Date:28/06/2011 URL:
Back Book Review

From the blurb

Citizen Leadership — Deepening Democratic Accountability in India, Brazil and South Africa: Edited by Vikas Jha, Bhavita Vaishnava, Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay; Academic Foundation, 4772-73/23, Bharat Ram Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 795.

A new axis of cooperation involving India, Brazil, and South Africa, which emerged in 2003, represents the voice of democratic south. The three countries may not be the fastest growing economies or most efficiently functioning societies. But they are certainly the most democratically governed societies.

There have been new alignments of democracy and citizenship, mediated through active participation of citizen groups, which in turn led to demands for direct forms of social accountability of elected representatives and of government officials.

The outcome of a research project, led by Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), this book presents seven case studies — three from India, two from Brazil and two from South Africa — and offers an analytical synthesis of the key lessons from these studies.

In the words of Bandyopadhyay, the case studies give “new insights into inter-mixing of different kinds of ‘spaces', criticality of the role of citizen leaders and intermediaries' organisations in mobilising citizens and ensuring accountability from the governance agencies, inclusive citizenship and deepening democracy.”

Tracing Marco Polo's Journey —The Silk Route: Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia; Niyogi Books, D-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-1, New Delhi-110020.

One of the legendary trading routes known to history, the Silk Route that spans the Asian heartland has been traversed by warriors, historians, travellers and also mendicants for centuries, who felt inspired and were struck by the sheer magnificence of the mountains, rivers, and fabled cities, as also the vestiges of ancient civilisations they came across. In this book, Ahluwalia, a mountaineer who scaled Mount Everest in 1965, gives a fascinating account of the exciting expedition he undertook in 1994.

He takes the reader in the footsteps of ancient travellers through cities as exotic as Bukhara, Samarkand, Andhijan, Xian, Harkand, and Lhasa, the lush oases such as Hotan and Turfan, and the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts before concluding the trip with a visit to the monasteries in the Himalayas. The Khumbum stupa and the statue of Goddess Tara in Gyantse; the Wild Goose Pagoda near Xian; the Potala Palace; and the 71-metre high (sitting) Buddha at Chengdu are among the several eye-catching photographs in this book of the coffee-table variety.

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