Nobodies to Somebodies: The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka
By Kumari Jayawardena
Zed Books, London and New Delhi, 2002
pp xxx+412, INR 650
ISBN 1 84277 228 7
Beginning with early 19th century agricultural production and accelerating in the following decades with urban commercial enterprises, a Sri Lankan bourgeoisie emerged in the colonial period as facilitators of proto-capitalism. This ‘modern’ economic elite did not fully divest itself of its feudal legacies however, although it did engage in capitalism. The resultant socio-economic transitional period witnessed, for example, the retreat of caste from public discussions of occupation, although caste beliefs continued to be held by large sections of the bourgeoisie privately. As the class of wealthy Sri Lankans consolidated its position, it invested heavily in plantations and eagerly sought titles. The author, in her study of the rise of the colonial bourgeoisie, concludes that it was essentially created and co-opted by the British rulers.
Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection
By AG Noorani
LeftWord, New Delhi, 2002
pp x+159, INR 295
ISBN 81 87496 28 2
Speaking at Port Blair in May 2002, Indian home minister, Lal Krishna Advani, praised Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the independence-era author of the term ‘Hindutva’ who was arrested in connection with Gandhi’s January 1948 assassination. Advani called Savarkar a “pioneer” who had helped India gain independence. This public embrace of Savarkar, Noorani argues, is only the latest evidence of the persisting influence of Savarkar on Hindu-right politics. Testifying during his murder trial, Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, referred to the ideologue Savarkar as “the most faithful advocate of the Hindu cause”. Advani’s parallel comments about Savarkar, coming as they did immediately after the worst pogrom against Muslims in a decade, testify to the enduring stamp of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar on Indian politics.
Social Welfare in Pakistan
By Shireen Rehmatullah
OUP, Karachi, 2002
pp 491, PKR 595/USD 22
ISBN 0 19 579632 2
Drawing on five decades of experience in social work, Shireen Rehmatullah describes how the concept of charity has evolved in Pakistan from a moral and local concept to a scientific and bureaucratic exercise. She draws on a wide range of topics – from child welfare and education to urban planning and administration – to argue that Pakistani social workers need to develop new, indigenous methods for approaching social problems.
Ripping the Fabric: The Decline of Mumbai and its Mills
By Darryl D’Monte
OUP, New Delhi, 2002
pp xii+291, INR 595
ISBN 01 9566 111 5
At their peak in the 1970s, Bombay’s mills employed 250,000 people. Today, with only 50,000 workers remaining and the industry suffering from a two-decade-long slump, many owners are attempting to sell off portions of the 500 acres of mill property in mid-town Bombay. The fate of the mills – and of the mill workers – was determined by a convergence of factors in the 1980s and 1990s: increased mechanisation, heightened competition among Asian rivals, and economic liberalisation after 1991. The author, who has reported on labour and industrial issues in Bombay for more than two decades, contextualises the plight of the mill workers within these broader economic shifts and seeks to chart a path that balances the interests of the workers, mill proprietors and the city.
Capital and Labour Redefined: India and the Third World
By Amiya Kumar Bagchi
Tulika, New Delhi, 2002
pp xxxi+336, INR 575
ISBN 81 85229 54 6
In this collection of essays, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, one of India’s leading economic historians, lays out his critiques of colonial economic development, post-colonial global economic integration, and the socio-political effects of economic change in contemporary India. Bagchi argues that communal/caste tensions are in many cases facilitated by the deliberate strategies of capitalists to undermine worker power, and attempts to situate concepts of ‘Indian culture’ within appropriate historical and economic models.