Review: Diversity and Change in Modern India

« Les mutations de la société indienne », La Vie des idées, 16 mars 2011

Review by Roland Lardinois

Antony F. Heath et Roger Jeffery (dir.), Diversity and Change in Modern India. Economic, Social and Political Approaches, The British Academy, Oxford University Press, 2010

“L’ouvrage édité par Antony Heath et Roger Jeffery offre une vue d’ensemble des transformations de la société indienne. Dominé par les contributions d’économistes et de politistes, il reflète l’état des sciences sociales en Inde, où la sociologie peine à se développer pleinement.”





Book: Water in South Asia

Peter Mollinga (ed), Water for Food and Rural Development. Approaches and Initiatives in South Asia, New Delhi, Sage, 2000

“This important book addresses two fundamental questions: First, what is the relation, in South Asia, between the development and use of water resources on the one hand, and food security and rural development on the other? Second, which innovative approaches and methodologies can help resolve the deadlock in water resources development and management?

This volume of 17 original essays presents views and experiences on these important questions from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The authors argue strongly for an integrated approach to water resource management which would make it part of the broader agenda of rural transformation. They cite concrete examples to show how a shift away from an exclusive focus on infrastructure development and increased production is possible in practice. All water-related interventions, they recommend, should be made conditional on the inclusion of strategies for sustainable biomass production; resource-rights and asset creation through generating employment (especially for the landless, the land-poor and women); equity in resource access and distribution; and principles of democratic planning and management.”

Contributors: Peter P. Mollinga, C.W.J. Roest, Tushaar Shah, Mahesh Banskota, Suresh R. Chalise, Syed Z. Sadeque, Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, Anjan Datta, M. Youssouf Ali, Upendra Gautam, Rajan Subedi, Kusum Athukorala, Zaigham Habib, Ajaya Dixit, Abid Shah, E.M. Shashidharan, Reema Nanavaty, K.R. Datye, Suhas Paranjape, K.J. Joy, Vijay Paranjpye, Lionel Siriwardena, …


Book: Caste, Gender and Science

Abha Sur, Dispersed Radiance: Caste, Gender, and Modern Science in India, New Delhi, Navayana, 2011

“This book is a step toward writing a socially informed history of physics in India in the first half of the twentieth century. Through a series of micro histories of physics, Abha Sur analyzes the confluence of caste, nationalism, and gender in modern science in India, and unpacks the colonial context in which science was organized. She examines the constraints of material reality and ideologies on the production of scientific knowledge, and discusses the effect of the personalities of dominant scientists on the institutions and academies they created. The bulk of the book examines the science and scientific practice of India’s two preeminent physicists in the first half of the twentieth century, C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha. Raman and Saha were—in terms of their social station, political involvement, and cultural upbringing—diametric opposites. Raman came from an educated Tamil brahmin family steeped in classical art forms, and Saha from an uneducated rural family of modest means and underprivileged caste status in eastern Bengal. Sur also reconstructs a collective history of Raman’s women students—Lalitha Chandrasekhar, Sunanda Bai, and Anna Mani—each a scientist who did not get her due.”

Dispersed Radiance makes an important contribution to the social history of science. It provides a nuanced and critical understanding of the role and location of science in the construction of Indian modernity and in the continuation of social stratification in colonial and postcolonial contexts.”

Abha Sur teaches in the MIT Program in Women’s & Gender Studies in Massachusetts, Cambridge

Interview: Wiebe Bijker

Wiebe E. Bijker, Professor, Faculty of Arts and Culture, Universiteit Maastricht, the Netherlands, was in conversation with Pankaj Sekhsaria

about his latest book, The Paradox of Scientific Authority, and his growing engagement with India.

The New Indian Express, November 21, 2010

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