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Book folder
Two villages and an elephant - Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb by Strobe Talbott
Will it be the hottest selling book of '05?
Kalyan saar posted this on IC

Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis
by Bat Ye'Or, Bat Yeor

I want to buy English translations of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Can any of you recommend any? I don't want to buy a book written by a foreigner because I don't think he/she would have the right context/appreciation of these great epics.


For starters you can begin with the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan's editions of C.Rajagopalachari's versions. Then you can get Kamala Subramaniam's expanded works.

A landmark publication of immense importance had been released recently: :<b>Islam, Maker of the Muslim Mind</b>, by Seshrao More (pronounced Moray). (Rajhans Prakashan, Pune 30 < email< rajhans@pn2.vsnl.net.in>; pp 662; Rs.800 or $30 plus postage) The book is a translation of the Marathi Magnum Opus of More “Muslim Manache Shodh” (Examination of the Muslim mind). The translation of the book had been carried out by a team led by Prof. S. H. Deshpande. The other members of the team are B.C.Patwardhan, A.P.Joshi and Prof. Bal Gadgil.

It may be worthwhile to mention that the Marathi version of the book had received uniform praise from Muslim scholars, the English Press and the State Government. That should establish the scholastic credentials of the author.

The book is different from the analysis of Islam by western scholars. The western approach has been colored by the negative perception of Islam arising from the challenge of the religion to their Judeo-Christian inheritance. The Jewish scholar Raphael Patai in his classical book, Arab Mind, had looked upon Islam as a product of the Arab mind. He insists that the megalomania of the pre-Islamic Arab culture was responsible for the Islamic extravaganza and its contradictions. Indian experience with Islam had been different but no Indian scholar had done the analysis from an Indian perspective. Seshrao More traces Islamic thought as the dominant influence on Muslim behavior. The book fills the gap between the western and eastern perceptions of Islam.

The challenge of Islam arises from its political orientation. The religion had escaped close analysis by its own adherents and by outsiders so far because of its absolutist assertions. A Voltaire or a Tom Payne had not poured vitriol and ridicule on its concepts. The incipient attempt at criticism and satire of Islam by Salman Rushdie was squashed by a death sentence to the author. Neither had it produced internal reformers similar to the Hindu saints like Ramanuja, Basaveshwara and the secular Ram Mohan Roy nor had it endured the contemptuous contradictions of the latest and most radical amongst the rejectionists like Ramaswamy Naicker of Tamil Nadu.

Is the closed mind of Islamic societies responsible for the absence of this universal human phenomenon of progress by protest? The apologia of the Islamists would confirm this view. In a strange twist of logic, the apologists of Islam and the extremists depend upon the same sources. The internal contradictions in its primary sources could have been used as a cause for creative reformation. The fact that this had not happened shows that the ‘brainwashing’ effect of Islam’s precepts has had a far greater reach and penetration than is appreciated.

Seshrao More takes no sides. As a scholar should, he remains objective. “Not a single line in the book has been penned without supportive evidence” says the blurb quoting five prominent Muslim scholars who endorse the book for its faithfulness to the precepts of Islam. In fact the foreword by the Muslim scholars brings out all the contradictions in Islamic thought and the extent of the brainwashing that had gone on over the centuries and the fine sophistry developed to justify it.

How did Islam achieve such complete mastery over the minds of its adherents? The blurb on the inside jacket stresses the ‘five pillars’ of Islam as the defining elements of the faith. A believer has to accept all without any omission or reservation. A further restraint is the comprehensive example of the founder’s behavior.

Max Muller stated that the founder of Islam tried to reach an agreement with the Jews to get himself recognized as a Prophet in the line of Old Testament Prophets. The Jews rejected the notion. Prophesy as a tradition had ended for the Jews at the time of the destruction of the second temple. Afterwards it was Rabbinical Judaism. The rejection was the basis for Islam’s hostility to Judaism. Even as Islam appropriated all Jewish tenets, it accused the latter of distorting the “truth”. The illogic of Islam and its revelation stem from this fact. The five eminent Muslims claim that Islamic practices were not appropriations from Judaism but were instituted at “Allah’s command”.

The battle of Badr was the first significant victory won by Mohammed. He ordered his followers “Go and attack it (the Qureysh caravan). Perhaps Allah will give it as a prey and enrich you.” That this order to get prey and enrichment set the trend for “looting, pillaging, fighting battles and killing” is denied by the five scholars. Their argument is that there were other developments also in Medina. The injunction to “embrace Islam and live in peace” is interpreted not as a threat from Muslims but from Allah. Since Muslims are expected to implement Allah’s orders it does not mean any greater amount of safety for the non-believer.

The book devotes two chapters to Jihad, the concept that threatens the world today. The evolution of the concept illustrates the dichotomy of Muslim attitude to Jihad. It did not exist in Mecca where Mohammed and his followers were weak and helpless. It was first ‘permitted’ in Medina on a trial basis in the Badr war. As Islamic consolidation took roots Jihad metamorphosed into a commandment that it had become today. The foreword by the five scholars quotes M.Mawadudi. It says “If some people persist in their opposition to the establishment of an ideology in spite of preaching, giving discourses or writing about it then it becomes necessary to use defensive, counter offensive and EVEN AGGRESSIVE FORCE.” This is not different from the language of the terrorists.

Persecution is to be fought. Seshrao says persecution means the existence of “disbelief”. The five eminent Muslims differ. It means, according to them, “denial of freedom to accept Islam.” The Quranic statement “There is no compulsion in religion” refers to compulsion against Islam. The reverse is not true because apostasy in Islam is punishable by death.

Jiziya is another concept where practice varies from the interpretation of the Muslim scholars. It was a tax on non-Muslims according to popular notion. The levy of the tax on the Hindus by Muslim rulers is wrong according to the concerned scholars because the state was the personal property of the rulers as distinct from an Islamic State. I doubt if Aurangazeb would agree that his rule was not an implementation of Allah’s orders.

The test of the pudding is said to be in the eating. It is here that Islam fails whatever the quibbling by its apologists. It is intolerant and single tracked. Pluralism is out of bounds for the Muslim. Truth is exclusively only what Islam ordains. Political power and brute force are central to it. It is in this tragic milieu that Sehsrao More’s book acquires great significance.

* Seshrao More’s book had not received the publicity it deserves. It is essential to understand Ilsam and its techniques of brainwashing. Please contact the pulbisher for bulk requriements.
We should probably have a book folder in other forums. In its absence, here goes -> 3 book reviews rolled in one..

Essay: Whose power, whose glory?
rajesh_g ^

The site requires registration so can you post it?
In sites with registration try http://bugmenot.com

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The rhetoric on the economy during the US election campaign last year sounded like that of a country in recession. The Kerry-Edwards campaign made bewildering pronouncements on “outsourcing”. US companies that move jobs offshore - the anti-globalisation camp’s latest bogeyman - were also getting a bad rap on that most global of television news operations, CNN, where anchorman Lou Dobbs pilloried them. Yet Ben Bernanke, a Princeton University economist, estimates that foreign competition accounts for just one in 50 jobs lost every year in the US.

Five hundred years since Vasco da Gama opened up a trade route to the east, the debate about globalisation colonises op-ed pages around the world and slogan-chanting anarchists frequent G8 and World Trade Organisation meetings from Seattle to Genoa and Santiago.

Into this battlefield come three books, published within months of each other, that offer a practical perspective on fighting poverty and creating a freer environment for the private sector in the developing world. They provide a ground-up view of the Sisyphean task of reforming economies that is free of arcane formulas and sloganeering.

Sebastian Mallaby’s The World’s Banker is a riveting portrait of the World Bank and its mercurial president of the past 10 years, James Wolfensohn. For all the bank’s shortcomings, Mallaby says, it remains the rich world’s main instrument for combating poverty; it lends money by the billion and wields considerable influence over economic policies in the developing world. But its impossibly wide mission now extends from helping governments combat Aids to firefighting in the midst of the Asian financial crisis, from governance to loans for infrastructure.

The bank may make proposals, but ultimately it is the governments of developing countries that must balance budgets and build schools. This is where things often unravel, because bureaucracies and politicians get in the way. Arun Shourie, the reformist minister in charge of privatisation in the BJP government voted out of office in India in May, has published, in Governance and the Sclerosis That Has Set In, a book that reads like a diary from the trenches of his battle with the country’s famously obstructive civil servants. Shourie pushed hard to get the government out of running hotels and teleprinters - running them in to the ground, that is - and to curb its tendency to suffocate even growth industries, such as cellular phones.

University of Michigan business school professor C.K. Prahalad’s book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid turns conventional wisdom on its head: far from getting rich off the poor, global corporations are not exploiting the big markets that the poor in places such as Brazil, China and India represent. Ignored by banks, the poor pay 600 to 1,000 per cent interest to loan sharks. Ignored by retailers, they pay far higher prices for staples than do the rich. By contrast, Casas Bahia, a retailer in Brazil, has devised a credit rating system that allows it to sell appliances to customers with unpredictable incomes, including many in the shantytowns. The default rate is 8.5 per cent. This is smart business practice, says Prahalad, in a country where the informal sector is estimated to account for half the GDP.

Each book takes aim at an assortment of sacred cows. Mallaby’s has had Washington’s development types chuckling because of the gossip he has amassed on Wolfensohn’s stormy tenure at the World Bank since 1995, but the book offers a devastating critique of NGOs, which he describes as a “Lilliputian menace” that prevent the bank from fulfilling its role of helping fund big infrastructure projects in poor countries. When he seeks to verify the bona fides of a local environmental group that opposes a small dam in Uganda, Mallaby is rebuffed by the Berkeley environmental NGO touting their claims, but he later discovers the group had all of 25 members.

The loan for a dam in China’s Qinghai province, bordering Tibet, was quickly tied up in knots after overseas Tibetan groups opposed it (areas of Qinghai are claimed as part of “greater Tibet”). The Chinese government’s resettlement plans for farmers had been vetted by the bank, but according to Mallaby, this was soon being depicted as a plan to move 60,000 ethnic Chinese into Qinghai “even though they were just moving to a different part of it”. The bank’s executive board refused to endorse the plan, prompting the bank to withdraw. The Chinese government went ahead anyway.

When the going gets tough, Wolfensohn goes ballistic: “He counted himself a friend of the NGOs, a friend of the Dalai Lama, a friend of Congresswoman [Nancy] Pelosi and certainly a friend of China... “ Instead of defending his staff, he rounded on the Swedish managing director then overseeing east Asia, accusing him of never travelling to China. It turns out the Swede had been there three months earlier, but according to Mallaby, Wolfensohn berated him anyway: “Did you go to Qinghai? Any idiot would know if you went out there, that there were Tibetans. Why would you do a project when the Tibetans were there?”

As entertaining as this is - and Mallaby’s book may well be the most hilarious depiction of a big organisation and its controversial boss since Michael Lewis’s Liars’ Poker on investment bank Salomon Brothers - the debacle is illustrative of the bank’s tendency in recent years to pull back from infrastructure projects that would bring benefits to millions of poor people because of the political headaches they pose. There are good reasons to thoroughly vet resettlement plans in places such as China and India, where bureaucrats often ride roughshod over the rights of villagers, but the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

For all the good work that some NGOs do, many make ill-supported pronouncements on everything from trade policy to globalisation’s effect on gender equity. Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati persuasively argues in In Defense of Globalization that on many such issues NGOs are simply wrong. Last year, Afghanistan’s planning minister complained that NGOs were squandering money channelled through them to the country’s reconstruction effort there.

The oft-repeated claim that the developing world’s poor are all adversely affected by globalisation doesn’t wash. An openness to foreign direct investment and a greater integration with the world economy has seen incomes rise rapidly in China, India and even Bangladesh in the past two decades. As the FT’s Martin Wolf observes in his provocative book, Why Globalisation Works, between 1990 and 2001, GDP per head rose rose at 5.5 per cent a year in east Asia, while growth rose to 3.2 per cent a year in south Asia. “China and India, it should be remembered, contain almost two-fifths of the world’s population... Never before have so many people - or so large a proportion of the world’s population - enjoyed such large rises in their standards of living,” he writes. In Bangladesh, he says, as its economy opened, between 1990 and 2000 the ratio of exports to GDP jumped from 18 per cent to 32 per cent of GDP, and GDP per head grew at 3.1 per cent a year.

There is truth in the argument that the developed world’s stewardship of both the World Bank and the IMF has been absent-minded in the extreme. The west has used both institutions to reward allies or as firefighters during a financial meltdown such as the Asian crisis of 1997, while moving fitfully on issues such as debt forgiveness. As Stephen Fidler, also of the FT, observed in the journal Foreign Policy a couple of years ago, rich countries have blithely dumped new responsibilities onto the bank, and the costs are met by middle-income borrower nations who pay more for loans than they otherwise would.

Trouble is, many developing country’s governments are part of the problem. After decades of socialist policies, many are better at extracting rents from the economy and enforcing stifling regulations than they are at delivering education and health services.

There are few more glaring examples of this than India. Shourie’s book begins with an anecdote that is Wodehousian in its absurdity: in 1999, an inter-ministerial consultation was launched to determine if senior officials could use inks other than blue or black on files. Two officers had broken protocol by using red and green ink. More than a year later, a decision of sorts was reached: “Only an officer of the level of joint secretary to the Government of India and above may use green or red ink in rare cases.”

Shourie’s conclusions are unsettling: since “the system swallows efforts to reform it, do not attempt to reform [it]... just hack away the function”. This is the strategy economic reformers in India in the 1980s and early 1990s adopted, jettisoning entire sections of regulations that forced businesses to seek government approval on minutiae such as expanding production at their factories. The country’s growth rate close to doubled to more than 6 per cent annually. Hacking away the function is not an endlessly replicable formula, however, when it comes to delivering basic services to the third of the world’s poor who reside in India, which is why India’s far-sighted prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has led calls to reform the bureaucracy.

Shourie’s account suggests Singh will fail - indeed Shourie’s and Mallaby’s books leave one more than a little depressed, loaded as they are with the shortcomings of multilaterals and the governments of developing countries. As economist Jeffrey Sachs put it in an open letter to the incoming head of the IMF in Foreign Policy recently, when the IMF makes the wrong decisions in Africa, people die.

Prahalad’s tome, for all that it is essentially a series of business school case studies on how corporations can promote development and profit by selling to the poor, is nevertheless uplifting. Multinationals are generally overlooked - or demonised - in discussions of ways to combat poverty, yet given their distribution networks and marketing skills, they have plenty to offer. In Mexico, Prahalad finds the cement company Cemex helping low-income buyers to pool resources so they can build their own homes. In India, Unilever’s subsidiary has helped women entrepreneurs start retail businesses. Another branch of Unilever raises the profile of iodised salt to sell its Annapurna brand in a country where iodine deficiency is a serious problem. Public interest or self interest? Does it matter if the incidence of mental retardation, goitres and low IQ is reduced as a result? Given the rapid rate of urbanisation in Africa and Asia, selling to less well-off customers will get easier.

The prescription one comes away with is that there are virtually no prescriptions that work everywhere. The 1993 World Bank study of the unusually concentrated success in Asia similarly found basically two common building blocks: export orientation and widespread primary education. As Jessica Einhorn, a former managing director of the World Bank, observes, serendipity plays a part in development. Good governance obviously helps, but as these books remind us, like common sense, that is rare indeed - in multilateral institutions, in NGOs and in the developing world.

Rahul Jacob is the FT’s leisure editor.

The World’s Banker
By Sebastian Mallaby
Penguin Press $29.95 (in the UK on January 20, Yale £9.95)

Governance and the Sclerosis that has set in
By Arun Shourie
ICA/Rupa, Rs395

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
By C.K. Prahalad
Prentice Hall $28.95<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Book review
Governance and the Sclerosis that has set in
By Arun Shourie
ICA/Rupa, Rs395
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Curse of Red Ink
An ex-government minister attacks India's bureaucracyBy Jason Overdorf
Newsweek InternationalDec. 13 issue - Arun Shourie, who has captained a half-dozen different ministries, knows what ails India's government. But reading his latest book, "Governance, and the Sclerosis That Has Set In" (262 pages. Rupa & Co.), one gets the feeling that it was his experience as minister of Disinvestment—charged with selling off India's sick state-owned companies—that motivated the journalist turned politician to pick up his pen. Resistance to the sale of state companies ran deep, even though none of the ailing firms had made a profit for years. In the end, political infighting guaranteed the minister would fail. But he realized that it wasn't ideological disputes that tied government after government into knots of inaction: it was the system of governance itself. As he puts it, a sclerosis had set in.

Shourie begins this compendium of examples of stupefying bureaucratic obstructionism with a hilarious one. Two officers in the Ministry of Steel set off shockwaves when they appended comments to an official document in red and green ink. Their worried superiors consulted the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances: "Can officers use inks other than blue or black?... Are there Guidelines on the question? If so, could these be forwarded to the undersigned..." In resolving this quandary, the department took 18 months and consulted the Directorate of Printing (experts on ink), the Department of Personnel and Training (experts on rules), the National Archives of India (experts on longevity) and the Ministry of Defence (experts on hierarchy). The result is outlined in two conflicting paragraphs appended to the hallowed Manual of Office Procedure, and can be summed up roughly as follows: some people can use red or green ink some of the time, but nobody can use red or green ink all of the time.
The red tape extends far beyond red ink. Shourie outlines how internecine disputes not only helped prevent many state-owned companies from ever turning a profit but also made it nearly impossible for the government to sell its loss-making firms, since nobody would bid on them without a clear statement of their assets and liabilities. Likewise, he shows how the government's move to adopt new telecommunications was slowed by conflicts not over the actual policy but over who should be deciding that policy. And the public remained in grave danger because debates over which authority should be held accountable—rather than what needed to be done—prevented environmental legislation from being enforced.

This is an admirable exercise in truth-telling. But it's hard to share Shourie's cautious optimism that the disease can be cured by "wielding the axe" to limbs of government that don't function. The patient won't lie down on the table. Whose responsibility is it to decide which table and which axe? And should it be an axe or a scalpel? That, too, is a matter for careful consideration.
Hi folks

I am a twenty yr old guy, currently studying English Litereature in Australia. I have a deep interest in creative writing and have since childhood nurtured an indelible inspiration in Shivaji Maharaj's life. I am aware of the political situation in India and want to give a strong message of Hindu fraternity through the potrayal of my charachters, and in that sphere, I believe Shivaji Maharaj's sword is yet to draw the full blood of Hinduism's enemies. Aurangzeb has left, but unfortunately his b@st@rd progeny of the pseudo-secularists, mossie fundoos and pinko fundoos continue to defeat the cause of Hindu Swaraj.
All that coupled with the latest attacks on Shivaji Maharaj's charachter by certain left-leaning western authors has fuelled my desire to write into blasting fire. The only problem is here in this country I am unable to locate any books on Maharaj's life. I know the people of this forum are very wise and versed in Hindu history, can you provide me links to ebooks on Shivaji or perhaps email me one:


I will be obliged

Thank you
T. S. ELIOT AND INDIC TRADITIONS — A Study in Poetry and Belief: Cleo McNelly Kearns; Samvad India Foundation, N-16/B, Saket, New Delhi-110017. Rs. 450.
<b>Down Memory Lane by Hiro Shroff. Eeshwar, Mumbai. Pages 298. Rs 200.</b>Review by Randeep Wadehra

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WALKING down memory lane is seldom an entirely pleasant exercise. The lane may be strewn with rose petals, but an occasional hidden thorn does cause an element of pain. More appropriately, the whole exercise is like watching a replay of the past in a kaleidoscopic pattern. Hues are varied, bright, dull, dazzling, depressing. Memories... sweet, sad, bitter, amusing. Memories to cherish, memories to forget.

How much can an individual remember? A person who has lived a full life usually has variegated experiences which leave a permanent imprint on one’s mind.

This book is a medley of recollections by people from different walks of life, as narrated to Hiro Shroff, who is an anecdotist par excellence. Nevertheless, here he is playing the role of an oral historian. One was aware that oral history is an ancient Indian tradition, but that it has become a specialised field of activity is something new. Well, one lives and learns!

Old timers do not need any reminder of Shroff’s credentials. Born in 1926, he was a PTI correspondent for years, the first bureau chief of UNI in Mumbai, personal secretary-cum-PRO of the redoubtable Rukmini Devi Arundale, the then head of Kalakshetra in Chennai. Married to a Chinese and having lived a kinetic life, Shroff is a cosmopolitan to the core. Yet, his yearnings for the innocent days of yore bring out the refugee child from a village near Karachi.

As a reporter he covered Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia and China when a fresh chapter in world history was being written. He has interviewed such demi-gods as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Nehru, Sukarno, Ho Chi Minh, Ayub Khan and Norodom Sihanouk. So also kings of various countries. Perhaps his coup was in the form of an interview with Pope Paul VI.

Through his immensely popular “Down memory lane” column, not only did he take the present generation of readers to the events, sounds and sights of more than half a century ago, but also provided keen insights into the persona of different celebrities from political, social and other fields. The details are vivid and thought provoking. The present book is a compilation of all those articles and interviews.

What would your reaction be if you found yourself face to face with a person in the buff, especially when the person was as intimidating as VK Krishna Menon, who was fastidious about dress and appearance? Soon after the Bandung conference in the mid-forties Menon had gone to Peking as Nehru’s envoy to meet Mao. Shroff followed him.

<b>Krishna Menon’s addiction to tea is legendary. One afternoon he was chatting with Menon in the latter’s hotel room over a cup of tea.Suddenly Menon stripped and went to take a shower. He continued conversing with the journalist from the bathroom. Realising that he had left some tea in his cup, Menon strolled out of the shower, dripping, finished the tea, and resumed his bath-cum-chat!</b>

The internationally noted photographer Jitendra Arya recalls that shooting JRD Tata was akin to military drill. The plug points had to be checked, angles determined, etc. Would you believe it that the man who played such a prominent role in modernising Indian industry felt “very nervous” and “intrigued” by Arya’s cameras, gadgetry and lighting equipment?

<b>Talking of Amitabh Bachchan, Arya recalls that when he first took his pictures he did not think much of him and accordingly gave Bachchan a treatment that the great actor never forgot. Years later, on achieving stardom Amitabh refused to give time to Arya and reminded him of the shabby treatment meted out to him by the photographer. Moral: Never scoff at an underdog, he might turn out to be a superstar some day!</b>

The 1950 Nehru-Liaquat pact facilitated an exchange of journalists between India and Pakistan. Though a Sindhi Hindu, Hiro Shroff’s surname gave him a Parsi “identity” that stood him in good stead in Pakistan. While having tea at Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s residence the latter praised the Indian government for sending a Parsi as the press correspondent and joked, “This makes you the father-in-law of Pakistan,” as Jinnah’s wife, Ruttee, was a Parsi.

Liaquat prided himself on his quick wit, but India’s High Commissioner in those days, Sir Sita Ram, was better at repartee. <b>When the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Sadr-ai-Riyasat, Laiq Ali, escaped to Pakistan after the “police action” Liaquat introduced Liaq to Sir Sita Ram remarking, “Your excellency, may I introduce to you Mir Laiq Ali, who, until the other day, was your prisoner.” The Indian envoy quipped, “Mr Prime Minister, he is your prisoner now.”</b>  <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo-->

At Karachi, Shroff once had to escort Mridula Sarabhai to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s residence. She placed before the Frontier Gandhi a snuff box and a framed photograph of young Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi. Ghaffar wept unabashedly and remarked that India had thrown him to the wolves in Pakistan. Though the great Pathan accepted the photograph, he returned the snuff box.

Quite early Shroff had discovered that rewriting history is not a malady peculiar to the saffron brigade. While on board the INS Delhi (formerly, HMIS New Delhi, not to be confused with the latest destroyer INS Delhi commissioned in 1999), he came across a publication entitled: “INS Delhi, 1948-1978”. It mentioned that Indira Gandhi was the first Indian lady to travel on board that ship en route to Jakarta on June 2, 1950. But Shroff recalls that in fact Maniben, daughter of Sardar Patel, is the rightful claimant to that “honour” because she had travelled on the same ship in April, 1950, from Bombay to Cochin. Quarrelling over trifles? Right!

While travelling from Cochin to Jakarta in 1950 on the INS Delhi, Nehru was accompanied by Indira and her two sons Rajiv and Sanjay. On board was Lt Jadav Chatterji, who later on retired as a Commodore. He recalls in the book that one day while he was in the wardroom he saw two small heads peering at him from the quarterdeck above. They threw small missiles at him. Irritated, the subaltern chased them and shook one of them by the scruff. It was then that he noticed Nehru standing there watching the whole episode and smiling.

During his visit to Indo-China Nehru was visiting certain monuments. He expressed a desire to climb a hillock to enter a particular monument. But that country’s security men turned down his request. He started looking intently up the hillock. When he sensed that the security had relaxed a bit he dashed forward and ran up the step to the monument, leaving the security men wide-mouthed.

You must have heard of the legendary Piloo Mody who one day entered Parliament with a placard around his neck that read, “I am a CIA agent.” His brother Russi Modi is no less famous. But they had another brother named Kali Modi who brought the Diners Club into India. Their father, Sir Homi Mody had a sharp brain and ready wit.

After independence, Nehru wrote to him thus, “Homi, you have served the British well and you have been knighted but now we have become independent and you must help me. We need you in the new Parliament, in the Lok Sabha, because things are going to be tense and tempers will fray and there will be all kinds of ugly scenes. You, with your wit, can defuse everything and you can help me a lot”.

Homi was reluctant, as he was busy with several activities. <b>When Nehru persisted and emphasised the importance of his wit Homi replied, “Panditji, if you need only my ‘wit’, why don’t you take my three sons; any one of my three sons?” When Nehru asked if any of his sons had Homi’s wit the latter quipped, “Oh yes. One is a Dim Wit, the other is Nit Wit and the third one is a Half Wit. Take your choice.”</b>

Hiro Shroff talks lovingly of the quaint customs of the pre-partition Sindh, the glimpses of which he occasionally gets in Ulhasnagar a predominatly Sindhi suburb of Mumbai. But I like the one about the Chinese custom wherein the newly wed couple’s parents pay the taxi fares of all the guests invited to the wedding!

Shroff recalls that journalists in his time were by and large true to their profession. Instead of hankering after give-aways and other “perks”, they concentrated on ferreting out news stories. They would be happy if they were able to “satisfy” their boss by being the first with a “scoop” rather than angle for what was not rightfully theirs. The “implements” at their disposal too were simple — primitive by today’s hi-tech standards — yet the professional standards were high. Perhaps it had something to do with the value system prevalent in those days. The newspaper managements too did not interfere as they do now.

After the formation of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah hired the renowned journalist Pothen Joseph, a Malayali Christian, as editor of the Muslim League’s Dawn newspaper, much to the chagrin of the fundamentalists “PJ” was given a free hand as editor. Once, in one of his editorials PJ praised Mahatma Gandhi as a result of which he received threatening letters. When he brought this to Jinnah’s attention the great man wrote the remark, “Ignore it !” <b>The importance of free press was recognised by Jinnah. I am sure Najam Sethi must be envying PJ, and wishing that the Quaid-e-Azam were alive today.</b>

One wonders if the half a dozen or so bloody confrontations between India and Pakistan would have been avoided if the subcontinent’s press were absolutely free from eternal pressures and interference. At least this part of the world would have been a far more pleasant place to live in. Perhaps, if wishes were horses ....

You must have heard many anecdotes about Gandhi. But here is one that is delightfully at variance with his popular image. He was passing through Rawalpindi. It was his day of silence. Shroff was a mere boy then. He along with his father went to the local railway station to have the Mahatma’s darshan like many others.

Inside the compartment Shroff jingled the coins in his pocket. Gandhi promptly seized all the coins and asked through a written query how far the boy lived from the station and what would be the tonga fare. Shroff replied that it would be six pice. Carefully, the Mahatma counted out six pice, handed them to Shroff and pocketed the rest! Gandhi as penny pincher? Hardly, it was one of his techniques of collecting funds for running his ashram, and sustaining the freedom movement.

He could be despotic too. Dojay, son of Pothen Joseph, recounts an incident.

When the Quit India resolution was to be moved Nehru had certain reservations. Mahatma Gandhi told KM Munshi to tell Nehru that if on the next day — when the Quit India resolution was to be moved — he did not support it, Nehru’s political career would be zero in India. Well, well, well! The old man certainly knew how to bring his blue-eyed chela in line if the latter chose to be recalcitrant. The apostle of nonviolence did not hesitate to get tough and crack the whip if the situation so demanded. His clashes with Kasturba are the other examples of this .

Nostalgia is a powerful medium through which one can relieve one’s past. However, it can unleash powerful emotions and impulses that a novice might find impossible to handle. We all are aware that life is seldom sedate. Various contrasting experiences weave a mosaic that one can neither shed completely, nor would one like to claim as entirely one’s own. They are fortunate who can focus on the pleasant and productive sides of their past lives, rejecting the unappetising parts. Hiro Shroff is one of them. His own reminiscences are remarkably free of rancour and those who have shared their experiences with him too have followed suit. Only a seasoned journalist who has seen life in all its shades and experienced its different nuances can achieve the ease and finesse that he depicts while dealing with the various subjects.

This book gives us glimpses of the mental make-up of such varied personalities as mountaineers like Gyan Singh, Tenzing, Hillary and Bachendri Pal, political stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Kripalani, C. Rajagopalachari, etc., of ordinary mortals like that, the Muslim Sindhi village bumpkin who despite his poverty was happy with the world thus putting us, the participants in the perennial rat race, to shame.

There are others, the arrogant and the humble, the crafty and the naive, the lofty and the debased, the flamboyant and the simple, who have been portrayed in this excellent book of memoirs.
Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud
by Arun Shourie
Reviewed by C. J. S. Wallia

Eminent Historians:Their Techniques, Their Line, Their Fraudis arguably the most important book published in India since 1947. Arun Shourie, a noted scholar and columnist, is the author of 14 other books, several of them <b>brilliant exposé of the Indian Communist party's long-standing anti-national policies, the foreign Christian missionaries' covert activities in India, and the Congress party's corruption and pseudo-secular policies that culminated in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in Delhi in 1984</b>.

Shourie received a Ph.D. in Economics from Syracuse University and has served as a consultant to the World Bank and the Planning Commission. He has also served as the editor of The Indian Express. His writings have won him major awards including the Astor, the Magsaysay, and the International Editor of the Year. Recently, the Federation of Indian Publishers conferred on him The Freedom to Publish Award.

"Eminent Historians," the ironic title of his latest book comes from the self-description a group of Marxist historians, most of them academics, arrogated for themselves while signing a newspaper petition during the Ayodhya controversy. Although the <b>group is not large in number, (42 is the maximum)</b>, the same set has also preempted for itself the titles of "prominent social scientists" and "leading intellectuals" in similar public petitions. The Marxist party line is to project Hindus as exploitative feudalists and Muslims as liberators! Arun Shourie's major thesis: During the past fifty years, "this bunch of Marxist historians have been suppressing facts, inventing lies, perverting discourse, and derailing public policy" by seizing control of institutions such as the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), the National Council of Educational Research Training (NCERT), large parts of Indian academia, and nearly all of the English-media newspapers and publishing houses.

Included as principals in this group of Marxist historians are Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra, K.M. Shrimali, K.M.Pannikar, R.S. Sharma, D. N. Jha, Gyanendra Pandey, and Irfan Habib. This group has, Shourie charges, "worked a diabolic inversion: the inclusive religion [Hinduism], the pluralist spiritual search of our people and land, they have projected as intolerant, narrow-minded, obscurantist; and the exclusivist, totalitarian, revelatory religions and ideologies -- Islam, Christianity, Marxism-Leninism-- they have made out to be the epitome of tolerance, open-mindedness, democracy, secularism!" By promoting each other's publications and puffing up their reputations, this group has long been "determining what is politically correct." One measure of the insidious control these "verbal terrorists" have been exercising over the English-medium publishing industry in India is that Arun Shourie, despite his huge readership, had to self-publish his books.

For several decades, these "eminent historians" have striven hard to continually denigrate Hindu cultural history, the oldest surviving civilization in the world, by "blackening the Hindu period and whitewashing the Islamic period." Indeed, Shourie should have challenged them to refute American historian Will Durant's assertion in hisThe Story of Civilization:  "The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within." Or that of French historian Alain Danielou's statement, in his Histoire de l' Inde : "From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoilations, destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of 'a holy war' of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilisations, wiped out entire races."

As the book's subtitle promises, Shourie succeeds in unmasking these self-proclaimed eminents of "their technology, their line, their fraud" by focusing on specifics as exemplified below: his own television debates with some of these "eminent historians"; their failures to respond to published challenges by historians and scholars of persuasions other than Marxist; their documented efforts at distorting established historical evidence.

In July 1998, Manoj Raghuvanshi, host of a popular ZEE TV program called Aap ki Adalat, Aap ka Faisla (Your Court, You Judge) invited Arun Shourie and one of the "eminents," K. L. Shrimali. Raghuvanshi posed the question first to Shrimali whether Aurangzeb was a religious bigot. Despite Raghuvanshi's repeating the question, Shrimali gave no clear answer, only asserting that Aurangzeb's court had many Hindu nobles. Shourie countered this by pointing out that there were many Indians among the persons honored by the British with titles - - and both for the same reason. In Shourie's words: "How does this wipe away the destruction of Hindu temples by Aurangzeb? Aurangzeb had entertained no doubt about the fact that his primary impluse was the religious one. And that he faithfully implemented an essential element of his religion, Islam, that is to destroy the places of worship of other religions." As evidence, Shourie read out several passages from Sita Ram Goel's book Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them, The Islamic Evidence. All Shrimali could mumble was that it was a "questionable source." When Shourie pressed the point that the source was the Akhbarat (Newsletter) of the Court of Aurangzeb himself written on the very day the news reached the court, the "eminent" historian merely repeated "questionable source." Shourie comments: "So, when an 'eminent' historian says that the sources were questionable, they must be questionable" - - this is their technology when cornered."

Sita Ram Goel's book is the focus of one of Shourie's chapters that carries the ironic title "The Policy of 'Broad Toleration'!" Shourie quotes extensivley from this 400-page work regarding it as a "meticulous and unimpeachable study": "We have cited from eighty histories spanning a period of more than twelve hundred years. Our citations mention sixty-one kings, sixty-three military commanders and fourteen Sufis who destroyed Hindu temples in one hundred and fifty-four localities, big and small, spread from Khurasan in the West to Tripura in the East, and from Transoxiana in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, over a period of eleven hundred years. In most cases the destruction of temples was followed by erection of mosques, madrasas and khanqahs, etc., on the temple sites with temple materials. Allah was thanked every time for enabling the iconoclast concerned to render service to the religion of Muhammad by means of this pious performance. All along, the iconoclasts remained convinced that they were putting into practice the highest tenets of their religion. They also saw to it that a record was kept of what they prized as a pious performance. The language of the record speaks for itself. It leaves no doubt that they took immense pride in doing what they did. It is inconceivable that a constant and consistent behaviour pattern, witnessed for a long time and over a vast area, can be explained except in terms of a settled system of belief which leaves no scope for second thoughts. Looking at the very large number of temples, big and small, destroyed or desecrated or converted into Muslim monuments, economic or political explanations can be only a futile, if not fraudulent, exercise."

Goel's scholarly work was published in 1993 - - six years of opportunity for the "eminent historians" to refute his work. Quite the contrary, it is the Indian Marxist historians who now stand discredited on many issues in Indian history. Interestingly, Shourie cites from a standard Soviet work A History of India by K. Antonova, G. Bongard-Levin, G. Kotovsky (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979), which, for example, on Aurangzeb, is free of the inverted concoctions of the Indian Marxist academics and agrees with the evidence presented by Goel: "Aurangzeb was a cold, calculating politician, and a fanatical Moslem, who stripped Hindus of their rights. Between 1665 and 1669, he gave orders for Hindu temples to be destroyed and for mosques to be erected from their debris."

Several of Shourie's chapters appeared first as columns. One of his readers sent him a copy of a circular sent by the West Bengal Government Secondary Board ordering revisions of Class IX History textbooks to conform with the views of Indian Marxist "historians." The accompanying pages contained two columns: Aushuddho (errors) and Shuddho (Corrections). Shourie provides numerous examples from these pages. In Bharuter Itihash by Shobhankar Chattopadhyaya, published by Narmada Publishers, page 181: Aushuddho - - "To prevent Hindu women from being seen by Muslims, they were directed to remain indoors." Shuddho - -Delete. In Bharater Itihash by P. Maiti, published by Sreedhar Prakashini, page 139: Aushuddho - - "There was a sense of aristocratic superiority in the purdah system. That is why upper-class Hindus adopted this system from upper-class Muslims. Another opinion is that purdah came into practice to save Hindu women from Muslims. Most probably, purdah came into vogue because of both factors." Shuddho - - Delete. In Swadesho Shobhyota by Dr. P.K. Basu and S.B.Ghatak, published by Abhinav Prakashan, page 145: Aushuddho - - "Because Islam used extreme inhuman means to establish itself in India, it became an obstacle for the coming together of Indian and Islamic cultures." Shuddho - - Delete. In Bharatvarsher Itishash by Dr. Narendranath Bhattacharya, published by Chakravarty and Son, page 89: Aushuddho --"Sultan Mahmud looted valuables worth 2 crore dirham from Somnath temple and used the Shivling as a step leading up to the masjid in Ghazni." Shuddho-- Delete 'and used the Shivling as a step leading up to the masjid in Ghazni.'

In West Bengal, the Marxists have long held the state government. However, similar revisions of history textbooks were implemented at the national level under the aegis of the National Council of Educational Research and Training. For example, Satish Chandra's Medieval History, a textbook for Class XI students, asserts that "sometimes Sufi saints also played a role although they were generally unconcerned with conversions." Shourie comments: "If this eminent historian were to read the accounts of these Sufis, he would learn how they acted as the advance scouts of the armies of Islam!" In NCERT sponsored books, notes Shourie, "Two sentences from the Koran: 'To you your religion, to me mine,' and 'There is no compulsion in religion' which are flatly over-run by the text itself, to say nothing of the entire history of Islamic rule over 1400 years, those two sentences are flaunted as proof-positive of Islam being not just committed to peace and tolerance, they are proof that it is The Religion of Peace and Tolerance!"

Recently, Sita Ram Goel challenged the dean of the Marxist Indian "historians," Romila Thapar, to produce evidence to substantiate her assertion about the violence Hindus perpetrated on the Buddhists, supposedly destroying Buddhist viharas and constructing Hindu temples on the ruins. None. Shourie observes: "They traduce, they abuse, they denounce, they spit and run, but if you so much as ask them to substantiate what they are saying, they are deeply offended. A highly personalised attack, they scream."

The largely Marxist membership of the Indian Council of Historical Research appointed by the socialistic Congress party, which was in power for nearly all of the fifty years since independence, was reconstituted in July 1998 by the Bharatiya Janata Party, currently ruling at the center. Unfortunately, it will take a long time for undoing the harm done by the Marxist historians to the Indian psyche: "they have used these institutions to sow in the minds of our people [the Hindus] the seeds of self-hatred."

For anyone interested in contemporary India, this is a must-read book.

The Mathematical Marvel that was India
Anybody read this ?


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Indian Art of War : The Mahabharata Paradigm (Quest for an Indian Strategic Culture)/G.D. Bakshi. Delhi, Sharada, 2002, xii, 164 p., ISBN 81-85618-81-7.

Contents: Foreword. Introductory note. Prologue. 1. Mahabharata : the Indian weltanschauung. 2. Mahabharata : an ideological analysis. 3. Incarnation : an Indian view of history. 4. Notes on chronology : a national epic. 5. A comparison : state of the art – Sun Tzu and Mahabharata. 6. Sources of Indian military thought. 7. Fighting arms of the ancient Indian armies: a historical evaluation. 8. Vyuhas: racial motifs of war. 9. Attrition versus mobility : the transition from Mahabharata to Kautilya. 10. Administration and training. 11. Mahabharata’s relevance to present conditions. 12. Racial motifs of war : the Indian inheritance. 13. Zietgeist of the Mahabharata. 14. Visions of apocalypse : the philosophy of endism. Epilogue. Bibliography. Index.

"The Mahabharata is the primary source book of Indian military thought and tradition. It is truly an index of civilisational development and constitutes the Indian "Weltanschuung". Over two millenniums ago it outlined an attrition oriented Indian paradigm of war that was primarily centered on a pure "force on force" regime. The Indian armies of that period had evolved from the two basic arms of the early Vedic period (infantry and chariots) to a highly sophisticated four arms structure comprising chariots, elephants, cavalry and infantry. Surprisingly, this military organisational format was to remain constant in India till almost the tenth century A.D. The chariots were the prize arm of that Mahabharata era. The Mahabharata mentions Vyuhas or battle arrays and battle drills that coordinated the actions of these four variable speed manoeuver masses on the battlefield. The prime aim was destruction and annihilation of the enemy through systematic attrition. Surprisingly, this Vyuhas methodology has great relevance for the modern mechanized forces, which need to synergies the actions of all arms teams in the form of combat groups and teams.

"The Mahabharata constitutes an Indian paradigm of war that is based on attrition and annihilation in pure force on force engagement. Alexanders invasion led to a clash of the Indian and Greek civilisations. In response to the mobility paradigm of the Greeks, Kautilya transformed the Indian art of war into a more mobile form based on the massed employment of war elephants, Kautilya became the worlds first Grand Master of Information War. However this was a brief interlude of brilliance and Indians soon regressed to the attrition paradigm of the Mahabharata. This paradigm remains the archetypal Indian form of war.

"In this book an attempt has been made to take an objective look at the military content of the Mahabharata. It has been studied in relation to the development of military art in Sun Tzu’s China—a civilization of matching scale and antiquity.

"Some years ago American scholars like George Tanham and Stephen P. Rosen had essayed forth in quest of an historic Indian strategic culture or an Indian way of war. They concluded sadly that there was none. This book differs radically. It insists that there is an Indian paradigm of war and the Mahabharata epic provides us a clear insight into this historical Indian way of war. An understanding of this racial inheritance is critical if modern India is to evolve its own military theories and doctrines that suit its innate cultural genius. A systematic study of the military content of the Mahabharata is therefore a prime need of the hour and hopefully, in the coming years, indologists will focus their research efforts in this fascinating field." (jacket) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
On the book above - a couple of posts from BR..

Manav wrote..

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Yeah...I read that...in addition to his Mahabharata - A Military Analysis. I would also recommend P.C. Sensharma's "Kurukshetra War - A Military Study" and J. Sarkar's "A Military History of India". If you are interested in this stuff, you may also want to look at Dikshitkar's "War in Ancient India".

Sadly though none of these books put forth an Indian philosophy of war. To be sure they allude to it, but a concerted study seems to be missing and waiting to be written.

That being said, the books are interesting and in parts are thought-provoking.

Parsuram wrote..


GD Bakshi is a relative; he and my father shared these interests. My father published his first book on MB warfare in the early 1970s; it was reviewed in HT & TOI. A few days later, an officer from the US embassy called on him at home, and bought two copies from him. Those are now in the Library of Congress <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> My father was quite impressed at the time with how the US payed such close attention to even obscure bits of millitary information. He wished Indians would be as dilligent with their own heritage.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The Use and Abuse of History: Or How the Past Is Taught to Children (Routledgeclassics)
The White Woman's "Other" Burden: Western Women and South Asia During British Rule


by Kumari Jayawardena "UNDER BRITISH RULE, WOMEN MISSIONARIES FOUND SPACE IN THE PUBLIC domain and opportunities for achievement denied them at home..."

In The White Woman's Other Burden, Kumari Jayawardena re-evaluates the Western women who lived and worked in South Asia during the period of British rule. She tells the stories of many well-known women, including Katherine Mayo, Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Madeleine Slade, and Mirra Richard and highlights the stories of dozens of women whose names have been forgotten today. In the course of this telling, Jayawardena raises the issues of race, class, and gender which are part of current debates among feminists throughout the world.

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