ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Ashok MitraSubscribe to Ashok Mitra

Radical in Her Own Manner

Ashok Mitra Kanta Ranadive, who passed away in Bombay on April 15, was not a natural joiner, but this did not subdue the thrust and explicitness of her views on life and society. She reached to her Marxism along her privates route, propelled by her scientific explorations. Her path-breaking work on income distribution retains a distinctiveness of its own. And white her circumstances prevented her from participating in more active forms of social protest, she made her contributions in her quiet way.

Trustee Par Excellence

Ashok Mitra H T Parekh was a trustee par excellence, and in several senses. He reposed his trust in the Don Quixotes in different walks of life; on their part, they came to trust him. Which is why Sachin Chaudhuri the cerebral anarchist, cast such a spelt on Hasmukhhhai and vice versa.

Dont Let It Be Forgot

Don't Let It Be Forgot Ashok Mitra Selected Economic Writings by Sukhamoy Chakravarty edited by Amit Bhaduri, C H Hanumantha Rao and S N Raghavan; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1993; pp 591+xxiii,Rs 490.

Narrow Space

Narrow Space Leaves from a Diary by Syama Prasad Mookerjee; Oxford University Press, Calcutta; pp 240 + VIII, Rs 300.
SYAMA PRASAD MOOKERJEE died in a Kashmir sub-jail exactly 40 years ago. Perhaps the facilities available in that sub- jail were inadequate; perhaps there was also some absent-mindedness on the part of the authorities over there. Whatever that be, his death provided bigots of one particular hue an opportunity to keep targeting at Sheikh Abdullah. It is possible to speculate whether Jawaharlal Nehru himself had remonstrated with any seriousness with the Sheikh for the latter's apparent failure to look after the health of the Jana Sangh leader, thereby creating a cause celebre for the conservative opposition. Conceivably what raised Nehru's greater hackles was the Sheikh's emergence as the Lion of Kashmir. That was competition, for was not the valley Nehru's pocket borough? Matters soon came to a head in Kashmir, it was Sheikh Abdullah's turn to get arrested and substituted, as the state's chief minister, by a common crook. It has been an altogether chequered history since then. If the Americans, to whom we have already surrendered comprehensively our economic sovereignty, now keep rapping us on the knuckles and try to pry Kashmir loose from the tentacles of the Indian army, the haughtiness of the Nehru-Gandhis could be largely held to be responsible for that development. A not insignificant share of the blame would however belong to the myopic communalists for whom Syama Prasad Mookerjee, partly on account of the manner of his death, became a kind of martyr-philosopher.

Communication in the Time of Hucksters

Communication in the Time of Hucksters Ashok Mitra Culture, Communication and Social Change by P C Joshi; Vikas; pp 294 + index, Rs 250.
P C JOSHI, kin to his more illustrious namesake, is a leading figure in the nation's academic establishment. He was director of the Institute of Economic Growth for a long spell, and has been closely associated with the activities of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and similar other official and semi-official bodies, His advice has been frequently nought by the government of India on problems of social communication, Joshi was chairman of the Committee for Software Planning for Doordarshan, and has been, for the past several years, chairman of the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, It is thus easy to forget that he has other credentials. He is the product of the School of Economics and Sociology at the University of Luck now, once presided over by Radha Kamal Mukherjee and Dhurjati Prasad Mukerji. Both these eminences believed in eclecticism, It was inconceivable to them that economics could be segregated from its social context or that sociology could have an existence beyond, and independent of, economic postulates. While Radha Kamal Mukherjee's forte was empirical explorations, D P Mukerji was a restless wanderer in the thickets of ideas and concepts. His instinctive predilection for left ideologies was well known; he would nonetheless, with relish, insist on spelling out his distinct position: he was not a Marxist per se, but a Marxologist. He adhered to no dogma, and was an intellectual dilettante in the best sense of the term, D P Mukerji would not mind quoting approvingly from Mitrany's Marx against the Peasant. Nor would he be averse to travel, occasionally, in the company of Ernst Cassirer, to the sociology of knowledge, breaking loose from what was regarded as the closed system of Kant-Hegel-Marx. He was a great believer in diversities; his intellectual pursuits exemplified these diversities- It would have been astonishing if the in lellection of such mentors did not leave its mark on Joshi's mind. The book under review, a compendium of articles earlier published in different journals and of addresses presented at different forums, and dedicated to the memory of D P Mukerji, betrays the ubiquitous presence of a specific social concern. D P never tired of asserting that social and economic planning in India would be bereft of its co-ordinates if the planning of culture were neglected, Joshi's endeavour in this book is to outline a format for the nation's cultural planning. It can be, and is, a forbidding task. For, behind the facade of a basic unity, culture in this country has many manifestations, and is inextricably linked to ethnic, religious and linguistic factors. There is, besides, the urban-rural fissure, and, something not ordinarily mentioned in respectable company, the immense class divide. Culture is an expression of life, it is at the same time a process by which one travels from one milestone of history to the next. It is however also a social composite; communications therefore have to be an integral part of it.

Being and Nothingness

Selected Works of M N Roy, Volume II, 1923-27 edited by Sibnarayan Ray, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1988; pp xvi + 708, Rs 300.
A STRONG positive correlation between illiteracy and pursuit of political career has been a major feature of the post-independent scene. This certainly is one reason why Jawaharlal Nehru has, in retrospect, come to assume a larger than life image. Nehru however was not the only one amongst the nation's leaders during the freedom struggle who could lay claim to learning and scholarship. Several others too were bibliophiles. They also wrote books. Long spells in prison provided them with the opportunity for reading and writing. Besides, most leaders in that phase regarded their political activities as a mission; they had to educate and convince others; they necessarily had to educate themselves. They therefore, for dear life, took to books

Calm Reasoning

Calm Reasoning Ashok Mitra Studies on Indian Agriculture by Dharm Narain; edited by K N Raj, Amartya Sen and C H Hanumantha Rao; Oxford University Press, Delhi; pp 238 +. xix + index, Rs 200, A SPECIAL climate attaches to the niche Dharm Narain had created for himself in the world of academia: that of calm reasoning. The combination of filialty to facts and rigour of analysis which marked whatever he wrote is not exactly a commonplace in this neighbourhood. In his own manner, Dharm Narain was an activist, in the sense that he wanted the fruits of economic analysis to be made available, with expedition, towards the improvement of the community. He was not however a dime-a-dozen crusader, abdicating the coolth of logic for the sake of either prejudice or unbridled emotion. The present collection of his papers on the problems of Indian agriculture is a reminder of both how much we owe to him and the void his death has created.

The Federal Structure That Was

The Federal Structure That Was Ashok Mitra Letters to Chief Ministers 1947-54 by Jawaharlal Nehru: Volume I, 1947-49, pp 547, Volume II, 1950-52, pp 661, Volume III, 1952-54, pp 673; General Editor G Parthasarathi; distributed by Oxford University Press; each volume

The Richer Farmer Lobby

provide a pretext for a permanent Indian presence. The only chance to get out of the present bloody mess is to set political processes in motion. Leftists and democratic Lankan nationalists have a common cause. The provincial elections offer a possibility to posit a political agenda which is not exclusively dictated by the ethnic conflict and which addresses some of the burning economic and political problems in a class perspective, while the devolution of power on a provincial basis provides a reasonable starting point for the settlement of the Tamil demands. The formation of the United Socialist Alliance in which the LSSP, CP, SLMP, and NSSP join hands with EPRLF and PLOT is a hopeful sign that it is possible to build up an anti-communal democratic leftist force. The cowardly murder of the leader and presidential candidate of the Alliance, Vijaya Kumaranatunga, who has been a courgeous representative of a new generation of anti-chauvinistic democratic forces in Sri Lanka, confirms that the JVP does not feel sure that it can win over and control the young generation by the strength of its chauvinistic propaganda. The mass rally on Independence Square where an estimated five lakhs of people paid their tribute and honoured Vijaya Kumaranatunga was a highly impressive and fitting response to those who had murdered him as a 'traitor' because of his support to the Accord. Speakers of all the constituents of the Alliance confirmed their commitment to the struggle for a democratic Sri Lanka. It was particularly impressive to hear

The Stranger from Poland

The Stranger from Poland Ashok Mitra The Economics of Michal Kalecki by Malcolm C Sawyer; Macmillan, 1985; price not stated.
IT is tittle-tattle of a sociological genre, and perhaps deserving of only some marginal attention: the English upper class occasionally prevaricate, but do they cheat too? Michal Kalecki had mailed to John Maynard Keynes, some time in 1933, a German translation of his paper in Polish, Proba Teorii Koniunktury, The paper presented the frame of a dynamic macro-economics which in its essentials anticipated the broad features of Keynes' "General Theory". Keynes promptly returned the paper, along with a short note stating that, sorry, he did not read any German. This, of course, was a devastating untruth. Keynes was the author of "The Economic Consequences of the Peace" and one of the principal behind-the- scene-negotiators on behalf of the British government at Versailles; his knowledge of German was impeccable.

In the Cause of the Demand Side

In the Cause of the Demand Side Ashok Mitra Agricultural Change and Rural Poverty: Variations on a Theme by Dharm Narain edited by John W Mellor and Gunvant M Desai; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1986; pp xix + 233, Rs 90.

Political Economy in Command

Political Economy in Command Ashok Mitra The Economic Structure of Backward Agriculture by Amit Bhaduri; Macmillan India, 1984; pp xi + 151, Rs 100.


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