Book Review: Mobilizing Restraint: Democracy and Industrial Conflict in Post-reform South Asia

Published date01 December 2013
Date01 December 2013
AuthorJolie M.F. Wood
Subject MatterBook Reviews
/tmp/tmp-17WqHv0bUhLWl5/input Book Reviews
structures, class dynamics, social cleavages and experiences of state policy. The chapters effectively bal-
ance the weight of an enormous amount of primary source material with theoretical insights from exist-
ing scholarship. However, one wishes for insights on how these initiatives were perceived by the broader
community of social movement actors.
The value of this book lies in complicating the narrative of environment and development and associ-
ated ideas of sustainability, community participation, village self sufficiency and conservation. It argues
that the worldview within which these ideals are fleshed out are significant.
However, the book does not pay attention to the faultlines in the Hindu nationalist views on nature and
its attempt to integrate ecology with its ideology. This would also include tensions between various compo-
nents of the Hindu Right. Hindu ecology is not animated by a general love for the land, but makes a choice
over specific symbols and spaces—the Ganga but not the Narmada—and these choices cannot be under-
stood merely as strategic. While Sharma stresses the importance of nature for nationalism, sacred geogra-
phies are invoked by subaltern groups in opposition to the category of the nation. While Sharma rightly
contests the necessity and the a-historicity of invoking an ecologically harmonious past, there is a need to
differentiate between the pasts that are referred to by different movements before incorporating it as a point
of convergence between environmental movements and Hindu nationalism. The WWF support to the
Vrindavan project opens up a fascinating line of enquiry into how the broader claims on behalf of indigene-
ity (especially of non-Western peoples) get translated into specific regional contexts. The need then is for
conceptual tools to distinguish between different invocations of the sacred, the past and the indigenous.
While the focus of the book is on the areas of convergence, one wishes Sharma had also drawn out a
framework to map areas where environmentalist discourses diverge from Hindu nationalism, as is done
in studies...

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