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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Women and the Post-Colonial Indian State

Title: Women and the Post-Colonial Indian State
Author: Nilendra Bardiar
ISBN: 978-93-82395-59-1
Binding: Hard Cover
First Edition: 2014
Language: English

About the Author:
Dr. Nilendra Bardiar is currently working as Assistant Professor at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC), University of Delhi. He previously worked as Research Associate with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies. He has done MA (2005-7), M.Phil (2007-9) and PhD (2009-13, awarded in 2014) in History from JNU. 

About the Book:
The object of this book is to look into some aspects of law making, policy formulations, and implementation of the constitutional and legal provisions etc. by the post-colonial state in India vis-à-vis gender justice and women “empowerment” and will try to examine the State’s perspective on gender relations. This will lead to theorizing the nature and character of the Post-colonial State from a gender perspective. The book will also go into the participation of women in the movement for their rights and the role of women socio-political organizations in the process. While the primary concern of the book will be the post-colonial period, yet, to put the things in the right perspective and to bring the context, it may be necessary to dwell briefly upon the pre-1947 period also (especially the period of 1920 onwards) to understand the working of the post-colonial state in the aftermath of Independence. During the colonial period, the construction of woman as an individual and as a social-familial being in the Gandhian discourse and Nehruvian vision’s divergence from it in the post-colonial period is too important to be left out of the scope of this book.

Ideology and Activities of All India Hindu Mahasabha


Title: Ideology and Activities of All India Hindu Mahasabha
Author: Nilendra Bardiar
ISBN: 978-93-82395-51-5
Binding: Hard Cover
First Edition: 2014
Language: English


About the Author:
Dr. Nilendra Bardiar is currently working as Assistant Professor at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC), University of Delhi. He previously worked as Research Associate with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies. He has done MA (2005-7), M.Phil (2007-9) and PhD (2009-13, awarded in 2014) in History from JNU. 

About the Book:
In 1948, we observed two contrasting images of the Hindu Mahasabha leaders. In the first image, SP Mookerjee was being included within the Nehru cabinet while in the second image another well known Hindu Mahasabha leader VD Savarkar is being put on trial for Gandhi’s murder. Obviously, the question rises do these contrasting images embody in themselves two contradictory histories of Hindu Mahasabha? If yes how have these two histories continue to exist within the same organization for such a long time? This book traces the ideologies, activities and dilemmas that defined the Mahasbha in 1940s.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Ritual, Politics and Power in North East India: Contextualising the Lai Haraoba of Manipur

Title: Ritual, Politics and Power in North East India: Contextualising the Lai Haraoba of Manipur
Author: Otojit Kshetrimayum
ISBN: 978-93-82395-50-8
First Edition: 2014
Binding: Hard Cover
Language: English

About the Author:
Otojit Kshetrimayum is a sociologist with interests in cultural and industrial sociology. He had his education from University of Delhi; Jamia Millia Islamia; and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Currently, he is faculty and Coordinator of Centre for North East at V.V. Giri National Labour Institute under Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India. He is the Course Director of the International Training programme on Managing Development and Social Security Measures under ITEC/SCAAP Programme of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

Recipient of  ICSSR Doctoral Fellowship, he had taught in the Department of Social Systems and Anthropology, Sikkim Central University and was the founding Coordinator of the Department introducing MA, MPhil/PhD in Sociology. He had also worked in Women’s Studies and Development Centre, University of Delhi as Senior Fellow.

He is the Assocate Editor of Labour and Development journal. He has edited a special issue on Labour, Employment and Social Protection in North East India. Some of his published research papers include Sociology of Labour and Social Stratification in North East India: Contexualising Handloom Weaving as an occupational Craft in Manipur; CSR Provisions in Indian Companies Act, 2013: An Overview; Cloth, Women and Social Change: Situating Handloom Weaving in Manipur; Rethinking Cooperatives in Rural Development: A Case Study of Handloom Weavers’ Cooperatives in Manipur; Women and Shamanism in Manipur and Korea: A Comparative Study; Mapping Cultural Diffusion: A Case Study of ‘Korean Wave’ (Hallyu) in North East India; ICT Integration in School Education: A Sociological Proposition.

He was selected for the ‘Next Generation Leaders Program’ by Korea Foundation and visited Seoul, South Korea. He is the President of Researchers’ Association for the Study of Korea. 

About the Book:
The world we live today is the age of urbanization, modernization, secularization and globalization. There has been a process of rationalization in every sphere of life. It seems that that there is no place for irrationality in such a social system. It has been assumed that ritual action has declined in importance in urban conditions. Nevertheless, today, ritual is of greater importance than is often realized. There is a need to introspect this perplexing and paradoxical aspect.

The patterns of religious behaviour, like other patterns of social behaviour, are of great interest to sociologists, since they underscore the relationship between religion and society. Religious ritual is one of the dimensions of religious behaviour. The beliefs and ideals of different civilizations are often formulated in their rituals more explicitly than in any other cultural trait, which gives the study of ritualism a greater sociological significance. What is more significant here is to take into account the dynamics surrounding the ritual not only in terms of its ritualistic or mythological connotation but also in terms of other variables such as modernization, globalization, migration, national and regional politics etc., which constitute important variables influencing its dynamics. Notably, there has been a great resurgence of Lai Haraoba ritual in Manipur during the last few decades. It is in this context that the present study tries to examine the dynamics of Lai Haraoba. The main argument put forward in this study is that the rise in the number of religious ritual of Lai Haraoba is associated with the changing socio–political dynamics of the present Manipur where three predominant ethnic communities constituting the Meities, Nagas and Kukis are settled. The increase in tendency for the establishment of the separate territory and administration of different tribes such as Nagas, Kukis etc. has a threat to the existing polity and territory of the state. This can be observed from two changing trends of religion and ritual. Firstly, the increase trend of Lai Haraoba in the state in general and urban area in particular shows the consciousness of the pre–Hindu identity at present. And secondly, the ritualization of the tribal identity in the Lai Haraoba shows the basic urge of the Meiteis to reassert the integral Manipuri identity of the pre–Hindu period. Apart from this, at micro level also there exists certain social and political dynamics, which are associated with Umanglai/ Lai Haraoba.

Lai Haraoba is a ritualistic festival of the Meiteis observing from the ancient times. It is a ritual enactment of the creation myth. It mirrors the entire culture of Manipur and depicts the close affinities between the hill and plain people. It is in fact the combination of religious recitations, traditional music and dance, traditional social values and ancient cultural aspects. It retains the original characteristics of the traditional Meitei religion. Celebrated in honour of the sylvan deities known as Umanglai, the festival represents the worship of traditional deities and ancestors. It literally means, “the pleasing of the god” (Shakespeare) or “the merrymaking of the gods and goddesses” (Nilakanta) or “the god’s rejoice” (Achoubisana). Lai Haraoba, which is about the happiness of the gods after they created the world of human beings, is celebrated in every leikai (locality), and every khul’s (village) laipham (abode of gods) but not everywhere at the same time. It is a community worship wherein the site of worship is situated outside the home, in the domain of the public. Each festival is dedicated to a male and a female deity as a couple who are addressed as ‘Lainingthou’ and ‘Lairembi/Lairemma’ respectively. The theme of the festival is that of celebration of life, its origin, fulfillment of the purpose of living and the continued existence through procreation.

The Lai Haraoba festival is celebrated every year, sometime in April or May in different areas of the state. The celebrations are spread over a long period that could last from a few days to a month. It is a series of rituals. Each ritual is a combination of hymn, dance and music. The ritualistic performance is through the medium of dance. This festival is perhaps the most authentically Meitei of all the traditional festivals. It is also the one which most closely preserves the ancient Manipuri culture and philosophy, and the importance of which is increasing today.

It is in this setting that the present study tries to explore the trends in Lai Haraoba from the early days to the present. The study also takes into account the role of state, bureaucracy, middle class, religious boards and councils, Lai Haraoba Committees and civil society in the affairs of the Lai Haraoba. It mainly tries to locate the relation between the ritual of Lai Haraoba and the political identity of the state. 

The primary sources of information for this study are royal chronicle (Cheitharol Kumbaba), indigenous archaic literature and ancient traditional myths. There are also other secondary sources like the accounts of the British Ethnographers cum Political Agents, and other modern writings and records. Most of the previous scholars confined their works mainly on the ritualistic part of Lai Haraoba. They haven’t discussed much on its other aspects like its implications on the social, political, economic and cultural structure of the Manipuri society.  This is only an attempt to explore the dynamics of Lai Haraoba in the contemporary Manipuri society. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Urban, Cultural, Economic and Social Transformation: History of New Delhi 1947-65

Title: Urban, Cultural, Economic and Social Transformation: History of New Delhi 1947-65
Author: Nilendra Bardiar
ISBN: 978-93-82395-49-2
Binding: Hard Cover
First Edition: 2014
Language: English
Cover Photo(s): Ms Sathya Scinha

About the Author:
Dr. Nilendra Bardiar is currently working as Assistant Professor at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC), University of Delhi. He previously worked as Research Associate with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies. He has done MA (2005-7), M.Phil (2007-9) and PhD (2009-13, awarded in 2014) in History from JNU.

About the Book:
There has been a spate of studies on Partition and the arrival and subsequent settlement of non-Muslim refugees in Delhi. The communal violence and uprooting and migration of such a large number of people, which has till now, been unprecedented. But hardly any of these studies have kept the city as a whole and its new evolving geography, economy and culture as a major focus. At most, their human geographies do not extend beyond the refugee colonies and the families settled over there. But it cannot be denied that the “Partition” and “refugee” side of the story has been narrated well but the “city”, its newly evolving culture and its citizens’ lives per se have mostly been left mute.

A few government publications mostly based on the research and data compilation by current or ex-bureaucrats have however tried to study and tell the city’s side of this story through administrative, land usage and urban development perspectives but these studies cannot comprehend the human and the cultural dimensions. Each existential aspect of this city of Delhi was tremendously transformed by the arrival of new population because of Partition. From its physicality to its psyche and language to the core of its cultural soul, everything had to go through some sort of metamorphosis during the decades following the Partition. The feeling of being the capital of India had perhaps not sunk in well in around one and a half decades since the transfer of capital from Calcutta to the city when Partition knocked on its door and took away a large proportion of the people who supposedly formed the core of its cultural whole. But ‘the last conquerors of this city’ were not hordes of those who had come to loot and destroy and stamp their reign and rule on its coins but were those who had been on the run themselves—from violence in Pakistan to the lack of opportunities elsewhere in India from where they finally arrived in Delhi. What they were looking for was more than a mere shelter and hearth. They were seeking ladders to rise up and securely. They found some and they created many.

When the Partition refugees arrived they had their own cultural baggage but they did not associate the romance of nostalgia with it. Refugees changed the social profile of Delhi after 1947. The reason that most of the refugees did well and succeeded in rising up the socioeconomic ladder of status and prosperity, despite having started from scratch is that as they were left with no option but to succeed in their endeavours, no matter how much and what it cost them in terms of initial struggle so they persevered and did all that they could to succeed.

In 1947, Delhi was woefully under developed and unexpanded and geographically and spatially too sparsely settled to fit into the mould of the national capital of a newly independent country, as populous as India. Even if refugees would not have arrived to settle in Delhi, the city had to expand and grow. The earliest ‘planning’ of the city were carried out basically for two main purposes—for settling those who had arrived and for creating an infrastructure that any national capital would need. These efforts at planning had to contend with too many pulls and pressure and concerns and challenges from different quarters.

A very important point that seems to mostly go unnoticed is that the lament and mourning for the loss of ‘real’ culture of Delhi tends to overlook the simple logic that the onus of preserving it did not and does not rest on those who came from outside but on those who chose to lament and mourn its supposed fading away rather than preserving, living and passing it on to the future generations. And those who choose to do the latter do not see anything to lament for. The old, persianized, classical, ‘real’ culture of Delhi never had to compete or fight with the new arrivals. It existed and still exists in the lives and geographies of the people who want to live it and this will continue to remain so. Post-Independence Delhi did not need a predominant culture to define itself as there were not one but many cultures that came to seek a place for themselves but ironically some of the observers tend to see none of these cultures so as to buttress their point of this city having no culture.