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Factors Shaping The Region

Partha S. Ghosh

By Siri Hettige, and Eva Gerharz
2015, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 300, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 10 October 2016

Three essential elements of social experience, namely, governance, development and conflict, are intimately intertwined.Sometimes confusion arises because we are confronted with situations when apparently developed situations too lead to conflicts as was seen in the Khalistan movement in India’s Punjab province in the late seventies and early eighties, or what, has been happening in Kashmir. Punjab was one of the traditionally prosperous States of India, and so far as Kashmir is concerned, it is one the biggest recipients of central assistance. It is, therefore, not always simply that economic hardship alone leads to societal conflicts. The relationship is much more complex, and that is what the present book under review underscores. Edited by Siri Hettige, a senior Sri Lankan sociologist, and Eva Gerharz, a German sociologist-cum-activist, the volume is a compilation of nine scholarly papers, besides the Introduction. The latter sums up the essence—the volume is aimed at examining ‘governance, development and conflict from both a conceptual and an empirical perspective [by paying] attention to particular configurations of governance and development that have shaped the recent history of South Asian states [by taking into account] the particular endogenous and exogenous circumstances in different countries’ (p. 1). The book is more or less evenly divided in four parts though the logic of the division is marred by overlaps. The two chapters in the first part analyse some of the basic tenets of the paradigm from evidences from India’s first development decade. Factors such as participatory nature of governance, local demands for service delivery, empowerment of the marginalized sections, and the role of ‘change agents’ have all figured in the discourse (Ravinder Kaur and Vinod Jairath). The chapter on India ends like this: ‘The 1950s in that sense was a decade of hope and as much a lost decade; the waiting room for mutinies yet to come. The fundamental question of how the people were to be brought back in as citizens, participating in the building of a new society through incorporation in governance, remains an unresolved issue.... Development for the people has to be replaced by the idea of development by the people, where governance is seen as a participatory exercise rather than an exercise in management by the state and its experts’ (Dilip Menon, pp. 64–65). To understand the dynamics of development-conflict binary in empirical terms, seven chapters have been devoted, three each dealing with Sri Lanka and ...

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