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Culture and Consciousness


Anup Beniwal

HISTORICIZING CULTURES, COMPARING HISTORIES: SAANSKRITIK ITIHAAS: EIK TULNATMAK SARVEKSHAN
By Devesh Vijay
Hindi Madhyam Karyanvay Nideshalya, Dilli Vishvavidalya, Delhi, 2009, pp. ix + 403, Rs. 180.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 3 March 2010

Today the best of students and the best of parents have shifted their academic allegiance from ‘social/humane’ to ‘professional’ education under the diktat of market imperatives. The professional pragmatics, powered by information, technological and market superhighways, have forever changed the pedagogical contours and thrust of higher education. While on one hand this ‘shift and speed’ has led to virtual mushrooming of ‘instant-education-outlets,’ on the other it has created an unprecedented epistemic lull in the discipline of Social Sciences and Humanities. The lucre inherent in instant information has taken the lustre off conventional knowledge and wisdom, and put Social Science education under tremendous pressure. In other words the displacement has created an epistemic imbalance that needs to be addressed instantly, especially by custodians of education—institutional or otherwise. The current academic bias exists at various levels. Apart from facing inter-disciplinary academic indifference vis-a-vis technological or management education, within the discipline itself, Social Sciences education suffers from a kind of language-schism as medium of instruction and ‘subject-resource’ at the level of higher education. While it is still easier to get good text-books in English, there is a definite paucity of standard text (book) resources in Hindi or other Indian languages. At one level this also acts as a dampener for the Social Science enthusiast. Devesh Vijay’s Saanskritik Itihaas: Eik Tulnatmak Sarvekshan, a text-book on comparative cultural history assumes significance.Written under the aegis of Delhi University’s Directorate for the Implementation of Hindi Medium, it is a commendable effort that instead of obfuscating its readers/students with abstruse Hindi, provides them with exhaustive study material in easy to understand Hindustani. The book comes out more as a labour of love, a scholarly narrative that believes in expressing and not impressing. That Vijay is more interested in communicating the basics of the discipline to the students rather than indulging in arcane scholarship becomes apparent from the way he arranges his material and titles his book sections and chapters. Divided into seven sections, the chapter-titles are an exquisite yet quaint ensemble of Hindi and Urdu-Persian expressions such as ‘Vishva Ki Pramukh Sanskritiyan’, ‘Taarikh-e-Tahjeeb: Tasveeron Ki Zubaan Mein,’ ‘Europe Per Kuchh Aur Baat’ and ‘Uchaaran Sandarshika’ that not only add ‘readerly’ inclusiveness but also, what may be called a colloquial tinge to the historical material provided. Culture and consciousness are the operative concepts underlining the thematic focus of this book. The author uses ...


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