Barry Pavier

The Maoists in India

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Nirmalangshu Mukherji

This book is part of a bitter debate inside the Indian left about the conflict between the state and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the Dandakaranya forest region of eastern India.

Mukherji , a prominent academic at Delhi University, is quite clear in his judgment: "The Maoist party has no history of struggle outside jungles, no history of participation in broad resistance movements, clear complicity with mafia and reactionary forces, little concern about abject conditions of the people in areas they control."

Night of the Golden Butterfly

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Tariq Ali, Verso, £14.99

The final part of Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet is a reflection of the descent of Pakistan (or "Fatherland", as it is called throughout the novel) into its own special kind of hell.

The story is told through the voice of a 60-something narrator, required to redeem a very old debt of honour to a dying radical artist, a friend of his youth in Lahore. The task is to write the painter's biography and to do this the narrator has to excavate the story of his network of friends and acquaintances from the radical intellectual milieu of the Punjabi bourgeoisie.

Sri Lanka - the dead end of nationalism

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The final stage of the Sri Lankan army's offensive to capture territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is approaching, with thousands of civilians being driven into an enclave on the north east coast.

This is the end of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's "solution by violence" to the civil war that has dragged on since 1983. He abandoned attempts at a negotiated solution and increased military spending hugely in preparation for the offensive.

The conflict has its roots in British colonial policy. The majority in the country was then the Buddhist Sinhalas; the minority Tamils, mainly Hindus and Muslims, were in the north. As usual the British recruited a minority into the lower levels of their administration, in this case the Tamils.

The Great Partition

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Yasmin Khan, Yale University Press, £20

This is probably the best book going on the partition of the British Indian Empire.

It provides an incisive analysis of the endgame of the empire between 1945 and 1947. What comes across loud and clear is the extent to which all the major players failed to foresee the consequences of their actions. Probably the ones most guilty of reckless adventurism were the Muslim League leadership, headed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Sri Lanka: On the March Back to Civil War?

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Since the beginning of April this year at least 300 civilians have died as the ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has begun to unravel.

The ceasefire had been negotiated with the help of the Norwegian government in 2002 and brought to an end a war that had been going on since 1983. However, it did not resolve the issues that had caused the conflict in the first place.

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