Reviews of the latest books from and on Southasia

Resources and Population
A study of the Gurungs of Nepal
By Alan Macfarlane
Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu, 2003
pp xxvi+364, no recommended price
ISBN 99933-0-377-1

This is the second edition of the 1976 classic originally published by Cambridge University Press. Written from a perspective that combines the tools of anthropology and populations studies, this work is based on extensive field work among the Gurung community in the Annapurna range in the central Himalaya. Primarily this is a study of resource use, growth of rice cultivation and the depletion of forests and the consequences of these trends. A new preface to the current edition records the changes that Macfarlane observed in the thirty years that elapsed between his first visit in 1968 and now. Reissued by a Kathmandu publisher, the book is of interest to students of Himalayan societies, development professionals and cultural activists, apart from professional anthropologists of Nepal.

Another World is Possible
Popular Alternatives to Globalization at the World Social Forum
Edited by William F Fisher and Thomas Ponniah
(Foreword by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri)
Zed Books, London and New York, 2003
pp xx+364, no recommended price
ISBN 1-84277-329-1

The conflict between giant corporations seeking larger market shares and the movement for global justice has become increasingly sharper in recent years. These have been most forcefully expressed at the summits of the developed country governments and the forums of the alternative movements, most notably the World Social Forum. This book brings together the voice of the opposition to predatory globalisation. The foreward by the two most prominent ideologues of the contemporary global social movement, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, is a manifesto for reconstituting the left movement globally and nationally. The editors of this anthology have brought together the writings of some of the most well-known intellectuals, social activists and organisations involved in movements across the world. Essential reading for activists and students of globalisation, whether pro or anti.

Against Ecological Romanticism
Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-Modern Tribal Identity
By Archana Prasad
Three Essays, New Delhi, 2003
pp xxiv+118, INR 140
ISBN 1-84277-329-1

Between the 1930s and mid-1940s, Verrier Elwin, a pioneer anthropologist of India, emerged as an influential voice in the debate on the tribal question with his scathing critique of the modernist view of tribal development. His critique of civilisation and celebration of cultural primitivism was a reaction to the negative consequences of capitalism and colonialism. Elwin's views had a significant impact in shaping the romantic perceptions of tribal life, identity and ecology in both academic scholarships and everyday perception. In the three essays that make up this book, Archana Prasad, The three essays in this book makes a systematic critique of this romanticism. Prasad argues that Elwin's legacy was transformed in subsequent years, so much so that it was eventually appropriated by the Hindu revivalist in India to further their own  interests.

Enhancing Clean Energy Supply for Development
A Natural Gas Pipeline For India and Pakistan
By Toufiq A Siddiqi
BALUSA, 2003
pp x+77, no recommended price

The BALUSA group, under whose aegis this slim tract has been published, is made up of senior Indian, Pakistani and US leaders who are supporting a series of projects that could lead to a reduction in tensions in the region; the boldest of the projects involves a natural gas pipeline through Pakistan to India, which would bring large economic benefits to people in both countries. Proceeding from the assumption that the adequate availability of energy at reasonable cost is a prerequisite for economic development, Toufiq Siddiqi examines the energy requirements of Pakistan and India and the extent of demand for natural gas as the basis for providing the rationale for a common gas pipeline to supply the energy requirements of both countries. A useful and informative book for policy makers and peace activists.

Understanding the Maoist Movement of Nepal
Edited by Deepak Thapa
Martin Chautari, Kathmandu, 2003
pp xx+395, NR 475
ISBN 99933-782-7-5

The people's war in Nepal was launched in February, 1996.  In six years it has become a movement that attracts global attention. This volume brings together a collection of articles written during this period from different political perspectives. The contributors include Nepali and foreign scholars and journalists who have been grappling with a phenomenon that has still not been adequately explained or understood in rigorous terms. The fact that these have been written at various points over the course of the movement's history help in bringing out the shifts and changes that have informed both the movement and the state's response to it. By bringing together the extent work on Maoism in Nepal the volume helps identify the gaps in research and points to the areas that merit more study.    

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