directed hatred are not limited to the Hindu right alone but are found in popular and academic discourses both in India and the west. They bear little relation to the reality of Islam as lived by Muslims in India and around the world where faithful adherence to the tradition coexists with tolerance of other faiths. But this reality exists outside the Orientalist grids which inform our understanding of Islam.

Liberating Jyotiba Phule

Selected Writings of Jotiba Phule edited by G P Deshpande; Left Word, New Delhi, 2002; pp 247, Rs 450.

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