The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 24, 2000

A Taylor-made maverick
Off the shelf by
V. N. Datta

Objects have a deeper meaning
Punjabi Literature by
Jaspal Singh

Translator as writer, writer as translator
Review by
Akshaya Kumar

The lessons that have no lessons
Review by
P.D. Shastri

History in mini capsule form
Review by
Parshotam Mehra

When home turns hell
Review by
Jaswant Kaur

A bunch of noble thoughts
Review by
Kuldip Kalia

Mystique of minimum deterrence
Book extract


A Taylor-made maverick
Off the shelf
V. N. Datta

A.J.P. Taylor was easily a very lucid, popular and perhaps the most influential historian of the 20th century. He was doubtless a master of the art of writing narrative history. His models were Macaulay and Gibbon. He regarded Gibbon as the greatest historian of all times. He admired Carlyle not for his style which he thought was rugged and verbose, but for his insight into the psychology of the masses who participated in the French Revolution. Taylor’s learning was wide, his grasp on a mountain of facts was sure and his intuitive power was immense. For him history meant a study of human affairs in all their complexity. The book under review is "Troublemaker: The Life and History of A.J.P. Taylor" by Katheline Burke (Yale, pages 491, £ 19.95).

Taylor remained a controversial historian. Reviewing Taylor’s biography of Adam Simon, A.L. Rowse thought it meretricious and treacherous, the writer a montebank with no moral sense, lacking in integrity. Rowse added that more people should have told Taylor to stop talking and writing such nonsense history. Taylor’s distinguished colleague, Trevor-Roper while recognising his gifts as a historian, was puzzled by the awful private life that he led.

Burke, the author of this engagingly authoritative biography, was Taylor’s last graduate student at Oxford, and is now Professor of History at University College, London. This work is a sensitive and vivid portrait of Taylor and his works and is written with professional skill of a high order. It provides a tough-minded analysis of Taylor as a historian. It is thoroughly researched, based on the study of a mass of source material, and analysed with meticulous care.

Taylor was a prolific writer. He authored 23 books and a large number of essays, and almost an unbelievable number of 1,600 book reviews. In addition, he contributed articles on contemporary politics in the Manchester Guardian newspaper and New Statesman and Nations magazine. Because of his frequent TV appearance he became a great media personality who continued to teach without any notes. He made history immensely popular to a variety of people who knew nothing of it.

Burke notes that by 1960 when Taylor was 44, his freelance income exceeded his university salary by three times.

In 1963 he gave up his teaching post at Oxford and was elected a special fellow at Magdalen College in recognition of his contribution to historical knowledge. As a teacher and lecturer, and he had few equals, and despite broadsides from many quarters, he came to be admired as a one-man institution content with stoking an intellectual stimulus in his pupils.

As an ideologue,Taylor’s sympathies lay with the Left. He thought socialism was panecea for all human ills, but the Soviet brand of communism he hated like Bertrand Russell did for its authoritarianism and oppression. In a letter to Malcolm Muggeridge in 1933, Taylor wrote that Russia war really a dictatorship of workers, and that in order to save communism the kulaks had to be destroyed. He challenged Marx’s notion of class struggle inherent in history and dubbed it unscientific.

He was an unconventional historian, a redical nonconformist always at odds with the political orthodoxies of the day. He was ever ready to challenge the prevailing notions popularised by historians. He was both the gadfly and gamin of respectability. He was an avowed atheist.

He had an easy way of doing things, all by himself. Not a philosophic historian by any means, he distrusted theory of history and ridiculed it. History for him was a study of the practical politics of selfish men animated by sinister designs for the gratification of their enormous personal vanity and cupidity.

Ideas did not matter to Taylor, nor could they work in the topsy-turvey world of raw politics. A mild geopolitical determinism plays some part and consequences account for the rest.

Taylor disbelieved in the providential view of history. According to him, things do not happen according to some plan, but through chance or what Thomas Hardy called the "tragedy of mischance". And the consequences are just the opposite of what were intended, and this was due to the inescapable force of contingency which determines the course of human actions. That explains why he took no interest in Spengler, Toynbee and the like. To impose a pattern on history, he thought, was to falsify history. History was simply an enjoyable form of story-telling, no more, no less. And it taught no lessons.

Taylor’s main interest lay in European history which included British history, but American history had no fascination for him. His forte was writing character-sketches in which he did not show a psychological insight but unravelled the oddities and frailties. Some of his portraits like those of Napoleon, Talleyrand and Bismarck are funny.

The test of a historian in his survival. Burke emphasises that Taylor’s uniqueness as a historian did not lie in the sobriety of his judgements or solidity of his scholarship but in the clarity of his exposition. He wrote short, pithy sentences, and used his imaginative skill to reconstruct the past. The writing was attractive on the surface, all paradox and anecdotal interspersed with irony yet in the end it could come to be seen as wonderfully dull, registering no influence or leaving no impression. "Well, it was delightful to read and to enjoy the stuff. Very interesting, but little of instruction or wisdom?"

Taylor’s preoccupation with journalism and TV appearance took much of his time which adversely affected the quality of his scholarship. For this shortcoming Sir Lewis Namier did not recommend him for professorship of modern history at Oxford University. This did not disturb Taylor. For this coveted position he was asked to give up journalism and he refused, and went on his own way!

I think that his "Struggle for Mastery in Europe" still remains a very valuable study of eastern Europe. His "The Hapsburg Monarchy, 1815-1918" is acknowledged as a great book. Taylor knew central Europe well where he had lived for four years in the early 1930s. He was a competent linguist and used French and German sources with skill.

The one companion, Burke emphasises to whom Taylor was unswervingly loyal all his life, was his typewriter which he used with almost pitiless regularity. writing was his "primal urge". His critics complain that he wrote too much and he was a man in a hurry, having little time to weigh and consider matters properly and ever trying to rush in where it was prudent to tread cautiously. Despite his brilliant intellect and powerful narrative skill, Taylor was not able to leave behind him any enduring work of historial scholarship. Of course, some of his essays are superb.

Burke throws light on Taylor’s private life. Taylor had three wives, two of them had a difficult time with him. As a husband he was too demanding, and had little time for them. Some time he appeared at social functions with one wife, some time with another, and he was unable to sever his relation with either of them. He was obsessed with money and was mean. When his mother was confined to a nursing home, he complained, "She is living on my patrimony".

Eva Haraszti, whom he began to court in the 1960s, remarked that he was emotionally remote....completely uninterested in other people". In his autobiography published a few years before his death from Parkinson’s disease in 1990, he comes out as spiteful, vain, embittered and self-pitying. In this venture he evades telling us the truth about some of the sensitive issues concerning his private and professional life.


Objects have a deeper meaning
Punjabi Literature
by Jaspal Singh

THE binary opposition of man and nature is as old as man himself. Man interferes in the processes of nature and creates culture. In fact, culture is the product of the remoulding of natural environment in terms of human needs and urges. Therefore, in a wider sense it also includes what we call civilisation.

Culture scientists use two different terms for these phenomena. The civilisational acquisations are called "material culture" which is historically determined and diachronically studied. Matters of belief, grief and entertainment, etc. are called "symbolic culture" which is beyond time and is synchronically studied.

In recent years a number of Punjabi scholars have studied the different constituents of the folklore of different regions of Punjab. Most of them concentrated on the Malwa region because of its rich reservoir of folk forms which are still zealously practised by the people in several pockets. Folk songs, myths, folk tales, rites, rituals, ceremonies, customs, folk traditions and folk beliefs have been the favourite areas of research and field work. One such attempt has been made by Ishwar Dayal Gaur, a lecturer in history in the department of evening studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He had done a unique job by trying to understand and analyse the various folk forms of Malwai culture through the medium of poetry. His recently released "Surmedani" (Vishav Bharti Parkashan, Barnala) is an exploration of the semiotics of some folk motifs of Malwa which facilitate the understanding of Malwai character in general.

The folk motifs selected by him are darwaza (door), tobha (village pond), paha (mud track), guhara (pile of cow dung cakes), gurh (jaggery), khuh (village well), phulkari (embroidered head cover for women), gharha (pitcher), tor (gait), vehrha te pind (courtyard and the village), mela (village fair), khanghura (insinuating cough), khunda (crooked bomboo stick), ghund (veil), tok (fault-finding), killa (a stake), pagg (turban), takkar (confrontation), kuchharh (lap), barati (member of a marriage party), vaili (odd deproved character), lalari (dyer), bota (camel), balad (ox), botal (bottle), pardesh (foreign land), adhi raat (midnight), nakk (nose), akkh (eye) and chaurasta (crossing).

These categories are not single-layered referents. They carry a highly cannotative semantic load in the structural economy of Malwai culture. The 35-page-long introduction in verse traces the entire life span of a native of Punjab from the womb to the tomb.

In these verse pieces the physical image is only a point of departure. In fact, the poem becomes an exposition of different situations, events and characters which interact with that particular image.

For instance, in the piece on darwaza (door), the poet says that it is difficult to explore history without going through it. Alexandar, Ghaznavi and Ghauri saluted it before entering and Huen Tsang of China reached Taksila after bowing at the door. It becomes a symbol of hospitality and of changing times and climes. A pattern of life since times immemorial is woven around it.

Similarly, tobha (village pond) is not only a water storage for the cattle, it is also a rich cultural symbol. The pond and the banyan tree standing on its bank have seen many generations of people. The pond becomes a river at rest and the long tale of civilisation on this planet unfolds on the banks of rivers. Even today the pond is worshipped and wandering sadhus camp on its banks. The condition of pond in changing seasons is meaningfully painted.

The poet says, the village mud track (paha) created the history of feet and it led travellers to different places in the country. All kinds of invaders and warriors, saints and hermits have gone through it. Some feet ventured beyond it like Siddharth who became the Buddha. The mud track that was the only path to enter or leave the village, shaped countless dreams of the residents.

The pile of cow dung cakes (guhara) is the labour of village girls who make the cakes which after drying are stacked in a conical pile. The poet says this pile is a symbol of good luck of the village. Festivals like Lohri are celebrated around cow dung cake fire and when somebody in the village dies they make a pyre of it for cremation.

The importance of gurh (jaggery) in the rural culture of Malwa cannot be understated. From birth to death many occasions arise when jaggery is distributed. Even the first post-natal feeding is prepared with jaggery. People are seen off after giving them jaggery. All ceremonies invariably have jaggery as an important ingredient. People of all castes and communities can eat from the giant wooden tray (gandd) in which jaggery is make into cakes.

Village well (khuh) is worshipped as "khawaza pir" and it plays an important role in the life of the inhabitants. It is a symbol of the depth of ideas, perception and relations.

Phulkari, a piece of a cloth with embroidered stars, flowers and other folk patterns, is a symbol of the different aspects of life. Some times the figures on it represent the every-day activities of ordinary men and women in the village. Some phulkaris carry the total universe of village folks through variegated patterns which have attracted the attention of folklore experts and analysts. The use of phulkari for wrapping the bride during marriage ceremony adds another symbolic dimension to this garment.

Gaur says phulkari is a daughter of the Jat and Gujjars, the ancient nomadic tribes of central Asia. It moved south-east towards Malwa after swimming through the Chenab, Sindh, the Ravi, the Sutlej and the Beas and after sucking the juicy mangoes of the Doaba, it crossed the sand dunes in the burning summers of Malwa.

The pitcher (gharha), the poet says, was born to the potter’s wheel. The only son of Prajapati, after going through the baking process, the pitcher became a part of the Malwa household being used for various things by the people. It became a swimming aid for the love-lorn Sohni.

Tor is not simply walking, it projects the character of the person and it takes a different form on different occasions and places in the village. There are many superstitions associated with setting off on a journey. The village patwari (revenue official) was enamoured of the seductive gait of a village belle thus goes a floksong.

The common courtyard in the village is the centre of all socio-cultural activities. The village (pind), Gaur says, was carved after the shape of pinda (human body), therefore, it is an organisational whole taking care of the entire gamut of life there.

Mela (village fair) is a communitarian celebration in association with neighbouring villages. The young and the old come out in colourful dresses to a make-shift bazar with entertainment available almost free of cost.

Khanghura (the insinuating cough) is a kind of warning and at times a challenge to the adversary, which may lead to a brawl. Its intricate semantics can be interpreted unambiguously only by those who use it as a means to communicate different messages to different sets of people.

Khunda, a crooked stick, is intimately related to the insinuating cough because the club strikes terror as an answer to a challenge. it can also play different roles for different persons in different situations.

Similarly, ghund, pagg, barati, vaili, lalari and the famous bota (camel) of Malwa are some other motifs around which the composite culture of Malwa is spun. Many villages in the region were known by the name of notorious vailis of the villages.

Gaur’s attempt to bring under focus these motifs makes his enterprise a valuable sociological study of a particular phase of life that now is fast disappearing. A good repertory of cultural data has been made available which may be used to restructure the kaleidoscopic patterns of life which prevailed a few decades ago in the backwaters of Malwa.

The author, however, has not tried to explore the process of sweeping socio-economic changes in the village structure in the wake of the green revolution and the recent invasion of consumerism.


Translator as writer, writer as translator
Review by Akshaya Kumar

Post-colonial Translation: Theory and Practice edited by Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi. Routledge, London and New York. Pages 201. Price not mentioned.

TRANSLATION is often seen as in inferior version of the original. The high status accorded to the so-called original is purely a modern misdoing. During the medieval period, all major canonical texts in India were translated into the so-called vernaculars by bhakti poets. And these translated versions had a ready acceptance among the people. In fact the translated version outmatched the original in terms of its appeal among the masses. Tulsi’s Ramcharitmanas, a translation of Valmiki’s the Ramayana, could be cited as one of the well-known examples of translation overtaking the original in popularity. In the modern period, with the invention of printing press, the idea of owning a text by its author came into being. The rights of the translator over the authored text came to be questioned.

In fact, the very idea of the original coincides with the period of early colonial expansion. Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi, joint editors of this volume on post-colonial theory of translation, in their introductory remarks, posit that colonialists projected Europe as "the great original, the starting point" which colonies in the Third World were expected to copy. The very presumption of colony as translation of the rarefied European original puts translation in a lesser position. Never did the colonialists think that translation could be a process of gain.

The editors map out various possibilities that translation can have in the post-colonial context by highlighting its indispensability in the on-going process of intercultural transfer.

Translation is a dialogue in which translator is not a servant to the source text, he need not be eternally faithful to it. As an all-powerful reader, and a free writer, he can devour the original the same way in which Tupinamba tribe in Brazil devoured the Catholic priest. In her contribution to this anthology on translation theory, Else Vieira explains the totemic importance of this cannibalistic metaphor. It stands for absorbing the other’s strength and then transforming it by "the addition of autochthonous input".

Haroldo de Campos, a Brazilian translation theorist, endorses the devilish character of translation because it usurps the authority of the original; the very ideology of fidelity to the original, its logocentric tyranny is done away with. Translation is termed as transluciferation without any sense of guilt.

The bottomline of each essay compiled in this volume is that translation is an act of rewriting the original. And in the post-colonial context there is not much of a difference between an author and a translator as both are engaged in an inter-cultural dialogue in one way or the other.

Maria Tymoczko observes that writers are not necessarily so free as might be imagined. If the translator is constrained by a source text, the writer is constrained by history, myth, ideology, patronage and affiliation to the source culture. The dilemmas and challenges of a translator are analogous to those of a minority-culture writer. A minority-culture writer is as cut off from the mainstream source culture as a translator is from the source book.

Also at the lexical level, post-colonial writers as well as translators struggle to express cultural metatext either by importing words from source language or by using expressions from the target language to approximate the cultural concepts of the source text. Maria concludes her essay with a rather controversial remark that a "original literary work masquerades as translation".

Indian English writers are more or less translators as they negotiate between native sensibility and an alien medium. From Raja Rao to Salman Rushdie, Indian English novelists have expressed a strange case of Indian English fiction in terms of its preoccupation with hammering out a different English. In his famous introduction to "Kanthapura" Rao states: "(W)e cannot write like the English.We should not". Rushdie almost echoes Rao when he says, "We can’t simply use the language the way the British did."

GJV Prasad in his paper spells out strategies used by Indian English writers in translating the native into English. One way is to simply translate the native into English without retaining the local flavour at all. R.K. Narayan discovers this tendency in writings of younger writers where "the writing awkward translation of a vernacular rhetoric, mode or idiom".

Some writers use, in terms of Khuswant Singh, a "khichadi language" to underline the bilingualism builtin the creative experience. But this mixed language is used more for cosmetic purpose, for engendering from above some kind of Indianness.

A creative writer as a translator or a translator as a creative writer has to negotiate reality at two levels — the contextual and the textual — to generate a truly indigenous version of it. Andre Lefevere terms these two levels as two grids which need to be dovetailed into each other to yield an organic work of art, original or translated.

A.K. Ramanujan also refers to two forms — outer and inner — informing his vision, both as a poet and translator: "English, and my disciplines (linguistics, anthropology) give me my outer forms — linguistic, metrical, logical ... my personal and professional preoccupations with Kannada, Tamil, the classics and folklore give me my substance, my inner form." Vinay Dharwadker, while commenting on A.K. Ramanujan’s practice of translation, mentions two sub-textual levels of a text — phenotext and genotext — which a translator has to transpose into another language.

Translation provides a productive ground for cultural exchange both in terms of serving a global common place and as a catalyst to the contestatory forms of writing. India, with its many languages and fragile traditions of literature, is basically a "translation of area" where cultural interrelationships are inevitably dynamic.

Western scholarship has however remained insensitive to this inherent intra-civilisational dynamism peculiar to the very imagining of India. "For from being a tool exclusive to the singular goals of missionaries, orientalist scholars and administrators, translation has served a variety of uses, as complex and ambiguous as the cultural context of from which they emerge(d)", observe Vanmala Viswanatha and Sherry Simon.

In western metaphysics, translation is seen as "an exile, a fall from origin". Such a guilt complex attached to the act of translation has prevented European literary historiography to acknowledge its seminal role in consolidating various literary movements within English literature. It was through the translated Bible that Protestant England asserted the so-called original spirit of Christianity. English literary imagination has flourished in the past two centuries largely because it has been continually pollinated by various non-English literary traditions of Ireland, India, Africa, Latin America, etc. through translation. "Origins of literary movements and literary traditions inhabit various acts of translation," observes G.N. Devy.

Even the sophisticated theories of structural linguistics cannot help us understand the subtle dynamics of translation because the inter-relationship of meaning and structure explicated in these theories is based on monolingual data. Perhaps the Indian metaphor of "unhindered migration from one body to another’’ holds a key towards understanding the significance of translation as an act of revitalising the original.

The anthology fights notions of inferiority attached to translation by way of underlining the creative gains involved in the process of re-writing a text in another language. But it leaves untouched many other important issues related to translation and translation studies in India or in other post-colonial societies. Each essay problematises the translation of a native text into English, almost conceding to the one-sided flow of the so-called inter-cultural transfer implicit in the process of translation. The possibilities of translation of one vernacular literature into another vernacular medium have not been explored or adequately theorised.

The post-colonial theory must not be defined through the narrow binary frame of East’s encounter with the West. Translation as an exercise of trans-creation does not hinge around the binary of the source language versus the target language. There are so many interruptions and interventions which render the very pursuit of theorising translation in a multilingual context self-contradictory and awfully simplistic.

The translation syndrome has not simply influenced the poetics of Indian English writings: it has invaded the so-called insular creative space of the native writer as well. The site of in-betweenness is no longer confined to Indian English writings, even the so-called "national" Hindi literature or regional "Punjabi literature" has became equally vulnerable to the translation syndrome. Instead of theorising the politics of the original through Indian English writings, it is time to go inwards and reflect on the nativity of the native literatures.

Also theoretically, it may sound plausible that in the given post-colonial conditions, a translator is no less than a writer, but in actual practice one is yet to come across a translator who re-creates the original with a freedom which one assigns to a creative writer.

The appropriation of translation business by the academia has reduced it into an intellectual exercise. The publishing industry too has its own choices that curtail the freedom of the translator.

The Macmillan series of Indian fiction in translation was, for instance, governed by, besides other things, the number of pages the original novel had. A novel of more than 250 pages was positively discouraged for translation. A controversial novel or a censored work usually gets a huge market in its translated avataar. It is ultimately the market that determines the choice of the text to be translated.

One is yet to come across a translated work which created a stir in the society or even in the elitist literary echelons. "Praja" translated by B.K. Das "Samskar" by Ramanujan and "Breast Stories" by Gayatri Spivak stand out as minor exceptions; otherwise, most of the translated works do not sell across cultures or sub-cultures. One cannot blame Salman Rushdie for not including writers of native languages in his "The Vintage Collection of Indian Writings".

Our translators have failed us. If translation is to approximate creative writing, it has to be saved from professional translators, professors in university departments. A translator has to be a wanderer, a nomad a la Tulsi Das or a Kabir to re-write the original with the freedom of a creative writer.


The lessons that have no lessons
Review by P.D. Shastri

Human Values in Education by N.L. Gupta. Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 217. Rs 400.

THE biographical note on the blurb says that the author has many firsts to his credit. He is the first scholar to obtain a Ph.D degree from two different faculties of Nagpur University. Does it mean that the subject of his Ph.D was connected with two departments or does it mean that he got a double Ph.D (not done generally)?

Also he is the first to submit his thesis for D.Litt (only submit or did he earn the degree?) to a little known university at Raipur. He has published 41 books, both in Hindi and English, mostly in Hindi. This one would be his 42nd. Such soaring score in numbers often depresses quality.

He is an assistant commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, posted at Bhopal and feels that he has to write a book on education to guide his flock.

With great labour, the author has brought in one place accounts of the many enquiry reports, proceedings of seminars and conferences, also the opinions of great philosophers and thinkers of the past, present and much else. For instance, at the end of the first chapter, he mentions 35 writers or works, some being repeated.

The book is choked with many quotations and references. You cannot think of any well-known name — and a large number of non-famous ones too — who do not find reference in this compendium of selected ideas and opinions of such men as Confucius, Tao, the Buddha, Gandhi, Vivekananda, Y.B. Yeats, Karl Marx, Aristotle. The list is endless.

In a colossal collection of borrowed ideas and knowledge, the reader is likely to lose his way. Where he falls short of material he starts giving life stores of persons like Helen Keller (the blind, deaf and dumb girl who made history), Rabindranath Tagore, Sudama, Gargi, Copernicus, Sarojini Naidu, Louis Pasteur, Elizabeth Fry, Father Damien, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Bill Furray, etc. etc. whatever be their relevance to the subject of the book. He has separate sections of Hindu scripture, Islam, the Bible, Buddhism, Jainism, Guru Nanak and the rest.

Everything he knows or has heard of or has access to, including verses in Urdu and Hindi, is presented in the book to make it look profound.

Such a tremendous amount of undigested information (I don’t call it knowledge), each with a separate angle, can only confuse. There is no unity or purpose. There is no fusion of different ideologies in a single composite whole, no well-thought out thesis (except the heading).

He claims that value education has often been confused with religious or moral education. His moral education is more broader than moral education (page 113). In the hand-written note sent with the book and addressed to the book review editor, there is a reference to canal irrigation in India as cannal irrigation.

The author could do with a little better knowledge of English grammar and spelling.

Nor are his numberless quotations always accurate. On page 75, there is a Sanskrit quotation supposed to be from the Gita 18-30. There is nothing like it in the Gita 18-30, nor or in the whole of the 700 shlokas. And so on with some other quotations.

The author’s pretentions are sky high. In the preface he says: "He will be glad to have free and frank suggestions or even criticism if any, so that it may come out in more perfect form in the next edition." Self-deception, born of wishful thinking, could not get lower. He expects no criticism and hopes to make the next edition more perfect. (More perfect is unidiomatic).

What about his human values? On pages 119 to 121, he gives an impressive list of 83 values, including abstinence, citizenship, curiosity, friendship, socialism, respect for others and protecting national and civic property. The reader is likely to lose his way in this labyrinth. Who could remember such a long list? Does not everybody know them? Yet these commonplace ideas are presented with an air of great discoveries and historic findings.

He starts with the traditional Indian list of the true, the good and the beautiful (satyam, shivam, sundaram). At another place, he gives a list of 40 virtues, such as ahimsa, brahmacharya, non-accumulation of wealth, forgiveness. At other places, there are lists of 10, seven, 17, nine, six, 13. Lastly there is a list of 10 American values (we thought all humanity is one in the present age).

There are lists galore. You can choose anyone you like.

All these are good values. The question is how to make the millions practise them. His solutions are the same motheaten, outdated ones — namely, co-curricular activities, games and sports, group discussions, making students write or recite poems, skits, scouting and girl guides (Baden Powel is another hero) and on-the-spot drawing competition.

All these have been tried over the years and no general improvement in society ever resulted. No sir, you are living in the world of the day before yesterday, while the future shouts to you to wake up from the slumber of the past.

There is one chapter entitled, "How to make history teaching value-oriented", which says, "The failure of history as a school subject (history has not failed at school any more than any other subject) is a societal failure (whatever it may mean). The most determinative reason for its failure is insincere and fraudulent purposes that force the subject in curriculum." Our author does not believe in fresh ideas and a new approach and wants the same old system to continue for ever.

We stand today on the threshold of revolutionary changes in every aspect of life and society. The acceleration of change is breath taking. The 21st century would be very different from the present age just as the 20th century represented change over the medieval ages. What those changes would be is beyond imagination. It would be an altogether new world. We are entering the age of space travel, buying plots on the moon.

The new century would be a world of the computer, the Internet, e-mail, websites, information technology (IT) and a dozen other new technological terms which today’s reader is seeking to learn and get used to.

In that new world, education will have an important role to play, but that would be the education of the space age and of the computer Internet age.

When all information would be available at the click of the mouse in the Internet, colleges and universities with over-crowded classes of history, economics, languages, etc. would pass into history. Experimentation, innovations and originality would be the slogans.

Also no society can do without values, ethics, morals and ideals or else we would have a society of scams, embezzlements, hawala rackets and large-scale pilferage of public funds. To our author we give credit for his good intentions and his many tables and charts of noble concepts. The 20-page long value sheet, in the appendix, reminds us of our traditional virtues such as coexistence, cleanliness, devotion, equanimity, punctuality, etc. though they remain too theoretical. But many of them make interesting reading. Our author lives in the world of the past and has no concern for the future that threatens to change the shape of the world.

There would have to be new education for the new age. What would be the shape of that new education one cannot tell today. It would evolve with needs and circumstances. That would require some extraordinary genius like Plato, Aristotle or Karl Marx, who would startle the world with a totally new ideology, never heard of before.


History in mini
capsule form
Review by Parshotam Mehra

Harper Collins, New Delhi. Pages xxviii + 576. Rs 495.

A SINGLE-volume history of India recounting, and comprehending, a 5000-year epic all the way from the Indus Valley civilisation to the story of the Raj and independent India, in a little over 600-odd pages is, at the best of times, an uphill task.

The author’s labours are the more arduous, as he seeks to add social, economic and cultural dimensions to the inescapable, if also fast-moving, political narrative. That John Keay undertook the task deserves appreciation; how far he has succeeded in his mission is a matter of subjective judgement.

Briefly, despite some of its generic limitations, this reviewer has not remained unimpressed with what his pages unfold. A few of the major highlights are briefly, if barely, touched — nothing more would appear practical within the constraints of a short review to enable the reader savour the stuff and draw his own conclusions.

With the first phase of the Harappan civilisation (circa 2600 BC), Indian history acquires "a rich prehistoric pedigree" of archaeologically verifiable antiquity. For Harappan settlements were not just India’s first cities and townships but "indeed the world’s first cities and townships". More importantly, with Mohenjodaro (in Sind) and Harappa (in Punjab) a little over 600 km apart, the Indus valley civilisation was more extensive than its contemporaries, the Egyptian or the Sumerian.

While the Harappan script remains undecipherable, interesting conclusions have been drawn from the images which usually accompany it on seals. According to Shirees Ratnagar, a well-known authority, there is lively speculation about a Harappan state, even "a verifiable Harappan ‘empire’ ".

With the late Harappan phase pushed forward to around 1700 BC and the Aryan arrival a couple of centuries later, the gap between the two "has closed" appreciably. Originally pastoralists, the Aryans "must have been" semi-nomadic when they entered India (1500-1300 BC) "in several waves" of migration rather than a single mass movement.

With the horse and the chariot by way of "a dazzling new technology" and the subtleties of ritual sacrifice as "a mesmerising ideology", the Aryans must have secured recognition of their superiority by a process no more deliberate and menacing than social attraction "and cultural osmosis". The subsequent Aryan culture with this three pillars of language, priesthood and social hierarchy may have been "a hybrid"— the end-product of its interaction with various indigenous peoples.

As to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, they survive in several versions with their core narratives relating to events from a period prior to all but the Rig Veda. "So heavily have these been worked for propaganda purposes" and so crammed and padded have they become, that their original stories are "as hard to isolate as their dates".

Between the death of Ashoka (231 BC) and the advent of the Guptas (320 AD), India’s ancient history plummets again to "a murky obscurity": centuries of political confusion, taken to indicate instability, fragmentation and turbulence. These 500-odd years between the Maurayas and the Guptas have, in fact, become India’s "Dark Age."

Thanks to Bana, Harshavardhana’s personal fame would indeed last and in that he also sponsored religious debate, championed schalarship, and himself wrote plays. Harsha (606-47) has often been compared to Akbar. Regrettably though, there would be no "House of Harsha"; no "Vardhana Age" to foster the memory of northern India’s last chakravartin; and no "Kanauj school" to continue his patronage of Buddhist "universities" like Nalanda and of scholars like Bana.

All the same, the seventh and eighth centuries saw a vast Indian cultural expansion overseas, more especially in Indo-China — in Cambodia and Vietnam — and later, in Indonesia. The origins of the kingdoms of Sailendra and Sanjay and their relationship with Srivijaya are still subjects of a lively debate. What is not in question though is that the temples built in these lands bear the clear and unmistakable imprint of the Chalaukyas and Pallavas. For, as in South India, the temples are all clustered within a small compass and conform "in all but detail" to the norms of layout and elevation found at the sites of the Deccani rulers.

Touching on the "triumph" of the Sultans (1180-1320), the author underlines the striking paradox that "far from uniting" India, early Islam’s "historic role" was to develop "and entrench" the subcontinent’s "so-called ‘regional’ identities".

Keay is emphatic that the number of states that emerged from the collapse of the Delhi sultanate, not to mention the complexity of their mutual relations, requires considerable effort before touching the terra firma of Mughal India. Yet a recount of these independent "regions" (15th-16th century) — Bengal, Gujarat, Kashmir and Orissa — is necessary if only to underline the hazy birth of a nation-state. The latter’s emergence in pre-colonial India, even though stifled from the very outset, was a matter of some significance.

The last, and "least-rewarding", years of Akbar’s long and eventful reign (1556-1605) were spent in the security of Agra’s Red Fort rather than the comparative "isolation and vulnerability" of Fatehpur Sikri. Besides, Agra with its "cosmopolitan bazaars and strategic location" on the Yamuna offered a worthier setting for the focus of an empire. Unlike Babar who had "accrued" territories and the Khiljis and the Tughluqs who had laid claim to far-flung feudatories, Akbar had fashioned an empire. Arguably, the imperial structures he bequeathed to his successors would be more historically significant than his "roll-call" of conquests.

There was much in the architectural achievements of the Sultans of Bijapur (in modern-day Karnataka) that merits consideration. This was especially true of the Gol Gumbuz (circa 1659) of Muhammad Adil Shah. Keay compares it to the Taj displaying as it does "a refreshing simplicity" combined with "extraordinary technical expertise". If the Taj, as "befits" the tomb of a queen, has " a feminine delicacy", the Gol Gumbaz, the tomb of a sultan, is "all masculine virility".

Farrukhsiyar’s firman (1716) proved to be the Magna Carta of the John Company for it provided imperial confirmation of a host of privileges which had been "more assumed than assured". In essence, it inducted the Company into the political hierarchy of Mughal India through a direct relationship with the emperor which bore comparison with that enjoyed by imperial office-holders. Not many years later, it was on the strength of Farrukhsiyar’s firman that Clive would justify his advance on Plassey (1765) and the overthrow of Bengal’s nawab. Plassey, in turn, was to prove to be the "bridgehead", the "springboard" and the "foundation" of British rule in India.

By 1818, the Marathas, not unlike the Rajputs before them, had been worsted. And except in Assam, Sind and Punjab, British "political supremacy" was recognised throughout the subcontinent. As Penderal Moon was to put it, "The Pax Brittanica had begun."

The author stoutly repudiates the "stock accusations" of the Raj’s "wider Machiavellian intent to ‘divide and rule’" and to stir up Hindu-Muslim animosity. The main thrust of his argument is that "Divide and Rule" as a governing precept presupposes the pre-existence of an integrated entity. In an India politically united only by British rule — and not yet even by the opposition it generated — such a thing did not exist. Division was a fact of life. Without recognising, exploring and accommodating such division, British dominion in India would have been impossible to establish, let alone sustain.

Provoking sectarian conflict, on the other hand, was scarcely in British interest."

The short answer to Keay’s protestations about the less than Machiavellian nature of the Raj’s motives and motivations is that "divide et imperia" is a time-honoured practice to which British rule in India was no exception. Besides, in the very process of "recognising, exploring and accommodating" social divisions, the British exacerbated consciously — or perhaps innocently! — the communal divide. And ended their rule by perpetuating it.

During World War I while Gandhi "stalked" the mofussil and "evaded" institutional politics, the Ghadrites "blundered" into police traps, while Indian troops tasted the horrors of the trenches in the "appalling mismanagement" of the Mesopotamian campaign. Meanwhile both Tilak and Annie Besant "campaigned energetically" for their separate Home Rule Leagues. Unlike Nehru, Jinnah never buckled under Mountbetten’s "boyish charm offensives" and refused the latter’s bid to be joint Governor-General for both the successor states. And charted his own independent course. All the same, Nehru, Mountbatten and many of their associates were ‘acutely conscious" of making history and in their speeches, memoirs and personalised chronicles "wrote themselves into it."

While for Nehru the partition of India was "a tragedy", for Jinnah it was "a necessity"; the tragedy, in his eyes, was the partition of Punjab and Bengal. By an "unhappy coincidence", many of those most closely associated with independence and partition died in the months immediately afterward: Gandhi and Jinnah (1948); Patel (1950); Liaqat Ali Khan (1951). Nehru alone remained, his later years (died 1964) darkened by Mao’s "rude rejection" of his "utopian internationalism".

More than half a century on, the political landscape, in India is marked by unbridled populism. For while socialism had been "discarded", secularism "demolished" and nonviolence "exploded", democratic parties remain ‘firmly entrenched". Unfortunately for the health of the polity, elections have become "too popular", obscuring their deeper purpose of providing a government that "actually governs" rather than one which simply "readies" itself for the next poll.

Keay ends on a sombre note underlining the gravity of the Kashmir problem. For, so long as Islamabad contines to dispute the status of Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi rates it "a purely domestic issue", the integrity of neither nation can be "confidently" taken for granted.

A word on some names and spellings. "Bal Tilak" (page 473) for Bal Gangadhar Tilak, jars on the ear; unadorned Tilak sounds better. But for Punjab, repeatedly and shamefacedly, misspelt Panjab, Keay has righted an old wrong. For once those associated with Panjab university, as this reviewer, stand fully vindicated!

It is not easy to place Keay’s large, voluminous tome with its impressive array of illustrations, maps, charts and tables, among a respectable number falling into the same single volume slot. There is the old, much-used and still authoritative, "An Advanced History of India" (1961) by R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Raychaudhuri and K.K. Datta, which has run into any number of editions.

A shorter, equally popular and relatively inexpensive, two-volume paperback, "A history of India" by Romila Thapar (1966) and the late Percival Spear (1965) is to be found in a Pelican edition. This study too has gone into a number of editions and reprints.

Lately two new works have appeared at once attractive, authoritative and well composed. Stanley Wolpert’s ‘A New History of India (1977) has now run into its fourth edition while that by H Kulke and D Rothermund, "A History of India, (1990) has gone into a third edition and is deservedly popular.

A short, introductory study, appropriately titled "A Survey of Indian History" (1960) by the late K.M. Panikkar still fascinates this reviewer; it too has run into a number of editions and reprints.

Unlike Keay, all the authors cited — Indian, American, German — were, and are, professional historians.

With more than a dozen books to his credit, John Keay is a prolific writer. Among his better known works, this reviewer found "The Gilgit Game" and "When Men and Mountains Meet" (1977) of special interest.


When home
turns hell
Review by Jaswant Kaur

Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 230. Rs 295.

THE author of the book "Bitter Chocolate" is the first woman editor of an eveninger in the country, Mid-Day. Her first book "Aruna’s Story" is about the politics of rape of women. Her second book "Once Was Bombay" is about communal politics.

In "Bitter Chocolate" she relates the pitiable condition of some children who have been severally abused in their own homes or by some other people close to them.

She divides the book into three sections. In the first, she tells what is child sexual abuse (CSA), why and how this happens and its impact on the victims.

The second part constitutes two real-life stories of women who were sexually abused in their childhood. In the third she provides practical solutions.

Home is generally a place where a child loves to live with his family. It is a place in which he or she yearns for love every minute. But the author has changed the whole definition of home. She describes home as hell. She says that most of the cases of child sexual abuse have originated in their homes. She narrates some incidents of CSA by adults who enjoy the child’s trust.

But the stories of familial love and affection are still there in Indian society. How can home be a place where a child has to spend its days and nights in fear? It is the place where the child has to spend most of its time. It has its father, mother, sister, brother, etc. who love, care and think of it. It is these family members who guide the child on what is right or what is wrong.

It is only in very rare cases that family members ruin the future of the child in seeking their own selfish ends. Incidents of a father taking advantage of his daughter or a mother sexually abusing her son or daughter are very few.

The author has narrated a number of incidents of child sexual abuse which had an adverse effect on the victims. She says that children who are sexually abused in their childhood lose their confidence and feel insecure throughout their life. They suffer from various mental problems like anxiety, fear and depression. They continually suffer from powerlessness and betrayal. She says when these children grow up as adult male and female, they enter into unhealthy relationships. These children cannot earn their living, do not have good parenting skills and often neglect their children. And so it continues from generation to generation.

In section three she tells us how to get rid of child sexual abuse. She provides practical solutions to the problem, including a framework involving the law, parent and the child. She has listed some sections of the law relating to cases of child sexual abuse like Sections 293, 294, 302, 323, 324, 325, 326, 342, 343, 344, 375, 376 of the IPC, etc. She wants the victims of CSA not to keep silent but to take the help of the law so that the accused is punished.

Will the victims get back those days which were peaceful and will the accused confess to his crime? Will he or she stop doing all that which he or she has been doing since long? Will the animal in him or her change? And if at all he or she improves him or her will society accept him as normal? Will he or she be able to gain the same respect which in society when people did not knew the real man in him? Physical punishment or imposition of a fine cannot completely do away with the effects of the crime.

Then she says that prevention is better than cure. Every parent — father and mother — should take steps to protect the child. Children should be taught the difference between a good touch and bad touch. They should be given a comfortable and free atmosphere at home so that the child is able to speak anything which he or she may have felt as a violation of his or her body. The child should be given emergency telephone numbers (the so-called helplines) which they may call if they sense a danger. Parents should listen closely to their child if he or she tells them something about sexual abuse. They should not discourage the child and should accept the information given by the child as truth. They should stand by their child and help it in tackling the problem.m.

Society has a duty in this context. Society should not look down upon the child victim. It should accept it as a victim of debased modern life. It should not discourage the child. Rather it should take steps to encourage the child by building its confidence and helping it whenever it needs it.

The people who commit these crimes should be punished severely. The accused should be persuaded to confess his crime and accept it. He should be encouraged to change himself.

Home is a place where a child learns, grows and feels like living there. It should not become a place where the child has to run from one corner to another for safety. It should be a heaven and not a hell.


A bunch of noble
Review by Kuldip Kalia

Devil and the Divine by Surinder Singh Sadiq, R.D. Sharma, "Taseer" and S. Amrik Singh Pooni. Platinum Publishers, Chandigarh. Pages xviii+151. Rs 130.

EVERY idea is an excitement and the noble idea always kindles the flame of insight and clear vision. Man has given the name of divine to the highest attractive energy. But the devil begets darkness and ignorance. Thus shame to the devil! And true actions must follow us beyond the grave.

The book under review reflects the remarkable talent and action with affirmative pursuit to get the innate strength. Which ultimately encourages us to face the life confidently and cheerfully. In this trilinqual compilation, there are 135 epigrams in Urdu and Punjabi. The mystical experience is exciting, the human efforts lead to peace and tranquillity, and, thus ultimately to the reality.

In this infinite universe, life is an action. "If you live 200 years cribbing all the time, you have not lived a single day." As actors we must play our role and listen to Justice Surinder Singh, (retd) when he says, "Play your part till the curtain drops. That is the best achievement."

Those who speak against jealousy, should know that, "Jealousy is good for you if it spurs you to be better than the others." At the same time, beware of the ill-effects of ego because. "Ego blurs your vision, clean your lens with humility and you will see things better." Moreover, "you can see God face to face if you demolish the intervening wall of ego."

Real happiness is within you. The author rightly says, "Just stop searching for happiness." Moreover, "Mere money cannot ensure happiness if you do not know the art of being happy." Follow the prescription given by Surinder Singh. "Keep smiling in all weathers." Never complain when you are passing through tribulation. Always "be happy to walk on a thorny path. You will leave footprints for others". Truly speaking, "pain is only a feeling of the mind. Bear it and you can sleep on a bed of thorns."

Ideas and thoughts are never bad but our actions make these good or bad. "All thoughts are holy till we start polluting them."How right he is! Moreover, "where knowledge ends, wisdom begins. Where wisdom ends, it is emancipation". And "emancipation is just around the corner if one we turn to right direction."

Time is precious. Its value has to be taken care of. Why do we waste our time in gossiping or settling scores with others. "So we must heed to his advice. "We spend all our life settling scores not knowing that the ultimate score will be nil." Everything has to be done within limits. The author warns; "If you cross the line of control, you will have to pay heavy for it."

Undoubtedly, words are powerful instruments in our hand. Use them cautiously. So adopt the best formula — that is, "taste your words yourself before serving them to others." It is kindness, humility and goodness which ultimately earns you goodwill in life. That is why, "Spread so much goodwill around you that your enemies find no place to stand near you."

Do rise above selfishness. "Don’t be friend somebody just for personal gains. See his qualities and worship him if you so like." Really speaking, "you get a vision of all the gods," provided you meet a "true friend. One should not forget the harsh reality that, "It takes 20 years to build friendship and 20 seconds to create enmity".

It is an old saying that worldly affairs are like a net and once you are trapped it becomes difficult to come out of the shackles. However, "when the net is cast, the wise fish will find a way to escape. Others will be fried in a souse pan."

And, "the only thing which is infallible is God. All else is a delusion." So always better to hold "the robe of a saint instead of chasing your shadows.’ Once you got connected with the divine, the author assures, "you will not notice any problems in your life. But all this is a matter of faith and without faith, introspection is useless."

"Kings and slaves share the same earthly affairs. So where is the differences." the author asks. Never be afraid of death because "Death is our constant playmate. It is life which kills us." Always keep in mind that "forgiveness" in certain cases can become a "turning point" in the life of a sinner.

Don’t run after a delusion. Deeds certainly matter in life but never "bask in empty glory" because" every sun has to set in the evening." Moreover one should understand that these so-called achievements" are "only his benedictions".

Every saying in this book is thought provoking. How right he is when he says, "Do not waste money in hotels, you might need it in hospitals one day."

He also gives us a warning when he points out "those who are at a stone’s throw from you are the first ones to throw stones at you."

Last but not the least, "Life is a beautiful tapestry if we know how to knit it."

Indeed, this is a beautiful way to sum up life anybody could ever do in words.


Book extract
Mystique of minimum deterrence

This is an abridged chapter by Rama S. Melkobe in "Nuclear India" edited by A. Subramanyam Raju

THE debate on security centres on the concept of "minimum deterrence". As a nuclear war should not be fought and cannot be won, the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter intimidation by another nuclear weapons power and to retaliate if a nation has been struck with a nuclear weapon. In the case of India, justification for acquiring nuclear weapons is to deter Pakistan and China if and when they resort to nuclear blackmail. The concept of nuclear deterrence was raised to the status of a theology during the cold war years and continues to hold that position — at least for some — even as the devaluation of nuclear weapons has accelerated greatly and is likely to continue. Fifty years of non-use of the weapons, significant strategic arms reduction treaties which have been negotiated along intrusive inspection necessary for deep cuts, the cessation of nuclear weapons testing, and the signing of the CTBT — all indicate the direction in which the world wishes to move. Deterrence theology that may have had cold war relevance also has certain lessons which we need to draw upon.

This Third World figured as it continues to do so in the discipline of international relations as the "other", the "underdeveloped", the "traditional" and as the "precapitalist". The dominance of the realist school privileged "power" and "power politics" anchored upon the primacy of the state. Security of the Third World states was viewed and written about from the perspective of super power competition for power and influence. The Third World that was born into "bipolarity and the cold war" nevertheless had members who learnt to draw their super power patrons into regional disputes, acquire sophisticated military hardware for which such regional — interstate or and intra-state — conflicts provided ideal testing grounds. A tacit agreement between the two super powers prevented the escalation of such conflicts into direct military confrontations between the two, and contained them within the threshold fixed by them.

The competitive and cooperative dimensions of the cold war meant that while 97 per cent of all major wars and armed interventions between 1945 and 1987 occurred in the Third World (with one or the other side in the conflict being supported tacitly or openly by one or the other super power), the central strategic relationship was insulated and maintained and the vital interests of the super powers remained protected by the nuclear balance of terror.

The eight-year war between Iran and Iraq clearly demonstrated the marginality of Third World conflicts to systemic security concerns. Although the war was fought in the strategically important oil rich Gulf region,with some of the most advanced conventional weapons available to Third World countries, as long as the flow of oil from the non-combatant gulf producers was assured and as long as neither party was in a position to win a decisive victory, the super powers were content to see the two sides fight to the point of exhaustion.

Major powers supplied sophisticated military hardware without tilting the balance of power of either side — more particularly in favour of Iran as both the super powers perceived it as the greater threat to their respective and overlapping conceptions of stability in the oil rich region.

Despite the peripherality of the Third World to the security concerns of the super powers, the very logic of the intense competition for power and influence that the cold war symbolised gave a certain leverage to the Third World states in pushing their own domestic and regional agenda by dramatically switching sides and realigning themselves with the rival super power, or collectively through the nonaligned movement (NAM).This is not to say that the NAM was always effective but that it allowed more room for manoeuvre to weak powers.

The refusal of states such as India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina and Israel to sign the NPT represented another important attempt by the Third World states to maintain their military and technological autonomy from the dominant global powers. This refusal may be a response to the nature of threats in their respective regional environment, but it is also related to their perception of their place within the international order. This is clear in the case of India.

In the post-cold war era nuclear proliferation in the Third World and the erstwhile Soviet Union has become a far more serious issue in the debate over transfer of sophisticated weaponry. Nuclear proliferation appears to be the only issue that ties the Third World security problem to global security, as it is the only one in which the great powers take direct and immediate interest. Contemporary discourse on security is understood and explained in terms of the expert knowledge of security analysts and the intellectuals who codify, justify, teach and explain state practices of security. With the advent of nuclear weapons the increasingly sophisticated technical jargon used by the experts, the uninitiated and common people are excluded from discussions of war and peace.

The debate on nuclear strategy from 1945 to the early 1990s revealed strategic dichotomies over such questions as what happens if deterrence fails and how does the war stop short of total destruction? To quote Robert McNamara while he was the US Defence Secretary in the 1960s, "One cannot fashion a credible deterrent out of an incredible action." Nuclear weapons are not usable in combat. The Soviet nuclear strategy was not well suited for fighting a limited war. The debate encompassed questions of the possibility of nuclear war, the possibility of the sensible, politically directed application of military power in thermonuclear war where each one plans to defeat the other side even at extremely high cost, provided recovery of the enemy was not possible, but one’s own recovery was. The USA could recover but not the USSR and vice versa, that the Soviet system would survive despite the destruction and suffering while capitalism would collapse, were beliefs that the two sides fostered. Yet the realisation that the price of victory was simply too high and that the only acceptable level of nuclear damage was zero meant that no political leader would pursue a course which could lead to nuclear war, even if some sort of victory looked likely. On the whole, the balance of advantage has worked against the use of nuclear weapons.

How does deterrence work if two adversaries have them? It can only lead to a race to acquire and make more and more deadly weapons as in the past. A deterrence can work only if one side or regional power has nuclear weapons and use them as last resort, if at all. Of two such countries, South Africa abandoned it nuclear programme shortly before apartheid ended and Israel regards the threat of unleashing nuclear destruction as its ultimate safeguard. Even then, in all the Arab-Israeli wars, it is politics and diplomacy and not nuclear weapons that have protected Israel.

In the 90 armed conflicts that occurred between 1959 and 1993, which involved the governments of 60 countries, nuclear weapons had no role in improving the prospects of security of societies afflicted by systemic violence. Most states face threats to security from within, from ethnic divisions, aggressive nationalisms and terrorist movements. This calls into question the very manner in which nation-states are historically and ideologically constructed. It is in this context that both India and Pakistan must look at their own histories critically and evaluate their security needs. Nuclear weapons cannot reduce the threat of aggressive nationalism, cannot ensure social or political stability or contribute to prosperity. Nuclear weapons can only produce a false sense of security that feeds on notions of national grandeur.

* * *

It may be pertinent to note the swadeshi posture of the BJP, the refusal of the earlier governments to subscribe to the social clause of the WTO/GATT agreements and the CTBT. However irrelevant they may appear to be to the nuclear debate, they reveal the nature of the emerging ruling classes and elites and their policies that in fact barter away economic interests of the country for so-called military security. As capital and technology are proving to be the most subversive forces, the very sovereignty of the modern state is dependent largely on how much control or regulatory powers it has over these. In the contemporary globalising world, the state, which have been peripheralised by imperialism/colonialism, are expected to compete in the global system/markets while they are also being subjected to the influences and coercion of the IMF and the World Bank. The need to contextualise the state must thus be underscored.

The rhetoric of independence, particularly in areas of foreign policy and security, is paralleled by a willingness to adapt economies to the dictates of structural adjustment programmes of international money-lending agencies. India as a vast country which rich resources has succumbed to these pressures while flexing its muscles over the nuclear question. The posture of a mighty military power is a fig leaf for its internal conflicts and contradictions. The so-called blue revolution and the deep sea fishing policies have already deprived millions of their livelihood and are proving to be ecologically disastrous. The conflict-ridden relationship between India and Pakistan is extended from land to the sea. With disputes over determination of maritime boundaries, disputes over fishing rights, there is enough scope for justification for wanting to spruce up their respective navy. As there are sufficiently strong lobbies in both the countries, the issue of securing the lives of people, gets converted into one of securing the national sovereignty of the state that is ever so willing to sanction the plundering of the seas by the sea lords. If signing of the CTBT by giving into pressure tactics of the USA is "colonisation of the mind", signing of the GATT is equally a process of recolonisation. At a time when the liberalisation policies and globalisation process are forcing India to surrender its sovereignty over its resources, and to surrender its IPRs by amending the patent laws of the country, to opt for nuclearsation and refuse to sign the CTBT are to prefer nuclear option over everything else. The Congress government signed the agreements at Marrakesh despite opposition from some state governments, opposition parties and the Citizens Commission. The United Front government could do little to reverse the policies in its short tenure except strike an independent posture by refusing to sign the CTBT. The BJP claiming to be truly nationalist went a step further, breaking all uncertainties, to the comfort of the hawks, and exploded what it calls the "Hindu bomb". Whom does the bomb secure?

The historic bloc (in Gramscian framework — as it is constituted in India includes the capitalist class, the landed gentry and upper castes) wishes to develop India through modernisation. However, it has only succeeded in creating modern institutions that provide the principles to articulate the demands of the people, and create the arena where the battles are fought for the fulfillment of these demands. The historic bloc could also successfully integrate — at least until the initiation of the liberalisation policies — the discourse of the dominated classes and deal with its contradictions with the people.

With the shift in the discourse from democratic socialism to the minimal state, the responsibility of the state in bringing about social justice is not only denied, but is seen as a waste of resources. As the oppressed and the dominated question the nation, the state strengthens its coercive apparatus to secure itself from disintegrating and brandishes the ultimate weapon of destruction as a sign of its military power for which the nation has no use.