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

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Centrality of Water in Premodern Rajasthan

Monsoon Ecologies: Irrigation, Agriculture and Settlement Patterns in Rajasthan during the Pre-Colonial Period by Mayank Kumar; New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2013; pp 299, Rs 895.

The semi-arid and arid state of Rajasthan has long struggled with scarcity of water, and has attempted to meet it by extending wide networks of canals through the desert, the Indira Gandhi National Canal Project being a prominent example. While such projects have led to extension of arable land in command areas, they have also thrown up significant challenges in the form of waterlogging and sanding of canals. In recent years, such challenges have forced scientists and social scientists to draw perspectives from the past, and explore the philosophy and technology behind age-old water conservation structures scattered all over Rajasthan.

Monsoon Ecologies is a much-awaited book on the centrality of water and the mechanisms of its conservation in pre-modern Rajasthan. Mayank Kumar carries forward earlier researches by Anupam Misra, Thomas Rosin and Ann Grodzins Gold to highlight the role of water architecture in the emergence of state and societal patterns in medieval Rajasthan. This interdisciplinary work on precolonial Rajasthan examines a scientific and cultural understanding of weather and in particular of monsoon. It explores, in the light of available historical data, how processes of settlement were defined by the premodern societies’ engagement with climate. In doing so, Kumar foregrounds certain aspects of ecological history of precolonial societies that hitherto have not been explored adequately.

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