Saturday, April 07, 2007

A negative view of Indian academics

... Without falling prey to xenophobia, it is time that we ask ourselves why so often some of the best analysis of Indian problems, both past and present, is available in the work of the foreign or non-resident Indian scholar.

Take Gujarat and the names that first come to mind are those of Jan Breman and David Hardiman. On the RSS, the most quoted book is still Brotherhood in Saffron by Walter Anderson and Sridhar Damle. In over three decades we have still to better it. The first book length work on the VHP is by Eva Tuti, a Swedish researcher. On Hindu nationalism, we turn to Christophe Jaffrelot; on Hindu-Muslim riots to Paul Brass, Steve Wilkinson and Ashutosh Varshney — all students of Myron Weiner, still remembered for his outstanding work on the child and the state in India and the ‘sons-of-the-soil’ movements. Even today, despite the intensity of polemical writing on reservations and quotas, it is Marc Gallanter and Thomas Weinskopf who are most cited. Surely, for all our claims as a knowledge super-power and our pride in our innate abilities, we Indians should have managed a better record.

From an Indian Express op-ed by Harsh Sethi, who is a consulting editor at Seminar. [Thanks to Swarup for the pointer].