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<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The bell tolls: tomorrow's truncated India By R.K. Ohri.

New Delhi, Manas Pub., 2006, 284 p., tables, maps, $28. ISBN 81-7049-294- 7.

1. Demography as destiny.
2. Warnings from census 2001.
3. Doctoring population data.
4. Terminator Tsunami.
5. Growing ungovernability of north-east.
6. Crescent corridor across Yadava Turf.
7. The bell tolls.
8. Secular Graffiti and Hindu Dilemma.
9. The looming threat ahead. Endnotes.

"*The Bell Tolls: Tomorrow's Truncated India, *is a topical study of the
messy political scene of contemporary India. In contents and thought it is
substantially different from run-of-the-mill political tracts most of which
tend to ignore the twin formidable threat of Islamic terrorism and impending
demographic crisis to the unity of Indian nation. Not many Indians know that
Christian Europe is heading for a demographic disaster which could destroy
its Christian identity. Niall Ferguson, a strategic analyst who teaches
contemporary history at Harvard University, alerted the western nations more
than two years ago that in another fifty years Europe could become a Muslim
majority continent. Due to rapid decline in the fertility level of Hindus
and allied faiths in several states and sensitive regions, India too could
face a similar threat.

The author has highlighted the damage caused to good governance by the
lengthening shadow of parochial politics, supported by radical Islam and
myopic leftist leadership. The emergence of several casteist parties and
regional satraps, functioning in tandem with self-seeking leftist groups,
has systematically undermined most democratic institutions. The resultant
political destabilization could sound death knell of Indian democracy. The
author has also exposed central government's clumsy fudging of census 2001
by omitting 3.67 crore Indians from census 2001 analysis and recourse to
questionable deletion of the census data of four preceding decades with
retrospective effect.

India being the only bulwark of secularism pitted against Jihadist Islam in
South Asia stands marked as the next civilisational battleground. Unless
effective remedial measures are initiated right now the grim political
situation has the potential to push India towards the 'Dangerous decades' of
disunity, political upheavals and divisiveness, as forecast in 1960 by Selig
S. Harrison, in his perceptive tome, *India: the most dangerous decades.*"


* Excerpts from Chapter 3 at
http://www.esamskri ti.com/html/essay_index.asp?cat=792& subcat=791&cname=bell_ tolls

Mail feedback to author Shri R K Ohri: rkohri AT airtelbroadband.in

*Links: *
*1.Religious Demography of India: gives census tables. *
http://www.esamskriti.com/html/essay_ind...?cat_name= arsfa&cid=917&sid=156

*2.The Truth about Article 370 by Arvind Lavkare *
http://www.esamskriti.com/html/essay_ind...?cat_name= warsfa&cid=1158&sid= 191
Pioneer, 4 jan., 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Deciphering Mahatma

Each commentator in the book relates a different account of Gandhi but Weber does a commendable job in compiling all those facets of the Mahatma with sound algorithm, writes Sudhir Kumar

<b>Gandhi, Gandhism and the Gandhians, Thomas Weber; Roli Books, Rs 395</b>

Call it Gandhigiri or concocted satyagraha or an intelligent citizen's guide to experiments with (un)truth and (non-)violence, the charisma of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lives on. It will not be an exaggeration to say that there are many versions of Gandhi today. To the billions of Indians, he is an important coordinate of their collective cultural and mythical consciousness. This mythical, folklore-like and commonplace Gandhi has a more powerful hold over people's worldviews than the almost ineffectual, textbookish one - the officially advertised mascot of Indian nationalism and a convenient political toy to peddle the crassly un-Gandhian policies to further vested interests. It is in this context that Gandhi, the proverbial politico-spiritual enigma, is the bunny of the global publishing industry - a perennial source of the inexhaustible grist to the print-mills worldwide to reproduce and rediscover newer and newer versions of Gandhi to fulfil people's perpetual eagerness to understand this "half-naked fakir".

Thomas Weber's Gandhi, Gandhism and the Gandhians is a welcome addition to the ever-increasing list of books on Gandhi. <b>It aims at analysing some of the hitherto unexplored aspects of the Mahatma's politico-cultural actions and their subsequent appropriation by later-day Gandhians.</b> Though most essays included in the volume have already been published in various journals, these are put together so well here that there is no discontinuity in the book.

Weber, an acclaimed Australian scholar on Gandhi, reinforces the need to reinterpret the Mahatma's philosophy of truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) in the vastly changed circumstances of today. Rajmohan Gandhi, in his foreword to the book, stresses the obvious when he refers to the efficacy of Gandhi's non-violent satyagraha in troubled West Asia and its proven impact on Nelson Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

Some of the essays, however, can disappoint readers. For example, "Kharag Bahadur Singh: The Eightieth Marcher" seems a non-starter for the reputation of the book, as it adds nothing to the central issue - the Dandi March. Moreover, the second essay, "Historiography and the Dandi March: The Other Myths of Gandhi's Salt March", aptly foregrounds the dynamics of the word of mouth and mythical imagination that played a crucial role in transforming a political event like the Dandi March into a historical milestone, thus unleashing the hitherto dormant political consciousness.

The Salt Satyagraha, in spite of its political failure, turned out to be a metonymic representation of the will of Indian people. Weber writes, "The march and the ensuing campaign also had several less tangible successes that the critics and the myth-makers ignore. The revolution Gandhi sought to achieve was not merely political, it was also social... The Salt March was about empowerment... It was about reforming society and about the self-reformation of the individual. For Gandhi, the two were inextricably linked - reform yourself and you have started to reform the world, reform the world non-violently and you have reformed the self." (p 23).

The popular perception of the Salt Satyagraha is based on the playful pulls of memory, imagination and desire producing and circulating, as Weber says, "as many Gandhis as there are people who write about him" (p 35). Responding to the critics of Gandhian experiment with truth during the Salt March, Weber writes, "While some people stress the myth of the total success of the Dandi March, care must be taken that an even bigger myth - that the Salt March failed - does not take its place" (p 41).

The next two chapters, "Gandhi Moves" and "Gandhi and the Nobel Peace Prize" are more archival than analytical in nature. Weber, however, succeeds in describing the significance of Polak and Kallenbach in setting up the Phoenix Settlement and the Tolstoy Ashram in South Africa and the sacrifices made by Maganlal Gandhi and Jamnalal Bajaj in establishing the Sabarmati and the Sevagram Ashrams in India. Why Gandhi was not given a Nobel Peace Prize is only of academic interest as a man of his stature could never be measured by a medallion, however prestigious it may have been.

The sixth chapter, "Gandhian Philosophy, Conflict Resolution Theory and Practical Approach to Negotiation," puts in context Gandhi's insistence on truth and non-violence in order to use satyagraha to end conflicts.

Weber discusses at length Bondurant's famous work, Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, which inter alia proposes how a satyagrahi involves himself in an "ethical existence" in which "the operation of non-violent action and truth as judged by the fulfilment of human needs will emerge in the form of a mutually satisfactory and agreed upon solution" (p 147). Weber also delineates how Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher and conflict-resolution theorist, in his book Gandhi and Group Conflict, candidly employs Gandhian satyagraha as a sound strategy to abolish hatred and hostility among the warring groups or nations.

Similarly, Naess's ex-pupil and founder of modern peace research, Johan Galtung, in his seminal work, The Way is the Goal, underlines Gandhian satyagraha as a spiritual alternative to resolve human conflicts in a realm of peace and mutual understanding.

Weber rightly argues that for the Mahatma, "the process was about the achievement of self-realisation, nothing less. For him, the fundamental principle was that of the unity of existence. People are related to each other in a way that has a transcendental nature and conflict should be seen as a gift providing a rich opportunity, potentially to the benefit of all to realise a higher goal" (p 167-168).

Weber also scrutinises the reasons why Gandhism waned after Jayaprakash Narain and Vinoba Bhave passed away. <b>He highlights certain glaring contradictions in Gandhi's notion of satyagraha or non-violent resistance.

First, Gandhi's satyagraha presupposes an enlightened other party that is amenable to spiritual persuasion. His logic falls flat when it confronts Al Qaeda brand of Islamist terrorism, or LTTE's vicious bloodbaths.

Second, satyagraha, at times, coerces the other party that signifies a kind of violence. Even Gandhian fasting is tantamount to inflicting injury on one's own body.

Third, the spiritual significance of satyagraha is ruined once it is used for purely political gains. In the post-colonial contexts, it degenerates into frequent bandhs, hartals and strikes.

Fourth, the idea of a shanti sena replacing the armed forces to manage India's national security has no link with ground realities. Such ideas have reduced the relevance of Gandhism in the contemporary world.</b>

Weber should also have used the Gandhi-Ambedkar dialogue and Lohia's reconstruction of Gandhi in order to supplement Gandhi-Vinoba and Gandhi-JP discursive interfaces to look into the causes of the decline of the Gandhian legacy of political and cultural action.

Weber's book is a commendable effort to package many facets of Gandhi in a relatively constricted space. <b>At the same time, it brings together some of his stimulating essays on the application of Gandhian theory to such deeply interrelated areas as neo-environmentalism, conflict resolution theories, deep ecology, and Buddhist economics</b>.

The reviewer teaches in Punjab University, Chandigarh

The Telegraph, Kolkota, 5 Jan., 2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->THE MASTER AND HIS FOLLOWERS 
Ramana Maharshi: The Sage of Arunachala
By Arvind Sharma, Viking, Rs 295

<b>The Sankaracharya defines the non-dual perception of the self or atman as the only valid knowledge since it is not contradicted. This notion constitutes the base of the Advaita Vedanta, of which Ramana Maharshi was an early 20th-century exponent.</b>

Venkataramana, as Ramana Maharshi was known in his early life, was born in a middle-class family in December, 1876, away from the city of Madurai. When he approached his sixteenth year, two incidents signalled a change in his life. First, he came across a relative in Madurai who hailed from Arunachala. The name of ‘Arunachala’ cast a mysterious spell on him. <b>Second, around the same time, he came upon Periapuranam, which contains the life sketches of the 63 nayanars, the famous poet-saints of Tamil Shaivism.</b> These accounts, too, left an indelible impression on him.

In 1896, Venkataramana was exposed to what people now call a “conversion experience”. He was seized by a strong fear of death, grappling with which he came to realize that his body was not his true self. That was Venkataramana’s first brush with Advaita philosophy. Six weeks after this experience, he left Madurai for Arunachala (Tiru vannamalai) and, after a stressful journey, took shelter in the Virupaksha cave.

In this impassioned biography, Arvind Sharma traces the spiritual odyssey of this great South Indian sage, <b>whom M.K. Gandhi had wanted to meet</b>. Sharma derives material copiously from other biographies of the sage and from the Maharshi’s dialogues with his disciples and visitors. This derivative and reconstructive method enables Sharma to present different interpretations of the Maharshi’s life to the reader, leaving him to judge for himself. But Sharma should have offered his judgment in certain crucial parts. He is less than critical about some of the Maharshi’s failings — such as his tacit consent to the Brahmins dining separately in his ashrama or his allowing his devotees to prostrate themselves before him. These practices are incompatible with the basic tenets of Advaita Vedanta.

Sharma depends so heavily on the devotees’ accounts of the miracles in the Maharshi’s life that his biography borders on hagiography. He lacks a historian’s insight and probably does not recognize that today’s biographer is to a large extent a historian because he, too, has to grasp and analyse the spirit of a segment of historical time.

However, Sharma is good at exploring the Maharshi’s metaphysical teachings and also at portraying the purely human aspects of the sage, believed to be an avatar, specially where he describes the <b>Maharshi</b> praying for his sick mother or <b>shedding tears on hearing the news of Gandhi’s assassination.</b>


Is there an English account of the 63 nayanars referred to above?
<!--QuoteBegin-ramana+Jan 6 2007, 02:51 AM-->QUOTE(ramana @ Jan 6 2007, 02:51 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is there an English account of the 63 nayanars referred to above?

Has anyone read this book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
There's Hollywood talk of making it into a movie. Rajiv was on Jon Stewart show some months ago. He seemed bright and could articulate well. He's correspondent for Washington Post (or Times) and son of Indian NRIs in US.

Some juicy bits in his books like 24 year-old with no prior job experience put in charge of interior ministry; muslim hotels along Tigris serving pork; etc.. should be pretty valuble in terms understanding of how far/wide the "freedom" has been spread in Iraq.

Some other books on Bush's Messo-potamac that I'll recommend:
<i>The One Percent Doctrine</i> : Ron Suskind (it's pretty good)
<i>Cobra II</i>: Mike Gordon (some sections are cure for insomnia)
<i>Fiasco</i>: Thomas E. Ricks (ok read)
<i>Hubris</i>: Michael Isikoff (ok read)
<i>The Greatest Story Ever Sold</i>: Frank Rich (great - ventures in areas like Katrina, Schivo case etc)
<i>State of Denial: Bush at War</i>: Bob Woodward (book was overhyped, author is a opportunistic for hidding all this info in previous two versions of the book)
<b>Irshad Manji's The Trouble with Islam Today </b>
http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/thebook. html
Picked up a book lately Will the Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites? ; Defence Imperatives Beyond the Military by Arun Shourie. It's pretty decent book on defence and strategic security matters - which I didn't believe was Shourie's forte.
There's a extracts of the book on NDTV site and a review here
A tale of Hindu genocide in Kashmir

Girdhari Lal Jalali: Jihad in Kashmir - A Critical Analysis, Vakil
Publications, 286 pp, Rs 500.00

A number of books on the above subject have flooded the market since
the onset of insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, the Kashyap's land. The
book under review is written by a Kashmiri who was born and brought up
in Kashmir and has been witness to years of turmoil and political
strife since December 1989, when insurgency gained momentum catching
unaware and unprepared the powers that be in Kashmir and Delhi. The
author, executive director of The Kashmir Gazette, has closely studied
the socio-political situation, which ultimately snowballed into a
revolt by a particular community backed by India's hostile neighbour,

<b>The fate of Kashmiri Pandits is an extraordinary occurrence and
perhaps a unique example in the annals of history where a group of
people was subjected to ethnic cleansing in their own land by their
own fellow-citizens.</b>

In 1947, when Pakistan was carved for the Muslims and Hindustan was
left for the Hindus, M.A. Jinnah of the Muslim League demanded
exchange of population—that all Muslims should emigrate to Pakistan
while non-Muslims should cross over to Hindustan. <b>The Pakistanis
chased out most of the Hindus from the western wing of Pakistan while
the Muslims, under the garb of secularism, were allowed to remain in

Varied may be our perceptions of the Kashmir problem but all of us
would agree that the issue was handled (better still, bungled) since
its very inception. The `Kashmir issue' has become a major
international and national question, which most of us tend to treat as
a Pakistani and Indian problem. The author quotes from Prof. Sisir
Gupta's book Kashmir: A Study in India-Pakistan Relations, wherein he
had said that while charges and counter charges were being made in
Pakistan and Kashmir, <b>"tribesmen from the north-west of Pakistan and
other Pakistani nationals entered into Kashmir…Rape and murder, arson
and loot of unprecedented magnitude overtook Kashmir, making the
living worse than dead. In the name of Islam—which had come to India
as a religion of peace—was now operating a primitive sect, guided
primarily by their thirst for satisfying the basest of animal instincts."</b>

On December 8, 1947, the then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru
and Liyaqat Ali Khan of Pakistan met for the first time. Lord
Mountbatten proposed that the two governments should jointly request
the UNO to mediate and thus referring of the Kashmir issue to the UNO
proved a Himalayan blunder, which was to have wider ramifications over
the course of future events in the state. The author says that by
February 1948, Nehru realised his "grave mistake to pin any faith in
the United Nations", and that he even told Lord Mountbatten that the
"UNO had been a great disillusionment for him for it was clearly an
American racket".

Whatever be the facts, the author makes some very pertinent comments
which need to be read between the lines.

The author cites two important factors that govern the Pakistani
stance on Kashmir: "First, the Kashmir issue is a religious issue in
the eyes of Pakistani establishment. To settle the issue is to wage a
jihad. It is no longer a political issue. Secondly, internal political
compulsions and sociological urges in Pakistan are responsible for
keeping the issue alive." Though not so sure about the first one but
the second one holds water because immediately after the division of
India, movements for Azad Baluchistan and Azad Pathanistan had
gathered momentum and to divert the attention of its people,
aggressive tribesmen were encouraged to enter India.

As the book proceeds further, the author unfolds how by accepting the
cease-fire in January 1949, "a) India acted in haste, without taking
cognizance of the repercussions of the cease-fire move. b) Western
countries led by the USA directly interfered in India's internal
matter. c) India's original complaint to the UNO was relegated to the
background. d) The issue was thrust into backwaters of cold-war

The author believes that the ongoing terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir is a
jihad unleashed by the enemies of India "who are interested in
dismantling the country's secular super structure and harming communal
harmony, which has been the basis of India's hoary culture."

This is a book to be read to find out what the displaced Kashmiris
feel about the Kashmir issue.

<i>(Vakil Publications, Samachar Post Bhavan, C-50, Preet Vihar, New
Delhi-110092. )</i>
Two book reviews from Pioneer, 24 April, 2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Clearing haze over Valley

The book enumerates several incidents that will help analyse political developments in Jammu & Kashmir, says Sanjoy Bagchi

<b>Jammu & Kashmir 1949-64: Select Correspondence Between Jawaharlal Nehru And Karan Singh, Jawaid Alam(ed), Penguin Viking, Rs 595</b>

Karan Singh has made a significant contribution to contemporary history by publishing his personal archive of letters exchanged with Jawaharlal Nehru shortly after the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Indian Union. It is a unique decision in the Indian context because no other politician of the post-Independence era has dared to reveal his correspondence during his lifetime.

Personal correspondence between political heads was not unknown to Indian administration. During the colonial days the Secretary of State for India in London was always in regular contact with the Viceroy. The India Office Library in London has a record of letters exchanged between the two. Being personal communications, their authors could be frank and candid, sharing their views without restraint, avoiding the opacity of 'officialese'.

Karan Singh's correspondence with Nehru began when he became the Regent of Jammu & Kashmir in 1949 and continued until the latter's death in 1964. It deals with the period's major events - political changes, international developments relating to Jammu & Kashmir, domestic situation, impressions of travels abroad, etc.

When he became the Regent, Karan Singh was only 18. Yet, having gone through a traumatic time, he was called upon to serve Sheikh Abdullah. <b>But, later, he was exiled from the State with his privy purse reduced on specious grounds. Such treatment had not been meted out to any other prince on his accession, not even to Hyderabad's Nizam who had engaged in armed conflict with India.</b> But there is no trace of bitterness or rancour, not even suppressed resentment in his letters.

Karan Singh showed exceptional maturity, unusual balance and exemplary loyalty at that early age - qualities that would distinguish his future career as a politician, Minister and diplomat.

<b>In order to severe the dynastic link, Abdullah had insisted on Karan Singh's election as Sadr-i-Riyasat under a new Constitution that was yet to adopted. While recognising the absurdity of the move, Nehru was not inclined to upset his crony's applecart. He merely advised Singh to get on the cart even though it was placed before the horse.</b>

There was another instance of the national flag that revealed the attitude of the ruling clique. <b>Karan Singh had repeatedly insisted on flying the national flag on Government buildings, but Abdullah persistently ignored it.</b> Nehru again turned a blind eye to it. Abdullah's incarceration for treason resolved the issue.

<b>It was Karan Singh who had reported to Nehru in 1959 about the kidnapping of an Indian patrol inside Indian border by the Chinese Army which had built roads, check-posts and other fortifications on our land. He believed that it was more than 'cartographical aggression' and required adequate measures to prevent China from consolidating its position within India. He had warned that the opening of the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and stepping up their economic aid to it would undermine Indian position there.</b> Nehru's response to these developments remains unknown.

Karan Singh had extensively toured Jammu and Ladakh regions of the State. His detailed reports reveal his incisive observations and astute perceptions of the local problems. <b>Ladakh was uneasy with the current arrangement that did not provide adequate popular representation in the State Assembly. Apparently it did not have faith in the State Government and wanted an administrator from the Centre.</b>

<b>Similarly Jammu felt frustrated at the neglect of the local Government to its needs and resentment was building up. Sheikh Abdullah was obviously catering only to his support base in the Valley to the detriment of the outlying regions.</b>

Karan Singh's travels in the Soviet Union reveal the warm response he had evoked by his pleasant personality, innate charm and sympathetic understanding. In Nepal too, he had frank talks with the King and his Prime Minister. The latter unreservedly shared his impressions of China that he had recently visited.

<b>By nature Karan Singh is eminently suited for diplomatic assignments where he could clinically analyse the developments, particularly in the context of India's geopolitical interests.</b> It was a pity that he became Ambassador rather late in life and that too for a short period.

The letters describe numerous incidents that would be of great help in analysing the political developments in Jammu & Kashmir by future historians. <b>The appendix contains the letters of Maharaja Hari Singh to the top Indian leadership of the time, which have never been published before. Dealing with the accession to India and its aftermath, the book is of immense historical interest. The only other authentic account of those tumultuous days is in the book, Story of the Integration of the Indian States, by VP Menon.</b>
-- The reviewer, a former IAS officer, is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Tragic partitions

Amrit Kapur

<b>The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts, Smita T Jassal & E Ben-Ari, Sage Publications, Rs 480</b>

The book, based on the proceedings of the Conference on Memory and the Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts at the historical setting of Halle in July 2005, provides a fascinating dimension to our understanding of divided societies. <b>Regions selected for the study are India-Pakistan, East-West Germany, Israel-Palestine and North-South Korea. These regions, in particular, saw worst of human tragedies in the name of partition.</b>

<b>The book vividly explores the implications of partition motif for resolving contemporary conflicts.</b> It also analyses post-partition transition of societies. The backdrop, of course, is the division of India and Pakistan.

The conflict resolution based on communal pattern in India under the British rule had traumatic outcome. Partition as motif for conflict resolution has never been a workable solution, but will hover in the continuum of cause and effect.

<b>The book is a conversation across cultures on the issue of partition and its far-reaching sociological implications for communal patterns, generational dynamics and individual lives. </b>The authors have based their work on the partition of India under the colonial rule, creation of the Berlin Wall leading to splitting of Germany into two, division of Koreas along 36 parallel and the never-ending Israel-Palestine intransigence with focus on socio-economic and political implications.

The book explains how societies that have experienced the trauma of partition are integrated and how they deploy their understanding of the past to reconstruct their present and future. It inquires into ways in which local communities as well as wider national entities use their knowledge of the past. <b>At the same time, the writers have succeeded in highlighting how such separations were of significance not only in the strict political sense but also in the formation of long-term processes of politico-cultural identity, memory and inspiration.</b>

<b>The book serves two purposes: </b>First, development of comparative perspective, thus refuting the uniqueness of the subcontinent's experience and, second, an exploration of how partition influences social processes.

This book is a must read for the policy-makers as well as intellectuals, if not for lay readers who may find it a bit too pedantic to comprehend in totality. It also serves as a useful document on divided societies and their sense of rootlessness.
Book Review, Pioneer, 4 may 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Theocons and theocrats

According to Phillips, <b>the United States faces three major perils in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, reliance on borrowed money and religion getting increasingly radicalised.</b> Americans are slowly moving towards Christian theocracy, writes MV Kamath

American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips, Viking, $26.95

It is fashionable among intellectuals, mostly Hindus, to damn Hindus and Hinduism, the religion of their forefathers, in no uncertain terms. One cannot speak of Hindutva without being called a fascist, communalist and fundamentalist, in stinging terms. <b>The White man - forget the Islamic countries which are beyond the pale of criticism - is secular, free of religious extremism and, therefore, commanding instant respect.</b> The only despicable people for our secularists are Hindus, unless they openly swear by secularism and bid goodbye to their past.

But now we are told that Americans are no better, and that not only are they "recklessly dependent" on a milieu of "radicalised religion" and "religious fundamentalism" but "the rapture, end-times and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shia ayatollahs, and the <b>last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in US history".</b>

Worse, Phillips writes that his book sums up "a potent change... in the country's domestic and foreign policy-making" and "religion's new political prowess and its role in the projection of military power in the Middle Eastern Bible lands".

According to Phillips, the US's pre-occupation with West Asia has two dimensions, in addition to oil and terrorism. He says <b>"The White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny"</b>. In what way, then, are Christian fundamentalists of the US different from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and other similar Islamic fundamentalist - and terrorist - outfits?

Phillips asserts that the Bush legacy has "added close ties to evangelical and fundamentalist power brokers of many persuasions". Further, he adds, <b>"For the first time in our history, ideology holds a monopoly of power in Washington." </b>

As Phillips sees it there are three major "perils" to the Union States in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, a reliance on borrowed money and a milieu of radicalised (and such too influential) religion. <b>How does it meet these three 'perils'? </b>

<b>To meet oil needs, efforts are made to seize militarily portions of West Asia expected by 2020 to have two-thirds of the world's remaining oil reserves.</b> By 1950 Americans were consuming more than one-third of the world's energy output and nearly half of its oil. Now, world oil production is expected to peak in only two or three decades. So Ford and General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) are going in not into enhanced production of cars, but in loan services. Says Phillips, "Without that financial backstop, the two firms might have become historical artefacts by the end of the 20th century"

As for radicalised religion, Phillips says that it is as "American as apple pie". According to him, religious extremism has now become common in the US. He notes, <b>"In its recent practice, the radical side of US religion has embraced cultural anti-modernism, war-hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy and, in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for Governments by literal Biblical interpretation."</b>

Indeed, Phillips adds: "Evangelical fundamentalist and Pentecostal demonstration began the new millennium verging on the juggernaut status." It is not that secularism is disappearing in the US. The author says that a "large and growing secular culture" is to be seen and that among northern university graduates and cultural elites, it is dominant. But he also adds, quoting from David Domke's God Willing (2001) that the <b>"Bush Administration's worldview is one grounded in religious fundamentalism - that is, it emphasises absolutes, authority and tradition and a divine hand in history and upon the United States". </b>

Still later he writes, <b>"Since 1980 religious Americans of all faiths - fundamentalist Protestants, observant Catholics, even orthodox Jews - have been moving towards the Republican Party. This is something new in American politics. We have never had a religious party in this country."</b> Now, apparently, it has. To cite examples, the author says that between 1977 and Ronald reagan's first year in office, half-a-dozen national organisations linked to religious conservatives emerged - the National Federation of Decency (1977), evangelist Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority (1979), the Religious Roundtable (1979), the Christian Voice (1979), The National Affairs Briefing (1980), the Council on Revival (1980) and the Council for National Policy (1981). By 2004, Some 43 to 46 per cent of Americans described themselves as born-again in Christian faith. <b>But everything is being kept secret. As Phillips puts it, "The Christian Right usually does not like to acknowledge what it is doing or where."</b>

The point is to minimise public attention to its influence and back-stage power (at least the RSS or the Bajrang Dal does not resort to such tactics). No less than Bill Moyers has been quoted as saying: "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come from the fringe to sit down in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington."

The essential political preconditions fell into place in the late 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of the Republican Party as a powerful vehicle for religiosity and church influence, while State Republican parties, most conspicuously in the south and south-west, endorsed so-called Christian nation platforms.

<b>To read this book is to get a fresh idea of what politics and religion in the United States are all about. America today is a vastly changed nation. Phillips calls the new development as "American Theocracy".</b>

The crusade against Islam is a fact of life. <b>According to national public poll, evangelicals and their leaders far exceed other Americans in their disapproval of Islam. Which may explain the cruelty imposed in Iraq. Antagonism to Islam is fast replacing hatred for the Soviet Union. Today, the enemy is Islam. But India must take precaution. Who knows it could be the next in line for attacks from American fundamentalists.</b>

<!--QuoteBegin-Viren+Mar 20 2007, 01:06 AM-->QUOTE(Viren @ Mar 20 2007, 01:06 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Picked up a book lately Will the Iron Fence Save a Tree Hollowed by Termites? ; Defence Imperatives Beyond the Military by Arun Shourie. It's pretty decent book on defence and strategic security matters - which I didn't believe was Shourie's forte.
There's a extracts of the book on NDTV site and a review here

This is a fantastic book. I completed three-fourths of this book. This book makes your blood boil and also depressed due to helplessness.
Here are my observations:
1) Even for an unknown person, it gives an idea of what is national security.
2) The most authoritative book ever written about Chinese threat.
3) Regarding Pakistan, atleast all those folks like me who hangs or BR and IF, it is like a revision exercise.
4) Most depressive for nationalist Indians.
5) Perfect compilation of open source resources to construct the case.

It is a must read.

Any online reviews or rebuttals of Ambassador Bunker's book?
How CIA ousted Left govt in Kerala
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If the biography of former US Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker is to be believed, the CIA had performed a clandestine operation to topple the first elected Communist government in the world.

The book also says that the CIA funded political demonstrations by the <b>Congress and other Opposition groups</b>.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->"It was essentially funding the anti-government agitation and create a cover so that the Central Government is forced to intervene. He (Bunker) also makes a very important revelation that S K Patil was the conduit for devolving the money,” said Minister of Finance, government of Kerala, Dr Thomas Issac.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Another former US ambassador, Partick Moynihan, has earlier revealed that Indira Gandhi received funds from the CIA but the Congress refutes this.

Book Review
From Telegraph, 29 June 2007


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->GIVING IT A DIFFERENT SPIN 

<b>Islam in the public sphere: Religious groups in India 1900-47 By Dietrich Reetz, Oxford, Rs 650</b>

This book “traces the genesis of madrasa-based movements and Islamic groups in South Asia and...the roots of the current state of Islamic activism and militancy in the region”. But it is neither about Islamic activism nor militancy. Nor is there any attempt to unravel the causes of the recent spurt of terrorist activities all over the world. <b>Rather, this work focuses on significant religious groups in India around 1900-1947. </b>

<b>Historians and scholars have overlooked the importance of different Islamic groups in the years before the struggle for independence gathered momentum. There were quite a number of these groups in 1900 and they multiplied over the years during the British raj. Reetz shows how these groups captured the imagination of the Muslim people. Though immensely diverse, these Islamic groups carved out a space for themselves during and after the Independence. They succeeded in influencing the public mind — what Reetz calls the “public sphere” — in different ways.</b>

But the scope of this phrase is extended to include the “interplay of discourse, institution building, and activism creating public space for the formation, contestation and implementation of desired values”. And by applying these concepts Reetz tries to make some sense out of the conglomeration of religious activities in which these groups engaged. <b>Using a wide range of sources, Reetz suggests that though apparently religious, these Islamic groups were trying to carve out their own respective spaces in the society because of political compulsions.</b>

At times, Reetz is prone to certain basic errors like most Westerners writing about Islam. For example, Islam was not revealed, as Reetz thinks, by the Prophet Mohammed. However, <b>Reetz rightly points out that all “reformers starting from Walliullah emphasized the need to revive and strengthen faith and piety.”</b>

Reetz divides the book into six chapters beginning with the concept of the “public sphere” and ending with the social commitment of Islamic groups. In between come the different Islamic movements, their doctrines, discourses, their difference from one another and the outcome of their political participation in social life. Reetz tries to fit the different movements and groups into his theory of the “public sphere” by arguing that these groups could not do away with the idea of political control in a society that put them in competition with other hardline religious groups. He may be right here, to some extent, but that was not always the case.

Whether one agrees with the author or not as far as this theory is concerned, one cannot deny that he has not done his homework well. <b>The reader may find a veritable storehouse of information on all the Islamic groups in India in this book. But Reetz’s manner of treatment is cursory, giving a historical sketch of a movement or a group. He fails to rise above this. Although Reetz takes up the topic from different angles, the same groups come up every now and then. However, despite these repetitions, the book does not necessarily become desultory.</b>

Reetz’s book is a welcome departure from the available literature on Islam. Though academic in style and content, <b>it provides a good introduction to the different Islamic groups who fought for political power before India became independent.</b>

<b>CIA has recently declassified many documents, including some relating to the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict: </b>


7. The Sino-Indian Border Dispute Section 1: 1950-59 2-Mar-63

8. The Sino-Indian Border Dispute Section 2: 1959-61 19-Aug-63

9. The Sino-Indian Border Dispute Section 3: 1961-62
<b>The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion </b>(Hardcover)
by Robert Spencer (Author) <!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->From the Inside Flap
Muhammad: a frank look at his influential (and violent) life and teachings
In The Truth about Muhammad, New York Times bestselling author and Islam expert Robert Spencer offers an honest and telling portrait of the founder of Islam-perhaps the first such portrait in half a century-unbounded by fear and political correctness, unflinching, and willing to face the hard facts about Muhammad's life that continue to affect our world today.

From Muhammad's first "revelation" from Allah (which filled him with terror that he was demonpossessed) to his deathbed (from which he called down curses upon Jews and Christians), it's all here-told with extensive documentation from the sources that Muslims themselves consider most reliable about Muhammad.

Spencer details Muhammad's development from a preacher of hellfire and damnation into a political and military leader who expanded his rule by force of arms, promising his warriors luridly physical delights in Paradise if they were killed in his cause. He explains how the Qur'an's teaching on warfare against unbelievers developed-with constant war to establish the hegemony of Islamic law as the last stage.

Spencer also gives the truth about Muhammad's convenient "revelations" justifying his own licentiousness; his joy in the brutal murders of his enemies; and above all, his clear marching orders to his followers to convert non-Muslims to Islam-or force them to live as inferiors under Islamic rule.

<b>In The Truth about Muhammad, you'll learn </b>
- The truth about Muhammad's multiple marriages (including one to a nine-year-old) - How Muhammad set legal standards that make it virtually impossible to prove rape in Islamic countries - How Muhammad's example justifies jihad and terrorism - The real "Satanic verses" incident (not the Salman Rushdie version) that remains a scandal to Muslims - How Muhammad's faulty knowledge of Judaism and Christianity has influenced Islamic theology--and colored Muslim relations with Jews and Christians to this day.

Recognizing the true nature of Islam, Spencer argues, is essential for judging the prospects for largescale Islamic reform, the effective prosecution of the War on Terror, the democracy project in Afghanistan and Iraq, and immigration and border control to protect the United States from terrorism.

All of which makes it crucial for every citizen (and policymaker) who loves freedom to read and ponder The Truth about Muhammad.

A USMC publication.
Awakening Tiger: India's quest for expanded influence in the world

A thesis from the Naval Postgraduate School.
I have read the following books and recommend them...

The Indians: Portrait Of A People - by Sudhir Kakar

Highly recommend, it has some of the best thesis on the social system of Indians.

Highly Recommended


The Kaoboys of R&aw: Down Memory Lane - B. Raman.

Good book, has some good tidbits, will be intresting for plp who are intrested on how things work on the inside in intelligence and security. But does not goes into too much details, which i think is understandable.



Brahmin and Non-Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present - M.S.S.Pandian

The Telegraph, Kolkota, 8 Aug., 2008

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->THE SCHOLAR AT THE GATES OF FAITH 
Editor's Choice 

The Resurrection By Geza Vermes,
Penguin, £5.60

The New Testament focuses on three events in the life of Jesus: the Nativity, the Passion and the Resurrection. Having written two books on the first two events, Geza Vermes, perhaps the finest Biblical scholar in the world today, turns his attention in this book to the Resurrection.

His starting point, as in his previous books, proceeds from his acceptance of Jesus as a real historical person. From this premise, the account of the Resurrection does seem very problematic. Vermes believes that the context of the controversy regarding the historicity of the Resurrection has to be the real world of history and law, Jewish and Roman.

He begins with the startling declaration that it is now possible with the help of known astronomical data to suggest the most likely date for the events associated with Good Friday — April 7, AD 30, corresponding to the eve of the Passover full moon. Thus the resurrection would have occurred on April 10, the third day after Jesus’s burial.

It is important in historical terms to draw a distinction between the crucifixion and the resurrection, even though in theological terms the two are seen as part of one narrative exemplifying the glory of the Lord. Crucifixion was by no means a unique event in the first century AD; but the resurrection is an unparalleled phenomenon in history.

Vermes proceeds like a textual detective, trying to find out what the authors of the New Testament actually say in their writings without getting diverted by what interpretative Church tradition attributes to them. At the end Vermes has a hypothesis to offer, but he does not apply a closure. He leaves the reader to make up his own mind.

Vermes applies his formidable learning and intellect to unravel the true meaning conveyed by the evangelists, Paul and the other authors of the Christian scriptures and then sets them beside the relevant Jewish Graeco-Roman literary and archaeological sources.

Vermes’s book is one of those where the reading of the texts is as, if not more, important than the hypothesis he presents. Vermes first looks at the early Jewish tradition that ignored the idea of the revivification of the dead. In the third and second centuries BC, the idea of life after death and bodily revival enters Judaism. But there is no evidence that this tradition had any influence in the area around Galilee.

Vermes then looks at the evidence of the Gospels and finds it thin and at times contradictory. This opens up the following possibilities: (i) the body was removed by some one unconnected with Jesus; (ii) the disciples took away the body; (iii) the empty tomb was not Jesus’s; (iv) Jesus was buried alive and later left the tomb; (v) having left the tomb Jesus became a migrant; (vi) other than that of Mark, all the Gospels mention that Jesus appeared to various people after his death: was this spiritual, and not bodily, resurrection?

At this point the scholar stops since this is where faith begins. Vermes’s masterly unravelling of the evidence allows us to think with him and for ourselves.


Where is the Historicity of Jesus thread?

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