Social Scientist. v 29, no. 338-339 (July-Aug 2001) p. 82.


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BOOK REVIEW

Under the Magic Spell of the Hindu Middle Class.

Gyan Prakash, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India, Princeton University Press, 2000, 304 pages, $17.95

As India became a free country in 1947 there was a serious desire to study the way the national liberation struggle had triumphed. This was a major contributing factor that led to the development of nationalist historiography, which singularly remained obsessed with nationalism and the ruling class 'in the making' that was now at the centre of power. Everything appeared to emanate from the mind, body and soul of the political formation that represented it the Indian National Congress. Only the victors seemed to matter and the Congress emerged as a historic block. This dominant historical trend was so all-embracing that its echoes were heard, partly assimilated and re-worked in the intellectual centres of the old empire. After all, the obsession with factions, elite conflict and power had at least one meeting point with nationalist historiography - the history of the common people, their life and times seemed to be, in both cases, too trivial to attract attention. Whereas the nationalist school survived for sometime, the 'elite conflict5 and the 'locality-province-nation' models fell into the 'trap-doors of history5 not just because they were arguing against the very idea of Indian nationalism but because they ignored like nationalist history everything outside the framework of the upper sections of Indian society.

Political developments, especially the struggles against the Congress government's semi-fascist terror during the 'Emergency', triggered a lot of re-thinking for the historian as well. Besides, the major peasant and working class movements, the questioning of patriarchy and caste oppression and the devastation of free India's environment broadened the horizon of the historian to think about India, its ills and problems as well as certain inspiring features, without



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