The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 14, 2000

An inside view of Third World
Review by Shelley Walia
Hear the sensitive voice of less-known Indians
Review by Akshaya Kumar
Birth of Kashmir state
by Randeep Wadehra
Uttarkhand in statistics
Review by Padam Ahlawat

An inside view of Third World
Review by Shelley Walia

Colonialism/Post-colonialism by Ania Loomba. Routledge, London. Pages 289. г8.99.

SOME critics, though pioneers of what once was called "Commonwealth" literature, staunchly remain bogged down in the Leavisite tradition, disabling themselves from even casting a sympathetic gaze at what is presently known as post-colonial cultural studies. I have all respct for them but I do realise that they belong to a school of critics who constantly question the status and value of post-colonial/post-modern modes of cultural analysis. They challenge post-colonial theory on several fronts: on its interdisciplinary competence, on the politics of its location, and its implicit will to power over all other kinds of histories of analysis. Derrida and Foucault stand outside their consideration. This has resulted in heated debates, often personalised to the extent that many issues at stake stand ignored.

It must be realised that the field of colonial studies is very vast, covering a large part of the world we live in, and any attempt to codify its principles amounts to overriding the complexity of a field so heterogeneous and almost as old as the day Shakespeare wrote "The Tempest.." As Ania Loomba points out in her recent book, Colonialism Post-colonialism, "Each scholar of colonialism, depending on her disciplinary affiliation, geographic and institutional location and identity, is likely to come up with a different set of examples, emphasis, and perspective on the question".

Her book is certainly a clear-headed account of this very crucial and complex area, focusing on some key terms and debates which have preoccupied scholars both in the West and the East. I would not like to disparage the book in any way, but to use her own words in an essay written elsewhere, we could call it a kunji (mug-books, or literally, "key"). But it certainly stands head and shoulders above the traditional bar notes or York notes and is a comprehensive study of a field that has in the past few years become a major intervention in the widespread revisionist project which covers areas such as cultural studies, women’s studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies.

The area of post-colonial studies as George M. Gugelberger, writes, is "one of the latest ‘tempest’ in a postist world replacing "Prospero’s Books" (the title of Peter Greenaway’s 1991 film) with a Calibanic viewpoint." It is quite clear that the very act of validating modernism was directly linked with the recognition of primitive cultures. I do not think that post-modernism is "specifically western malice which breathes angst and despair instead of aiding political action and resistance", as pointed out by Loomba.

The tremors of this interest in modernism as well as post-modernism can be traced back to the early fifties when writers like Beckett became interested in writing plays such as "Waiting for Godot" and Sartre wrote a scathing critique of French imperialism in Algeria, or when the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya posed a threat to western hegemony. More than this, it was a time when Fanon wrote "Black Skin, White Masks" and the works of Cesaire and Albert Memmic became seminal to the uprisings of nationalist movements, thereby giving impetus to the whole question of rewriting history. As Gugelberger again emphasises, it was in the year 1958 when "the western narrative paradigm in which an author’s anthropologist fabricates the other was seriously questioned in Chinua Achebe’s novel "Things Fall Apart" which clearly illustrates the sensationalism and inaccuracy of western anthropology and history".

Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth" with its preface writtten by no other than Sartre, or the reworking of "The Tempest" by Geroge Lamming further added to the on-going rush of a deep-seated impulse to write oneself back into history. Post-colonial writing therefore came to be constituted in counter-discursive practices. The marginalised began to have a voice, minority discourses contended with the over privileging of western history and literature, leading to a rethinking about fossilised curricula in English departments, and multiculturalism. As Patrick Brantlinger says, post-colonial studies intended to "discipline the disciplines" and thereby moved the margin to the centre. The master narrative of western discourse stood challenged finally in Edward Said’s two major works "Orientalism" and "Culture and Imperialism". In fact, it was with the appearance of "Orientalism" that post-colonial studies got institutionalised and even departments previously opposed to any radical changes like the English faculty of Cambridge decided to start a programme in post-colonial literature. Robert Young has shown immense interest in this area and is mainly instrumental in promoting research at Oxford. This has also led to the initiation of a journal on post-colonial studies called Interventions, of which the first issue would be appearing soon.

Ania Loomba has examined the significant features of the ideas that relate to discourse analysis in the light of sexual, racial, and class differences within the broad area of colonial ideologies and post-colonial theories. I wonder if apart from clarifying certain concepts, such books on the subject of post-colonial cultural studies really achieve much by way of a radical change in the politics of location and identity. Undoubtedly, the interest in this field has given rise to many debates and conferences but finally one can say that it is only a replacement of "one problematic with another".

Will the deconstruction of western monolithic forms and epistemologies or the rejection of the Hegelian-inspired totalising worldview really lead us anywhere except for generating some heated and vigorous academic debates? Though one can perceive that such a study calls for a change, neo-colonialism still prospers and an obsession with. Western critical paradigms has not in any way helped to counter the onslaught of western capitalism and MTV culture.

We could, therefore, ask if post-colonialism is a true counter-discourse or just another fashionable academic game that involves the migrant academic moving from the West to the East or the East to the West for reasons which seem to be more personal than political or sincerely academic. Undoubtedly, they have tried to wage a war on totality and recognised the post modern notion of difference, but they have not succeeded in evolving an expression or an idiom that emerges from their specific cultural and political circumstances. I am not sure if they have succeeded really in moving from the Fanonion first stage of slavish aping of the western forms to the second or the third stage of nativism or the intense revolutionary stance of voicing their views from a wholly indigenous cultural location.

How then can we really call their discipline "post-colonial" when it refers neither to the "historical break" signifying the end of colonial rule, not to an "ideological orientation" which carries the implication of some form of continuing resistance as well as oppression, though not a complete break from the weight of neo-colonial tendencies.

I am quite sceptical of a totally uncontaminated post-colonial theory which positions itself within the universalist or Eurocentric domain and thereby incapacitates itself to speak from the outside. The long history of colonialism cannot be wished away as it has left its indelible mark on the post-colonial consciousness. Rephrasing the inherent problems of Third-Worldism in the language of post-structuralism may not be the only answer. Global hegemony of western paradigms still persists and it would be right to agree with Ella Sohat that "Third World" is a better nomenclature than "post-colonial" as it has the connotations of collectively resisting all influences of neo-colonialism.

Loomba has illustrated the dynamics of colonial encounter, the notions of discourse analysis, and hybridity quite authoritatively and her book should be required reading for all undergraduate literary students. Graduate students and researchers will undoubtedly find it comprehensive and useful in coming to grips with theoretical aspects of Gramcian, Foucaultian and Althuserian ideas, but I don’t think there would be anything new here which could be offered to them. Perhaps that is not the intention of the book, though it is a fairly exhaustive treatment of the subject with a framework that is geographically rather extensive. Top


Hear the sensitive voice of less-known Indians
Review by Akshaya Kumar

Signatures: One Hundred Indian Poets edited by Satchidanandan National Book Trust, India, New Delhi. Pages 440. Rs 70.

EVER since David Bell’s sensational pronouncement of "end of ideology" in 1960, the entire critical scene continues to be in the grip of this endgame. It seems that we are a generation of post-humans living in a graveyard where history, sociology, psychology, culture, etc are buried as diseases of civilisation. John Barth would make us believe that literature is exhausted, and whatever we receive in the name of literature is all kitsch and bullshit.

Poetry is seen as the most ineffectual and excremental of all arts. German philosopher Adorno, in fact, declared that "it is most barbarous to write a poem after Auschwitz". Bakhtin hammered the last nail in the coffin of poetry when he argued rather notoriously that poetry cannot be dialogic and that poetic language runs the risk of becoming "authoritarian, dogmatic and conservative, cutting itself off from the influence of extra-literary social dialects". The message has been loud and clear that there are no takers of poetry.

K Satchidanandan’s anthology of 100 Indian poets entitled "Signatures" should be seen as a counter-discourse in this environment of hostility against poetry. Those who write the obituary of poetry as a genre need to revise their stance as the collection comprises a mind-blowing range of poems, reflecting not only the polyphony that India is, but also the fertility of literary imagination. The collection is a rare feast for the poetry-lover for it provides him under one cover seasoned poets like Sitakant Mahapatra, Amrita Pritam, Raghuvir Sahay, Namdeo Dhasal, Sunil Gangopadhayaya, B.S. Mardhekar, Ayyappa Paniker, etc. alongwith poets of younger generation like Pash, Siddalingaiah, H.S. Shivaprakash, Sukumaran, Gagan Gill, etc.

The anthology has its own narrative structure and sequence. It begins with Jibanananda Das, a Bengali poet born in the year 1899, and concludes with a young Asamiya poet Nilim Kumar born in 1962. The year of birth of a poet is the chosen benchmark that Satchidanandan uses to place the hundred poets in a sequential order in the anthology. The reader at once gets an immediate feel of shifting paradigms in Indian poetry during the 50 years. Except for the mandatory introduction, there are no critical mediations.

Jibanananda Das’s Bangla poems are informed by the early modernist binary of the romantic versus the existential where at one level earth is a "wasteland of remorse,/ of blunders,/ projects and plans", and at another it is a world "gentle with the whispers,/ of exotic/ trees" ("This Earth", page 6). In case of Buddhadev Bose, another Bangla poet that follows Jibanananda in the anthology, the existential begins to overtake the romantic. For instance, in "My Tower", the poet begins with a romantic proposition that "my tower is of ivory" only to counter it later on through a series of mundane metaphors thus: "My tower is a shack/ in Behala’s slums/ a forty floor hotel in San Francisco,/ a proud liner/ on the Atlantic/ Or a toilet in Calcutta, sweating/ with the monsoon" (page 7).

Thereafter the anthology has a range of modernist poems that hinge on concerns of loneliness, dread, silence or loss of speech, dilemmas of freedom, homelessness, etc. In his poem "Freedom" K. Ayyappa Paniker brings forth how freedom,otherwise a concept of realisation, degenerates into a ritual: "The heavy gates/ of the stone prisons/ were wide open/ Even the roofs/ had blown off./ But the six O’clock/ siren was not heard" (page 190). Sunil Gangopadhyaya’s "Captive, Are you Awake?" flings "the echoing question:/ Are you free?"

In his poem "Freedom", Balachandran Chullikkad presents freedom as a synonym of hard work, instead of the usual absence of work: "This is freedom at the illuminated/ tip of the stitching-needle./ It is the grain the sower reaps/ The shirt for the one who stitched it" (page 399). If freedom is bondage, home too is alien space. To Surjit Patar, a Punjabi poet, returning back to home is a delusion: "So many a sun has set/ So many a God has died/ Look of the mother alive/ We delude me; Either I or mother is a ghost" ("The Return Home", page 337).

The poets of the later generation, however, break the didactic grid of modernism heralding the arrival of the splintered self: "As I stare at one/ I splinter into many/ Instead of the river’s harmony/ I become the rain’s scatter" (K.G. Sankara Pillai, "Photos in Various Poses", page 350). K Satchidanandan, who also features as a poet in the anthology, refers to the compartmentalisation of human heart in four parts — namely "a prison", "a church", "a hospital" and "a courtroom" ("My Body, A City", page 344). Nilim Kumar’s Assamese poems demystify the silence-shadow symbiosis at the graveyard: "May be the dead would talk here/ I am not dead" ("Poem-I", page 423).

The later half of the anthology contains poems by well-known dalit poets like Namdeo Dhasal, Bhujang Meshram and Siddalingaiah. In the words of Satchidanandan, these poets create "an alternative poetics that throws overboard classical virtues like propriety, balance, restraint and understatement" (page xxxii). Dhasal’s poem "Mandakini Patil" turns upside down the so-called lofty ideals of society: "Wives are the licensed whores of men./ Men are the pimps and lovers of their wives" (page 361). In another poem "Stone-Masons, My Father, and Me" the romanticisation of the stone masons through high-sounding platitudes like "Stone masons give stones dreams to dream", "Stone masons give stone flowers", "Stone masons inseminate stones", "Stone masons mix blood with stones" is undone with a violent jerk thus: "I break heads with stones" (page 364). With the inclusion of dalit poets in the mainstream Indian poetry, "Signatures" does away with this self-defeating ostracisation of dalit writings from Indian literature as such.

Though the number of women poets included in the anthology is far less, yet the heterogeneity of their responses make up for this kind of numerical disadvantage. Anuradha Mahapatra, Jayaprabha, Savitri Rajeevan, Pravasini Mahakud, etc. expose the patriarchal character of modernism with a visible feminist agenda. Savitri Rajeevan resents the way women are idolised by the male order: "I am no more then worn out/ kitchenware turned into/ the icon and temple" ("The Idol", page 394).

Women poets like Pravasini Mahakud seek a return to nature as a strategy of emancipation. Mahakud is ready to become "a river", "a tiny stream", "a bodhi tree", "a seedling", "a kite" to save mankind from the clutches of culture.

The woman-centredness of the earlier generation of women poets, however, is too subtle. For instance Amrita Pritam’s "My Address" could be read as a poem of every human being in search of liberation: "Wherever you come across a liberated soul/ You can take it to be my home" (page 90). Nabaneeta Deb Sen does reveal female sensitivity towards issues of death, love, motherhood, etc. but she is never polemical. Padma Sachdev, a Dogri poet, deals with the grit and courage of hilly women. Despite its huge sweep, the anthology excludes poets like Dharamvir Bharati, Bhavani Prasad Mishra, Shiv Kumar Batalavi, Daya Pawar, Vikram Seth, Eunice d’Souza, Kaifi Azmi, etc. Perhaps Satchidanandan has no flair for love poetry, even mystical strain of Indian poetry is absent. To bring the entire corpus of poetry of the past four decades under the rubric of modern or post-modern poetry is not fair. Satchidanandan cannot escape the challenges of anthologising by saying that, "This is, perhaps like all such collections, primarily a personal anthology". Also the quality of translation needs improvement. At times, it is academicised and cliche ridden.

"Signatures" must be seen as a next step forward in the on-going process of compiling the best of Indian poetry. Earlier notable stepping stones in this direction were "Another India" (edited by Nissim Ezekiel and Meenakshi Mukherjee) and "Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry" (edited by Vinay Dharwadkar and A.K. Ramanujan in 1994)). The present anthology should be revised after every two or three years, or supplemented by other anthologies of similar nature to incorporate newer voices.

The National Book Trust deserves congratulations for this venture of showcasing the best of Indian poets born between 1899 to 1962 at an affordable price of Rs 70. Top


Birth of Kashmir state
Write view
by Randeep Wadehra

The State in Medieval Kashmir by R.L. Hangloo. Manohar, New Delhi. Pages: 150. Rs 300.

THIS volume attempts to analyse the processes involved in state formation and its functioning in medieval Kashmir. The "Brahaminical religion" was one of the most important factors in the speedy transformation of a primitive tribal set-up into a sophisticated polity. Initially in Kashmir the Nagas formed a "singular-ethnicity"-based social structure. There were two classes — warrior chiefs and peasants. The latter included craftsmen and pastoralists. However, there were 592 Naga clans settled in different parts of the state. Though each clan was ruled by its own chief, the supreme authority was the Nila Naga. The overall administrative structure was loose and functional.

Over a period of time, however, several other ethnic groups migrated to Kashmir, changing the demographic composition irreversibly. The non-Naga incursions also altered the nature of kinship. Old equations became redundant. A new state structure began to take shape.

A rudimentary division of labour came into existence so did hereditary priesthood. A system of status-differentiation on a permanent hereditary basis was fast becoming the norm. When the Mauryans tried to extend their rule over the diverse settlements in Kashmir they were faced with several problems. This dilemma facilitated a prominent role for the Brahmins and Buddhist monks. Their religious status helped them to legitimise the Mauryan authority. If the Buddhists were guilty of introducing a caste-based class system during the reign of Asoka’s son Jaluka, the Brahmins formalised the discriminatory system when they succeeded the Bhuddhists as resident nobility.

Apart from absorbing the Shaivite, tribal and Buddhist rituals and practices, Brahmins also imposed the Agamas for collecting gifts from common folks. Slowly, but surely, an exploitative regime came into existence. They became the sole "legitimisers" of succeeding regimes. The agrahara system enabled Brahmins to become big landholders. This became more evident between 1089 AD and 1101 AD. The agrahara-based economy produced semi-servile dependency at the popular level. The state came to be dominated by influential families who monopolised public offices and concentrated power and wealth in their own hands. The seeds of decay were sown, thanks to this inequity.

The next evolutionary phase in the Kashmir state was the coming of Islam. Hangloo does not think that large-scale conversions of Islam were solely due to the strong-arm tactics of Sultan Sikander and the acts of Sayyids. However, there is enough historical evidence to prove that the sword played a big role in Islam’s growth throughout the world, and there is no reason to assume otherwise in the case of Kashmir.

However, the author is right when he says that the ordinary Kashmiri suffered as much under the Brahminical order as under any other. The pre-14th century Kashmir economy facilitated the concentration of resources in the hands of the ruling elite and the Brahmins. Since Buddhism too had disappointed the common man, he found Islam an attractive alternative, says Hangloo. He writes: "...Sufis living amongst the poorest of the poor and like them, speaking their language, sensitive to their most insignificant is through them that Islam was introduced as a social and religious force in Kashmir, long before it acquired political power."

However, when Islam and ideological domination synchronised Sultans and Sayyids consolidated their hold over the state. They too became as oppressive as earlier rulers. In order to consolidate Muslim rule Sultan Sikandar not only challenged the basis of Brahminical authority but also demolished their temples (or converted them into mosques) and confiscated their agraharas and wealth. He was "ably assisted" in this deed by a Brahmin named Suhabhata, who later embraced Islam.

Kashmir had cultural and trade ties with China, Persia, Turkistan and Central Asia. Though it became a rich mosaic in cultural and ethnic terms, its common people failed to benefit materially from such ties. They remained a poor and oppressed lot. The Sayyids replaced the Brahmins as the priestly class. The succession of sultanates did not bring any tangible improvement in the state’s attitude towards the subjects.

Hangloo has made a good attempt at analysing Kashmir’s evolution as an oppressed state even though it had all the potential of being a paradise on earth.


Ecology and Development in Conflict: a Gandhian Approach by Gunanidhi Parida. APH, New Delhi. Pages xxviii+247. Rs 600.

ENVIRONMENTAL pollution and the march of civilisation go hand in hand. With the improvement in our living style, the planet should have become a healthier place to live but it has been quite the contrary.

It is conclusively proved that material progress does not necessarily result in mental peace or happiness. Gandhi’s development philosophy focuses on man, nature and their simultaneous development. Instead of allowing an exploitative society to take roots, he laid stress on a symbiotic relationship that would keep both man and environment healthy. Here one is reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s sage advice given while urging uniform soil conservation laws in 1937, "The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself."

Parida says that Gandhi’s main objection to mechanisation of production processes was based on his belief that it would lead to general impoverishment. Moreover, his concept of, swadeshi was different from what is bing bandied about today. The former laid emphasis on small-scale, nay cottage industries which would benefit artisans. The new swadeshi concept merely means the replacement of foreign industrial behemoths with the Indian ones. The foreign multinational companies are having the last laugh. Consequently there is rampant consumerism here, it would be apt to recall what British ecologists Penny Kemp and Derek Wall had said in "A Green Manifesto For The 1990s": "How to be green? Many people have asked us this important question. It’s really very simple and requires no expert knowledge or complex skills. Here’s the answer. Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life."

Moreover, what Parida fails to take notice of is the fact that the industrialised West has been able to put in place a system of environmental control regulations. In India, on the other hand, it is a free for all despite the repeated intervention of the judiciary at the highest level. Truly, the artisans have suffered and the village economy has been destroyed, witness the exodus from the rural side with the onset of summer.

Poverty in India has reached a tragic level. There is no social security for the vulnerable. However, it is a moot point whether the Gandhian concept would have been an ideal alternative, especially when there is bitter competition from outside. Machine-made goods are certainly superior in quality and a better value for money for the consumer. Economic activities are seldom altruistic.

There is need to harness the vast resources at the disposal of the country’s industrial houses for cleaning up environment. The agencies enforcing pollution control laws should be given more teeth. Our lawmakers should ensure that no institution escapes its non-commercial obligations towards society. It is also time for the common citizen to wake up. A few NGOs alone cannot transform the attitudes of the rich and the powerful. There is need for a concerted, even activist, movement at the grassroots level to make our planet liveable.

Petra Kelly, the founder-spokeswoman of the German Green Party, had warned in the January, 1993, issue of the Vanity Fair (New York): "We, the generation that faces the next century, can add the ... solemn injunction: If we don’t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable."

In our case the unthinkable might well have begun already.


Marketing Practices and Marketing strategy by Ajay Prasher. Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana. Pages xiv + 248. Rs 250.

IT is a war out there, in the market arena. New products, techniques and innovations have intensified competition in the market to such an extent that the term "cutthroat" is no more a mere metaphor but a hard marketing reality. While retaining certain salient features of time-tested marketing stratagems, in new strategy certain salient practices have to be evolved and constantly updated to attract and sustain consumer attention. This makes it imperative for experts to retail latest information through print and electronics media. This book is an attempt in that direction.

Prasher has focused on the marketing practices of vegetable oil companies in North India. In our economy oilseeds are second only to foodgrains in importance, contributing 6 per cent of the GNP, 268 lakh hectares, or 13.5 per cent of the arable land is under oilseed cultivation. India is the third largest producer, having an output of 229 lakh tonnes in 1995-96.

Recent trends show that the traditional methods of manufacturing and selling vegetable oil have become obsolete and more cost-effective techniques are coming into use. Brand names are becoming an essential feature of modern vegetable oil industry. This is having a salutary effect on quality. However, the author points out that the consumer is still not the king in this particular market. The reason is simple — demand outstrips the supply.

But as the market conditions are dynamic, there is bound to be an improvement in the situation. In fact, this is already seen in the advertisements of assorted brands of vegetable oil hitting constantly high decibels. Some brands focus on the nutrition value while others plug in the purity angle. As far as the consumer is concerned, the more "healthy" competition is welcome.

Prasher has devoted a full chapter to the concept of strategic marketing. He has also furnished useful and generally up-to-date data regarding the vegetable oil market. There are figures and tables illustrating such useful information as major oilseeds producers, levels of distribution channels, geographical scatter of, companies, etc.Top


Uttarkhand in statistics
Review by Padam Ahlawat

Development of Uttara-khand: Issues and Perspec-tives by G.G. Mehta. APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 205. Rs 400.

G.S. MEHTA has brought out a number of books on Uttarakhand dealing with its economy and development. With this volume he adds one more to the list.

Uttarakhand has seen two mass movements in recent times. One, the Chipko movement, in which women were in the forefront to save the ecology of the hills by not allowing trees to be cut. The other has been a political movement to carve cut a separate state of Uttarakhand.

The people want a separate state because they feel that the area has been neglected and has not received its due development attention. Besides, they feel discriminated against in job and education opportunities due to the reservation policy for the OBCs.

Mehta feels that despite decentralisation and more funds for the hill areas, the region has remained underdeveloped. This is despite its potential for hydel power generation, forest wealth and tourist centres. This has been so not because of any lack of interest but because of absence of a region-specific approach. They did not take into consideration the local conditions and requirements of the people.

Mehta analyses the growth and development of different economic sectors, rural and industrial, agricultural and forestry, employment and migration, energy and tourism, and women’s contribution to its development.

The only drawback is that all these issues are looked at in a statistical approach. In fact the whole book is an analysis of statistical data. When talking of health facility he writes, "... medical facilities was Rs 65 crore during the eighth Plan period and it increased to 71 crore .... The number of allopathic hospitals and dispensaries per lakh of population is significantly much higher (11.81) in Uttarakhand ...."

Writing about rural electrification, "the proportion of villages having the facility of electricity increased from 27.17 per cent in 1980-81 to 75.53 per cent in 1991-92 and 78.80 per cent by the end of 1996-97".

On education "........ enrolment rates of upper castes children were 94.35 per cent as against 89.52 per cent for scheduled castes ....". "Similarly in the case of girls the enrolment rates were 93.30 per cent, 86.20 per cent and 78.74 per cent in the case of general castes, SC and ST groups of children respectively".

There is no human touch, not even on an issue like women empowerment. Statistical data follow statistical data. When writing about tourism, statistical data on the number of shops, types of shops/establishments follow. One misses the personal touch, observations and the human angle.

The problem with a hill region is that it cannot take care of an increasing population which requires bringing more area under cultivation and urban development, thereby reducing forest cover. Though the annual increase of population is 2.26 per cent, 65 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture, while 92 per cent depends on it for its livelihood. Though official statistics reveal that 67 per cent of the area in Uttarakhand is under forest cover, satellite images put this figure as 44.31 per cent; roughly 17 lakh hectares classified as forest need to be brought under actual forest cover. Forests need to be managed so that they yield timber and firewood without reducing the forest cover. Oak trees are one of the most prized trees found in the region.

The writer feels that people should grow fruits and vegetables, which give more income. However, it is the small farmer who grows paddy and wheat for sustenance. He also feels that the number of livestock is decreasing. This is an area in which people can be helped to increase milk yield and production of wool.

Uttarakhand is not suitable for industrial development, except for electronic units and mineral-based ones. Mining of minerals however poses a danger of environment degradation. Hydro-electric power production has immense scope. At present only 20 MW of micro hydel power has been tapped from an area that has a potential for 800 MW under micro hydel projects.

Tourism is an area which cries out for expansion. Of the 127.48 lakh tourists who visited Uttarakhand in a single year, the highest number 31.42 lakh visited Rishikesh, 26.96 lakh Dehradun, 14.74 lakh went to Mussourie and surprisingly only 11.73 lakh visited Nainital.

About 10 per cent of people from Uttarakhand migrate to the plains in search of employment. A large number of them (23 per cent) are in the armed forces, while 44 per cent have gone to Mumbai and Delhi. Migration proves that carving out a separate state would not be viable unless areas in the plains are included in the state for absorbing the population and providing employment.

Writing about village panchayats Mehta makes an interesting observation. "This emerging political environment has given birth to groupism, social clashes and conflicts. As a consequence, traditionally maintained cooperation and friendly environment has begun to deteriorate." But then panchayats have been part of rural India for thousands of years, though there were no elections.Top


Gandhi’s failed attempt at adaptation
Review by Kanwalpreet

Colonialism, Tradition & Reform by Bhikhu Parekh. Sage Publications, New Delhi. Pages 359. Rs 475.

TO discuss or analyse Gandhi is to enter an institution in which discipline and confusion go hand in hand. Why? Because Gandhi never arrived at a conclusion for he was forever experimenting with truth, his own conscience and the circumstances in which he found himself and his principles. Yes, it is well-known that he often contradicted himself but this is one truth from which Gandhi did not flinch. And this is what Bhikhu Parekh has tried to analyse in this revised edition of his "Colonialism, Tradition & Reform".

The eminent author has described and analysed Hinduism and how it has been variously interpreted and also how it has been perverted by different sections at different times to further their narrow interests. He then deals with Gandhi’s understanding of his own religion and the contradictions between his thoughts and the scriptures of his religion.

The Hindus, according to the writer, went into a shell and stopped adapting themselves, for they wanted to insulate their religion from aliens — the British and westren literature but also Indians who put forward arguments which went against their deeply founded beliefs. And Gandhi, some felt, was one of them. For the Mahatama believed that Hindu society needed moral regeneration, and "a new system of ethics". This is where his concept of a new yugadharma comes in. To achieve that, Hinduism not only needed reforms and reinterpretation but also assimilation of ideas from other religious traditions. This is where he faced the greatest challenge. For the custodians of Hinduism would not let him "play and experiment" with the body of ideas and practice that was Hinduism.

The writer defines tradition and science and crisply makes a distinction between the two. According to Gandhi, tradition had two central ideas — rootedness and openness — and it was on these lines that Gandhi went about reforming the religion in which he was born and which he wanted to safeguard so that it would not get weakened. Gandhi ardently believed that tradition should be respected but not be vested with unquestioning authority. One should be free to adapt what one thought was right and leave out what went against one’s belief. It was the test of reason which tradition has to pass.

Bhikhu Parekh also tells how the British went about consolidating their control over India. And to justify their rule to themselves, they pointed to the "lack of reason" in Indians. They believed that they had come to teach Indians the ideas of "liberty" and "rationalism". And this could be done only by challenging whatever was there in Indian culture. The most unfortunate thing was that some Indian thinkers helped them in this task of undermining the traditions of the subcontinent. It was against this role of the colonial bureaucrats and Brahmins that Gandhi raised his voice.

The writer’s classification of the Hindu responses to the British rule — modernism, critical modernism and critical traditionalism — is subtle and striking. It helps in understanding the views of Indian thinkers with clarity. The atmosphere then was beset with many problems. The inability to make a distinction between Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism led to a misinterpretation, the impact of which we can feel even now.

Gandhi was one of the few Indians who believed that the British had come at the right time and despite playing havoc with Indian culture, they had jolted Indians out of their slumber. He turned against the British when the nature of their rule changed. For Gandhi the clash was not between two civilisations. His difference with others was temporal, not territorial. That is why European civilisation being "modern" could not stand the test of universality of Indian values.

Indian civilisation could never face extinction for it was an open civilisation, pluralist in nature. Its inherent unity in diversity had always saved it from the onslaught of other religions. Hinduism had such deep roots that it had managed to even Indianise Islam. Whatever moral regeneration was required, according to Gandhi, it could be attained by atmashuddhi or purification of the national soul.

And to achieve this satyagraha was the answer. There were some people who could provide leadership, though they too needed to do tapasya and end the confusion over what to borrow and what to leave from western civilisation. Hinduism should organise its central principles and then absorb from others whatever was valuable. India’s crisis was moral in nature and a moral revolution was the need of the hour. Thus believed Gandhi.

Religion for Gandhi was a journey through time, a spiritual quest. To attain yugadharma Hinduism would have to get back the courage to experiment, to reject all that had caused stagnation, and adapt all that was valuable. This was the path which Gandhi took and wanted his countrymen to take. The latter was the most arduous task, for he realised that these were people who had shut their windows to new thought. Sevadharma was his goal and the Indian National Congress would be the vehicle for this.

Satya and ahimsa were the central principles of his life and for him ahimsa meant not only non-injury but positive love and doing one’s best to promote human well-being. One aspect of Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa is practicable and much needed in today’s world. And that is to celebrate the other person’s existence without being jealous of him and spending all our energy in destroying him. This can lead to universal goodwill which is the call of the time. Nonviolence meant abjuring the very thought of harming the other.

Gandhi speaks a different tone when he justifies violence when it bears no ill-will and is necessary to maintain the cosmic order. Killing in this way can be termed as a duty. Ahimsa meant active and passive love and if practised, it would eradicate selfishness and promote self-interest which meant only striving for those conditions without which no human being could live. Selfishness, on the other hand, meant pursuing one’s interest at the cost of another. Gandhi did not even want violence of thought.

Gandhi’s distinction between self-interest and selfishness is very difficult to put into practice for the dividing line is very thin and is subjective. Nonviolence, according to Gandhi, could be achieved only if we minimise our wants and end the circle of "snatch and hoard".

The writer has also spoken at length about the colonial aim of the British rulers in the formation of the Congress. It was to be a forum of debate and not an instrument of action. The impotence of this body led to frustration among its members and gave rise to the terrorist movement. Gandhi was aghast at the growth of this movement since a section of the community began to feel that they had no alternative. They interpreted the scriptures in a way that justified violence. Gandhi was aware of the danger of their "militant nationalism" and started warning the people against this path.

Swaraj for Gandhi meant not only independence but injecting the spirit truth in all our affairs. Terrorism dealt only with the physical variety and Gandhi wanted to bring in spiritual strength. And this could be attained through ahimsa, in which one did not aim for self glorification but self-purification. The terrorists quoted the Gita to justify violence but Gandhi ruled it out by proving that the Gita taught non-attachment. Violence could be justified only as a sense of duty and in a spirit of complete detachment.

Gandhi believed that every activity should be seen in the context of the spirit in which it was conceived and conducted. And this included a man’s life only because it helps to preserve and sustain human life. And that is why he took the view of celibacy for he wanted to assimilate man in women and vice-versa. This experiment provoked widespread criticism but he did not withdraw. He wanted to develop spiritual power. It is difficult to form an opinion on Gandhi in this regard for in a fragile social structure like in India he was treading on a path which many felt was insulting the basic relationship. By not making his wife a partner in his vow, he contradicted his own belief of uplift of women.

Sometimes Gandhi expected too much of his country men and thus it was difficult to follow his principles. Yes, he was right when he said that one should assign his views on sex the proper place. His discussion in this regard with various women around him was quite candid and surprising for he regarded them to be pure.

It is unfortunate that despite practising self-restraint, he could not master it till the end of his life. He only placed moral dilemmas before the others and was not very clear about his experiments.

The British colonialists justified their rule on the ground that Indians themselves practised and justified untouchability for ages. This was one area in which Gandhi came up with a new theory as he could see its political importance. He said that unlike his predecessors who stressed social equality and rejected the caste system, untouchability had no basis in the scriptures and was a corruption which had entered the caste system over the ages.

But the drawback in Gandhi’s practice was that he did not help the dalits to stand on their own feet. The writer rightly says that he gave them power but not dignity and self-respect but no self-confidence. Gandhi’s campaign could not break the bastion of the high caste economic and social domination.

Gandhi wanted his autobiography to deal with his soul. It would be concerned with his experiments in the course of his life .

It was to be informal and brutally frank, for it would deal with the Mahatma’s lapses and failures.He did not want anybody to hold him in awe but he wanted readers to be charged with the scientific spirit of experiment and humility. His katha is definitely introspective and Indian. He did not shy away from writing his lifestory like most of his predecessors but gave it a new twist by making it a story of his soul.

He mobilised the peasants but under the overall leadership of the bourgeoise. He was against the capitalist system for it was expolitative in nature and did not let the capitalists develop self-respect or self-discipline. Gandhi believed their work was essential for every human being as it helped to enhance their personality and this could be achieved only through satyagraha.

Why did Gandhi rake up local issues and not touch the explosive ones? Because it would expose the weakness of one’s community which the foreign power was bound to exploit. Gandhi’s fears were not baseless as we saw in the massacre during partition.

The main drawback of Gandhi’s experiment was that they were based purely on faith. The writer has dealt with Gandhi and his philosophy in different spheres of life. It is very rare to find a book which deals with Hinduism and how Gandhi saw, felt and modified it. The writer fulfils the expectations of the reader to the full.

Gandhi did not leave behind an ideology but a set of principles which he had developed, which sometimes had the sanction of society and religion and many a time did not. But the fact is that he lived according to his doctrines. He practised what he preached and left his fellow seekers to adapt, reject or correct his doctrine. Gandhi very rightly headed the "national family" in its hour of crisis and rightly earned the title of Mahatma.Top


Women farm labour doubly cursed
Review by Ashu Pasricha

Women Rural Labourers —Problems and Prospects by Mahesh V. Joshi. APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 270. Rs 600.

ONE of the ironies of human civilisation is that over the past millenia, woman, man’s partner in development and search for happiness, has reached the very heights of achievement and recognition and plunged to the depths of exploitation. What causes the inequality of sexes? Is woman stereotyped and exploited only as a biological creature — itself a myth — or has man relegated woman to a second-class position by his own assumed position of superiority? Must women carry on as bearer of child while the male arrogates to himself the status of protector? History despairs of this dichotomy, sociologists fret and fume searching for answers and feminists agitate for an end to eternal injustice. All the while, the real woman, as man is fond of saying, works quietly and efficiently at home, for honour and happiness.

Throughout history inequality of women has been the central theme of male-dominated culture.

One of the basic factors for the denial of an equal share to woman in development relates to the division of labour between sexes. This division has been justified on the basis of the child-bearing function of woman and this is important for the survival of the human species. Consequently, distribution of tasks and responsibilities between man and woman has restricted woman mainly to the domestic sphere. Mass poverty and general backwardness has aggravated the inequality. While woman’s child- bearing and child-rearing functions are respected in many societies, there has been very little recognition of woman’s actual or potential contribution in the economic, social and cultural areas.

The role of women within the family combined with a high level of unemployment and under-employment has given man priority in getting employment. It is understandable that woman cannot be expected to join the army, for instance, as soldiers but Israel’s well-known and rightly feared Sabrahs or woman commandos have shattered the myth of male superiority and has thus challenged his priority for most jobs. There is something much more to the inequality of the sexes than the mere question of physical strength or aptitude.

The book under review "Women Rural Labourers" is a state-level study. It has covered all the important regions of the state — namely central Gujarat, south Gujarat, north Gujarat and Saurashtra, covering eight districts, from each of which one underdeveloped and one developed taluka and one underdeveloped village of each taluka have been selected for investigation. This classification is based on methods adopted by the state government, research scholars and other committees.

Ten households of female agricultural labourers have been studied in detail from each of these 30 villages.

India claims to have witnessed green revolution but agricultural labourers have not greatly benefitted. Under-employment, underdevelopment and bloated population are a daily reality in their lives. Their wages are unusually low. The condition of work adds to injustice and work is usually irregular. They suffer from social disabilities and are prone to economic exploitation. Their living standards are very low and despite their earnings, they live below the poverty line. The problems of agricultural labourers are serious but those of female farm workers are worse.

The disadvantage of female agricultural labourers is somewhat different from that of male agricultural labourers and those in non-agricultural sector. Agricultural activity depends on monsoon which is unpredictable, making theirs a seasonal occupaton. There is no trade union because farm labourers are scattered. The labourers have no bargaining power and no political support.

Female agricultural labourers are not able to take advantage of any social security scheme. Because of their ignorance they do not benefit from the welfare schemes for agricultural labourers.

The nature of work of male and female agricultural labourers is quite different. Female workers do simple, non-technical and unskilled or semi-skilled work. Therefore they do not get higher wages which technical, mechanical and skilled farm workers command. Most female workers belong to the backward classes.

Though it is a state-level study, its conclusions are applicable to the country as a whole since the effects of long years of discrimination have been accentuated by underdevelopment. While women account for 50 per cent of the population and one-third of the total labour force, they work for nearly two-thirds of the total working hours but receive only one-tenth of the income and own less than one per cent of property. These statistics are for the world as a whole and in a poor country like India the situation should be more grim. The story of overworked women in the rural areas of the developing and under-developed countries is well known. The type of agricultural work generally expected of woman is highly labour-intensive and new technologies passes them by.

Their wages are generally less than what men receive because it is assumed that women are less efficient than men. In ownership of land, women do not enjoy equal rights, particularly in the developing countries where most of the production, processing, storage and preparation of food is carried on by women. These tasks account for 50 per cent of the total labour involved in food production. Many of these tasks are performed by children, particularly girls. From the viewpoint of food for the peasant family, the woman continues to remain a central figure. Besides helping the menfolk in many agricultural operations, women have to do household chores. Bringing water from far-off wells and streams and gathering fuel wood from forests are all in a day’s work.

This enormous waste of human energy is unnecessary in this age of technology. A lonely girl walking with a pitcher of water on her head may be a fit subject for a discerning cameraman, but it is a crying symbol of neglect of women in the new millennium.

The year 1975 was declared as International Women’s Year to focus attention on the need for improving the status of women in various societies The Decade of Women was observed form 1976 under the auspices of the United Nations. Though the decade ended in 1985, a visible sense of purpose and awakening does not mark the attempts to carry forward the cause of women development. Top


Crisis of world capitalism: worse to come

This article by David McNally has been extracted from Monthy Review, Volume 51 published by cornerstone publications, Kharagpur.

ONE of the great advantages of Marx’s analysis is precisely that it conceives of capitalism as a social system. Rather than ascribing social and economic ills to specific policies or institutional failings, Marx’s approach enables us to see them as inherent tendencies of the "laws of motion" of capitalism, the basic rules by which a society based upon the relation between capital and wage-labour reproduces itself. That is why the national and regional studies brought together ought to be seen as concrete and specific mappings of the ways in which the general tendencies of capitalism manifest themselves in particular parts of the system, not as discrete studies dealing with radically different objects of investigation (like the Japanese economy, Latin American economy, the sub-Saharan African economy). The problems of the national and regional economies are parts of a whole: the global capitalist economy.

And here we need to pause to underline the word capitalist in the above formulation. Too often, journalistic impressionism and bourgeois obfuscation result in images of an undefined world economy, an abstract global entity emptied of specific social class relations, regional hierarchies, and underlying dynamics. Yet, the global economy today can only be properly anatomised if we understand it as the latest configuration of international capitalism. We are dealing, in other words, with the international organisation of a dominant social relationship (between capital and wage-labour) and the globalisation of capitalism’s basis dynamics and contradictions: the drive to accumulate by appropriating surplus value, the accompanying tendency to overaccumulation, and the profitability cirses (often expressed in financial turmoil) that this entails. We confront, therefore, not multiple, discrete and disconnected economies in turmoil, but system-wide difficulties which speak of the inherent contradictions of capitalism. Once we recognise this, it becomes clear that the current turbulence in the world economy — most recently manifest in the crises that have shaken Japan, East Asia, Russia, and Brazil — is not susceptible to Keynesian or social democratic regulation. "It cannot be solved by a new financial architecture," as Canada’s Finance Minister proposes, nor by new regulations governing capital flows and financial transactions. The root problem is the very social foundation of the capitalist world economy.

To talk of global capitalism, as we must, is also to invite misunderstanding. Mainstream media and neoliberal politicians commonly depict the modern world as one where capital, emancipated from all constraints of space and time, is now free to circle the globe (via the electronic circuits of digital information systems), occasionally touching down to make profits. These images, often compressed in the notion of "globalisation", have given rise to the idea that today, as one New York financier has put it, "capital has wings".

Without denying the new speed of financial transactions and the importance of new forms of international integration and organisation of capital, it is crucial to insist that the idea of capital with wings is a fetishistic abstraction. Capital, after all, does not exist as a unitary entity, it involves the complex, contradictory, and antagonistic interaction of many capitals, and these are organised in relation to specific spaces within the geography of the world system.

Historically, the nation-state, a territorially bound and defined entity, has been the central instrumentality for the organisation of capitalist power. To be sure individual capitals need not have a strictly national identity. Particularly in the age of multinational corporations and global financial institutions, capital is in part organised in and through multinational forms. The growing importance of global economic institutions — such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the World Bank — speaks of the realities of a global capitalist system, as does the proliferation of multilateral trade and investment agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the European Economic Union (EU), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the South American trade block (Mercosur) and so on.

But we lose sight of a crucial dimension of the internationalisation of capital if we drop the nation-state out of view. After all trade and investment pacts are precisely deals negotiated between nation-states, as Albo and Zuege point out. Moreover, most of the agreements which transfer elements of economic and political decision-making to multinational institutions are more about the regionalisation of capital than about internationlisation pure and simple. During the current era of "globalisation", three main regional blocs of capital have been congealing: a North American bloc centred around the USA economy (and organised in part through NAFTA); another based in Europe (organised through the EU); and one in East Asia centred around Japan. These are competing regional centre of accumulation, each with a dominant national power. Rather than constituting a unitary world capital, global capitalism is taking shape through the competitive relations among nationally and regionally-based capitals.

For that reason, this review of capitalism at the millennium has been constructed through analyses of national and regional economies. We make little headway, after all, if we simply invoke the world economy as a general abstraction. A concept like "the population," noted Marx, "is an empty abstraction if I leave out, for example, the classes of which it is composed." Similarly, if we hope to develop a meaningful notion of global capitalism as a concrete totality, we must attend to its spatial political formation in relations among competing national and regional economies. Moreover, we need to remember that these relations also entail systemic inequalities and hierarchies of power. Some parts of the world, as Saul and Leys, Patnaik, and Petras and Veltmeyer remind us, are integrated into the world economy in systematically subordinated positions. In short, globalising capitalism also remains a system of imperialism.

What is more, imperialism today is in significant measure organised through the medium of global institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, that are effectively dominated by a handful of the world’s most powerful nation-states. It is the IMF, for instance, that embodies the imperatives of global capital when it imposes loan conditions and structural adjustment programmes on Thailand, Nigeria or Brazil. And these imperatives are largely defined in places like Washington, London, and Bonn. Rather than a disappearance of the nation-state, we are witnessing its reorganisation as multilateral institutions come to play a larger role in an era of globalising markets and international flows of investment. But these multilateral institutions actually extend the reach of the world’s most powerful nation-states, while significantly constraining those outside the core regions of the system. the decline of national sovereignty so familiar to theorists of the nation-state today is in fact a highly differential and unequal process which tends to exacerbate global power imbalances.

To make points such as these, to insist on the persistence of the nation-state, imperialism and the basic dynamics of capitalism is often to be misinterpreted as saying that "nothing has changed". Yet that is not at all the point of the argument. Capitalism is undergoing unique and important transformations at the moment — as it has throughout its history — and we are duty bound to try to map these as intelligibly as we can.

The problem is that a certain amount of debunking is often in order before we can begin to make sense of what is going on. This is the result of the plethora of impressionistic analyses which suggest that classical socialist politics are finished because capital has now gone global. Underlying such views one usually finds the assumption that the normal and natural form of capitalism is the state-regulated monopoly capitalism of the Keynesian era (roughly 1945-1975). As a result, the closer integration of national economies over the past 25 years (and the attendant decline in state direction and regulation of these economies) is interpreted as a dramatic break, a rupture, in the history of capitalism —one that effectively constitutes an epochal shift and invalidates the conventional categories of socialist analysis. Yet such accounts represent another case of ahistorical thinking. For looked at in historical perspective, it becomes clear that the era of "globalisation" of the past 25 years or so largely represents a reversion to form for capitalism after the anomaly of the so-called "Keynesian era". It is worth spending a moment on this point given some of the confusion that abound.

In the early years of the 20th century internationalisation of capital was a common preoccupation of Marxist theorists — one need only think of the analyses of Luxemburg, Lenin, and Bukharin in this regard. And this should come as no surprise given that, as a commentator for the Financial Times of London has put it, "Before 1914 the world economy was in many respects as integrated as it is today and in certain respects more so." In fact, one analyst insists that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries world financial markets "were more fully integrated than they were before or have been since." The preoccupation of early 20th century Marxists with the internationalisation of capital thus grew out of long-term trends toward the formation of an increasingly integrated and global capitalist economy.

Seen in this perspective, it becomes clear that it is the 30-year period from about 1929 to 1960 which is the exception to the rule, as depression, war and post-war reconstruction turned domestic economies in on themselves, ushering in a period of largely delinked "managed’ national economies. By 1950, in fact, trade in manufactures as a percentage of output had fallen to half the level of 1900. In a large measure, then, the increased integration of national economies and the globalisation of trade and investment are not new phenomena of the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, they might better be seen as resuming trends that date back to at least the 19th century — trends which were dramatically (but temporarily) interrupted by global depression, world war, and their aftereffects.

For all these reasons, the idea that we might return to an era of Keynesian-style state regulation of national economies is an entirely antihistorical one. The so-called "Keynesian era" was the unique product of a catastrophic period for capitalism in the first half of the 20th century, and the economic, social, political, and military instabilities it involved. Furthermore, the idea that demand management created the post-war boom is entirely suspect — after all those major economies most inclined in this direction (the USA, and Britain in particular) grew much more slowly than their rivals (such as Germany and Japan) whose emphasis was on the supply side. Nevertheless, the (generally overestimated) capacity of Keynesian mechanisms to offset slumps declined as the world economy resumed its path toward internationalisation. But that very disintegration of Keynesianism merely demonstrates capital’s inherent drive to create a world economy in its own image. The Keynesian project was doomed as soon as capitalism significantly resumed its path toward globalisation (and global over-accumulation). And it is for precisely this reason that some of us on the Left have argued that, rather than having been rendered obsolete, the Marxist analysis of capitalism is more relevant in the era of globalisation than ever before.

This is not to say that there are no new phenomena at work today or that we do not need to develop new lines of inquiry and analysis if we are to chart the geography of capitalism at the millennium. Indeed, it seems to me that there are some importantly new features of global capitalism today — and that we need the basic armoury of Marxian concepts if we are to make sense of them.

We do have a more truly global manufacturing system today — with multinational firms producing key components of fully manufactured goods in countries ranging from Mexico to Malaysia. Nevertheless, the increased integration of national economies has not dramatically reduced the overall weight of production in and for national markets (about 85 per cent of all industrial output). In addition, throughout the 1980s, when the buzzword "globalisation" came to prominence, two-thirds of all inwards flows of foreign direct investment went into the USA or Europe. By no means has the overall predominance of production for national markets declined; nor has the preponderant weight of the major capitalist powers.

It is certainly true, however, that we encounter unprecedented forms of international finance today. It is usually this — both because of sheer volume and the tremendous speed with which financial transactions occur in digital markets — that has attracted most notice in economic commentary. Every day, after all, more than one trillion dollars turns over in foreign exchange markets, only about 15 per cent of which represents actual capital flows and trade in commodities. There can be little doubt that these financial flows have developed a significant autonomy from the actions of governments and central banks. And this means a heightened volatility in world financial markets, particularly in those most driven by speculative trading.

Yet it is important to emphasise that global finance has not become utterly detached from the movement of direct investment. True over the period 1989-1994 private financial flows into "emerging markets" grew by 313 per cent. But private domestic investment into these same markets jumped by over 200 per cent during these years. Rather than having become entirely autonomous, financial capital largely moves in the grooves laid down by flows of direct investment (in factories, hotels, telecommunication systems and the like), albeit significantly overshooting the later — just as one would expect in the late stages of a speculative boom. Should we doubt that fact, we need only observe the panic (and capital flight) that grips financial markets when the local rate of return on productive investment begins (or threatens) to fall. Thus, while a crisis often manifests itself in the first instance as a financial meltdown, this largely expresses instabilities that have developed in the sphere of production and capital accumulation. The apparent autonomy of financial capital is thus largely that — apparent.

Indeed, it is worth reminding ourselves just how powerful a feature of "globalisation" foreign direct investment has been. During the 1980s, for example, measured foreign direct investment (FDI) grew at three times the speed of world trade and four times faster than global output. That is why rules governing investment have become such a hot issue in regional and world trade talks — not least in the failed negotiations for a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).

While there is a new relative autonomy to world financial flows, therefore, it is entirely misleading to think of these as detached from the movement of productive investment. The more globalised economy at the millennium remains one driven by classic patterns of capitalist investment and accumulation — and thus characterised by tendencies toward overaccumulation and crisis.

These essays clearly demonstrate that world capitalism today remains fraught with instabilities. Despite — indeed, in part because of — the ferocious capitalist restructuring of the past two decades, the world economy is characterised by enormous overcapacity, an ever-growing structure of debt, speculative volatility and major global imbalances. Since the mid-1990s, these have produced a succession of national and regional crises in Japan, East Asia, Russia and Brazil. As Japan continues to falter, as Europe slows down, and as the US trade deficit baloons amid stock market speculation that cannot be sustained, it becomes just a matter of time until the next shock waves hit the system.

To make these points is not to suggest the approach of "the final crisis" — which would simply be a radical version of millennial madness. It is to insist, however, that there will be no reprieve from the pattern of recurring crises and ferocious attacks on jobs and working class living standards we have witnessed since the start of the great slowdown of the mid-1970s. Rather than a return to post-war visions of prosperity, global capitalism will remain sluggish, nasty, and crisis-prone for the foreseeable future.

And that means we should expect a continuation of — perhaps even-some qualitative developments in — the patterns of resistance we have seen in recent years. For one of the most inspiring things about developments in the second half of the 1990s has been the emergence, in the face of terrible difficulties, of new radical mass movements. At a time when much of the traditional Left — particularly that in social-democratic and Communist Party circles — is in full-scale retreat (sometimes outrightly casting their lot with neoliberalism), the emergence of new radical movements points us toward the forces of the next Left.

Here I am talking not simply about explosions of popular militancy — mass strikes and student protests in France, rural insurgency in Mexico, the student uprising in Indonesia, mass protest in India, general strikes in Korea, Columbia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico — although the significance of these cannot be overstated. I am also referring to the emergence of new radical working class and popular organisations that are thinking, talking, and mobilising in increasingly socialist terms.

The Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil which has settled 500,000 families on land seized through occupation; the independent and democratic unions which have spearheaded opposition in Zimbabwe; the Intersindical in Mexico which, inspired by the Zapatista uprising, was launched to bring together independent unions, workers’ coops, rank and file union opposition groups, community organisations, and leftist parties into a common front; the recently formed Indonesian Front for Labour Struggles (FNPBI) which has united democratic and militant workers organisations in that country — all these movements and more are signs of the new forms of class struggle and class organisations emerging at the millennium. Moreover, as commentators have noted, organisations such as these are distinguished by the central role that women and young workers are playing — a point which is underscored by the election of the young, female, jailed union organiser Dita Sar as general secretary of the FNPBI in Indonesia.

To draw attention to these important forms of class resistance to capitalism at the millennium is not to be sanguine about the difficulty of the struggles that lie ahead. It is, returning to the theme of these remarks, to underline that the present really is history; the ongoing struggle of those exploited and oppressed by global capitalism to make a different kind of society, a different kind of history, where the common interests of the producers in the well-being — health happiness and enjoyment — defines the basic logic and priorities of social life. And that, in the final analysis, is what this exercise is all about: interpreting the world of global capitalism today, the better to change it.