Our attention was recently drawn to a remarkable series of books by Henry Noltie, published by the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, that have to do with studies of Indian flora during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and are therefore of interest both from a historical as well as botanical point of view… Only one of these has an Indian edition and is on our website (naturally) but we hear that there may be Indian reprints of the others soon- and that would be really great! At any rate, they are well worth knowing about.
Indian Botanical Drawings 1793–1868 tells the story of the collections of Indian flora made by botanists at the RBGE who also commissioned Indian artists to make paintings of the plants to supplement the specimens and written descriptions. The paintings have languished largely unknown in the Library of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. A selection of 62 of these spectacular illustrations was conserved and exhibited in Inverleith House in 1998, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence. These are reproduced in full colour in the book.
A rich account of sub-continental journeys, scientific exploration and remarkable artistry is brought to light in Robert Wight and the Botanical Drawings of Rungiah & Govindoo. A three-volume boxed set, it is devoted to Robert Wight and the stunning botanical drawings undertakenfor him by two Indian artists during a period in which he discovered some 1,200 new plant species and 100 genera of South Indian flora, while employed by the East India Company during the early part of the 19th century.
Often accompanied by an artist, Wight (1796–1872) travelled extensively through the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Many of the resulting collections – including some 23,000 preserved herbarium plant specimens and 700 original paintings – are now held at RBGE, where he studied botany in 1816 and 1817. This rich background was the inspiration for a five year project for RBGE taxonomist Noltie, whose trilogy covers Wight’s life and work as an East India Company surgeon and his major contributions to taxonomy and economic botany; the illustrated works of the Indian artists, featuring some 200 of the drawings commissioned by Robert Wight between 1826 and 1853 and a travelogue, describing the author’s own journeys in search of Wight in Britain and India, illustrated with his own photographs.
The books- which are really stunning- are not very expensive, ranging from 20- 50 pounds plus shipping. They can be obtained on order; write in to us at [email protected].
Dapuri Drawings is about a remarkable collection of botanical drawings in safekeeping at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. These watercolors were commissioned by Alexander Gibson, an East India Company surgeon, and depict plants grown in the botanic gardens under his control in the Bombay Presidency. They are the work of an unknown Portuguese-Indian artist, made between 1847 and 1850. Mapin published the Indian edition of this book in 2002. A steal at Rs 1950, the book is listed in our Art section.
Between 2000 and 2004, artist Pushpamala N and photographer Claire Arni undertook an unusual and brilliant project with the support of the India Foundation for the Arts. They were the “protagonists in a project exploring the history of photography as a tool of ethnographic documentation, playing with the notions of subject and object, the photographer and the photographed, white and black, real and fake, …”
Well, it looks like (judging from the picture on the right, which was in The Hindu of the times) that they had a lot of fun, but there was serious business too… which ultimately led to the book of the event. With essays by Susie Tharu (”Goddesses, political satire, film stills, calendar icons, votive and high art images, anthropometrical and ethnographic records, news and documentary photographs and a host of other images and image formats are cited and wittily cross-fertilized. The artists create a virtual population explosion that mimics the mood, energy and genius of the visual vernacular in contemporary India.“) and Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs is a delightful record of what was clearly a very exciting collaboration.
In our Art and Architecture section. Hard Bound with dust jacket, 150 pages with more than 300 full colour illustrations. Rs 1500 or $40 (outside India) plus shipping. Write to us.
In this book, Indrani Mazumdar
investigates the impact of globalization on women workers in India in jobs that are considered to be most prominent in discourses around women’s work. This book demystifies the phenomenon of globalization, offering an overview of its prime drivers, processes and forces. Four sectoral studies of women workers are provided: two on factory women in garment exports and electronics; the third on home-based workers in a range of manufacturing processes and industries; and the fourth on middle class women working in Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES).
Primary surveys were conducted amongst 500 women workers in 2002-04, covering the capital and its satellite townships of Noida and Gurgaon through a combination of structured questionnaires, individual and group discussions. These locale-specific primary surveys constitute the basis of identification of the main issues and concerns of women workers in these sectors. In addition, by using secondary sources, the study links the experiences of these Delhi-based women workers with their counterparts in the same sectors in other parts of the country for a more general understanding of the impact of globalization.
The analysis of garment exports, electronics and IT services, which are clearly linked to global production and service networks, brings out global sectoral trends and their ramifications. The study of home-based workers, on the other hand, has focused more on the policy framework towards this particular section and the changes in perspective that have accompanied the liberalization process.
The advent of middle class women workers in the new forms of employment in the service sector has led to much euphoric celebration of globalization among some sections of the business and middle classes. IT-enabled service, the product of the digital age, are seen by ‘globalizers’ as being singularly important for employment generation as well as in terms of the potential to transform India from a still largely backward and overwhelmingly poor country into the ‘superpower’ league. The authors suggests that in this new IT enabled sector, new avenues of employment can be seen combining with new forms of cultural degradation, with technology itself becoming an instrument of closer and more oppressive systems of social control.
A crucial indicator of the effects of liberalization has been the steep fall in the work participation rates among women in both rural and in urban India. The globalization decade in India has been marked by an extreme volatility in employment that is generalized across all sectors. The general results have been an extreme and continuous pressure on the wages and incomes of the majority of women workers in the manufacturing sector, in many cases to levels far below subsistence. Moreover, the gap between male and female employment has been widening. An incisive guide to the impact of globalization on women’s work, the book will be invaluable for scholars, activists, the general public, whose very livelihood is at stake, and indeed for policy makers.
In our Gender and Development Studies sections. The book is hardback, 374 pages, for Rs 550. ISBN 81-85604-84-3