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The Audacity of Truth Or Lack Thereof


Syed Muntasir Mamun

THE SUTHASIAN SENSIBILITY: A HIMAL READER
Kanak Mani Dixit
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 352, Rs. 895.00

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 2-3 February/March 2013

Twenty-two choice articles of a chronicle. A chronicle of times and spaces—of minds—of one fifth of humanity. A confection on the remarkable journey of a mountain magazine published over the past twenty-five years as a first and foremost regional publication. Intended to mark the 25th anniversary of the magazine, the book argues for a collective regional sensibility when looking at issues, which affect the subcontinent. Issues which are critical to the formation, existence and evolution of the region, its handful of countries aka republics and many national identities both large and small have been seen through prisms which, more often than not, are not the ones generally looked at or through from the respective capitals at the least. The Reader begins with an apt introduction, which in itself is nothing short of a policy primer on recalibrating the concept of South Asia as a medley of multiple and cross-cutting identities—racial, linguistic, social, cultural, and political. Kanak Mani’s introduction practically proposes nothing less than a comprehensive review of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at a conceptual plane—complete with its multiple tracks of contemplation, discussion, and negotiation—to evolve the organization into something like a direct descendant of the essentially synchretic Indic civilization. With the more than obvious and disproportionate weight of the (Republic of) India and the centrality of its geography vis-à-vis those of each of its neighbours, the introduction proposes to bring the contextual reference frames of SAARC to a level where its ideas and philosophies are vernacularized (i.e., made accessible and understandable to the common people?).What is vouched is connectivity at both the subnational and sub-regional levels and in as many formations, i.e., bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, etc., as is logically conceivable. What the introduction essentially conceptualizes but does not explicitly emphasize is that Kanak Mani wants to revitalize the old links which defined the (mostly economic) value based networks of peoples, economies, trades in goods and services, temporary migration of people, and even governance which sustained human habitation and social morphosis in this part of the world. What is called for is essentially a call not to confuse connectivity as a counterweight to sovereignty. Kanak Mani’s first article on the plight of the Lhotshampa—agricultural settlers of Bhutan of Nepali origin—‘The Dragon Bites its Tail’ (1992)—is a depressing account of the much overlooked marginalization—and ...


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