The original impression of the atlas was published in approximately 3,300 copies in October 1978 and was sold out approximately six years later. Despite continued demand for the work, reprinting it for a market whose size defied easy prediction presented daunting economic problems. The work was declared out of print, and all rights were assigned to the editor. In January 1987 Oxford University Press, New York, approached the editor and initiated discussions which ultimately resulted in the present impression of the work. Among the many questions considered over the en- suing years were what to keep, what to change, and what to add; how to fit work on the atlas into the editor's other substantial research and writing commitments; what, if anything, to do differently for a South Asian and a non-South Asian market; and what efforts, if any, to undertake for a substantial revision and the drawing of new map plates. From a technical standpoint, it was also necessary to determine the suit- ability of the film for the original maps for high quality reproduction thirteen or fourteen years after their original use. That film, weighing several hundred pounds, was sent to a printing plant in Hong Kong early in 1989 and test proof runs of four sample maps subsequently demonstrated that it was still of good quality.
Several factors weighed against a complete revision of the atlas and even against drawing a limited set of most needed new maps, specifically maps relating to the prehistoric period for which the explosion in knowledge might have justified a totally new exposition and others relating to the years since the terminal dates of existing map plates relating to the post-independence period. To have embarked on such a course would have inevitably entailed a major fund-raising effort, the recruitment of a new atlas staff, and a commitment to several years of additional effort. The out- come would have been a long delay in publication, an attendant inability to satisfy the needs of those wishing to obtain the atlas as soon as possible, a substantial increase in the unit cost of the work, and, very likely, a diminution in the number of libraries and individual scholars who could afford it. Under these circumstances, the compromise adopted was to update certain portions of the atlas in textual form, with a limited amount of ancillary graphics and statistical tables, to make the discussion as place-specific as practicable, thereby permitting readers—aided where necessary by the old and new atlas tables of contents and indexes—to relate the new text to the already existing atlas maps and text. It was also agreed, given the very extensive changes that had taken place in the internal administrative structures of most coun- tries of South Asia, that a new administrative map was needed to replace the 1975 transparent end cover overlay map that formed part of the original impression.
In May 1990 a publishing contract was signed by the editor and Oxford University Press; work upon additional materials for the present impression commenced the following month. Two graduate research assistants worked on the atlas part-time throughout the summer months and others, as needed, during the ensuing year. Other assistance, to carry out a variety of clerical, secretarial, and cartographic tasks, was
Much of what we have included in the addenda to the original edition relates to some of the less pleasant aspects of modern South Asian history. We have attempted to present information on controversial subjects in as impartial and nonjudgmental a fashion as we could, fully recognizing the possibility of unconscious bias. While it is not our intention to highlight conflict and other forms of social malaise, we do hope that their exposition will heighten the awareness of those in a position to affect the course of events—which includes many more people than those normally de- scribed as leaders—of the pervasiveness, depth, persistence, and mounting gravity of problems that pose threats to the future viability of the region. At the same time, we hope that we have not failed to take adequate note of the numerous positive devel- opments during the post-independence period.
It is the hope of both the editor and Oxford University Press that a completely revised edition of the atlas will one day come to fruition and that it will incorporate much of the exciting new scholarship on South Asia, including many of the mono- graphic works of the "Subaltern School" of Indian historiography. The task of pro- ducing the contemplated new work, when and if it is actually undertaken, will un- doubtedly require several years of effort, at a minimum. Whether or not that effort will ultimately be made will depend in part on the interest which the present work engenders. South Asia is an area of the world that has contributed much to our common human heritage and it warrants substantially more scholarly concern than it has yet received as well as much greater interest and understanding among govern- ments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and, above all, concerned world citizens. We hope that the atlas will continue to make a significant contribution to that needed understanding and to lend itself in some measure to an amelioration of the many and seemingly mounting problems that beset the region.
JOSEPH E. SCHWARTZBERG