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on 4 January 2000
It is difficult these days to come across views about development issues without encountering some high-handed moralising or smelling "tree hugging" eco-warrior rationale. This book, however, is written by an intelligent and cool-headed person, who is also bravely witty and ironic about the subject she is dealing with. I felt sure that I wasn't reading some propaganda material; it was a humanitarian and humane view on two of the more controversial issues that are not simply problems of India--large scale damming of huge rivers and nuclear tests. The book is not an apologist for anything; just a testament of common sense struggling to understand some of the complex and often baffling mechanism of the nation-state as it appears to ordinary people. Highly recommended if this is the first book you're going to read on development (or India).
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on 21 March 2002
The recent arrest of Arundhuti Roy led me to re-read this book. The first essay is the strongest and reveals the strength of feeling behind her political activism. It sounds like a dull read, packed full of figures and legislation but she combines some truly shocking statistics with her own very personal and moving reflections about the conflict of interests between world leaders and their people. The second article provides an intelligent and informed analysis of the use of nuclear weaponary within India. Again, she manages to personalise the issues and gives a truly moving account of her disenchantment and her stuggle to reconcile herself to modern day India. But the real beauty of the book lies in her love of language and the fusion of a journalistic style with the language of poetry.
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this book is nothing like i imagined it would be; when u look at the subject matter of the two essays, 'dams & their repurcussions' and 'nuclear madness', u can be forgiven for having reservations about reading it. in the hands of any other author perhaps, this book would have been dry and dull. Roy however, weaves a sparkly kind of magic in her treatment of the subject that entertains, informs, and awakens a passionate anger inside the reader, all at once. she doesnt teach like a teacher, but manages to make us learn alot in a short space of time anyway.
her writing style is ironic but never dull, exciting but never hyper, and only a truly great author can turn a subject like dams - of all things! - into something u actually want to know about. she is wholly committed to the voiceless millions in her country, and has become their voice at a huge risk to herself.
reading this book makes one realise that we all have a responsibility to increase our awareness of what is going on around the world with ordinary, innocent human beings, who have to fight an entire government just for the right to exist.
no doubt about it, a great book by a great woman.
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