Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi

Vinay Lal


6.5 x 10 inches, xxiii + 223pp. 2003

ISBN : 9788170461845

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The eight essays that comprise this book offer a ‘dissenting, futurist, and hermeneutic’ perspective on India civilization and various aspects of the modern cultural history of India. Feminism, subaltern 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, a historicist, 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 parishioners n English in India today including Ashis Nandy, Rustom Bharucha, Shiv Visvanatan, and T.G.Vaidyanathan.


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 fevour over the nuclear tests. There are essays on the impossibility of the Other in the Hindi film, on he World Cup of Cricket, on Gandhi’s experiments with celibate sexuality, the idea of India as a nation-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.

Vinay Lal


Culture Studies