Social Scientist. v 23, no. 266-68 (July-Sept 1995) p. 101.


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BOOK REVIEW

The Sub-Continent: Academic analysis

Paula R. Newberg: Judging the State: Courts and Constitutional Politics in Pakistan, Cambridge University Press, Indian Edition by Foundation in Delhi, 1995, Indian prices Rs. 375.00.

Ayesha Jalal, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia A Comparative and Historical Perspective, Cambridge University Press, Indian edition by Foundation, Delhi, 1995, pp. 295 Indian price Rs. 385.00.

Scholarship in and about the subcontinent has always been a little uneven in quality. The Indian academy is extremely large and growing exponentially. Since so much of Indian education is bibliographic and demonstrative of rote learning, this is amply demonstrated in the thousands of books that pour out of Indian universities, institutes and publishing houses. Facts are collected but routinely analysed. Comprehensive but often incomprehensible—unlike the columns in Indian newspapers—there is a lack of indignenous intellectual debate. This is changing now, but not with sufficient rapidity. Earlier, the more respectable debates located their contentions within the scholarship of the 'West, which poured wealth and resources into studying India. Even today, it is writers on India, with prestigious international publishers, who provide the foci from and against which book learning expounds itself. This is not to deny that the Indian academy as a whole does have a point of view—which has been strongly and elegantly transmitted through some extremely well written and rich analysis. In the lesser works that come from the academy, the imitation may be one of form, with the writer's point of view lying as a buried intuition and bias in the* flow of words and references which often pull such works together. The truth is that academic books and treaties are not the social and political art form through which contention in India is espoused. With their puny little print runs, most academic books have relevance only within the academy—to secure a post, add a publication in the arid publish-or-perish culture on which promotion may depend and which gives the writer the status of an author. Soon after the Emergency, Indian social

Social Scientist, Vol. 23 Nos. 7-9, July-September 1995



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