This book, written by a professor and his student, both engineers from IIT, is a compilation of articles to show how communities of distant identities live in the same geographical area with a comfortable degree of ?give and take? and mutual trust, within the given cultural milieu. In the Chhotanagpur belt, for instance, where the population of different racial stocks, like Oraon and Santhal live alongside other tribes, have neutralised the linguistic differences by evolving Sadri as an acceptable language of wider communication. A survey conducted by the Anthropological Survey of India has reported the existence of the ?inter-community linkages among co-existing communities of unequal size and social status that have developed in order to achieve harmony in co-existence. Obviously it is an outcome of social evolution and a natural answer to the need for peaceful co-existence.?
Though the communities of the north-east co-exist together as in the Chhotanagpur area, but the social situation is different in the sense that instead of co-existing in an environment of ?give and take?, the situation is vitiated by mutual intolerance and rebellion. Hence both the professor and the student, in their effort to find out the reason for intolerance, discover that it is a natural outcome due to the presence of insurgent and terrorist proxy.
The article titled ?Religion, Linguistics and Separatism in North-east India? deals with the issues of tribal identity, linguistics and separatism in Tripura and Bodoland ? an autonomous area within Assam. In Tripura, Ghosh says that the large-scale conversion of tribals to Christianity and the Church'sdemand for writing the tribal language of Kokbarak in the Roman script is an attempt to make the language lose its Indian moorings and that is one of the reasons for the secessionist and violent struggle waged by guerrillas. In Bodoland, Christian presence of Baptist domination has succeeded in converting a large fraction of Bodos who are demanding the Roman script for the Bodo language. The Bodos are being made to realise the disadvantage of writing their language in the Devnagari script which is not so easy as to write in the Roman script. Hence the author Ghosh suggests the use of the Assamese/Bengali script which he finds fast running.
The essay titled ?Christianity in the Third Millennium: From Nazareth to North Bengal and Further East? is about the role of Christianity in the transformation of cultures and secessionist movements in North Bengal and farther east. This essay begins by quoting journalist Saeed Naqvi'sarticle where he criticises the permission granted by Israelis to the Arabs to build a mosque in Nazareth on the basis of aesthetics and says that a mosque would be incongruous in a setting of Christian history and architecture, just as a mosque in Ayodhya would be because of Ayodhya'scharacter and its essential Hindu ambience.
This collection of essays shows the presence of an inconsistent and unpleasant authority in the popularisation strategy of imparting religion thorough a native language and retaining imperialistic control through the script of the missionaries? choice in the prevailing turbulent situation in the north-east.
(Suruchi Prakashan, Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan, New Delhi-110055.)