ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NGOs and Local Government in Pakistan

likely be associated with the functioning NGOs and Local of a strong state rather than with an emasculated state. The separate studies to illustrate the Government in Pakistan The New Development Paradigm: Papers on Institutions, NGOs, Gender and Development byS Akbar Zaidi; Oxford University Press, Karachi, pp 321, Rs 295 (Oxford Pakistan

Of late, studies of Indian politics seem to have developed a fatigue about knowing and understanding actualities of political practices. They bypass close investigations of concrete movements, of organisational histories in favour of either ritual gestures of solidarity and sympathy, or elaborate generalisations based on fragments of journalistic information. While activists continue to document and analyse struggles, there is rarely a meeting between those contributions and the secondary theorisations. The only political digits that compel serious attention are the all-encompassing concept of the nation and the politics of identities that are culturally-given rather than politically-made. Praxis seems to be something that radical scholars have actually lost sight of, in a land which still carries on some of the most innovative and large-scale mass movements known to our times. This is an irony that is hard to account for.

Raka Ray’s very important, scholarly and vividly-textured study of women’s radical political activism in Bombay and Calcutta between the seventies and the nineties, therefore, breaks two of the strongest walls of silence: about Left-radical politics, and about women’s self-organisation and modes of struggle within as well as against the grain of Left discourses. In its very delicate and difficult act of speaking from within a movement while retaining a self-critical, self-reflexive stance towards it, the study enriches the meaning of the term participant- observer. It enlarges the scope of the informed understanding of feminist writers like Nandita Shah and Nandita Gandhi by encircling movements within their larger political contexts and it revives the tradition of the critical, engaged, analytical writing of Sheila Rowbotham. The parallel arises particularly because Ray has a good eye for detail, a sensitive feel for a complex dialectic between the personal and the political.

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