Sunday, September 24,
A Taylor-made maverick
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
have a deeper meaning
by Jaspal Singh
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
(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.
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.
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.
(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.
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
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.
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
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
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
Translation: Theory and Practice edited by Susan Bassnett and
Harish Trivedi. Routledge, London and New York. Pages 201. Price
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 seemed...an awkward
translation of a vernacular rhetoric, mode or idiom".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
that have no lessons
Review by P.D. Shastri
in Education by N.L. Gupta. Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages
217. Rs 400.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
could do with a little better knowledge of English grammar and
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
in mini capsule
New Delhi. Pages xxviii + 576. Rs 495.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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".
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."
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
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.
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".
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"
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".
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."
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.
sectarian conflict, on the other hand, was scarcely in British
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.
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
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".
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chocolate by Pinki Virani. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages
230. Rs 295.
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.
"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.
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.
part constitutes two real-life stories of women who were
sexually abused in their childhood. In the third she provides
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
of noble thoughts
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
"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."
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.
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
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
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.
Mystique of minimum
This is an
abridged chapter by Rama S. Melkobe in "Nuclear
India" edited by A. Subramanyam Raju
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.