Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category


Social activist Anna Hazare observing a fast at Jantar Mantar in 2011 in Delhi as a mark of protest against corruption

The dust raised by the “Indian spring” is yet to settle and Mukul Sharma’s book ‘Green and Saffron’, recently published by Permanent Black, has arrived to raise another storm. An entire chapter in this book has been devoted to a careful exposition of the politics behind the Gandhian leading India’s much-watched anti-corruption movement – Anna Hazare. Though the book itself is a larger thesis exploring the linkages between environmental politics and Hindu nationalism in India, its unique selling point has been an account of the environmental movement in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, from where Hazare started his anti-corruption crusade.

The ‘Bharat mata’ (Mother India) symbol in front of which Hazare famously sat during his April 2011 fast-unto-death demanding a Jan Lokpal Bill to fight corruption in India, had already stirred doubts regarding the political affiliations of the movement. The evidence of support from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres further clouded the secular credentials of the movement. Though Sharma’s book does not provide any obvious evidence of an open affiliation between the Hazare camp and right-wing political parties, it shows how a movement rooted in an authoritarian, traditional, Hindu ethos comes to occupy a common epistemological space with the Hindutva ideology, thus helping to reinforce it.

If Gandhi was infamous for his sexual experiments, Anna will be remembered for his chillingly disciplinarian tactics.


Read Full Post »

[First published in Biblio – A Review of Books, issued dated July-August 2010]

This is the book that Home Secretary G.K.Pillai is said to be reading nowadays to better understand tribal alienation in mining areas. It is said that if things are not what they often seem to be, then it is the job of the anthropologist to unravel what lies beneath. Felix Padel and Samarendra Das do a thorough job of it in this book.

Ambitious in its scope, Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel charts the global linkages of the metal and mining industry while simultaneously detailing the specific consequences of bauxite mining in the tribal habitations of East India that is wreaking social and environmental chaos in the name of development. The discourse as to what constitutes development and how it must be pursued has acquired renewed relevance now that socio-economic development is being suggested as a solution for combating Left-wing Extremism in India’s tribal areas. This book is, therefore, a timely exposition as to how skewed development priorities have upset the lives of indigenous communities in mineral-rich districts of the country.


Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts