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The Wonder That Was India- a l Basham. Uploaded by. Kundan Verma. CFA Stalla. Uploaded by. Matti Ullah. India After Gandhi (Ramachandra Guha).pdf. Ramachandra Guha's many books include a pioneering work of environmental history cover image of Gandhi Before India cover image of India After Gandhi . Guha ramchandra. IdentifierIndiaAfterGandhiByRamchandraGuha. Identifier-ark ark://t9z09fw3v. OcrABBYY FineReader (Extended.
Has any modern politician's speech, except Churchill's wartime orations, had as much currency?
Quickly, the demons of which the Indian psyche has still not exorcised itself appear: the irony of a secular Muslim gentleman, the pork-eating spoilsport Jinnah, being responsible for creating Pakistan. Then Partition, the original sin of our creation-myth, for which blame is apportioned to a variety of people - Jinnah, the British, Nehru, Gandhi - but more commonly to the ordinary Muslim citizen.
There's the nightmare of Kashmir, a continual challenge to the moral high ground that India, with its public posture of post-colonial certitude and humanitarian dignity, has tried to occupy since independence. Guha also brings back to us, as he must, the border dispute with China, which led to a small war that India lost, with deep repercussions for the self-esteem of a generation of Indians.
And yet, despite Kashmir, and various forms of governmental wrongdoing and blunders, the Indian middle class and intelligentsia, unlike their counterparts in Japan, England or Pakistan, have never really known what it means to inhabit a morally uneasy position. There's a mysterious surplus to being Indian, a feelgood element comparable only to the sense of self that Americans possessed until Vietnam.
Visitors wonder at how happy the poor are in India, putting it down to ancient reserves of spirituality; equally wondrous is how impervious the Indian secular middle class is, despite all sorts of setbacks, to the sense of guilt, of being morally compromised. This has less to do with spirituality than with the unassailable constitutional promise of what it means to be an Indian.
India After Gandhi
The absence of moral ambiguity means that there sometimes seems to be very little critical thinking in India, only one kind of debate, a nationalism in various forms, repeated infinitely. With a few exceptions, Indians don't know how to fashion eloquence out of a sense of being wrong or having wronged, at least not without the unmistakable timbre of self-congratulation. There are reasons for that tenacious feelgood experience. Guha delineates them effectively: the establishment of the machinery and the miracle of the elections there's an excellently orchestrated chapter on how the first one happened ; the creation of provinces along linguistic lines which should have led to conflict by forgotten historical figures; the survival of democracy and free speech in spite of poverty, corruption, sectarian strife, Indira Gandhi and, more recently, the waning of power at the centre and the rise of an opportunistic federalism.
Every dubious development has a positive outcome; it's a story of incorrigible resilience and charm. The first two-thirds of the book, where Guha is describing the consolidation of the shaky state, are, notwithstanding the deluge of facts, surprisingly absorbing; by quoting frequently and shrewdly, Guha allows us to eavesdrop on the multiplicity and richness of the conversation - between politicians, writers, civil servants, well-wishers, detractors - within which change took place.
One thing the book lacks, despite its comprehensiveness, is a sense of interiority. It's hardly alone among recent Indian histories in this regard.
Guha's understanding of the secular basis for Indian democracy is a constitutional one; that is, the "secular" is a product, in India, of ideals, laws and institutions articulated and validated by the constitution. But the "secular" in India is not only a political construct; it is a cultural space.
The domain of culture was inhabited and produced by writers and artists and their audience from the early 19th century onwards; it's a domain that comprises the interior life of Indian secularism.
In this sense, independence and the Nehruvian era that followed are not really the beginning of a history, but the last phase in the story of Indian humanism. From the s onwards, the secular middle class and its culture is completely redefined; the parameters for a new free-market understanding of "Indianness" are put in place. As it happens, the single chapter Guha devotes to culture, or "entertainment", as he calls it, is the weakest one in the book, with Wikipedia-like accounts of cultural achievements; it attempts to place culture in the constitutional idea of secularism - as providing instances of pluralism and fellow-feeling - but doesn't locate the constitutional in the interior life that culture represents.
I am glad you mentioned E. With Marc Bloch, he is the historian I most admired in my early days as a scholar. Though he continued for sentimental reasons to call himself a Marxist, and though he liked to be sarcastic about sociologists and their penchant for arid abstraction, his work was in fact subtly sociological, as well as undogmatic. Also, where professional historians tend to paraphrase and quote just a line or two from their sources, Thompson liked to quote at length, so that one got a fuller sense of how the peasant or poacher or artisan or worker one was reading about felt and acted.
This, combined with his own passionate engagement with his subject, made Thompson's books and essays compellingly readable. For a young scholar moving from sociology to history, Thompson became almost a natural hero and exemplar. As for India After Gandhi, it was explicitly conceived as a work of narrative history, where the arguments and analyses were led by the material, rather than the other way around. Rather, I aimed to provide a detailed and accessible account of a fascinating political experiment, namely, the building of a nation and the crafting of democratic institutions in a deeply divided and desperately poor society.
Historians, with their obsession with the colonial period, had failed to address their attentions to independent India, and in this context I felt my primary duty was to narrate this history in all its richness and complexity. My own erstwhile colleague, Piers Blaikie, is one of the founding spirits of this significant movement amongst geographers and anthropologists, and he was working on his own seminal text The Political Economy of Soil Erosion while you were studying Chipko.
Though Blaikie's work — at that time, much less so later — bore more of the marks of Marxian political economy than did Unquiet Woods, there is quite a lot in common, in terms of conceptual inspiration, between the two books. So I wonder whether you have any views on this important current of scholarship. Here you must remember that I was becoming an environmental scholar all on my own.
In the early s, there were no social scientists in India who had done serious research on environmental themes the early pioneers of the s and s, such as the sociologist Radhakamal Mukerjee and the economist J.
With no one to guide me even Anjan Ghosh could not help in this particular respect , and without access to the library resources of an American or British university, there would be many thinkers and works which escaped my attention.
By this time, however, my interests were moving strongly in the direction of contemporary history, so I wasn't able to dig more deeply in this field. I wonder how you regard the current state of forest policy in India, and both the history of the passage of the Forest Rights Act, and the progress that has been made in its implementation.
Is the Forest Rights Act having, or is it likely to have, a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of the tribals or Adivasis as they are known? Might you comment on these themes?
I am, I must admit, somewhat out of touch with debates in this sector now. However, when I look back over the past three decades, I do notice some modest progress in the realm of forest policy.
Back in the s the sale of wood from natural forests to private industry was massively subsidized; that has stopped now. So forest policy has become somewhat more sensitive to ecological concerns. But, at the same time, the movement to democratize forest management by more actively engaging with local communities hasn't really progressed very far.
The Forest Rights Act, which you mention, has been erratically implemented; State governments aren't really committed to it, while the new Government in Delhi may seek to undo it altogether. Beyond the question of forest rights, what worries me is the more general predicament of the tribal population of Central India called Adivasis in popular parlance.
Since they live on the most valuable forest, mineral and water resources, they have been subject to a continuous process of dispossession and displacement. I have written about the multiple tragedies of the Adivasis in an EPW essay Guha, b , and more recently in the first chapter of my essay collection Patriots and Partisans.
The reasons for this go back to Gandhi and the Independence movement. Gandhi took a strong position against the iniquities of caste; he often said that India would not be fit for swaraj political freedom unless Hindus abolished untouchability. And of course he lived and died for Hindu—Muslim unity.
Gandhi also wrote a fair amount about the exploitation of women, but he said very little about Adivasis. So from the beginning the problems of the Adivasis were absent in mainstream political debates. Unlike the Dalits, who had an inspirational hero and role model in Ambedkar, as well as influential political parties of their own, the Adivasis remained voiceless and unorganized. Then, after Independence, they continued to be exploited. As the sociologist Walter Fernandes has shown, although they constitute 8 per cent of the country's population, more than 40 per cent of those displaced by large dams, coal mines and other such projects are Adivasis.
From the s there have been resistance movements among the Adivasis. These struggles were one of the reasons for the Forest Rights Act being enacted.
But on the whole the Adivasis still have a marginal impact on public policy — even less than the Dalits. One key reason for this is demographic. The adivasis are geographically concentrated; living in upland and forest areas in the centre of the country. This means, in electoral terms, that in a General Election the Adivasi vote matters in something like sixty seats; the Dalit and Muslim vote, in or more seats.
The analogy that you draw between caste and the idea of an ecosystem, in the first part of the book, aligns you with a Gandhian view of caste and of village India. I wonder where you now stand on this, and about your assessment of more recent writing on the environmental history of India? Let me start with your last question. The gaps in my account are naturally enormous. I have done my best not to conceal any deficiencies, whether in the state of our knowledge in general or in my own documentation… When the time comes for my own work to be superseded by studies of deeper penetration, I shall feel well rewarded if confrontation with my false conjectures has made history learn the truth about herself.
That said, I still think that our historical analysis of colonial forestry and our critique of colonial forest science was empirically and analytically robust. And I do still believe that colonialism was an ecological watershed. You mention Richard Grove and his work. Grove is a fine historian of ideas, with a penchant for discovering forgotten scientists and their writings in obscure journals. But there is, in his writings, less attention to the factors that drove state policy.
Returning to This Fissured Land, you are correct that the first part of the book may seem unduly speculative.
And it is wrong to charge us with in any way defending caste. Perhaps we should have italicized these words to forestall later distortions of our position. It is now more than twenty years since we wrote that book, more than thirty years since we began researching it. Naturally the field has moved on. I don't follow it closely any more, but from what I can see, younger scholars are more effectively able to integrate scientific with social scientific approaches than we were.
There is excellent work on forest, wildlife and water history; perhaps, as more of India's population moves to towns and cities, the next major area of research will be urban environmental history. In Ecology and Equity you and Madhav Gadgil present both a powerful critique of India's pattern of development, and a manifesto about what is to be done, in which you argue that elements of conservatism, liberalism and socialism all have a part to play.
The natural resources on which poor people depend are, if anything, under even more pressure, thanks to the demands for land, minerals and timber for the service of economic growth. But, if anything, I fancy environmentalists are even more divided now than they were when you distinguished the different currents of thinking and of action amongst them in the s.
How do you, I wonder, assess the current state of the environmental movement in India? There are several reasons for this. First, the exhaustion and ageing of the first, pioneering generation of environmental activists. One simply does not have the same levels of energy and idealism in one's fifties that one did in one's twenties. Second, the fragmentation of society by the Internet makes it hard for the new generation of activists to work collectively. Third, the ideological climate is deeply hostile to environmentalists, who, more than ever before, are painted as medievalist reactionaries holding up India's march to Great Power status.
The media, once so hospitable to environmental concerns, has become largely indifferent to them. Pandian used to say, it is too easy for cosmopolitan liberals not to recognize the overriding salience of caste in the daily lives of most Indians. I have just been teaching the book Degrees without Freedom?
I wonder whether you might have modified your views in the time that has elapsed since the publication of your essay? I think that, with regard to caste, one needs to make a clear distinction between Dalits, for whom programmes of affirmative action already existed, and the other backward castes OBC who gained from the Mandal Report. As much work by sociologists and political scientists has shown, the OBCs were the main beneficiaries of both land reforms and the spread of universal suffrage in the first decades of Independence.
By the s, OBCs had displaced Brahmins as the dominant caste in rural India; by the s, they were displacing Brahmins in the upper echelons of political power. Marxists in India had traditionally neglected caste. Now, post Mandal, they belatedly discovered it, and claimed that the Mandal demand was one of the Brahmins and Banias versus the Rest.
Except perhaps in Bihar there were few Brahmin landlords anywhere. Unfortunately, not all scholars read endnotes, not least in EPW, where the font size in the notes is even smaller than that in the main text.
I wish I had made these sentences part of the main text, and also expanded them.
I have said and written that caste is the most sophisticated and rigorously enforced system of social discrimination invented by humans. My social history of cricket, A Corner of a Foreign Field , is centred on a family of remarkable Dalit cricketers who fought upper caste hegemony on and off the field.
My anthology Makers of Modern India has two separate sections devoted to Ambedkar, while it also features Periyar and Phule. Better functioning state institutions, more and more focused social activists, more philanthropic businessmen, and more politicians with idealism and a genuine sense of public purpose are as important. But to get all of this will take a lot of patience and hard work, and perhaps good fortune too!
Clearly, you look for socially transformative politics. So I wonder how you now assess the state of Indian politics and intellectual life, in the aftermath of the sea change wrought by the extraordinary electoral triumph of Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party BJP?
In this context do you find any hope for the sort of social democratic politics that some Indians, such as Yogendra Yadav or Pranab Bardhan, and maybe Pratap Mehta, seem to wish for?
There is, surely, a space in Indian politics that has been left unoccupied by the failures of the organized left parties that the Aam Aadmi Party AAP might perhaps take over? Is AAP's remarkable success in the Delhi elections in early an indication of a movement in this direction?
As for the contemporary political scenario, currently the BJP is poised to become what the Congress was in the s and s: the sole national party, with a significant or dominant presence in most states. The parliamentary communists are utterly demoralized.
The Aam Admi Party holds more promise. Only if it is patient, and if it goes beyond the personality cult being created around its charismatic leader in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. In the short to medium term, it may have an electoral impact in smaller states close to Delhi, such as Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, where the echoes of their stunning win in the capital shall resonate, and where Kejriwal himself is fairly well known and his eloquent Hindi diction widely understood.
But in the states of the South, the East and the West, it needs first to build a solid organizational base and nurture local leaders who have an authority and credibility of their own, rather than depend on Kejriwal's blessing or benediction. In sum, while I have no doubt that in time disenchantment with the BJP will grow, the process of building a viable national opposition will most likely be slow and prolonged. This leads us, finally, to your more recent work as a historian of contemporary India.
Admire as one may the achievements of the Nehruvian state, there is surely a great deal of evidence to support Anderson's scepticism.It may be that he learnt these languages in Bengal itself, rather than being sent to distant towns to be educated. In the afternoon they fetch water from the river or tank; and at night perform the office of menial servants in making the beds.
What I lament is, that seeing the women thus dependent and exposed to every misery, you feel for them no compassion that might exempt them from being tied down and burnt to death.
School in Calcutta evinces the laudable desire of Government to improve the Natives of India by Education.
Still amongst those women, most, even without seeing or receiving any support from their husbands, living dependent 32 Makers of Modern India on their fathers or brothers, and suffering much distress, continue to preserve their virtue; and when Brahmins, or those of other tribes, bring their wives to live with them, what misery do the women not suffer? Had it not carried his celebrated name, and had he not been such a valued contributor to the magazine, I wonder whether it would ever have been published.
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