Book review: Shanthie Mariet D’Souza (Ed.), Countering Insurgencies and Violent Extremism in South and Southeast Asia

Date01 April 2021
Published date01 April 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 133
perspective. The book puts together an account of how non-linear changes and
uneven ruptures generated by the intersection of ideological commitments,
domestic political imperatives and material constraints and international stimuli,
shaped the growth and development of a complex and decentralised statistical
system in a presumably centralised polity. What Ghosh tells us about the statistical
wing of the government is quite likely to be true of other wings. So, beneath the
façade of centralisation, a lot of decentralisation would have thrived by default
due to Beijing’s infrastructural capacity constraints. Second, it provides a good
starting point to launch a historically informed debate about the quality of China’s
official statistics. Popular and even academic commentaries often invoke ex post
facto manipulation as the key driver of data quality in China. Ghosh, on the other
hand, begins with the implicit assumption that China’s statistical system would
have been put in place to provide reliable data to the government. Indeed, the
early 1950s seems to be a period ‘when considerable data were available’ that
‘were widely considered to be reliable’ including by external observers such as
India’s P.C. Mahalanobis (p. 1, 45, 47). Third, it opens up new avenues to
understand the possibilities of South–South cooperation and explore international
relations away from the shadow of diplomatic history. In conclusion, despite its
historical orientation, Making It Count is a valuable source for understanding the
workings of China’s official use of statistics and building a more nuanced
understanding of the country’s government at large.
Engerman, D. C. (2018). The price of aid: The economic cold war in India. Harvard
University Press.
Vikas Kumar
Azim Premji University, India
Shanthie Mariet D’Souza (Ed.), Countering Insurgencies and Violent
Extremism in South and Southeast Asia. London and New York:
Routledge, 2019. 376 pp., ISBN 9781138615557.
DOI: 10.1177/2347797021992172
The issue of coping with the twin and often inter-related threats of violent extrem-
ism and insurgencies driven by various ideological, geopolitical, historical, soci-
oeconomic and other drivers has long been a subject of concern to policymakers
and academic specialists globally, and certainly in South and Southeast Asia. The
voluminous extant literature includes seminal studies of countering insurgencies
such as Robert G. K. Thompson’s research on the successful British counterin-
surgency (COIN) campaign against the Malayan Communist Party in the 1940s
and 1950s as well the far less successful American effort in South Vietnam a
decade later. Other classic accounts of COIN have, inter alia, included studies

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