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Contours and Concepts of Peace


Mahendra Kumar

PEACE STUDIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCEPT, SCOPE AND THEMES
Edited by Ranabir Samaddar
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 445, Rs. 480.00

THE PEACE DIVIDEND: PROGRESS FOR INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
The Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative
Lotus Collection, an imprint of Roli Books, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 173, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 4 April 2005

Peace research or peace studies is essentially a European academic movement having its beginnings in the early and mid-1960s. But ever since the first international conference on peace research convened by Jayaprakash Narayan as Chairman of the Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi in 1968, it has registered itself as a major source of inspiration guiding scholars in India in social sciences into a significant move from the margins of value-free research to the mainstream of value-oriented research, thus making social science research purposive.   Indeed the decades of the 1960s and the 1970s constituted the formative phase of the growth of peace research or peace studies in India. As a consequence of this, several Indian universities started courses on peace studies, conferences and seminars began to be orga-nized on peace studies, and fund-giving agencies like the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) started supporting research projects having a broad peace orientation. Themes like development and removal of poverty acquired much greater respect and wider recognition as crucial agents of a peaceful and just social order.   Yet the concept of peace and peace research remained amorphous in the absence of any clear idea about what is meant by peace research and what is its distinctive methodology. Looked in this perspective, a book like the one edited by Ranabir Samaddar should ideally have been published about thirty years ago, obviously because it gives a broad sketch of what the field of peace studies is. It would have been treated as a much more welcome contribution at a time when the field was just registering its emergence.   Samaddar’s book has to be assessed not as a harbinger of the field but rather as a stock taking of the growth of the field that has taken place during the last three decades or so, particularly with reference to the South Asian region. The book is essentially an anthology that covers divergent perspectives on the concept and scope of peace studies projected by quite a large number of eminent scholars drawn from South Asia, mostly from India.   Under the title of the book, the three broad divisions are the concept, the scope, and the themes. But, under the contents, the divisions are definition of peace studies, borders, wars and the people, and conflict situations and dialogues for peace. The running common thread through this two-level division is the dominant concern for identifying the field ...


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