Book review – #Republic -Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. By Cass Sunstein. Princeton University Press; 310 pages; $29.95 and £24.95.

LAST June Facebook announced a change to its newsfeed. Henceforth it would rejig the way stories were ranked to ensure that people saw “the stories they find most meaningful”. But what does “most meaningful” actually mean? Posts from family and friends, apparently, as well as those users you frequently “like”. Your newsfeed should be “subjective,Read More

Book Review: When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics. By Milan Vaishnav. Yale University Press; 410 pages; $40. To be published in Britain in March;

ALL politicians are crooks. At least, that is what a lot of people think in a lot of countries. One assumes it is a reproach. But not in India. Indian politicians who have been charged with or convicted of serious misdeeds are three times as likely to win parliamentary elections as those who have not.Read More

Disability and the media edited by Andrew Crisell

Disability and the Media forms part of the ‘Key Concerns in Media Studies’ series edited by Andrew Crisell and is aimed primarily at students and teachers of the media, although it will also have appeal to academic readers and disability activists and organizations. The authors were aiming to fill a gap for a general textbook on disability and the mediaRead More

Book Review: India Exclusion Report 2015 by Centre for Equity Studies; New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2015

Uncovering exclusion in India is akin to the child shouting out the visible truth. Exclusion and discrimination in India is as old as the country’s history. It is a lived reality as much as it is part of our history; stratification and dominance run along the axes of gender, caste, race, ethnicity and class. The sheer adaptability of the processRead More

Adivasis of Bastar –Leftovers of the Tribal India Culture.

Woodsmoke and Leaf Cups: Autobiographical Footnotes to the Anthropology of the Durwa by Madhu Ramnath; Delhi: Harper Litmis, 2015; pp 324, ₹399. Sarkar teen parkar—adei thindana, narpitana, auru jiyam noipitana (The three qualities of government—to beg, to terrify, and to make the heart ache)  This is the essence of a reverse anthropology—an Adivasi view of the mainstream, literate world and its power structures—of how a tribal people in south Chhattisgarh perceive the behaviour of government people and their system, in their own language, Durwa—a language we have probably never heard of. As such, these words contain the essence of the hellish situation that has developed in the region during the last few years. Many books have been written about the civil war situation in Bastar. Many have analysed the Maoist conflict and the Maoist system of governance. Some are based on interviews and interactions with Maoists. This book goes deeper, in the sense that it presents us with the cultural system that was there before Maoists came on the scene, and the interactions with forest guards and other small-time exploiters who have long plagued Adivasi villagers. Presented not academically, journalistically, or governmentally, but in an Adivasi idiom of storytelling and anecdotes, spiced with a wild, vivid sense of humour. Beating Heart of Tribal India Over the last few years, people have viewed Bast—meaning the old district of Bastar that equals south Chhattisgarh, since what was Bastar has been increasingly subdivided into an ever-rising number of new districts (presently seve—through the lens of appalling human rights abuses, as epicentre of India’s Maoist conflict. People who have known Bastar longer feel intense anguish about the violent tragedy engulfing a region that used to be the beating heart of tribal India. Adivasi cultures existed here with maximum confidence and least disturbance until 2005, when that slippery entity SalwaJudum burst onto the scene. Reviewing this extraordinary book properly would have to begin with an aside on terminology, to wake us up to some fundamental questions. What is Bastar? What was Bastar? What has happened to the extraordinary wild forestland that was Bastar? This is a landscape that speaks, or spoke, Gondi, Durwa, and other ancient languages that most of us in cities are quite ignorant of. Extremely beautiful, expressive languages, that have a very different form “modern” languages such as Hindi and English, which formed through military campaigns of conquest across cultures. Which is a significant connection? There is a definite continuity between the military forces that rampaged to and fro between Hindustan and Afghanistan, where Hindustani formed as a language of commerce and command, and the camps of security forces proliferating across Bastar, where shouted commands mix Hindi, English, Halbi and Gondi, for those enlisted Adivasis who serve in the Koya commandos and other such units. Anthropology of Power Abuse This is a book of “deep anthropology,” giving what anthropology promises yet rarely delivers. It is an in-depth analysis of a tribal culture, and the complex cultural interactions through which outsiders can begin to understand such a culture—a tribal people whose name we have probably never evenRead More

book review: ‘Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India’

Sarah Pinto.  Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India.  Contemporary Ethnography Series. Philadelphia  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.  296 pp.  $59.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8122-4583-7. Reviewed by Esme Cleall (University of Sheffield) Published on H-Disability (October, 2016) Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison This is a powerful and engaging ethnography of women and mental  healthRead More

Casteism in India, A New Book by Stephen Knapp

Casteism in India has gotten a lot of criticism, and rightly so. Many look at it as a means for the upper castes to live a privileged life while keeping all lower castes oppressed without the means for upgrading themselves. Present day casteism is based on the idea that whatever caste your father was, thatRead More

Book Review: Pyre,Author: Perumal Murugan

Book: Pyre Author: Perumal Murugan Translated from the Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Pages: 270 Price: Rs 399 The prose is deceptively simple and sparse. And yet it has the effect of hitting you hard like the blazing sun, the parched land, the rock, and the thorny karuvelum shrubs. A perfect setting inRead More

Talk like a Parsi by Chintan Girish Modi

Did you know that a baira master is a casanova, tumboo ma saheb means that someone is pregnant, andsuhrah chhuh noh kato is a euphemism for impotence? The news of a person’s death is announced aswicket puree guyee , an expert in cock-and-bull tales is termed a fekology master , and a never-ending story isRead More

Book Review: The Great Departu Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World. By Tara Zahra

EASTERN Europe is in the midst of a migration panic. Milos Zeman, the Czech Republich’s president, has called the influx of refugees to the continent an “organised invasion”; Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, warns that they may be carrying “very dangerous diseases”. But anxieties about migration in the region areRead More