Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi

Essays of Indian History and Culture

Vinay Lal

Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi

Vinay Lal

Distributed for Seagull Books

248 pages | 6 x 9 1/2
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9788170461845 Published January 2003 World sales rights except India

The eight essays that comprise this book offer a ‘dissenting, futurist, and hermeneutic’ perspective on Indian civilization and various aspects of the modern cultural history of India. Feminism, subaltern studies, postcolonial theory and cultural studies have helped to pose new and important questions about our knowledge of India, but there has been insufficient engagement with local forms of knowledge, and with the non-modern, ahistoricist, mythic, vernacular and pluralist elements of Indian civilization. Although this scholarship offers rearrangements within the existing frames of knowledge, it seldom dispenses with the frames. This book is an attempt to help in establishing a tradition of modern Indian criticism, of which there are only a handful of practitioners in English in India today.

The essays, all in an easily readable style, cover a wide range of cultural phenomena and offer a sweeping perspective on contemporary Indian society. They explore the national obsession with the Guinness Book of Records and the paranoia over VIP security, the politics of sexuality as embodied in the lifestyles of hijras and the nationalist fervour over nuclear tests. There are essays on the impossibility of the Other in the Hindi film, on the World Cup of Cricket, on Gandhi’s life as an ecological treatise, and on Gandhi’s experiments with celibate sexuality. The idea of India as a nations-state is, as the essays suggest, slowly encroaching upon the idea of India as a civilization, and the essays explore how our finite games can be transformed into infinite games.

Contents
Acknowledgements
Introduction
I. Public and Popular Culture
1. Indians and the Guinness Book of Records: The Contours of a National Obsession
2. The Near Impossibility of the Outsider, Or the Significant Other in the Modern Hindi Film
II. Politics and the Indian State
3. Now Are We Men, Not Eunuchs? Reflections on the Nuclear Explosion
4. Black Cat Commandos, Gunmen, and Other Terrors: The Insecurity of Indian Security
III. Gandhian Hermeneutics/Hermeneutic Gandhism
5. Nakedness, Non-violence, and Brahmacharya: Gandhi’s Experiments in Celibate Sexuality
6. Gandhi and the Ecological Vision of Life: Too Deep for Deep Ecology
IV. The Categories of Knowledge: A Civilizational Perspective on India
7. Not This, Not That: The Hijras of India and the Cultural Politics of Sexuality
8. The Bittersweet Sweets of Modernity: Cricket and the south Asian Sensibility
Index
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