Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back from India with some books

Among them Annie Zaidi's 'Known Turf' reviewd here. There is no table of contents, the book is uneven but there are some excellent pieces. From the review above:
"To me, most moving chapter in the book was about hunger deaths in Sahariya tribe in Madhya Pradesh. Only for this chapter, the book was worth it. It made the meaning behind words, ‘Reality Bites’ oh so apparent. Abysmal number of tribal children in MP die young due to malnutrition. These tribals were displaced and their suffering is ensured by cruel, heartless mix of inaction and corruption right from ground level.
Other two chapters that moved me are ‘Looped with Silk and Silver’ and ‘Prone to Bondage’. The first one is about starving families of weavers and embroiderers of Benaras. Read it to know why you should not mind paying for the authentic but expensive embroidery, how much hard work that is. Second is the piece that breaks the stereotypes about affluence of Punjab. There are lot of landless, bonded labourers. Caste-ism exists, Annie recounts the story of a Dalit Bant Singh who his lost his three limbs because he refused to take his case back against rich landlords who raped his daughter."

Parts of 'Prone to Bondage' (page 109 onwards, the ones about Sahariya tribe from page 53) can be also seen as a continuation of of the discussion of transformations in the society discussed in Butter Chicken in Ludhiana. So it seemed to me because I read the two books together.

Among other books recommended by acquintances during the trip The Persistence of Caste: India's Hidden Apartheid and the Khairlanji Murders. An earlier review of a paper from the 'New Economist' blog Explaining the persistence of India's caste system and Tyler Cowen's comments Was the Indian caste system efficient?.

Then some suggested books about the idea of India. Various books suggest that the idea arose out of contact and confrontations with the west, see for example,
Sunil Khilnani's The Idea of India , V. Krishna Ananth's India Since Independence: Making Sense of Indian Politics.

P.S I have uploaded some of the picures from the trip. I forgot to take the pictures of a few I met like M. Rajshekhar, Rahul Banerjee.

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