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By Nandini Gooptu

Nandini Gooptu's magisterial historical past of the Indian city terrible represents a tour-de-force. through concentrating on the function of the bad in caste, spiritual and nationwide politics, the writer demonstrates how they emerged as an enormous social think about South Asia throughout the interwar interval. The empirical fabric offers compelling insights into what it intended to be negative and the way the impoverished handled their concern. during this means, the booklet contributes to a couple of the main an important debates at the nature of subaltern politics and realization.

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Another cognate and overlapping corpus of ideas ± mainly the province of Indian reformers and politicians ± harboured similar stereotypes of the urban poor as volatile and violent or prone to undesirable practices and habits. As will be seen in chapter 3, the urban poor were frequently seen as erstwhile rural folk uprooted from their simple, `traditional' country life ± their supposed natural habitat ± and succumbing to moral and material degeneration in the towns. Morever, the casual and impermanent nature of jobs available to the poor in the towns and the consequent `¯oating' nature of their work enhanced the image of instability, volatility and rootlessness, which was, in turn, seen to be the primary source of urban moral decay, social anomie and political disorder.

74±84; D. N. , 1960, pp. 9±25; Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen, pp. 443±4; Derbyshire, `Opening up the Interior', pp. 380±90; C. S. Chandrasekhara, `Kanpur: An Industrial Metropolis', in R. P. ), Million Cities of India, New Delhi, 1978, pp. 273±303. C. A. Bayly, The Local Roots of Indian Politics: Allahabad, 1880±1920, Oxford, 1975, pp. 19±46. 97 km2 in Lucknow. Cited in K. K. D. thesis, Benares Hindu University, 1966, p. 10. This was re¯ected, for instance, in the increase of municipal expenditure on conservancy services.

Central themes include the stereotypical negative characterisations that the poor faced as well as their relations with each other and divisions within their own ranks, arising both from the social organisation of work or labour processes and from the nature of local and state policies. In Part II, the discussion moves on to an exploration of the political identities and action of the poor as part of the process of their rapidly changing experiences in the early twentieth century. Each chapter explores the interplay of diverse forms of emerging identities of 37 Sumit Sarkar, Writing Social History, Delhi, 1998, ch.

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