By Anshuman A. Mondal
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Extra resources for Amitav Ghosh
The Hungry Tide is a plea as well as a testimony to the many other songs of the earth, sung by the many different peoples who live on it and claim some portion of it as their own; a plea that they do not go unheard, that they are not swamped by the hungry tides of either development or environmentalism. Throughout Ghosh’s career, his fictional writing has been accompanied by non-fictional work of all kinds: academic articles, travelogues, reportage, journalism, and criticism. His discourse is enormously varied and his subjects eclectic but they are bound by the same core themes and issues that animate his fictional writing.
The central authorities responded by flexing their political muscles to even greater extent, dispatching the army to these regions and effectively imposing martial law. The increasing authoritarianism this heralded was sealed by the declaration of a state of emergency in 1975 by the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. With the dissolving of parliament, the harassment of the judiciary, and stifling of political dissent, the period of emergency between 1975 and 1977 constituted the greatest abrogation of India’s democratic political culture since independence and it was to prove a defining moment in the accelerating crisis of the Indian state.
24 The shadows of India’s own ethnic tensions loom large here in his disquiet about separatism even as the concept of ‘nationhood’ is radically destabilised. Whilst ‘national’ freedom could mean ‘democracy and the rule of law’, it could equally mean little more than ethnic separatism. In such cases, ‘freedom’ – whether from colonial rule, or an oppressive post-colonial state – could once again amount to nothing more than empty rhetoric. Indian intellectuals such as Amitav Ghosh who matured during the period of India’s protracted and corrosive crisis of identity are therefore caught on the horns of an acute political and ethical dilemma.
Amitav Ghosh by Anshuman A. Mondal