Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia: Sunil S. Amrith; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge House, 4381/4, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002. Price: Rs.795.

Over the past 150 years, the scale of human migration within Asia has been vast and greater than at any place in history. For centuries, migrants have tracked the routes and seas of their ancestors — merchants, pilgrims, soldiers, sailors — along the Silk Road, across the Indian Ocean and the China Sea. Over the 20 {+t} {+h} century, however, borders constrained and restricted mobility, provoking many attempts at evasion. The book traces the history of modern migration against the background of empires, their dissolution, and the onset of modernity, dividing it into five distinct categories: Asia's great migrations (1850-1930); the making of Asian diasporas (1850-1930); War, revolution, and refugees (1930-50); Migration, development and the Asian city (1950-70); and Asian migrants in the Age of Globalisation (1970-2010). Sunil Amrith says, in conclusion, that the forces behind the expansion of Asian migration since 1850 — unequal economic development; war and political conflict, improvements in transportation and communications; environmental degradation, and now the crisis of climate change — remain powerful, and “the magnitude of both internal and international migration within Asia continues to rise.”

Congress-led Coalition Government-Crisis to Crisis: C.P. Bhambhri; Shipra Publications; LG 18-19, Pankaj Central Market, Patparganj, I.P. Ext., Delhi-110092. Price: Rs.650.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, during its first term in office at the Centre (2004-09), was able to pursue its agenda to a considerable extent. But the UPA-II, now at the helm, seems to have lost its will to govern and has been lurching from crisis to crisis. A collection of newspaper articles — about 80 in all — written by Bhambhri, the distinguished scholar and political analyst, this book is, in effect, a critique of the government's performance since 2009 in the domestic and foreign policy spheres, with the expert comments coming in capsules as a spot reaction to events/developments. In a thought-provoking introduction, Bhambhri refers to an “ironical situation” in India — that “the transformation in the levels of social consciousness is held hostage to inherited social categories of pre-capitalist past like caste- and priestly class-dominated religiosity.” He argues that “it is not only religion-based political and social divisions that have helped in the fragmentation of social consciousness of the Indian masses, the caste system, a relic of the past, has continued to play havoc in society and working class consciousness has been splintered into sub-ideologies. Hence the social soil is quite fertile for the continuance of rule by the exploiting classes.”