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This book tracks the long history of the practices amalgamated under this label and shows their connection to changing patterns of social and political power down to the present. It frames caste as an involuted and complex form of ethnicity and explains why it persisted under non-Hindu rulers and in non-Hindu communities across South Asia. Prices from excl.

VAT :. View PDF Flyer. Contents About. Restricted Access. Pages: i—xx. Pages: 1— Pages: 19— Pages: 45— Pages: 83— Pages: — Queues stretched on to the street as anxious account holders withdrew their money. In an understandable flight to quality, branches of the bigger Thai banks reported a surge in deposits as soon as the measures were announced. The finance companies' predicament stems from property lending. About a quarter of their loans have financed a construction boom that has left Bangkok in particular ludicrously overbuilt. Another quarter of assets are accounted for by lending to consumers, much of which has also turned bad as the economy has slowed over the past year.

Their difficulties were compounded by the Bank's stubborn defence of its currency, the baht. That kept interest rates high, further crippling the finance companies and their clients. Many Thai borrowers had taken out dollar loans to profit from the lower interest rates and traditional currency stability. With devaluation, the cost of servicing these debts shot up.

It was, for many, the final straw. Clearing the debris of financial collapse will take at least two years of harsh austerity. Interest rates will have to stay high to restrain inflation and stop a further slide in the baht. The IMF has welcomed the measures and, once its board has approved them later this month, Thailand should have no difficulty in securing the loans it needs.

The region has an interest in seeing confidence restored. Contagion from the Thai crisis has put pressure on other currencies. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have suffered partly for competitive reasons, and partly because they have some symptoms of the Thai complaint: large current-account deficits, property gluts and sizeable unhedged foreign debts.

Malaysia, usually counted among the region's stronger economies, has perhaps most reason to worry. It has a bigger current-account deficit 5. This news prompted a sharp fall on the Kuala Lumpur stockmarket, which hit its lowest point for 22 months on August 5th.

Like the Thai government earlier this year, the Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, appears to confuse the strength of the currency, the ringgit, with economic health. On August 3rd capital controls were introduced to curb currency speculation. Thailand introduced similar restrictions in May. They did not work, and are unlikely to prove more than a short-term palliative elsewhere.

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Even Thai officials now acknowledge that it would have been better for all concerned if, rather than battle the unforgiving markets, they had taken their medicine sooner. The U -turn made by the prime minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, in a policy speech given to businessmen in Tokyo recently, has at last raised the prospect of a substantial improvement in relations. Like a cracked record, Japan has in recent years infuriated its friends by mindlessly repeating that there can be no question of economic aid for Russia until progress is made on the return of the Northern Territories—the four islands off the northern tip of Japan lost to the Soviet Union at the end of the second world war.

The Soviet Union almost agreed to return at least two of the four disputed islands in , with hints that the other two islands could follow. But after bellicose demands from Kakuei Tanaka, Japan's prime minister at the time, for the return of all four islands—otherwise known as the southern Kuriles—an angry Leonid Brezhnev put the offer back into cold storage.

All subsequent attempts to conclude a peace treaty, putting an official end to hostilities between the two countries, have been thwarted by the territorial dispute. Boris Yeltsin broke some of the ice during his visit to Japan in He recognised the validity of a joint declaration that promised to return two of the islands to Japan. Mr Hashimoto has now decided to put the fruitless territorial bickering aside for the moment, and instead stress the need for Japan to strengthen its economic relations with Russia first.

Over the past two years, the two countries have shown that they can get along if they try. Russian gunboats had been firing shots across the bows of Japanese trawlers which ventured too close to the disputed islands. But Japanese officials and their Russian counterparts put their heads together, without recriminations, and defined safe fishing zones and ways of arbitrating disputes that did not compromise either side's claim to the islands. Within days of Mr Hashimoto's initiative came concrete proof that a lot of preparation had been done beforehand.

The foreign ministry in Tokyo hinted that talks between the four countries involved may start as early as this month. Mr Hashimoto will then join President Yeltsin at an unofficial summit in the Russian Far East in early November to discuss this and other projects. Mr Hashimoto has promised to take a long-term view of the relationship. But how long-term? He probably wants to see serious signs of progress on the return of the islands by no later than the summer of That is when his second two-year term as prime minister will be drawing to a close.

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In recent times, no Japanese prime minister—other than Yasuhiro Nakasone, who was prime minister from to —has hung on to the job for more than two terms. As he enters his second term this September, Mr Hashimoto may see co-operation with Russia as a way to secure a favourable write-up in the history books.

THE public park in Wanxian, in Sichuan province, is a steep ten-minute climb from the banks of the Yangzi river; from the park you are too high to be able to see the brown torrent below. All the same, it is a good place to get an idea of the immensity of the Three Gorges project, especially if you stand at the far end of the park, behind a woman selling sweets, where there is a stone plaque.

Once the dam is finished kilometres miles downstream, the waters will lap that plaque, submerging much of this city of , people. Starting at the end of this year, a km stretch of the fast-flowing Yangzi, from the city of Chongqing to Yichang, is to be stilled, drowning ancient towns, temples and farmland. The sweet-seller is not happy about it. Over 1m others are also to be forcibly resettled over the next decade.

They were never consulted and they have no option. Blocking the Yangzi river below the fabled Three Gorges has been an ambition of China's leadership since Sun Yat-sen first dreamed about it in In particular, the prestige of the prime minister, Li Peng, a former water engineer, rests on the success of this dam. This is a project of imperial scale, on a par with the Great Wall. And, though the leaders are not these days grinding up the bones of recalcitrant scholars for use as mortar, they do stamp harshly upon organised dissent. Opposition to the dam, in their eyes, is opposition to Communist Party rule.

The few scholars who speak out against the dam are mostly retired, too old to care about the party's threats. Most foreigners, too, are beyond its reach. The World Bank has given the project a wide berth.


Big dams, after all, are out of fashion. Besides, there is always the suspicion that some building materials for the dam may turn out to have been supplied by penal labour-camps. Still, there are mouth-watering prospects for foreign firms supplying turbines and the like, and some countries, notably Canada and Japan, are keen for their companies to get involved.

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But the disquieting questions persist. The original purpose of a dam was to protect against disastrous floods of the kind that killed 30, people in More recently, the government has been stressing the dam's ability to generate electricity—one-eighth of China's total, it is claimed, saving 45m tonnes of sulphurous coal each year. Some critics say that the two goals—flood control and power generation—are incompatible.

To generate power, the dam's operators may be tempted to keep higher levels of water behind the dam than are warranted by flood-control considerations, with potentially disastrous consequences. Then there is the problem of silt. Opponents of the dam argue that it may generate so much that it will virtually close the harbour on the Yangzi at Chongqing, China's biggest inland city. The biggest nightmare, of course, is that the dam might collapse. China's record of dam building is atrocious.

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Two dams collapsed on the Huai river in August leading to the deaths, according to leaked government estimates, of 30,, people.