Hampi — A Story in Stone

Photos by Noshir Gobhai; Text by John M. Fritz and George Michell; Pub. by Eminence Designs Pvt. Ltd., c/o G S Mhaskar Pvt Ltd., I Floor, 205-A J Shankarshet Marg, Opp. Gaiwadi, Girgaum, Mumbai-400004.

Hampi is possibly the most extensive and spectacular ruin in the country, one that evokes the scale and grandeur of the Vijaynagara empire, which flourished for some two centuries before it was sacked and left to decay in 1565. This coffee table book is a detailed visual record of what remains — a story in stone that brings to life its royal centre, its courtly architecture, its teeming markets, and its religious life.

The book is prefaced with a brief matter-of-fact and chronological record of its early and later histories, its disappearance from popular imagination, and its preservation and restoration. The large body of photographs seems directed at achieving a certain comprehensiveness. Wonderful though they are, they seem more concerned with providing a clear and detailed visual record rather than mere aesthetic pleasure. Of the pictures, the ones taken from a height or from a distance are the most arresting, as they reveal the great expanse of what one traveller described as the “best provided city in the world.” The book more than serves its avowed purpose — which is to “introduce people to the wonders of this city” and to sensitise them to “contribute to the process of rebuilding and reimagining the city that was.”

Outer Space — Security and Legal Challenges

G.S. Sachdeva; KW Publishers, 4676/21, First Floor, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002, in association with the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi. Rs. 580.

Till recently, most of the space activities were carried out in the public domain by military personnel and this trend has since abated, with private enterprise entering the arena in a big way for the purposes of telecommunications, broadcasting, remote-sensing, and space travel. Countless indeed are the possibilities of exploiting space. However, the corpus of Space Law — made up of conventions, treaties and so on — has emerged out of necessity and urgency to meet contingencies, not evolved over relatively long periods of time. This book, which has nine chapters, addresses the shortcomings and challenges of the space-related legal framework in the context of the fast-paced development in exploiting outer space. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, in his introduction, points out that the ideas such as formulation of a ‘Space Doctrine' at the international level, creation of an authority to regulate activities in outer space, and drafting of a code of ethics for 'space commerce' merit extensive debate.